For those who have been inspired to spice up their wardrobe in light of one of the many recent fashion shows or in an effort to attract the attention of The Crown’s hot Wills, unfortunately, your offline options are minimal. St Andrews ‘high street’ largely consists of adorable local gift shops, golf merch, and slightly futile liquor shops that must shake their heads as most of us stay loyal to Tesco’s bottom shelf. However, if you prefer the traditional in-person clothes-shopping experience you can find some brand options. But just how sustainable are they? To save you the effort of trolling through each brand’s website for their sustainability policies (which are usually hidden in the irrelevant legal section) I have attempted to compile a comprehensive guide to the sustainability of some of St Andrews branded clothes shops.
To start with the go-to for basics or panic buying a tee-shirt when you realise your sinners' ‘pres’ has a theme, H&M. Their sustainability disclosure 2021 outlines their recent improvements in becoming more eco-friendly. Some key points include; the share of recycled materials used in their garments increasing from 5.8% to 17.9%, and a 27.8% reduction in plastic packaging. With regard to long-term plans and attitude towards sustainability, their head of sustainability, Leyla Ertur, summarises; “We share the growing sense of urgency with many around the world who recognise the fashion industry needs to move faster towards circularity and continue to develop a fairer, more transparent and traceable supply chain”. Moving forward they plan to reduce emissions by 56% by 2030 and by at least 90% by 2040 and generally contribute to the movement towards a circular fashion industry - products made to last with materials that can be recycled many times. Overall, a great shopping option.
Jack Wills offers a somewhat similar style at a substantially greater cost to the earth… and your bank account. With the lack of a legal section on their website, I turned to Panaprium’s recent review of the company’s sustainability. They use a minuscule proportion of organic or recycled materials. A large proportion of their materials include leather, wool, silk, and down feathers harming the environment with exorbitant greenhouse gas emissions. They have failed to publish a list of suppliers and unfortunately are known for manufacturing their clothes in countries with unenforced labour laws and human rights violations. With regard to plans for the future, Jack Wills has identified key areas where it can make a difference. It focuses on energy usage in its stores, transport, and waste management. They claim to be continuously aiming to reduce their carbon footprint and actively reduce the amount of waste it sends to landfill but improvement is not visible yet. Overall, not a great option with the plans for improvement, as of now, remaining undisclosed, possibly at the bottom of a long meeting agenda in a corporate boardroom.
Turning back to Market Street, Superdry shares Jack Wills’ love for aggressively plastering their logo on their clothes, but has a very different attitude to sustainability. They are in the process of switching to organic cotton by 2025, changing to low-impact and recycled materials, have already become fully vegan, and changing their shipping means to reach net-zero emissions. Like H&M they support a circular fashion industry advertising if an item is 'Sustainably Sourced' on the label. This means a lower-impact material makes up over 50% of a garment's content. Over the last year, 47% of the garments we designed and produced contained organic, lower-impact or recycled materials. 2021 and 2022 saw them win four major awards for sustainable fashion and overall offer a great option for some eco-friendly shopping.
Oliver Bonas shares a similar commitment to circular fashion and sustainability in general. They support many ambitious schemes working to reduce climate change, including Textiles 2030 which is designed to limit the impact clothes and home textiles have on the planet. By 2030, signatories will reduce sector emissions by 50%, reduce the water footprint of products sold by 30%, ensure items are made to be recyclable, and more products are acquired for reuse. Not yet vegan but have banned fur, angora, down, mohair, and any material from endangered species in their manufacturing process. They are making fast progress towards being entirely organic and so provide an equally sustainable option for some quirky statement pieces.
Of course, subscribing to any degree of fast fashion brands, no matter how sustainable they are, is not ideal. We are very lucky to host a plethora of vintage shops and sales as well as a good deal of charity shops which offer far better alternatives for sustainability. However, if you do want to shop first-hand while supporting sustainable businesses, we are fairly blessed with our options.