Fashion stars call on Scots to ‘Love Your Clothes’

A new campaign to encourage Scots to value clothes more and waste less has been kicked off by top fashion industry figures today. The Love Your Clothes campaign aims to help reduce the impact that clothes have on the environment through a call to buy clothes to last, look after them, upcycle old items and recycle or pass on what you no longer want to keep.

11 Feb 14

Former supermodel and head of Edinburgh International Fashion Festival Anna Freemantle joined Scottish designer Niki Taylor, whose Olanic label has been worn by everyone from Alexa Chung to Florence and the Machine, at the UK’s second largest textile recycling plant in Denny to show some fashion students a thing or two about upcycling old clothes.  

As a nation we have a staggering £30 billion worth of clothes and we bin clothing which is still worth £140 million. The Love Your Clothes campaign aims to show that there’s plenty you can do to access those wardrobe billions for yourself and share your tips with others.  

Research carried out to inform the campaign showed some interesting insights into people’s attitudes to clothes that suggest the old adage that women are better at clothes shopping than men might not be true:

  • More than half of men decide what they need before going clothes shopping and stick to the plan, compared with just 35% of women, and 80% only buy what they need compared to 35% of women. 
  • However women appear to be cottoning on to the value of unwanted clothes. The survey reveals almost double the number of women sold their unwanted clothes on sites like eBay compared to men.
  • A higher number of women than men were also willing to repair or refresh their old clothes, donate to charity shops or swap with friends, instead of putting them in the bin. 

The creation of a Love Your Clothes online community via the new website will encourage more accomplished stitchers to advise needle novices, everyday style queens to share hints and style tips on how they’ve made the most of their clothes and seasoned eBayers to share their successes with first-time sellers. 

The website has advice on choosing clothing designed to last longer, buying pre-owned clothes, using laundry methods that use less energy and keep your clothes looking good longer, repairing and altering your clothes, and donating, swapping or selling on unwanted garments. The site also explains how clothes that are too damaged or worn for re-use can still be donated for textile recycling rather than ending up in the bin.

Niki Taylor left London to return to Glasgow to focus on a more sustainable approach to fashion, and explained her reasons for supporting the campaign: “The Love your Clothes campaign is something that I am very passionate about. Having worked in the fashion industry for 15 years, you see first-hand how much waste there is. It's also frightening as consumers how disposable clothing has become, creating massive landfill and great harm to the environment and to in some cases the workers. Due to this insight I decided to make a difference in my own purchasing and to take responsibility as a designer. I set up a new sustainable business in line with my values, which alongside supporting new designers, sells vintage, recycled garments & 100% organic T-shirts made in a wind powered factory. We need to buy responsibly, look after and recycle our clothes.”

Anna Freemantle commented: “It’s pretty staggering to see that as a nation we have £30 billion worth of clothes we never wear. I have definitely got stuff at the back of my wardrobe that hasn’t seen the light of day in ages, so I’m supporting the Love Your Clothes campaign and will be seeing what I can dig out and pass on, re-fresh or fall in love with all over again.”

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said:  “I welcome this focus on how we treat our clothing to extend its lifespan and get the most out of it. A staggering volume of textiles ends up going in the bin every year – much of this needlessly. By reducing this in line with the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan and being smarter about how we deal with clothing right across its life cycle, we can help the environment, save money and create social value.”

Director of Zero Waste Scotland Iain Gulland explained why a new approach to clothes is so important: “Our research shows we could be saving a lot of money by being smarter about how we manage our wardrobes. Rediscovering clothes you’d forgotten about can help you buy less or give you something to sell on. If there’s stuff you no longer want, then passing it on to a friend, donating to charity or recycling is a really great way of preventing the millions of pounds worth of clothes that end up in landfill every year.”

Greg McMorris of Nathan’s Wastesavers in Denny, the UK’s second largest textile recycling plant, commented: “We process over 600 tonnes of textile material every week, and the clothes come to us through recycling banks and charities. By sorting and grading the material we’re able to export clothes to be re-used in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, or supply lower grade textiles to be re-processed as things like sound-proofing or underlay. All of this helps divert huge amounts of material from going to landfill, so it’s really important for people to recycle clothes – don’t just put them in the bin!”

Leading retailers, brands, suppliers, charities and recyclers in the clothing sector are showing their support for the campaign or committing to taking action themselves. 50 signatories and supporters of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), including retailers Tesco, M&S and Next, leading fashion designer Stella McCartney, recyclers and charities, have today pledged a 15% reduction in carbon, water and in waste going to landfill, plus a 3.5% reduction in waste arising, per tonne of clothing by 2020. This will help reduce the environmental impact of clothing from design, and manufacture, through to sale and discard.

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