The great British high street might be unbeatable when it comes to ‘reinterpreting’ (ahem) catwalk looks in the blink of an eye, but its record on sustainability isn’t always exemplary. Now it seems more brands are finally waking up to the fact that consumers want their clothing to be as ethically sound as their food – though, being the contrary souls that we are, we (ok fine, I) begrudge paying more for the privilege of a clean conscience.
Sweatshirt, £36, and backpack, Topshop.com
That’s why I was intrigued and impressed by Topshop’s new Reclaim collection, which launches on Friday, June 15 at Topshop.com. Topshop teamed up with Orsola de Castro, who founded the eco label From Somewhere in 1997 and launched the ‘Reclaim to Wear’ concept in 2004, to turn remnants from their stocks into new pieces. Impressively, the results are stylish and, most excitingly, affordable.
Tunic dress, £38, Topshop.com
Topshop’s surplus stock of jersey, cotton and denim has been turned into a collection of sporty, casual summer clothes including some nicely battered denim shorts (and a terrifyingly ‘90s backpack, but that’s hot apparently), plus a supercool sweatshirt (£36), a tiered blouse (£32) in mixed fabrics and a couple of clean, simple jersey dresses (£40 and £38).
Red and white dress, £40, multi-fabric top, £32, Topshop.com
So remnants and offcuts that would have been incinerated or found their way into landfill have been turned into wearable clothes – and if the collection is a success, Topshop say they will scale the project up to run across more of the business, which can only be a good thing.
The textile and fashion industries are big polluters so, to mix my metaphors with gay abandon, Topshop Reclaim might be a drop in the ocean but it’s also a step in the right direction.