Mountains of unsaleable clothing due to the lockdown show that the fashion industry could be more sustainable

Mountains of unsaleable clothing due to the lockdown show that the fashion industry could be more sustainable

Clothing stores are empty but warehouses are full. The fashion industry cannot escape the consequences of the lockdown either. Corona crisis reveals problems within the sector, but there are also solutions. “We have to work together to transform the industry.”

Now that non-essential stores have been closed for some time, many entrepreneurs have unsaleable stocks of clothes. Because even though a winter coat or shirt isn’t a mess after a season, when it comes to trends, they’re hard to maintain. A report from the Global Fashion Agenda shows that the consequences of the epidemic mean that the clothing surplus in 2020 was about 40 to 60 percent.

‘Big stock’

Says Anne-Ro Klevant Groen, director of marketing and communications at Fashion for Good, an organization that focuses on innovation in the fashion industry. “There is still a large stock.”

“Selling the collection at a later season would be an option, but for high-end fashion it’s more difficult than selling the staples,” she says. Another solution is to modify clothes while continuing to sell, resale or rent. “Recycle or recycle down are also options.” Brands can also digitize even more. “For example by buying more on demand, but also by using digital showrooms and virtual stores.”

Anne-Ro Klevant Groen, director of marketing and communications at Fashion for Good

Think about buying behavior

More consumers seem to be finding sustainability of increasing importance, according to research by Global Fashion Agenda. “The demand for a better product is out there and the consumer knows more and more. So the good trend has started and is already on its way,” says Cliffant Groene. “According to the Fashion Status Report 2021, 3 out of 5 consumers view this when purchasing clothes; this number has never been this high before.”

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Due to the pandemic, people will now slow down their spending and think more about their purchasing behavior. “For many, it was also a good time to spoil the wardrobe. Plus, the relationship with our wardrobe changed,” she says. According to her, many clothing brands are already operating seasonally and thus are no longer sensitive to trends. “Because we spend a lot of time indoors, people are also starting to wear more timeless items. For example, we’ve seen sleepwear become more and more popular.”

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Do more time with the same clothes

Part of the solution, according to Klevant Groen, is to dress up often. “We now buy 60 percent of the clothes over 15 years, but we only wear them half the time. I think it’s good as a consumer that you buy less and strive for better quality, but above all, it will last longer with those clothes. That too. It has an effect.” Indeed, she explains. “There are celebrities who wear the same dress quite often, even the Queen wears it. Plus, you can also rent or exchange your clothes, and buying and selling second-hand clothes is becoming commonplace. Think initiatives like Next Closet or Vinted. Buying something new is not the only solution. “

So we have to look at the trends differently. “Everyone in costumes has to work together to change the industry,” she says. “Something after a season is no longer” an idea that has to change. ” “But the apparel industry works on a supply and demand basis. As long as you and I keep buying, brands will continue to provide it.

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Clothes deposit

In addition to the fact that consumers and clothing brands have to make adjustments, our government has a task to follow stricter policies, says Cliffant Groene. “This could be done in the areas of waste, recycling, and sustainable goal setting, including at the European level.”

“The government can look at who owns the product and what happens to the product at the end of the life cycle. Whether you should be able to get rid of the ingredient,” she says. “In the Netherlands, the government is really looking at recycling products. So if you return it to a clothing brand, for example, you get a coupon for that. Actually, it’s just like you have a deposit on the bottles.”

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