After a damning report from MPs on the clothing industry’s environmental credentials, how can we make our wardrobe more sustainable? Two students took up the challenge of repairing, reusing and recycling clothes for a London Fashion Week show.
It’s mid-afternoon, and Loughborough University student Marcus Rudd is going through his wardrobe, piece by piece.
He is with sustainable stylist Alice Wilby, and it turns out his wardrobe is not as environmentally-friendly as he had hoped – as he announces he buys around 10 to 15 T-shirts a year.
“Did you know it takes about 3,000 litres of water to make one cotton T-shirt?” Alice asks him, bursting his bubble.
“That’s about as much water as [the average person’s] drinks in three years.”
And then they come to the high-priced fashion in his wardrobe – the Versace jeans and Giorgio Armani jacket.
Alice is quick to point out the styling is similar to that of many sustainable brands.
“There isn’t anything to me specifically that sets them aside as being designer – it’s a pretty classic cut, it’s a pretty classic style,” she says.
“I feel like you could buy this from a vintage shop,” she adds, of one of Marcus’s coats in which he takes extra pride.
The fashion industry is a major contributor to greenhouse gases, water pollution, air pollution and the over-use of water.
It’s exacerbated, MPs say, by so-called “fast fashion” – inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers.
The sector is proving increasingly popular.
Goby Chan, a fellow Loughborough University student flat-sharing with Marcus, says the low price makes such clothes a particularly appealing prospect for young people.
“You just go for it,” she says, precisely because it’s so cheap.
But it also means many people purchase clothes they never wear – buying clothes in the hope of one day wearing them on a night out due