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Fashion's naked truths | The Economist

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Half of all clothes are thrown away within one year—many have never been worn. The industry's obsession with fast fashion comes with a steep environmental price tag. Click here to subscribe to The Economist on YouTube: https://econ.st/2xvTKdy Fashion is one of the fastest-growing industries on the planet. Around the world eighty billion new pieces of clothing are sold every year - 400% more than just forty years ago. Americans alone are buying five times more garments than in 1980. Now a $1.3 trillion mega industry, fashion employs more than 300 million people worldwide. While other industries have come apart at the seams, clothing production has doubled in the last 15 years. But it's a fashion statement with a steep environmental price tag - making one kilogram of fabric produces 23 kilograms of greenhouse gases. Textile production generates more carbon dioxide than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Yet half of all clothes are thrown away within one year - many having never been worn. Fashion is now considered the second most polluting industry in the world after oil. And with increasing middle classes in the developing world keen to make their own fashion statement, this will get worse. If 80 percent of emerging markets reach Western levels of clothes shopping, carbon dioxide emissions could increase by nearly 80% per person. By 2050 total clothing sales could reach 175 million tons - turning the planet into the biggest fashion victim of them all. For more from Economist Films visit: http://films.economist.com/ Check out The Economist’s full video catalogue: http://econ.st/20IehQk Like The Economist on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheEconomist/ Follow The Economist on Twitter: https://twitter.com/theeconomist Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theeconomist/ Follow us on Medium: https://medium.com/@the_economist
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Text Comments (185)
di (1 month ago)
not only fashion, but also all problems are associated with "too many population"...is this an extreme logic??
Suzuki246 (1 month ago)
I like how the seriousness of this topic and the happy music don't match.
Kip Andrew (2 months ago)
I found an article reputing the statement that fashion is the second most polluting industry. https://www.racked.com/2017/3/15/14842476/fashion-climate-change-environment-pollution
Kingfisher (2 months ago)
basically sayin, hey look, we are rich and we have already polluted the earth to a point of near no return, so u poor countries should just slow down and dont push all of us over the cliff, logic
Bertha Lovejoy (3 months ago)
oh shut the fuck up..stop pestering developing countries and individuals go pester the 100 companies responsible for 71% of all global emissions
Patricia Velasco (3 months ago)
This video made me cringe so much. I completely agree we need to change our GLOBAL approach to fashion but blaming the developing countries for it it's simplistic at best and racist at worst. Time to update the way you communicate (and maybe think?) The Economist
Sarah Libogoma (3 months ago)
The fact you had to put Africa in this video with that condescending "fact"......you lost me!
Rani Tigga (3 months ago)
Go for Khadi
42 -42 (3 months ago)
So if whites are polluting its fine but when others do the same as whites its a concern.... Just fuck off .....whites started they are responsible for this they are the biggest polluters and they are the biggest consumers ....
James Matthews (3 months ago)
Clothes buyers are suckers, aren't they?
jivenesspie (3 months ago)
Augmented Reality Fashion! Clothing of the future should be simple but AR glasses can overlay fashionable virtual clothing on your body.
coc0s (3 months ago)
It's a good thing I wear my clothes until they have holes in them.
Maha Nadir (3 months ago)
You didn't even mention the human rights violations in a lot of factories these companies have set up in Bangladesh and Indonesia. Everyone should go watch the John Oliver video on Fashion
4G12 (3 months ago)
There's a saying from wise folk of old: "I am too poor to afford poor quality junk." I miss the days when clothes were designed for long term quality, not maximizing money circulation to appease the church of money.
Rajib Rabbi (3 months ago)
Any solution to this problem?
byram101 (3 months ago)
At only 2 minutes this should be played in a loop on the digital signs outside of youth districts...if there is a next generation maybe they can stop this train!
Neemi Tiwari (3 months ago)
Quite an educating video. Should be discussed more through social media and news media!
chf gbp (3 months ago)
Destroying nature for the most flippant of reasons. Sigh....
poigtlunar (3 months ago)
This corporate culture seems curse to our planet... Everywhere you see, they design ways to make profit.. but they don't put the cost of environment in the equation.. Next time when you have corporate board meetings let them also put the environment quotient in the midst of their discussions and see...
poigtlunar (3 months ago)
Don't blame on Developing countries... Infact the idea of development seems... Subjective.. Would you call a "self sufficient African tribe" underdeveloped but they are in accordance with their environment, self sustaining and are livings peacefully generations after generations. I hope you understand the movie "Avatar"...
