Last post I covered, (as I always do in the first month of the year) how best to prepare and tackle the January sales. I also touched on how much and what consumers would spend their money on during the pre-Christmas sales. 

This was the statement made by retail boss Russell Zimmerman “We think retail sales for Boxing Day 2019 will top $2.5bn, which is 2.86% up on 2018 – SA was predicted to turn over $135,754,065 with a forecast growth of 2.5%’’. 

This is a lot of consumer spending and of course great for retailers, but guess what tops the strongest demand from those consumers – clothing and footwear!

And while most of us love to go out and purchase new clothes and accessories there are the environmental factors we need to talk about and finally are. This is a subject I often discuss with my 20 year old daughter, a Gen Z. Here’s what her generation have learned, are saying and thinking around the issue.  


‘’It is clear that we’re in the midst of an environmental crisis, and the fast fashion industry has a huge part to play in the havoc unfolding. Globally, we consume approximately 80 billion new items of clothing annually. Australians are tossing 85% of our unwanted items to landfill, and with over 60 percent of textiles in production being synthetic (derived from fossil fuels, a non-renewable resource) our unwanted clothing will remain non decaying for centuries. We are exerting an unprecedented strain on finite resources to produce an infinite amount of things.


Global fashion brands are producing more than they could ever possibly sell. In 2018, fashion giant, H&M, reportedly piled up $4.3 billion worth of unsold inventory. It’s difficult to comprehend how colossal this mounting stack of clothing really is – even more terrifying, companies like H&M continue to experience economic growth, meaning that this level of waste isn’t much of a loss at all.


In the face of a fast fashion emergency, a growing interest in ethically made clothing is on the rise. At a higher price, companies are opting for more sustainable methods of manufacturing textiles and providing a more transparent look into how their clothing is produced. While this is a step in the right direction, half the problem still remains – too much stuff. As consumers, we demand to know how and where our clothes are made but take less interest in where they end up once they’re no longer desired. We have deluded ourselves into thinking that the problem can be solved by doing everything but stopping. It’s easy to move our capital from one company to the next and pat ourselves on the back, but it’s really a distraction which mitigates our constant desire for more. We just can’t save the world by buying ‘better stuff’.


So, what’s the solution? The power is in the hands of the consumer, if we want change we will achieve it. Look at how quickly we banned plastic straws! The customer is the driving force behind the retail landscape, it’s as simple as saying “no” to more things. Go shopping in your own wardrobe; learn to sew; swap clothing with friends; buy second hand and find a new home for what you no longer need. There is too much clothing and not enough fashion, so let’s create a more sustainable future in clothing’’.

By Emily Eden.

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