The founder of a festival focused on sustainability and innovation in fashion has said customers and businesses need to join forces to tackle fast fashion.
The organisation Fashion District aims to bring businesses together, attract global talent to East London and accelerate growth in manufacturing in the area.
From September 22 to 26, Fashion District Festival will see pop-up stores, styling sessions, a vintage market and workshops, in Stratford, to celebrate and discuss fashion’s impact on communities.
Shoppers are increasingly keen to see brands share their eco-friendly credentials and buy from companies who pay their workers and look to reduce their carbon footprint.
Consumers’ environmentalism has seen big brands including Asos and Primark set out long-term goals to improve their materials and ensure their supply chain treats employees fairly.
“The important thing is that the fashion industry changes its own patterns and reduces production,” Fashion District founder Helen Lax told City A.M.
“This is now here to stay for the fashion industry. The larger brands and businesses are most definitely realising that customers care. They are changing their practices and the way they do things, so they are giving a more sustainable offer.”
“This isn’t on the margins anymore. The smart brands are looking to the fringes. There’s no doubt the message from the festival is it’s everyone’s responsibility to make the targets, no matter what size you are, if you are a customer or a business.”
The festival will also look at how consumers can take a “different mindset” to their wardrobe and adopt a slow fashion approach. “Making the most of what’s there, repair, resell,” Lax said.
Lax pointed to Depop and other platforms favoured by younger consumers, focusing on reselling, renting and swapping clothes.
“We have got all these new models coming forward in a response to the will of the customer to be more responsible,” she added.
“It’s always a mix, sometimes you need to buy new and that’s about thinking about what you are buying, you might buy less, more local and more expensive, so it lasts longer, if you can.”
Alongside smaller fashion designers and manufacturers, the festival is also keen to work with larger brands, including John Lewis.
The supermarket’s professional stylists are hosting a workshop at the festival to teach consumers how to make the most out of their wardrobes, and ultimately buy less throwaway clothes.
“The idea is as this movement grows – while our designers are independent and London based – we [will] make partnerships with larger businesses and brands, and work together on challenges in sustainability,” Lax explained.
Fast fashion retailers will face a crack down on any misleading green marketing claims next year, the UK’s competition watchdog warned.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has given businesses a deadline of the end of the year to correct any ‘greenwashing’ claims or face regulatory action.