Sarah Libogoma (3 months ago)
That movie alone.....is too clever for the Economist!
poigtlunar (3 months ago)
Then why promote fashion...? Go back to early man days.. planet would have been better...
nandini nk (3 months ago)
So, what do you think ? only those prostitutes who are sleeping with you wear fashionable clothes before baring in front you to seduce and others will not wear any clothes or wear only leaves? Bastadrs ----
Rajat Kubade (3 months ago)
So they don't want developing countries to create their own brands 👏👏
jj Roy (3 months ago)
gym fit body is my fashion
chence08 (3 months ago)
just become a nudist
Mystery Talk Show (3 months ago)
Hmm....So economist is concerned about the third world countries reaching the levels of Western clothing style but in their hometowns they are not going to do anything..... yeah hypocrisy at its best
imadude (3 months ago)
so the developing countries shouldn't have new clothes or what?
Nanda Kishore (3 months ago)
so please stop wearing them and save planet
Ansh Arora (3 months ago)
This is wrong see this https://ethicalunicorn.com/2018/02/01/fashion-is-not-the-second-highest-polluting-industry-here-are-the-real-numbers/
Wodan Ymir (3 months ago)
Its a MYTH! MYTH folks! Climate change is FAKE!
VeggiePauá! (3 months ago)
I thought the number one leading cause of climate change was factory farming
Jatin Abhir (3 months ago)
That's a sad truth.
Joao Rocha (3 months ago)
The meat industry polutes more than every means of transportation combined, even more than oil. ¿How did you missed that?
Aculturación Sin (3 months ago)
Thrift my friend **
Tommie (3 months ago)
It uses so much water too! But don't forget animal agriculture is also awful for the environment as well. :(
Grace Lang (3 months ago)
Any references for these facts?
Kenny J (3 months ago)
Who is throwing away all these clothes?
Goh Kee Khai (3 months ago)
True environmentalist can all go naked now, no cloth, no washing, will make the world a better place
zhaoliu chen (3 months ago)
that means women produce more co2 than man??🤣🤣
Hamza Nidam (3 months ago)
Boy, this 2050 is the new 2012 end of the world
Altair (3 months ago)
Rather than looking at developing world we should be asking developed countries to reduce their consumption habits and be a role model to the developing world than teaching them the same consumption habit which this fashion corporation spreading everywhere, Their sole purpose is to make profit they dont care about environment the more consumer in developing world they will take advantage of them and impart the same consumption habits on them .Ask movies to stop showing off so much that people wanting the urge to buy things every other day.Lets start with Americans who consume 100times more than someone from developing world.
Mystery Talk Show (3 months ago)
This is total hypocrisy. They won't do anything but blame the onus of everything on the developing countries.
honest trader (3 months ago)
That is why i wear cotton kurta pajama
Ant Nam (3 months ago)
Thats sad!
brahamdeep singh (3 months ago)
Holy shit! I never thought about this.
OA (3 months ago)
"400% more that 40 years ago", new pieces of clothing sold every year, that is. But are we dressed 400% better (or more)?
Vendetta (3 months ago)
Reegan Annaraj (3 months ago)
So the wealthiest states should stop thinking fashion
WY M (3 months ago)
overrated and silly- waste
Sunny Singh (3 months ago)
Don't forget fashion industry also uses slavery in developing countries to keep costs low.
neverforgottenful (3 months ago)
Hey, but scientists already told that agriculture is 2nd the most polluting industry in the world!
Ugly girls r most crazy abt fashion. It us not going to help you thots.
Ban instagram. Thots do nothing there but just promote clothing.
John Logrono (3 months ago)
Rowan Gontier (3 months ago)
I can see how TEXTILES are 2nd most polluting industry. But fashion- many clothes are bought for basic dress, and happens to be fashionable. Clothing is fundamental to humans- protection from elements.
icytea5 (3 months ago)
It's all caused by women
Lala Kumar (3 months ago)
Don't blame everything on developing countries
kuldeep (3 months ago)
What about our eating habits ..what about our wearing habits..what about our transportation habits... Is there any similarity? These companies want to consume more so they can make more.. But they also help shape humanity. The economy works on consumption. But wait who created these standards to have best clothes , best car , best food. Why we want to look best.. Eat best.. Maybe it's us.. There is no other way.. Or Is there?
Anthony Drogon (3 months ago)
"400% increase in 40 years", or "5 times more than in 1980", is the same statistic.
Normally Tangent (3 months ago)
I've suspected this for quite some time now, at least since the emergence of the word "fast-fashion". Apart from purchasing better quality clothing that would last long years or even second hand clothing what else can I do on my part? I often find myself fretting over the fabric used, if it's natural or synthetic, or if it's a petroleum by-product as is the norm these days. But I don't know. There's not much detailed information on the effects of the fabric production. For example, viscose rayon is a synthetic fiber made from cellulose. In my head, it's better than a 100% polyester top which is a petroleum by-product. Now, which one's harming the environment more? What does the lifecycle of a polyester fabric look like? There are so many more questions on my mind.
