While this reflects a growing global movement calling for more compassionate fashion, at the same time, brands are being criticised for not being sustainable and circular enough in their operations according to the Pulse of the Fashion Industry Report 2019 which was recently released by the Global Fashion Agenda.
Interestingly, this year’s report found “the pace of the industry’s sustainability performance has slowed, and sustainability solutions are not being implemented fast enough to counterbalance the negative environmental and social impacts of the rapidly growing fashion industry.”
A big part of the problem is the phenomenon of “fast fashion” where designs are fast-tracked from the catwalks of the world’s largest fashion shows into stores rather quickly. The cost in resources is enormous and nearly as quickly as the fashions are in stores, they’re also being discarded. The nation’s op-shops and charity stores can’t cope with the quantity and because it’s often rather poorly made as well, it’s not reusable and makes its way into landfill.
According to the Pulse of the Fashion Industry Report, 73 per cent of the world’s clothing eventually ends in landfills or being incinerated.
“Currently, less than one per cent of the material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing and less than 15 per cent of clothes are collected for recycling.”
Bearing this in mind, if the fashion industry does not start acting now, the linear model of make, use and discard will soon reach its physical limits. According to current forecasts, the world population will exceed 8.5 billion people by 2030, and global garment production will increase by 63 per cent which is completely unsustainable.
In the meantime, many Australian brands have committed to phasing out mulesed sheep wool. What is mulesing exactly?
According to the website Wear it Kind, it is a painful animal mutilation practice carried out to prevent flystrike. Mulesing is the process of restraining lambs, usually 6-12 weeks old, on their backs in a metal cradle and using shears, similar to garden shears, to cut away folds of skin around their buttocks.
The Australian wool industry actually committed to phasing out mulesing by 2010 but they abandoned the commitment in 2009.
The Head of Programmes for FOUR PAWS Australia, Jessica Medcalf recently said over two billion animals end up in fashion supply chains every year and “many of them endure pain, fear and stress due to cruel mutilation practices like mulesing, and inadequate living conditions for the sake of clothing”.
“Right now, there is little in place to protect their welfare and while we have a long way to go, it’s wonderful to see a raft of Aussie brands starting to take steps towards prioritising animal welfare.
“It demonstrates that shoppers want kinder clothing, and that many brands are now listening,” Medcalf said.
Importantly, the retailer Target have committed to ensuring 100 per cent of the wool they source will be from farms certified under the Responsible Wool Standard or equivalent standard; or farms that are fully traceable and verified as non-mulesed; or from recycled wool materials by July 2023.”
For Target, the commitment does add to their role as a partner in Global Fashion Agenda’s mission to make sustainability fashionable. It’s a partnership which does also include fast fashion leaders such as ASOS and H&M as well as brands such as Nike.