According to a recent survey, the majority of global consumers are almost at a ‘delusional level’ when questioned about how much of their wardrobe they don’t wear per year. Approximately 70-80% of an individual’s wardrobe remains permanently hung up and gathering dust, and with plastic pollution increasing and fast fashion showing no signs of slowing down, it’s high time brands and consumers alike started to reconsider their choices. But what alternatives can the industry itself introduce to re-route the eco cycle of fashion?
The answer to finding a way for both brands and consumers to function as they already do, but on a much more sustainable level, isn’t impossible, but it certainly isn’t straightforward. The easiest suggestion to make would be a radical change in buying and selling behaviour, which would need to be implemented by the masses to begin to make a real difference. The “buy less, but buy better” approach is one that has been around for a while, but can often be met with financial and practical setbacks for both a brand and a consumer. As other business sectors turn to the idea of a ‘share economy’, it is one that will be a success for fashion too?
For essential items we always need at our disposal, ownership is non-negotiable, but with most of our clothes now only living in our wardrobes, sharing seems more than just caring, but perhaps essential to both sustainability and the industry moving forward. New tech platforms have allowed for easy communication between owners and users, offering access without the full responsibility ownership brings. Companies such as Rent A Runway have already made profit from this, with their customers being given both more choice, and more importantly, spending power. The idea should be a perfect fit with the consumer of today, who is often someone who wishes to constantly update their look in-keeping with the current trends. Much like the existing world of retail, the ‘share economy’ is not without its downsides. A brand must take on the role of owner themselves, purchasing all of the stock they rent out, meaning they can frequently run into logistical problems. To cater for the needs of many, a wider range of style and variety need to be on offer, perhaps putting its ethical validity into question.
In an industry with a high inventory turnover, the idea of properly adapting to a ‘share economy’ might not be too appealing to the capitalist market. But aside financial gain, the greater good must be seen in the potential for environmental protection, and with more consumers being sustainability conscious, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see rentals be adopted by a growing number of consumers and brands…