Wanuke (3 months ago)
“Fasion Employs 300 million people”, so they count child sweatshop workers as employed.
ruzzell907 (3 months ago)
Self-righteous Prius-driving vegan fashionistas out there shaming other people for eating burgers and driving a Kia Sportage.
ARSHAD BAIG (3 months ago)
Now all of a sudden everyone is waking up getting so much concerned about environmental issues and pollution, but I think we all are too late to address this issue.
Humber Abdulah (3 months ago)
i never hear this issue on my country
Agnes Laufer (3 months ago)
5 piece french wardrobe & project 333 and minimalism gave me freedom from the nonsense of fashion !
Anshul Kumawat (3 months ago)
That's a shocker.
Linus Steinmetz (3 months ago)
It would have been good to also talk about ways to change those things. Otherwise it doesn't help me much in my actions.
Manuele Mambelli (3 months ago)
Buy new clothes less often. Use old ones longer. Recycle the fabric. These are some thing actions we can take to help each other solve the problem.
Abhay Sharma (3 months ago)
Most of the people are obsessed with the numbers and stats and often gets trapped in it, My country has a higher GDP, Your countries sucks economically, No one gives any value to be good at ecologically and I think this is a point where lies most of the problems, I think right now governments are serving the numbers but not for what is good for the citizens in the long terms.
Partha Ceo (3 months ago)
make a video on artificial intelligence
Aldo (3 months ago)
Wooo , what an eye opener, I was not expecting these stats, this is hard to fathom.
ruzzell907 (3 months ago)
Go to Uniqlo. H&M prices but with longevity. Don't buy clothes that disintegrates after one wash.
Amy Sadler (3 months ago)
Awesome how this video is supported by the Woolmark Company. Because. Well, obviously feeding and watering a living sheep that belches and farts methane is a great way to grow fabric of course.
K 2 (3 months ago)
Good thing I wear the same handful of outfits. Kidding. I mean, I do only wear like two variations of the same 3 outfits but it's not going to help the planet.
cassi farcas (3 months ago)
I do have plenty of clothes. Putting them together and creating new outfits really cheers me up. But I don't buy things that belong to "the latest fashions", so they don't go out of fashion. I wear a piece of clothing for years. I know that minimalism would be ideal for the environment, but at least my way is not the worst way 🙃
f - (3 months ago)
Very informative and infographics are the best.
Mary Robi (3 months ago)
Notice how they blame the developing countries for the fashion pollution yet whites control the fast fashion trends. They don't want the poor nations to rise up
Sarah Libogoma (3 months ago)
Stupid is what Stupid does/says.....in this case; "The Economist" propaganda mxcheeeew!
Martin Růžička (3 months ago)
This is such a bullshit statement from the Economist.
Ken (3 months ago)
This video is brought to you by H&M.
shannu j (3 months ago)
This is stupid. How can you not talk about rapid increase in population, when talking about increased clothes consumption.
David D (3 months ago)
Dont seem like the feminist care about the environment as long as those cows are fed an clothed by welfare and alimony
Comrade Lenin (3 months ago)
I thought the second was cattle breeding.
james machau (3 months ago)
I think it changes depending on what the current target industry is. Unless you know how the statistics were derived. Always be skeptical.
NathansHVAC (3 months ago)
This problem solves itself. A warmer climate means less clothes are needed to stay warm.
Rico T (3 months ago)
Stop polluting our planet with clothes, please go naked
PUTRA PERANTAU (3 months ago)
is there any environment friendly fashion ?
1Schrankwand (3 months ago)
Its worth a google search I think :)
NathansHVAC (3 months ago)
Qamar Pasha (3 months ago)
wealth which is created from the air (from nothing) is behind every pollution and man made disaster..
OA (3 months ago)
Wrong. Wealth in fashion industry is now created due two fast return on capital invested. This is the reason H&M puts out new collection practically every week (40 years ago there used to be two new collections a year).
Paul Latshaw (3 months ago)
What a complete waste of time this video is. Speaking as an ex-subscriber, The Economist is in serious decline.
NathansHVAC (3 months ago)
I love seeing how the deranged left think
Richard Goode (3 months ago)
Fashion as a industry a goverment to direct a Fashion industry by policy.
cato (3 months ago)
Fashion and fascism is there a difference?
Aman Panda (3 months ago)
Why aren't we talking about this? Why isn't this the no1 priority news?
KUZTOMIX (3 months ago)
'Cos money?
