Sustainability: Are fashion companies doing enough?

The Molly-Mae X Pretty Little Thing fashion show last week was a hit. Running their first catwalk show, PLT were praised for the diverseness of the models on the runway. 

However, it almost feels as if this was a ploy to take our attention away from other issues here: sustainabilty and ethical practices. PLT has faced a lot of criticism in this regard.

Protests took place outside the fashion show last Wednesday, led by Venetia La Manna and her friend Mayisha. They stood outside The Londoner Hotel, expressing their concerns to attendees, consisting of influencers, reality stars and podcasters.

Zara and H&M are just a couple of retailers that have become more eco-conscious, as well as launching green initiatives in their companies.

It’s not obvious that PLT have so far done much when it comes to sustainability.  On their website, they have a sustainability page where they’ve pledged that by 2025 all their “polyester and cotton will be recycled or more sustainably sourced. More sustainably sourced includes organic cotton, Better Cotton and Cotton Connect.” By 2030 they’ve said “all” the materials they use will be more sustainable.

They use the term ‘more sustainable’ but what does that actually mean? Surely the goal for 2030 shouldn’t be to be more sustainable but to just be a sustainable clothing brand.

It feels like they’ve created a sustainability page just because all other brands have. Boohoo which owns – BoohooMAN, PLT, Nasty Gal and MissPap is one of the UK’s biggest fast-fashion retailers.

The fashion industry has been identified as a problem over the last decade as the world tries to adapt to be more sustainable.

Fashion production makes up 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions. Furthermore, 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. 

In short, PLT is a brand that contributes massively to the fashion industry’s carbon footprint. 

A company cannot become sustainable overnight – but many have started looking at ways to be more sustainable.

For example, Zara owner Inditex announced a range of sustainability initiatives in 2019, including a goal for 100% of its cotton, linen and polyester to be sustainable by 2025.  

H&M is another brand working towards a more sustainable future – Girogina Waltier, sustainability manager for H&M told Vogue in 2019: “The fashion industry cannot continue to operate in the way it does currently; our planet doesn’t have the resources.”

So why do we continue to shop at PLT? The answer’s simple. They are cheap. PLT is a hit with gen-z/millennials, especially students.

Got plans Friday night with nothing to wear and hardly any money? PLT is obviously a no-brainer, you can get a dress for under £10 and that’s your Friday night sorted.

The problem here is, you’ll probably never wear that dress again. It’s served its purpose and didn’t break the bank. What happens is, it ends up in a landfill site along with the millions of other garments that end up there every year. 

It’s important to remember personal responsibility when it comes to sustainability. Yes, companies must do their bit to produce clothes in the most sustainable way possible but, this becomes harder when we as consumers continue to support fast-fashion chains, we become part of the problem. 

It’s no secret that sustainable brands tend to be more expensive than fast fashion brands, however, that’s not the only way to shop sustainably.

People on a budget – students I’m looking at you – have options other than having to go to brands that will break the bank. There are places like depop, where you can resell old clothes. Even PLT offer a service where you can send back your old garments for a discount. 

We must all take responsibility, it’s down to us to educate ourselves on the climate crisis and shop sustainably. And it’s down to the retailers to produce clothes the most sustainable way they can in order to shrink the contribution the fashion industry makes to carbon emissions.

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