Explained: Why fast fashion brands throw out unsold clothes | News | Eco-business

Over the past year, the global fast fashion market It will surge from US$106.42 billion in 2022 to US$122.98 billion in 2023. The average annual growth rate is 15.6 percent.

Middle-class ambitions in populous regions such as Asia and the rapid growth of e-commerce are major drivers of this growth, along with cheaper and faster methods of production and delivery.

For example, China is the world’s largest fashion market.It overtook the United States in 2019. Greater China accounts for one-fifth of the global revenue of Japanese retail giant Uniqlo, whose sales in the region grew nearly 27% from fiscal 2017 to 2018 to more than $4 billion.

Clothing production doubled between 2000 and 2014, and clothing purchases per capita increased by about 60% between 2000 and 2014. McKinsey & Company.

Asia is rich in raw materials such as cotton, More than half World textiles and textiles. China produces more than a quarter of the Of these textiles.

In almost every apparel category, consumers The storage period for clothes has become about half of what it was 15 years ago.. Some Estimates It suggests that consumers treat the cheapest clothing as disposable, throwing it away after only seven or eight wears.

Fast fashion is also a major source of air pollution. Clothing production consumes natural resources and contributes to global warming Greenhouse gas emissions.

Overall, the fashion industry Accounts for 8-10% of global emissions, by united nations – This is more than the aviation and shipping industries combined.

That’s why the European Union recently announced it would crack down on fast fashion. Among its proposed policies: Prohibition on disposal of unsold textile products.

What do fast fashion brands do with unsold clothes?

It’s an open secret that fast fashion brands destroy unsold clothes.

A team of journalists from a Danish TV show Operation X Revealed in 2017 Swedish brand H&M has been incinerating up to 12 tonnes of clothing per year since 2013..

2010, The New York Times The article also published A report on trash bags full of unsold H&M clothing found dumped behind an H&M store on 35th Street in New York City. More shredded, unused clothing was found in a nearby Walmart contractor’s trash bin.

H&M He later issued a statement It said it will no longer discard unused items.

Even luxury brands have been found guilty of destroying unsold merchandise.

In July 2018, Burberry Burned millions of dollars worth of unsold inventoryIn its annual report, the company said: Discarded unsold items Up to $37 million worth. Louis Vuitton, coach, Michael Korsand Juicy Couture It has also been said to be linked to this practice.

Incineration and shredding The two most popular methods Fashion brands destroy clothing that is no longer in use and then send it to landfills, and to avoid regulations in their own jurisdictions, some brands export their old clothing to developing countries to be destroyed.

In the Indian town of Panipat, Specializing in cutting discarded clothingfor example.

Why don’t fast fashion brands recycle unsold clothes?

The main reason brands discard unsold clothes is because it’s not cost-effective to recycle them — in fact, most clothes are never meant to be recycled, writes Timo Lisasen, an associate professor at the University of Technology Sydney. Opinion piece in The Conversation, Non-profit media network.

Even seemingly simple garments can contain multiple materials, commonly made from fibre blends such as cotton/polyester or cotton/elastane, making recycling a daunting task.

Different fibres rarely have the same recycling capabilities. Natural fibres such as wool and cotton can be recycled mechanically, a process in which the fabric is shredded and respun into yarn that can be woven or knitted into new fabric.

However, shredding shortens the fibers, reducing the quality of the yarn and fabric. To improve the quality of the yarn, recycled cotton is often blended with virgin cotton.

Most fabrics are dyed with chemicals, which can affect recycling. If the original fabric was a mixture of many colors, the new yarn or fabric may need to be bleached.

A complex garment, such as a lined jacket, can easily contain five or more different materials, in addition to decorative elements such as buttons, zippers, etc. If the goal of recycling is to obtain something as close as possible to the original material, the components of the garment must first be separated. This process is labor intensive and can be expensive.

Taking clothes to recycling centers is also expensive, so it’s often easier to just shred them and turn them into lower-quality products for things like insulation, Bloomberg reported. Less than 1 percent of second-hand clothing They are recycled into new clothes.

Fast fashion brands also have a financial incentive to discard unused items to avoid paying. Inventory TaxBusiness owners must pay inventory tax on any goods that are unsold at the end of the year. Essentially, any damaged inventory can be considered a tax deduction.

Another reason why brands discard unused textiles is to protect their exclusivity and avoid dilution of their brand image. This is especially true for luxury fashion brands.

Luxury fashion is worn as a status symbol, so rather than selling it at a discount, excess stock is burned. Maintaining brand value and exclusivity.

Many brands fear a “grey market” where genuine branded goods are bought cheaply and resold by others. In one case, Richemont, the parent company of luxury watch brands such as Cartier and Montblanc, was embroiled in controversy for destroying branded goods. Over $494 million It has tightened watch regulations to prevent designer watches from being sold by unauthorised dealers.

What are Asian fashion brands doing to reduce their environmental impact?

ZERRIN, Singapore and Southeast Asia’s first marketplace to curate exclusively independent and sustainable designers, says it operates primarily on a consignment model.

The arrangement means no waste is produced from online sales or pop-up events, and any unsold products remain the brand’s property.

“Over the years, many of our brands have found creative ways to upcycle older collections and products that were not selling well, including transforming leftover fabric into accessories like hats, bags and jewelry,” says founder and CEO Susanna Jaffer. ZERRIN’s.

TELAstory, Clothing The Philippines-based design, sourcing and manufacturing collective says it doesn’t send unsold clothing to landfills: it transforms it into new products like hats and tote bags, or donates it directly to Philippine communities in the wake of disasters like floods and fires.

“Through our collaboration with the artisan communities we work with across the Philippines, even the tiniest scraps of fabric are transformed into usable, sellable products,” said TELAstory co-founder Hannah Newman.

It takes two hands to clap, says Semmun Ho, chief executive of the Singapore Fashion Council, and as fast fashion brands reinvent themselves, consumers must also play their part in supporting sustainable fashion.

“That’s why, as part of the Singapore Fashion Council’s Fashion Sustainability Programme, we do a lot of school visits to educate young people about sustainability,” said Ho.

“We also promote consumer education, encouraging people to extend the life of their clothes and learn to upcycle their clothes,” she added.

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