Voranart Sirisubsoontorn (3 months ago)
I am one of fashion lovers since young. But now I am toward less but better. I stop buying cheap uncomfortable clothes. And aim at comfortable in fashion.
tvee (3 months ago)
Fashion is all hype and b.s. marketing meant to lure people in and get them to spend money on what they want but not necessarily what they need.
wavedash (3 months ago)
You're not wrong, but that exact statement also applies to cars, computers, phones, food, furniture, art, music, movies, and... well, everything. Capitalism thrives on marketing.
Tim Gravert (3 months ago)
I think its clear you guys aren't economists, you are globalists. Unsubscribing.
Joao Cavaleiro (3 months ago)
Fashion is the only way to make people keep on buying more and more clothes....even if they already have lots of clothes ......that just went out of fashion. What a waste! Dont buy!
Richard Goode (3 months ago)
A Person to buy.
Brennan Munoz (3 months ago)
Damn I had no idea. Why does it emit so much CO2?
ohd00bley (3 months ago)
Brennan Munoz - https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-017-0058-9 "Textile production is one of the most polluting industries, producing 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) per year, which is more emissions than international flights and maritime shipping2. Over 60% of textiles are used in the clothing industry and a large proportions of clothing manufacturing occurs in China and India, countries which rely on coal-fuelled power plants, increasing the footprint of each garment. It has been stated that around 5% of total global emissions come from the fashion industry3. Emissions from manufacturing depend in part on the material produced. Synthetic fibres have seen rapid production growth since their introduction in the second half of the twentieth century. Polyester is now the most commonly used fabric in clothing, having overtaken cotton early in the twenty-first century. For polyester and other synthetic materials, the emissions for production are much higher as they are produced from fossil fuels such as crude oil. In 2015, production of polyester for textiles use results in more than 706 billion kg of CO2e (ref. 4). The authors of ref. 4 estimate a single polyester t-shirt has emissions of 5.5 kg CO2e, compared with 2.1 kg CO2e for one made from cotton. However cotton is a thirsty crop and its production has greater impacts on land and water."
Brennan Munoz (3 months ago)
Zach so transporting the clothes is the issue? Or what else requires so much oil? I assume a great deal of electricity is used as well (to power sewing machines, lighting etc)
Zach G (3 months ago)
Brennan Munoz mass production requires energy, energy requires a power source which oil is usually the cheapest
kliudrsfhlih (3 months ago)
I suggest watching the documentary film "The true cost". You really get to understand how buying cheap clothes entails modern day slavery and environmental damage.
Syarifah Mardhiah (3 months ago)
I'm about to say the same thing!!
Abie Alberca (3 months ago)
Watch it months ago and definitely an eye-popper how fast fashion mega brands covers modern day slavery and environmental costs yet earning $$$$$ showing no welfare at all.
ohd00bley (3 months ago)
kliudrsfhlih - thanks! it's here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHw4HEzzsyc
NathansHVAC (3 months ago)
Jobs are slavery. Welfare is freedom.
What are the factors that contribute to such large greenhouse gas emissions in this industry? Would be great if they provided more detail about that. I wonder what technological solutions could help reduce the footprint...I'm also in favor of reducing the consumption of clothes, but we should address this also from the supply side.
Vikram Kumar (3 months ago)
Could also have covered the plants and animals that are also exploited for the production of clothes worldwide.
NathansHVAC (3 months ago)
Someday the plants will vote liberal. Right now they are scared stiff.
Ryan Chapuis (3 months ago)
Rabah_ MECA (3 months ago)
I never knew that it's the second most polluting industry after oil. It totally shocked me.
Eric CL (3 months ago)
+Marshall Wilson Just read my comment once more numbnut. Just Google it - that's what i did. Not super difficult to go on your browser and Google "ellen McCarty Foundation, pollution clothing" or something...
Marshall Wilson (3 months ago)
LL cool J there’s no debate in the Scientific community on this topic, animal agriculture is the number one polluter. I’m not sure where you’re getting you’re information
Eric CL (3 months ago)
Yea, naah. Not sure if sarcastic OP or not, but it's true. Ellen MacArthur Foundation did the research i think. *Others* That's what happens when you swallow everything vegan people say, and believe the solutions the green party(s) propose - actual _bullshit_
Kip Andrew (3 months ago)
Yeah I thought the animal agriculture was at the top or something, I wish they would cite where they got that number!
Marshall Wilson (3 months ago)
After animal agriculture actually, not Oil.
green alien (3 months ago)
10% of the world population contributes to 49% of climate change. Still condescending remarks about the developing world prevails.
bro ha (3 months ago)
iliya not even 500 the fortune guys
Iriya (3 months ago)
71% of the World's carbon emissions are produced by only 100 companies...
green alien (3 months ago)
This is fucked up
alexbrave1 (3 months ago)
This issue should be talked about more!
Suteera Tak (3 months ago)
I agree
Sanket Limkar (3 months ago)
I concur.

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