How Long Do We Keep Fast Fashion Garments on Average?

how long do we keep fast fashion garments on average

As fast and affordable fashion is readily available at high street shops, consumers have become accustomed to changing their wardrobe more frequently than ever before – on average high street clothing only wears seven times before being donated (source: Fashion Revolution).

Fashion industry practices have long been recognized for being harmful to the environment, from resource consumption and waste creation to carbon emissions that contribute up to 10% globally. And with an estimated garbage truck of clothes ending up in landfills every second, many people feel dismayed that fast fashion is harming our planet.

As much as the fashion industry is well-known for having an impactful effect on the environment, what may not be as widely acknowledged is that its factories produce waste. Garment production can be both energy and water intensive – particularly fast fashion brands which aim to get runway trends into consumers’ hands quickly using compressed design and manufacturing cycles, cheap labor costs for production costs reduction, and often fail to test wastewater for contamination.

Garment longevity can be measured using various metrics, including years, wears, cleaning cycles and user counts. When considering garment longevity it’s essential to take into account its full lifecycle: use and disposal. One effective way of doing so is calculating an expected average lifespan for high street garments before discarding or donating them away.

To do this, we surveyed 1,200 high-street consumers to ascertain how often and for how long their clothing was worn before being discarded. Below is the graph demonstrating our findings.

Respondents who responded “Don’t Know” or didn’t answer the future wearing frequency question were excluded from the results, with averages for all garment types being calculated based on those remaining answers.

We have also calculated the average lifespan of garments as calculated from their number of washes; this factor helps to further establish their lifetime, since washing can extend its life significantly.

Though fast fashion cannot be eliminated altogether, we can reduce its impact by supporting sustainable fashion. This involves purchasing garments from fast fashion brands that do not disclose wastewater testing results and purchasing ethically made clothing from responsible designers and brands. In addition, we can avoid purchasing new clothing as frequently by exploring existing wardrobes for items we can continue wearing after repairs/refashioning; once these have passed their lifespan donate or sell them instead; encouraging a reuse culture.

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