What we’ve learnt from Vogue Australia’s Sustainability Editor-at-Large

By Elyse Williams

Did you know Australians send 6,000 kilograms of unwanted textiles to landfill every 10 minutes? That’s estimated to be over $500 million worth of clothing wasted each year.

This is just one of the many points Vogue Australia’s Sustainability Editor-at-Large Clare Press lives to talk about.

The former fashion editor is Australia’s go-to commentator n sustainable fashion and she’s coming to AFF18 as part of SLOW Saturday presented by Karl Chehade Dry Cleaning.

If you’re not familiar with Clare’s book or podcast Wardrobe Crisis, here are a few the incredible facts and figures she is spreading the word about.


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92 percent of the clothing sold in Australia is manufactured overseas

Our habits are not what they used to be, and thanks to the ever-expanding world wide web, we are buying from around the globe with little thought about where it’s coming from or who made it. If you consider in the cumulative air miles, the fuel it takes to get the items to you, and the plastic packaging it often comes in, the environment isn’t a happy chap!

This highlights the need to support local. Not just Australian made, but Australian designed and ethically produced. The brands are out there.

Yearly, Aussies import $12 billion of products that are potentially tainted by modern slavery

Did you know that in mass manufacturing hubs such as Bangladesh, China and Vietnam, up to 100 people can work on a garment through the production chain?

Slavery is still a prevalent and concerning problem in many cultures, and fast fashion is one industry that regularly features in social research.

Many clothing brands are being proactive and promote their commitment to ethical standards so that consumers can be confident they are supporting best practice by knowing where their items are made, as well as the methods used to produce the fibres.

The fashion industry is one of the largest polluters on the planet

Cotton farms alone use 18 percent of all pesticides worldwide and 25 percent of insecticides. It’s estimated that 70 million barrels of oil are required to produce the polyester used in fabrics each year. Of 80 billion clothing items produced annually, about 10% of the fabric created goes in the bin. Between $90 – $120 billion USD goes toward plastic packaging each year.

These alarming figures are growing and call out the need to invest in sustainable practices. Why not buy organic cotton over non-organic or consider alternative fibres such as hemp and bamboo? And when you receive packaging, think about how you discard it (is the box recyclable? Can the plastics go into a soft plastics bin?). We can all do our part.

Disposable clothing is rapidly increasing

Between 2000 and 2015 alone, the average number of times a garment was worn before disposal declined by more than 35 percent. If you double the life of your clothing from one year to two, you can reduce the items’ emissions by nearly 25 percent.

A few tips:

  • Look after your clothes so they last longer.
  • Can you (or a professional) mend it?
  • If it’s in good condition but no longer on high rotation, try giving it to a friend, donate it to an op shop, or consider holding a clothes swap.

Almost a third of product produced annually is never sold

About 80 billion garments are produced globally each year. Of that, a third is sold full price and a third on sale. The other third is never sold – and is consequently destroyed. In her book, Clare talks to Orsola de Castro, co-founder of Fashion Revolution Day, who tells of a company ordering 50,000 units but the factory produces 20,000 more in case of a re-order. But if they don’t re-order? It’s burned. And that’s not hot.

Clare Press will be attending the Adelaide Fashion Festival presented by Mercedes-Benz Adelaide & Unley as part of SLOW Saturday presented by Karl Chehade Dry Cleaning. Tickets can be purchased here.

[Pic: Meaghan Coles Photography]