Yesterday we had a Loopster day out at the Environmental Audit Committee’s Inquiry into the Sustainability of the Fashion Industry.
We had made a submission to the Inquiry about childrenswear and we were curious to hear the latest evidence at the Committee from representatives of Burberry, Marks and Spencer, Arcadia (Topshop) and Primark and online retailers, ASOS, Boohoo and Misguided.
We were riveted to hear Burberry explain that it was “industry practice” for luxury brands to throw away their unused stock to protect their exclusivity. A scandal recently engulfed Burberry when their annual report revealed they had burnt £28 million worth of unused stock.
Topshop also revealed that just one of their 2,500 stores offers a take back scheme to recycle their clothes.
The Inquiry is investigating the social and environmental impact of disposable ‘fast fashion’ and the wider clothing industry. It will look at how clothes can be recycled, and waste and pollution reduced.
The fashion industry is the second biggest polluter worldwide
It was clear however that the big retailers Marks and Spencer, Topshop and Primark were all committed to improving sustainability having all signed upto the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan and all involved in numerous initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of their clothes.
However Mike Barry from Marks and Spencer did explain that the “the ultimate way to stop waste, is to sell quality”
Something we live and breathe at Loopster!
Increasingly as the Inquiry has progressed it has not just looked at the environmental cost of the fashion industry but also the human cost.
This came to the fore when the MP’s questioned the online retailers particularly Boohoo on how they could sell a dress for £5 and still pay minimum wage. Boohoo claimed that their £5 dresses were lost leaders.
After the hearing, Ms Creagh, Chair of the Select Committee told the BBC: “Evidence we heard today justifies our concerns that the current system allows fashion retailers to mark their own homework when it comes to workers’ rights, fair pay and sustainability.”