At Distinctively Me sustainability is at the heart of what we do - we only make the clothes that you love, to fit you perfectly and to complement your personality and lifestyle. These pieces will be worn many times and for many years and therefore addressing the huge levels of waste the clothing industry creates.
However I wanted to share with you a piece written by Lesley Lloyd who is a member of Distinctively Me's team and also a leading light in sustainability advising many companies on their sustainability initiatives. In this blog she highlights the significant changes required from the major brands and retailers, as well as some of the steps we can take as consumers, to help the cause.
I hope you find it insightful - I know I did!
Fashion is one of our planet's biggest polluters. We as consumers have driven a boom in ‘fast fashion', where clothing has become a form of entertainment, sending a staggering 85% of all textiles to landfill each year.
To meet this demand, manufacturers output about the same quantity of greenhouse gasses per year as the entire economies of France, Germany and the UK combined, which is 10% of all humanity's carbon emissions. They also use considerable quantities of our natural and scarce resources as the sector is the second-largest consumer of the world's water supply. As an example, it can take 10,850 litres of water to make one pair of jeans!
If that's not scary enough, microplastics are now estimated to compose up to 31% of plastic pollution in the ocean. If only we had known sooner that washing our clothes releases 500,000 tons of microfibres into the ocean each year (the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles).
Okay, that's sufficiently shocking so now for some positives! Thankfully, many parts of the industry are making great strides forwards. From the ground-breaking Stella McCartney's Eco Impact Report to Gucci's parent company Kering's Sustainability Progress Report. Plus H&M and new entrants are developing the second-hand and vintage market.
New technologies are being developed that will allow manufacturers to literally disassemble fibres from unloved clothing then redesign them into new products to be shipped out to the market once again.
Countries are also playing their part. From 2023 France has committed to make it illegal to dispose of (by burning or sending to landfill) some €800m of unsold designer clothes every year. Retailers tend to overorder, expecting to sell only about half at full price; the rest is then discounted in end-of-season sales to attract a lower-price customer or left unsold.
However, such efforts are still being outstripped by growth in demand, with fast fashion brands now producing double what they did in 2000.
So, what can we as consumers do to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem?
Well, it is not easy to know what the right thing is when there are so many confusing and terms out there from ‘organic' to ‘eco' - in effect greenwashing. We could maybe buy and sell our second-hand clothes online (as many Influencers and Instagram accounts actually do). We could use vintage or charity shops more often or consider renting clothes from places like Hurr Collective - ideal for that special one-off occasion.
Or try our best to buy natural fibres to limit the amount of chemicals used to produce or dye our clothes. And an easy switch is to avoid overwashing and tumble drying. However, we all have synthetic fibres in our wardrobe which do require more frequent washing, such as our gym clothing and underwear so finding a filter for the washing machine that will stop microplastics from reaching our waterways is also a good step.
However, probably the best way to be part of the solution is to simply buy less and make clothes last longer. Build a wardrobe based on style not fashion. Find the right colours, styles, and fabulous fabrics from sustainable suppliers along with the perfect fit for you, so you will be proud to wear your clothes again and again over many years.
Think cost per wear, not just the initial price. A made-to-measure pair of tailored black trousers that cost say £200, worn an average of twice a week for four years equates to 48p per wear compared to a pair at £49.99 that may only be worn once a week for one year hence 96p per wear, then disposed of.
Try to buy from a company like Distinctively Me that will repair and redesign their clothes or find a quality local tailor to help you create the vintage pieces of tomorrow!
Environmental damage is one of the criticisms, but some companies have faced a backlash for their employment conditions and practices. With a made to measure brand like Distinctively Me, customers can meet the designer and makers who are all locally based and can see first-hand how highly valued and respected our highly skilled professionals are.
In summary, change has to start with the consumer. We must all strive to be part of the solution by doing what we think is the ‘right thing'. We may not have all the information we need on the impact of our purchasing decisions now, or for some time to come, but what we do have is the power to buy fewer items of higher quality, that look so fabulous you will want to wear them over and over, which is a not only a great start but the new normal.
Please get in touch with us so that we can explain more about Distinctively Me and show you more of our range. We look forward to it!