Last week I returned from the 86th IWTO Conference, this year held in Yorkshire in northern England. The conference this year was titled “Wool in the digital age” and while there were many different themes to this, I would like to focus on one part that I found particularly interesting.
Much of the wool we produce ends up in the apparel industry; it is the apparel industry that I would like to talk about.
Maybe you have heard of the term fast fashion and the subsequent phrase; slowing down fast fashion? If you are anything like me, you have probably heard these terms but don’t necessarily have an understanding of what they mean outside the obvious. So firstly some facts on the world apparel market and the role natural fibres can play in reversing some of the alarming statistics.
- The apparel industry is now the 2nd largest polluting industry in the world behind the oil industry.
- In the UK alone, 2 million tonnes of garments are purchased each year, while 1 million tonnes of old garments are discarded with 50% ending up in landfill.
- In the US on average each consumer purchases 75 new garments per year compared with 25 in 1960.
So what relevance is there here for the wool industry? Most of these products I refer to are oil based, polyester garments that are produced and subsequently sold cheaply as a way of keeping up with this fast fashion movement.
As consumers become more aware of the sustainability of the products they purchase in an attempt to slow down fast fashion they will be more focused on selecting better value for money garments. These may cost more per item, but treated correctly can last for years, therefore costing far less per use.
None of this even takes into account the life cycle of man-made versus natural fibres post wearing.
There is a number of interesting videos available, one in particular is put together by Alex James title Slowing Down Fast Fashion and can be found online.
To the wool market, sales opened on Wednesday this week with all three centres selling. Early quotes suggest the market has levelled after last Thursday’s correction with only minor movements either way across the whole spectrum. At this stage next week we see 39,000 bales rostered before contracting to low 30,000’s for the following weeks.
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