By 2030, the fashion industry will be obsessed with sustainable practices

Published: 2 May 2022
back of woman with brown hair wearing a white shirt with a green bag over her back, facing palm fronds

In the world of fashion, sustainability is the new black. From the spinning of fabrics in factories, to the finished garments on our backs, conscious consumers are demanding action – and the fashion industry is listening.

We predict that the hand-me-down jumper or upcycled dress in your closet will never go out of style. And, in response to conscious consumerism and the potential of low-waste business models, we reckon that by 2030 the fashion industry is going to be as obsessed with sustainable practices as you.

More and more, we’re recognising the impact that fashion and textiles has on the environment. The conversation has shifted beyond the realm of consumer choice to include the entire supply chain, increasing pressure on the fashion industry to listen - and act.

In the last year people have said that they’re willing to pay more for fashion and textiles that are more sustainable in their design and production, shows research from BehaviourWorks.

We can even put on a price on it.

The research suggests consumers willing to pay $20 more for a jacket if it could be repaired for 10 per cent of the purchase price. And if it could be repaired for free, they would pay a whopping $46 more.

67% of shoppers already consider environmentally-friendly fabrics when choosing a brand. Source: McKinney and Co. Sustainability in Fashion Report 2020.

Fast fashion for the conscious consumer

Globally, we’re already seeing big brands cater to the conscious consumer. Fast fashion giant H&M now offers a ‘conscious’ collection and has embraced Green Machine technology to separate and recycle clothing at scale. The company reports it tripled the share of recycled materials in its garments from 5.8% to 17.9% in 2021.

It was one of the highest ranked brands in the 2021 Fashion Transparency Index and earned A+ for environmental sustainability in The Ethical Fashion Guide by Baptist World Aid Australia.

Closer to home, Victoria has a strong fashion and textiles sector, with many local businesses already innovating by embracing new technologies and business models to drive circular economy outcomes. In its quest to reduce waste and increase the lifecycle of garments,

Victorian brand Nobody Denim offers repairs on jeans within 12 months of purchase and has installed new equipment reducing the number of its garments classified as seconds by 30%.

Momentum is growing as these innovators in our backyard explore creative ways to maximise the value of resources and reduce waste. They’re developing more sustainable products, improving their production processes, and rethinking how they recover and reuse recyclable materials.

Our Circular Economy Business and Innovation Centre (CEBIC) is pursuing textiles as a focus area as part of a mission to empower businesses to reduce textiles waste and use materials more efficiently.

>> Read more about how our Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre is fighting textile waste at CEBIC Year 2 focus area: Textiles.

Did you know 92 million tonnes of waste generated from the fashion industry.

Textiles are filling our landfills

So why does it matter if we embrace sustainable fashion? It matters because Australia and the rest of the world produces and disposes of an alarming amount of textile waste – the ultimate fashion fail.

Every second, the equivalent of one rubbish truck of textiles is landfilled or incinerated globally. The fashion industry alone is responsible for about 10 per cent of global carbon emissions and 20 per cent of wastewater created.

As Australians, we each discard an average of almost 30kg textiles annually.

And if those aren’t reasons to embrace a more circular approach to fashion and reduce waste, then the estimated US $700 billion in global savings could be.

The runway to change

At ‘Purchasing Power for the Planet’, a recent CEBIC-hosted event as part of Melbourne Fashion Festival, representatives from BehaviourWorks, Patagonia and the Country Road Group reiterated that we can respond to fast fashion with our purchasing power. They outlined several ways that you can make sustainable fashion choices:

  1. Think second first: when we go to purchase an item, we should ask ourselves, can I find this item second-hand? Try your local op shop or services such as Mutual Muse, which buys ethically produced, pre-loved clothing and resells it as part of a curated selection in their stores.
  2. Rent: if we’re after the latest fashion or special clothing, we can rent our wardrobe. There is a growing number of clothing rental platforms that allow customers to rent everyday clothes, as well as special occasion wear, such as Glam Corner.
  3. Invest: if we do need to buy new, invest in quality products.
  4. Repair: we should extend the life of our clothing wherever possible through repair. A growing number of companies offer repairs for items purchased through them, often for free.

Future trends

SV is looking to the future of sustainability in Victoria. We’re unpacking the future trends that matter and spotlighting key opportunities for innovation and investment as we look to a future defined by our transition to a circular, climate-resilient economy.

Learn about 4 more future trends that will shape Victoria’s climate resilient economy by 2030.