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Comment: Sustainability is gathering momentum – what are your views?

Kirsty McGregor

Last Wednesday evening, John Lewis celebrated the launch of the new festival-themed rooftop experience at its Oxford Street flagship, where guests were presented with an array of eco-friendly sunglasses from eyewear brand Parafina.

Each pair of sunglasses came in a case made of recycled high-density polyethylene plastic, along with a pencil made with recycled compressed paper. The pencils contained seeds, which meant that, after use, they could be used to grow various types of plant.



Parafina’s emphasis on natural, sustainable materials and giving back to the environment rounded off a couple of days in which the sustainability announcements seemed to come thick and fast. Last Tuesday, fast fashion etailer PrettyLittleThing (PLT) revealed a new partnership with clothing recycling app Regain. The app allows users to unlock discount codes by dropping off unwanted clothes at local pick-up points.

That same day, H&M group-owned retailer Arket announced plans to launch a clothing take-back scheme across its modest store network at the end of this month. Customers will be able to take all unwanted clothing, shoes and textiles from any brand, in any condition, to Arket stores, where they will be sorted and then recycled.

Another notable announcement was Australian multibrand etailer The Iconic’s new filter to allow customers to search for sustainable products. Labelled the “Considered Edit”, it is divided into five categories: animal friendly, community engagement, eco-production, fair production and sustainable materials.

Roof fest london john lewis

The John Lewis rooftop ‘festival’

Even as I am writing this, an alert on my impending Asos order tells me it will be delivered in one of the etailer’s new 100% electric vans, “cos we’re into cleaner air”. 

Sustainability has replaced technology as the focus of the fashion industry’s obsession. For so long, the industry paid lip-service to sustainability, but the speed at which these announcements are coming – and the mix of brands and retailers they are coming from – is a very positive sign.

H&M group has long had a commitment to becoming more sustainable, but for PLT to announce its support of a recycling scheme is an important, and savvy, step. Our recent research on the Gen Z consumer, which is due to published early next month, confirms that this group is very aware of the damaging impact the fashion industry can have on the environment.

At Drapers, we firmly believe there is a strong and growing business imperative for fashion brands to become more sustainable. It is why we launched our first sustainability conference this year – which quickly sold out. An announcement on next year’s event is coming soon. Register your interest

In the meantime, we have extended the deadline on our sustainability survey to 26 April, to allow more retailers and brands to take part. Whether you are a junior or senior member of staff, or the CEO or owner, we want to know what you think of the sustainability agenda, what your company is doing to become more sustainable, and what realistic steps you think are needed to bring about real, industry-wide change. Take part in the anonymous survey, which is open to anyone working for or leading a fashion retailer, brand or supplier.


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