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Is vintage fashion sustainable?

What is involved in selling vintage fashion and how does it impact the environment?

Shopping vintage can transform your wardrobe – but is vintage fashion sustainable?

More and more consumers are trying to shop sustainably, and as vintage fashion is predicted to overtake fast fashion by 2028, it seems like a good place to start.

Here, we look at whether it’s really sustainable.

READ MORE: 6 ways to recycle your old clothes

Is vintage fashion sustainable?

Vintage fashion has a much longer life cycle than fast fashion. Rather than simply just second hand, a garment can only be considered true vintage if it’s 20 years old and over.

Vintage clothing has to be sorted, sometimes upcycled or mended, dyed, washed, steamed and sometimes photographed before it can be sold, but the impact this has on the environment is much smaller than that of fast fashion.

The largest carbon footprint vintage fashion leaves is due to transportation, but the waste material is minimal – and when there is waste, this is often recycled.

Many popular vintage stores offer upcycled ranges, such as Pick n Weight, Beyond Retro and Rokit. However some stores also buy vintage look clothing, so if you see a few of the same item, it’s unlikely to be vintage.

Fashion Revolution offer a fantastic look at the lifecycle of vintage fashion here.

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Is vintage slow fashion?

Slow fashion is defined by Good On You as ‘an awareness and approach to fashion, which considers the processes and resources required to make clothing, particularly focusing on sustainability.’

They add that it involves favouring ‘better-quality garments that will last for longer and values fair treatment of people, animals and the planet.’

As vintage fashion uses significantly fewer resources than fast fashion, we argue that vintage fashion is slow fashion.

Why is vintage clothing good for the environment?

Vintage clothing is good for the environment because the clothes already exist. No new resources or energy has been used to create them, while the only carbon footprint left by vintage fashion is that of transportation and minimal repairs.

There are no garment workers being paid very little to create them, which is one of many problems with fast fashion.

Which brands aren’t sustainable?

Fast fashion generates 100 billion garments per year, making it one of the most polluting industries in the world.

A few examples of unsustainable fashion include Boohoo, ASOS, Primark and H&M.

Read our exhaustive list of fast fashion brands here.

READ MORE: Online vintage shops: the best places to snap up vintage bargains

READ MORE: 6 trends for 2021 you can shop vintage for under £50

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