Future of fashion? Demand for greener clothes grows
High-end brands and high street stores are keen to capitalise on a growing appetite from consumers for eco-friendly products.
By Louisa Pilbeam, Sky News Reporter
Fashion industry experts have told Sky News there is a growing demand for clothes that last longer and are less costly to the environment.
It comes ahead of a global conference taking place next week in Copenhagen where the fashion industry will come together with the world's media to shine a spotlight on sustainable clothing.
The fashion industry is the second most polluting sector after oil, with 350,000 tonnes of clothes going to landfill each year.
High-end brands and high street stores alike are keen to capitalise on a growing appetite from consumers for eco-friendly products.
Fashion designer Tom Cridland set up his own environmentally friendly clothing company, which now makes more than £2m a year.
He produces items of clothing that are guaranteed to last 30 years, and has celebrity customers, such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Clint Eastwood, wearing his products.
He said: "Sweatshirts should last for 30 years that's why we guarantee it for 30 years. It's a realistic period of time one or two years is ridiculous, but people consider it to be normal. And if you think of a T-shirt for £5 and you read a label on it saying 'made in Bangladesh', how did it get made Bangladesh for £5? How long did it take to put together?"
More than 1,000 clothing workers were killed in Bangladesh when a factory collapsed in 2013 after bosses ignored safety warnings about the building and told staff to continue working. The items were being made for bargain UK stores.
Professor Dilys Williams, director for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion, said after incidents like the Bangladesh factory disaster, there is a growing public conscience for safely made and environmentally friendly products.
She said: "Before, people weren't really thinking about the ideas of nature and society, they were only thinking about profit and style. Now, it's thinking about the human element; are people being treated fairly? Do people have dignity in the conditions they're making things under? Does it consider the natural elements, the environmental elements, as well as style."
It's not just high-end designers who are getting on board with eco-friendly clothing. H&M are just one of a number of high street stores going green. They are aiming for 100% of their clothes to be sustainable by 2030.
Catarina Midby, H&M's sustainability manager, said: "We don't charge more for sustainable materials. Though they cost us a little more, it's an investment for us and we don't want our more sustainable garments to cost more."