A new report from the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has urged the UK government to invest in sustainable fashion. The report finds the lockdown has dramatically altered consumer habits and attitudes as it has forced changes in that way they buy fashion – 35 per cent women respondents stated they intend to purchase fewer items of clothing in future, and 28 per cent reuse or recycle clothing more than usual. 68 per cent women sought more opportunities for repair and reuse and less pressure from advertising and social media o buy clothing. Fifty-eight per cent of the public reported having bought less clothing during the lockdown.
For the future, the report calls for more government investment in sustainable fashion. It calls for the creation of a dedicated green ‘Beyond GDP’ resilience fund to support burgeoning circular economy innovation within clothing and textiles (and other sectors) in order to enable greater regional resilience, to stimulate local demand and create high skilled local employment. This should also ensure that any job and training support program announced later this year supports growing circular economy jobs within fashion.
In addition, government should introduce stronger environmental standards on the industry including an Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme to incentivise waste reduction and improved design for durability and repair, and a reduction in VAT on repair services.
Consumers also need to be encouraged to keep up changes in their behavior. The RSA is launching the poll as part of its Regenerative Futures program, one of the five Bridges to a better future post-lockdown. Part of this program involves working with communities to develop interventions which change our relationship with fashion, from new ways of manufacturing to repair services and reuse networks.