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Boom in sustainable shoppers threatens to put end to fast fashion, experts warn

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The number of sustainable shoppers in Britain has jumped by a third in just 12 months, threatening to spell the end of fast fashion, new research by the Fashion Retail Academy reveals. 

The sustainability agenda has made massive strides worldwide in the past year, with campaigners including Greta Thunberg capturing the public imagination and convincing millions more people to live environmentally friendly lives

As a result, there has been a huge shift in UK shoppers’ shopping habits, with millions more choosing quality over quantity. In fact now, the research shows that more than half of Brits (51.4%) are choosing long-lasting clothes over cheaper fashionable items, up 33.8% on a year ago.

On top of that, the proportion of shoppers who consciously opt for fast fashion — typically cheaper, more fashionable items — has fallen 46.2% in the same period to a meagre 14% of consumers. 

British shoppers are now less likely to throw away their clothes than they were last year, with almost three quarters (71.3%) of consumers choosing to recycle compared to 59.7% last year — a 19.4% increase.

They are just as inclined to buy second-hand clothes rather than buying new, with over two thirds (66%) of the UK rifling through rails in charity shops or browsing second-hand clothes apps online. 

Women are leading this sustainable clothing revolution as 25.4% more women wear second-hand clothes than men and 31.4% more women recycle their clothes.

The Welsh are the best at recycling their clothes (74%) and the Northern Irish are the biggest culprits for throwing away unwanted clothes, as only 60% recycle. Over 55s are better at recycling their clothes than younger generations (75.7% vs 64.5%).

Lee Lucas, principal of the Fashion Retail Academy, one of the country’s leading fashion schools, says: “The focus on sustainability has finally been embraced by consumers in a big way and we’ve witnessed a big shift in shopping habits over the past year. Shoppers are moving away from fast fashion and there are new waves of consumers who are willing to invest in higher quality items, acknowledging that more expensive price tags might mean more mileage from certain items of clothing.”  

Lucas adds: “This shift towards quality over quantity, recycling and buying second-hand is not just about saving money, it is a reflection of how customers are increasingly mindful of fashion waste and the supply chain. Vintage clothing is in and sustainable clothing brands such as Patagonia, which offer a lifetime guarantee on their clothes have become more and more popular.”

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