Purchasing Power for the Planet at Melbourne Fashion Festival

Published: 2 May 2022

Fast fashion is a business model that has set the trend of buying many items, using them for a short amount of time, and then throwing them away. Fast fashion products are often unethically made and made in ways that pollute and damage our environment. These products are not made to last, often containing low-quality and unrecyclable materials.

The Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC) hosted the event ‘Purchasing Power for the Planet’ to explore ways that we can make more circular and sustainable fashion choices. The event was held on Thursday 9 March, as part of the PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival.

In this session, Geoff Paine from BehaviourWorks Australia facilitated a panel of experts, including representatives from Nobody Denim, Ownershift, Patagonia, and the Country Road Group. These are all brands that offer sustainable alternatives to fast fashion.

The event included audience participation where attendees were quizzed about their participation in the fashion industry.

  • 88% had purchased used/second-hand clothing in the past.
  • Renting clothes and participating in take-back schemes were the lowest adopted circular behaviours.
Presenters and panelists. From left to right: Eloise Bishop (Country Road Group and David Jones), Dane O'Shanassy (Patagonia), Amelia Crook (Ownershift), John Condilis (Nobody Denim), Geoff Paine (BehaviourWorks), Matt Genever (Sustainability Victoria)

The take-aways – what can we do as consumers?

Our panelists reiterated the message that we can develop a collective response to the problem of fast fashion by using our ‘purchasing power’ to make environmentally friendly choices. They outlined several ways we can do this, while still enjoying fashion – and getting value for money:

  • Think second first: before purchasing an item, we should ask ourselves, can I find this item second-hand? As panelist Amelia Crook says, ‘think second first’ #secondfirst.
  • Rent clothing: there is a growing number of clothing rental platforms that allow customers to rent everyday clothes, as well as special occasion wear, such as GlamCorner.
  • Invest in quality products that are:
    • made from quality materials (durable)
    • designed to be remade and reused
    • made from safe, recyclable, or renewable materials
    • made by a transparent and tracible supply chain.
  • Repair clothing: a growing number of companies offer repairs for items purchased through them, often for free.
  • Sell and donate: increase your participation in the circular economy by donating and selling clothing you no longer want.
  • Demand transparency: certification of recycled material in clothing is not mature yet, however, it will continue to evolve if consumers generate demand for it – as will all aspects of production.

Panelist and company profiles

Our panelists work for organisations that are at the forefront of circular practices. They shared their company stories and sustainability journey with us.