Developing sustainable fabrics, boosting fabric recycling and bringing manufacturing jobs back to the UK are some of the key actions recommended in a new report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion (APPG).
The report, put to the government today, warns “supply chains have broken, sales have dropped, unsold stock has built, retail outlets have closed and companies have gone out of business. Consumer habits have shifted and so have attitudes – the public wants to see change.”
Research carried out by environmental charity Hubbub, released today with the report, shows that 65% of 3,000 UK adults surveyed agree the government should urgently do more to reduce the impact of the fashion industry on the environment.
The APPG is calling for government investment in research and development to create more sustainable fabrics and to boost investment in UK fabric recycling facilities to create a more circular economy.
It is also proposing increased investment in skills to bring more clothes manufacturing jobs back to the UK, and the supporting of new start-up businesses operating more green business models. This is alongside support for the industry to create clearer information and labelling about the sustainability of clothes to help inform and educate consumers.
Catherine West, chair of the APPG, said: “Coronavirus has exposed deep inequalities and unsustainability in the garment industry. Creating a sustainable and ethical future for the fashion industry is an important but complex challenge for government, industry and the public and what is clear is that there is an appetite for this on all sides.
“We must seize this moment and put these recommendations into action by pushing the government to be a global leader, helping to build a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry, both within the UK and globally”.
The APPG report also reports that 65% of consumers would be happy for fashion to “slow down”, with less production of mass-produced cheap clothing in favour of longer lasting quality pieces.
Three quarters of respondents agreed that clothing companies have a responsibility to look after those who make their products.
Founder and chief executive of Hubbub, Trewin Restorick, added: “Now is the time for government intervention to fix fast fashion and force companies to change their approach. We hope both the government and the fashion industry will act with urgency on the recommendations of the APPG, which are backed by the UK public.”