Fuel Your Imagination

Oxfam's Second Hand September

Textile production currently contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined. This is no longer about just the biggest companies making a change. It is up to each of us to examine our consumption.

Izzy Ashton

Assistant Editor, BITE

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Over $500 billion of value is lost every year due to clothing underutilisation and the lack of recycling, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. This is on top of the fact that the amount of clothing produced has almost doubled in the last 15 years as the UK government’s recent report from the Environmental Audit Committee revealed.

Part of the problem is the growth of the ‘ASOS effect’, or people’s desire to never be seen in the same outfit twice, especially when it comes to sharing their latest looks across social media. According to a recent report from Banardo’s, this summer Britons will purchase 50 million outfits that would only be worn once before they were thrown away.

This leads to unprecedented levels of waste and an unsustainable attitude to fashion that is having a seriously damaging effect on the planet. To try and combat this and also change people’s attitudes, Oxfam have introduced an initiative called Second Hand September, a global campaign that asks people not to buy new clothes for 30 days and instead shop second hand.

It’s a bold move from the charity as September arguably marks the busiest in fashion’s annual calendar from the advertising heavy September issues to new season shows taking place around the world. But it’s one that Oxfam believe is essential to highlighting fashion’s impact on the environment. A recent report the charity conducted revealed that 11 million garments end up in landfill in the UK each week.

This time, its meaning is not just aesthetic but political. With the younger generation, wearing second hand is a political and environmental choice.

Bay Garnett

The 30 day length is, the charity believes, just long enough to allow people to develop new and better shopping habits, not only for the month of September but on a more long-term basis. Oxfam also want to highlight the creativity and self-expression that can come from shopping second hand, from the thrill when you find the perfect jacket in store to the joy at throwing together pieces you know no one else will own.

Bay Garnett, a fashion stylist and editor famed for dressing Kate Moss in vintage clothing in the early 2000s, believes that there is more to second hand fashion now than there once was, especially when it comes to the younger generations: “This time, its meaning is not just aesthetic but political. With the younger generation, wearing second hand is a political and environmental choice.” It is a shift that has significant implications for brands that must get to grips with how the circular economy will impact the life-cycle of their products.

Without action, the fashion industry could account for a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050, according to a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Textile production currently contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined. This is no longer about just the biggest companies making a change. It is up to each of us to examine our consumption, and the way we shop, to help reduce the amount of textile waste across the globe.