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We need to talk about overproduction

It's the biggest challenge for the fashion industry - and the planet

By Cally Russell, This is Unfolded

The biggest issue in fashion is overproduction of clothes

30% of new clothes are never sold. You read that right - 30% of new clothes are never sold! That is not a typo - it’s a fact. A pretty astonishing fact.

Let’s take a step back and really examine that stat. Globally in 2019 it was estimated that 80 billion new clothes were produced - a truly terrifying number that equates to 10 new items of clothing per human being on the planet that year alone.

This level of overproduction is why the fashion industry annually now accounts for around 10% of emissions in the world, and is on course to contribute more than a quarter of all emissions by 2050. It is the second largest polluting industry globally, responsible for more emissions than both aviation and maritime shipping combined.

Simple maths means that with those numbers in mind, over 20 billion new items of clothing are made every year and never sold to any customers. What happens to them instead? The clothes go to landfill, and all the energy, natural resources and hours of labour to produce them have been wasted as well. Research by McKinsey shows that this waste creates more emissions than the whole of the United Kingdom, a country of over 60 million people, produces every year.

In other words: 30% of the second biggest polluting industry in the world is just pure waste!

Aerial view of a digger in a landfill site, with tons of waste from the textile industry

The fashion industry needs to change

A huge part of this wastage is driven by the desire for brands to constantly offer you new products and fast delivery. This means companies are buying up thousands of new styles (sometimes tens of thousands) every year and often producing them 6 months before they sell them.

With this approach there is no chance they know what consumers will actually buy (no matter how smart they claim to be) and as such create this huge amount of waste and damage to our world from the very start of their process.

The sustainable issues with fashion (Hi Shein!) aren’t just due to what clothes are made of, as you would be led to believe by many high street retailers - the sustainability issues and the huge damage to our planet are driven by the fundamental model of fashion itself.

Brands and retailers don’t know how to change their model to actually help the planet, they’re instead focusing on the quick win, the easy fix - the materials our clothes are made of.

Changing the model

For real change and to reduce the strain on our planet caused by fashion - we need to do things differently. We need to create a new way to produce, sell and consumer clothes. We need to make actual, sustainable fashion and not just pay lip service to the idea by tweaking the materials that are used in production.

We need to create a new model for fashion brands to operate on.

This is what we’re striving to do with This is Unfolded. Our whole approach to sustainable is different fashion. We’re focused on solving the biggest issue - reducing over[production and removing the resulting waste from the fashion industry.

To do so we create limited collection powered by communities of real shoppers.

When customers make the decisions

Over 2,500 women now help us design every collection we create - no designing thousands of new products here - just the clothes you’ll actually wanted.

Once this community has created a range we know you’ll love we put them on sale and after taking orders we start production.

This approach means we don’t create that extra 30% that is wasted.

Okay - it takes longer for delivery, 3-4 weeks but the impact to the planet is significantly better.

Plus, by removing this waste we can make huge savings to the cost of everything. With these savings we offer you great sustainable clothes at a fair price, ensure higher wages for garment workers and fund children in education.

This is Unfolded is an entirely new way to shop - that creates an actual sustainable clothes system that’s better for our planet, our purses and for the people making our clothes.

When you are part of designing the clothes, you also help design a new future of fashion

Join us in our mission to change the fashion industry

Written by
Cally Russell | CEO & Co-founder
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