Britons are poised to spend £2.4bn on new outfits for the Christmas party season this year – yet many items may be worn fewer than three times – a survey shows.
After shelling out an average of £73.90 per person on partywear for the festive period, one in five people admit they won’t wear the same outfit to more than one party or event, according to the study from environmental charity Hubbub.
The charity is highlighting the findings as another example of the environmental and financial impact of fast or throwaway fashion, amid growing concerns that the industry is wasting valuable resources and contributing to the climate crisis. With consumers now bombarded with advertising for Christmas partywear, it is urging shoppers to consider second-hand clothing, swapping and even renting outfits rather than only buying brand new.
Sarah Divall, project co-ordinator at Hubbub, said: “Vintage and pre-loved clothing has never been so on trend and it’s only going to get bigger as people realise the massive environmental impact of the fashion industry. Going green doesn’t mean you can’t dress up. There are so many eco-friendly options out there now, including clothes swaps, renting, pre-loved and charity stores, so you can look good and save money without damaging the planet.”
Men are set to spend more than women – £88.14 per person compared with £63.12 – the survey of 3,008 UK adults found. And when it comes to sparkly dresses and sequins, only 24% of respondents said they knew that most contain plastic. Hubbub analysed 169 party dresses from 17 online, high street and designer outlets and found 94% are partially or totally made from plastic or plastic-derived fabrics.
A damning UK parliamentary committee report this year found that the textile industry creates 1.2bn tonnes of CO2 a year, and is responsible for the consumption of vast quantities of water, while 35% of the microplastics in the ocean come from the synthetic fibres in abandoned clothing.
A glimmer of good news is that the younger generation – 16- to 24-year olds – are adopting greener ways to dress, with higher numbers swapping with friends (36%) and buying from charity shops (30%) than older consumers.
Meanwhile Asos, one of the world’s largest online fashion retailers, will on Monday announce it has signed up to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, an initiative to stop plastics becoming waste or pollution. The retailer, which has 20.3m global customers – including 6.4m in the UK – is stepping up its work to make its plastic mailing bags more eco-friendly. The bags are already 100% recyclable and made from 25% recycled material – rising to 65% in 2020 – but it is taking further action to eliminate “problematic or unnecessary” plastic packaging by 2025.
A British Retail Consortium spokesperson said: “Consumers can be assured that, on average, the clothes they are purchasing have lower environmental impacts. Retailers are making strides to ensure old clothes can be turned into new ones for a more circular economy.”