World Economic Forum Weighs In On Fashion Sustainability

There have been many times when the World Economic Forum (WEF) has been criticised by environmentalists, with so many world leaders and famous individuals and captains of industry flying into Davos on private jets to chuck a few ideas about.

However, the importance of sustainability has played an increasing role in the event across a range of areas, such as the appearances there by former Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg as he campaigned to shift both motorsport and cars in general away from petrol and diesel to electricity.

Now it is the turn of fashion. The WEF has published a report by Business Insider highlighting the problems that fast fashion is posing for the planet.

It noted that clothing production has doubled since 2000, which means more people have a lot of clothes they don’t particularly need or throw away sooner; by 2014, people bought 60 per cnet more garments but kept them half as long.

Moreover, fashion houses themselves have been culpable in this increased turnover of outfits, going from an average of two collections a year in 2000 to five by 2011.

The upshot is the equivalent of a whole garbage truck of clothes being burned or going into landfill very second.

All this will be familiar to those who know about the problem. But while some of the solution could come through individual consumers buying fewer clothes, companies can play their own part, such as using hospitality clothing that lasts and is not change for new designs for years. 

Of course, while the fact that the issue is getting significant attention at the WEF is welcome, that alone will not change things. While the annual get-together has been the subject of a myriad of conspiracy theories about Covid-19, ‘great resets’ and much else besides, in reality it is a platform for the exchange of ideas. It is not a policy-making body and has no power over national legislatures.

This being the case, addressing the issue of fast fashion will still be the responsibility of governments, but it is also down to companies and their own approach to buying uniforms that are made to last and literally don’t cost the earth.

April 13, 2022 — Jacob Blakey