The fashion industry contributes more than £32 billion to the UK economy, yet, once again, calls for support from the government have gone unheeded.
Today, the government rejected all recommendations put forward by the environmental audit committee in its Fixing Fashion report.
Becoming more sustainable is not an option, it is an imperative. Whether analysing carbon footprint, measuring energy and water or using sustainable fabrics and materials, fashion retailers have sustainability high on the agenda.
However, it is a complex topic and, while small changes can be made, fundamentally shifting a business model towards a more sustainable future takes a multi-faceted strategic overhaul with significant costs and infrastructure investment attached.
At a time when the market is particularly tough, fashion retailers need guidance on how to tackle this complex topic without taking a huge hit on the bottom line. Unfortunately, that support does not appear to be coming from the government.
In Drapers’ recent sustainability survey, 85% of respondents said that the government is not doing enough to the help the fashion industry become more sustainable and this recent rejection of all recommendations will only fuel that opinion. The comments already appearing on drapersonline.com in reaction to the story highlight just that: “Incredibly short sighted yet entirely predictable response from a government that’s been ‘out of touch’ on so many things for more than a decade.”
Fixing Fashion made many sensible recommendations, and our survey showed broad industry support for them. More than 90% agreed with the introduction of mandatory environmental targets for retailers with a turnover above £36m, and fines for companies that fail to report and comply with the Modern Slavery Act.
The industry also called on the government to invest in recycling infrastructure, provide grants to help businesses become more sustainable, outlaw certain unsustainable practices and work on ways to educate the customer.
This is not the first time the industry has been let down. Many times in this column I have urged the government to support the industry – whether by consulting with UK businesses on the best Brexit outcome or supporting the regeneration of the high street.
When it comes to the environment, the industry has recognised that more needs to be done. But effective change requires a collaborative approach, and it is time for the government join the collective and offer support, recommendations and legislation to help drive forward a more sustainable fashion future.
Be part of the solution
Drapers Sustainable Fashion is an unmissable opportunity for the industry to get together and discuss what we can do to tackle the issues facing the industry as it strives towards a more sustainable future. To find out more go to