We get a lot of reports sent to us about the fashion and textile industry, and one that fell into our inbox recently was from Hubbub, in association with the University of Leeds. It studied the durability of various garments from a variety of brands. Their study found that there wasn’t a correlation between price point and durability.
The really important thing about this report is that it was supported by Primark, which means that fast fashion funded it. The call is coming from inside the house! Is this greenwashing? It does make you wonder, when the work is funded by a fast fashion brand, and the results really help them argue their business model delivers durable results, if there wasn’t something a little convenient for Primark here. This wouldn’t be the first time Primark engaged in greenwashing practices. The Changing Markets Foundation has recorded a number of their previous failings, listed on Greenwash.com.
Wendy Ward, working on a PHD on Repairing the Relationship with our Clothes, makes an excellent point about this report. “Durability in fashion for me extends way beyond material/production quality, it’s about the durability of our connection to our clothes.” Regardless of the theoretical durability of fast fashion garments, the companies selling them are not hoping you buy one t-shirt and wear it for 10 years. They want you to buy ten t-shirts every time you go into Primark, and move on from the ones in your wardrobe in favour of something new and on trend that micro season. It doesn’t matter if their clothes are durable, if they are still clogging up our landfills at a dangerous rate.
Our position is that there are so many wearable clothes already on the planet. As Hubbub put it “Given that textiles are notoriously difficult to recycle into new clothing that can be worn again, we really do need to encourage everyone to wear their clothes for as long as possible and buy less.” Instead of buying, consider reworking and mending what you have, and changing you and your community’s framing of clothing as something disposable, to something worth valuing and looking after at all stages of its life.