Fashion and utility retailers join forces to debate sustainable shopping
- First meeting of fashion and utility retailers to debate how to encourage customers to shop in a sustainable way
- Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton cited as a role model for re-wearing outfits
- Event spearheaded by University of Sheffield psychologists and management experts and fashion experts at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion
Fashion and utility retailers met for the first time last week as part of a unique collaboration to debate how best to encourage customers to shop in a sustainable way.
The discussion at Westfield Shopping Centre, London, builds upon a growing recognition and requirement within both retail sectors of the need to encourage more conscientious consumption of their products in order to reduce the environmental impact of their activities.
While utility companies are governed by legislation that requires they encourage people to use less energy and water, the fashion industry currently has no set regulations.
However, fashion retailers are increasingly aware of the need to reduce their environmental impact and are keen to work with experienced retailers from other sectors to identify the best means of promoting more conscientious consumption of clothing while staying in business.
The unlikely coupling of retail sectors has been spearheaded by psychologists and management experts at the University of Sheffield and fashion experts at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion in a multidisciplinary, knowledge exchange project called TRANSFER, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Dr Natalie McCreesh, TRANSFER Research Associate at the University of Sheffield, said the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, was a “great role model” for dressing and shopping in a more sustainable way.
“She often re-wears the same items and shows how you can make the same dress look like a new outfit just by changing accessories. She even borrows clothes from her mum and sister, buys from outlet stores and consignment shops.”
She added: “All these things might not immediately seem environmentally friendly but they add up to make a huge difference. It’s about looking after what you already have and getting more use of what you do buy.”
The academic team are confident that TRANSFER can make a positive impact on sustainability in both the fashion and utility retail sectors and will extend their findings to consult members of the public later in the year.
Dr Christopher Jones, TRANSFER lead investigator at the University of Sheffield, added: “We have brought together a diverse group of retailers to the table at today’s event. However, this diversity masks a number of common challenges and opportunities for those involved.
“We hope the TRANSFER project will help to ensure that UK Plc develops in a more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable way.”
Partners at the event included ASOS, DED Associates, E.ON UK, Ecotricity, LUSH Cosmetics, Marks and Spencer, Meadowhall Sheffield, MK Things Happen PR, National Grid Plc, Neals Yard Remedies, Retail Centric, Reve en Vert, ReWardrobe, Susie Stone Ltd, Thames Water, UK Data Service, United Utilities, Westfield London and WRAP, as well as Sunday Times journalist Jessica Brinton and journalist and ethical consultant Marion Hume.
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