New polling discovers majority of women are unaware of environmental impacts of fast fashion

Public polling from Hubbub and WoolOvers has discovered that just 6% of women think they are well informed on the environmental impact of fast fashion. 86% of those polled felt there is not enough information on the issue. Consequently, more than half of women aged 16-24 are buying new clothes once a month.

The polling results are surprising given the growing environmental spotlight on the fashion industry. Over the past year, there has been increased scrutiny from media and government. The Environmental Audit Committee’s Fixing Fashion report, Stacey Dooley’s Fashion’s Dirty Secrets, and the £1 bikini uproar have all highlighted the impact fast fashion has on the environment.  

How do women’s attitudes towards fast fashion compare? 

The polling revealed that packaging is the  biggest concern  for women,  suggesting that dots are not being connected on the wider environment cost of garments.

This may be because of a lack of understanding on what is fast fashion. Hubbub’s research found 58% of women aged 16-24 don’t know what ‘fast fashion’ means and 29% of women aged 16-24 think ‘fast fashion’ is when a person can buy clothes more conveniently. This compares to 67% of women aged 65 and over who know the correct definition of fast fashion.

This generational divide is evident in the way people care for clothes. Only a third of women aged 16-24 will repair an item whereas half of women aged 54 and over will. Polling suggests younger women view clothing as short-term and disposable with less  than half expecting clothes to be of a good enough quality to last many years before they need replacing or repairing. This compares to 56% of women aged 40-54.

The polling illustrates the challenges the fashion industry faces in their attempts to create a more sustainable model. What are the steps they should be taking?

 

Build understanding on quality 

Women are increasingly moving away from looking for quality when buying something new.  Good quality clothes that last can significantly decrease the waste impact of fast fashion. We need to inspire more women to emotionally connect with the lifecycle of clothes and expect more from the brands that are making them. 

Build skills 

Haberdashery skills are disappearing. Young women said that the language around repairs was confusing, leaving them unable to search online to find easy solutions. There needs to be clear tutorials on how to make simple repairs and an increase in skill sharing amongst generations. 

 

Boost recycling 

As recycled fabrics continue to become more mainstream, we’re likely to see an increase in demand for clothes made out of recycled materials. Hubbub’s research showed that women aged 16-24 are the most likely generation to wear recycled fabrics but they aren’t currently recycling their unwanted clothes. The public need to be well informed on the benefits of textile recycling and access to recycling points need to be made more available. 

What steps is Hubbub taking? 

Through our Fashion Hub, Hubbub is continuing to collaborate with brands who put sustainability in the core of their message.  For example, our partnership with WoolOvers is seeking to educate women on the impacts of fast fashion and how to look for good quality clothes.  

Hubbub is supporting a new APPG on Sustainable Textiles and Fashion gathering evidence from a range of brands and insights from the public. This insight will form the basis of a set of recommendations of actions that will be put to government.  

Hubbub is also developing a high-profile new campaign that will bring together voices across the sustainable fashion industry to educate more young people on the impacts of fast fashion inspiring them to make more mindful purchasing decisions, whilst caring for the clothes they already have.  

Our ambition is to create a movement of people who are passionate about sustainable fashion by: 

  • Collaborating with influential voices to talk directly to the public. 
  • Running practical and proactive campaigns. 
  • Providing resource packs to get the public involved.  
  • Create inspiring content that takes positive messages directly to Generation Z and the wider public.   

To find out how you can be involved, please contact: [email protected]