Written by Amelia Growdon
It’s 2021 and the need to be sustainable is greater than ever. Many fashion brands are trying to market themselves as being environmentally conscious but is this making fashion less accessible?
It’s well known that the fashion industry is responsible for a huge amount of waste, which is why brands need to be transparent and conscious of the products that they are producing. There does however seem to be a lot of responsibility now held on consumers as to where they shop. Some people are being penalised for shopping at fast fashion brands such as Primark and Boohoo, but the issue here is that sustainable clothing isn’t always accessible.
The New Buzz Word
Sustainability has become a bit of a buzz word in the fashion industry, with fast fashion brands like H&M, ASOS and Urban Outfitters rushing to create “conscious” clothing lines to keep customers happy.
It’s great to see these fast fashion brands beginning to offer sustainable and recycled clothing, but it could be seen as them jumping on the bandwagon in an attempt to capitalise from it, which can otherwise be known as greenwashing. Despite this, H&M and ASOS offer a wider range of sizes and prices in their sustainable products, making them more accessible than others.
Do You Have This in a Bigger Size?
Size inclusivity is a big topic among the sustainable fashion world as a number of brands only go up to a size 14, which is quite shocking when the average size for women in the UK is a 16. Plus-size fashion blogger, Callie Thorpe says: “It really isn’t as simple for us to be able to opt-out of fast fashion.”
The lack of sizes available can make plus-sized women feel guilty and frustrated for not being able to join in on the movement. Sophie Slater, the founder of Birdsong, believes the lack of plus-size clothing is “hangover from the fat phobia that the rest of the fashion industry has”, and extended her brand’s sizing from UK 6-24.
The theory for sustainable clothing is that the quality and consciousness of the product is reflected in the price, for example, Mother of Pearl can set you back £95 for just a plain white t-shirt. Even though many sustainable brands differ in price, they could still be seen as too expensive for some consumers, which can make them inaccessible.
One way to shop more sustainably is through buying second hand, either from charity shops or by using apps such as Depop and Vinted. Another way of looking at it is that maybe we as consumers need to change our mindset when it comes to the price of sustainable garments. Sustainable clothes are designed to last longer, so in theory, you would be saving money as you wouldn’t have to buy clothes as often to replace poor quality ones.
So, is sustainable fashion accessible? It does seem like some brands such as Birdsong and H&M are taking the right steps to be accessible to all, however there is still the issue with pricing and size inclusivity with the majority of other brands. It also seems that we as consumers should look into changing our mindset around the price of sustainable garments and think about the future rather than the here and now.