1.As part of our inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry, we heard evidence outlining the urgent need for the fashion industry to address its labour market and environmental sustainability issues. In autumn 2018 we wrote to sixteen leading UK fashion retailers to ask what steps they are taking to reduce the environmental and social impact of the clothes and shoes they sell. We used data on market share published by Global Data in its industry report, The UK Clothing Market, 2018–2023 to identify the top ten fashion retailers. We also asked four leading online retailers to answer similar questions following evidence at our first hearing about illegally low wages for garment workers and the disposability of some ‘fast fashion’ garments. Several of these retailers had been named in evidence linked to low pay in Leicester but the committee also used data on ‘share of voice’ compiled by Pi Datametrics. In addition, we wrote to two leading luxury UK fashion brands, Burberry and Kurt Geiger, following reports of stock burning by luxury brands.
2.We were impressed with the level of engagement by some retailers. Others expressed openness to engaging on these issues and have taken some small steps. A few retailers, unfortunately, do not seem to consider social and environmental responsibility as a priority. One, Kurt Geiger, did not reply at all. We acknowledge that some retailers have not signed up to the specific initiatives which we have considered but are taking other measures to address these issues within their organisations.
3.We believe that there is scope for retailers to do much more to tackle labour market and environmental sustainability issues. We are disappointed that so few retailers are showing leadership through engagement with industry initiatives.
4.This is an interim report on the sustainability of the fashion industry. We will publish a final report shortly.
1 Global Data, (July 2018) The UK Clothing Market 2018–2023; Pi Datametrics, (October 2018), Q3, Pi Leaderboard Report, UK, Fashion Retail, September 2015 - October 2018.
Published: 31 January 2019