Could the Covid pandemic make fashion more sustainable?

From advances in carbon-sequestering sequins to a boom in second-hand shopping, there have been chinks of light in 2020, despite the grim big picture

Even the most ardent fan of elasticated waistbands would have to concede that 2020 has been an ugly year for fast fashion. The industry’s environmental issues are well known. It emits more carbon emissions than all international flight and maritime shipping combined, according to UNEP, the UN Environment Programme. The UK alone sends an estimated £140m worth, or 350,000 tonnes, of used clothing to landfill. And 2020 highlighted the human cost of over-production, with grim reports from Pakistani factories supplying clothes to Boohoo topping off a year in which garment workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam were among the first to pay the price of the pandemic as western companies refused to pay for orders.

But there has been good news too, even within the limitations of this strange, sad year – sometimes because of them. Here are five promising developments – from mindset shifts to disruptive technology – which could help us emerge from this wearing something we can feel good about.

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