Fashion Reimagined: Rethink, Reuse, Revive – Questions & Answers

21st March 2024
We had an overwhelming amount of questions submitted during the first module of the Malta Sustainability Forum 2024, ‘Fashion Reimagined: Rethink, Reuse, Revive’. We didn’t have time to answer all of them during the live transmission, however we have sourced some answers to your questions from our speakers.

1. Many individuals, many times we look at our clothes we have bought and it does not fit how we see ourselves at that particular point in time. We evolve and get inspired by people around us and what we see in media. How can we evolve our wardrobe and thus the outward perception of ourselves without having to damage the environment?

Tamara Fenech - Style is a fun thing to play with and can truly be a language of expression. As you rightly said, we change and evolve and so does our style with us - what I recommend is to focus on buying timeless pieces that can stand the test of time, and cna be built on through accessories and other styling pieces, but the 'shell' of your wardrobe are timeless pieces.

2. The resell market is worth around 18 million dollars in the EU alone - what are your views on the exporting of used clothing to developing countries when the wealth from second hand trade once again remains in global North while global South is expected to deal with the 'left over waste’?

Christian Bartolo Burlò - Quite an interesting question. In general, the global North should do more on the sustainability front. Let’s look at where this ‘left over waste’ comes from. The majority of clothes that are ending up in landfills are a result of purchasing cheaply-made clothing. Currently, there is a mentality of “buy cheap, use twice, throw away”. From a money-driven business perspective, this works great, as attested by the recent boom of clothing apps that make purchasing brand new clothes for cheap, as easy as ordering a meal online. One simple policy that could change this is to impose increased taxes on brand new clothes. That way, as the fashion industry is constantly working to make new clothes cheaper for people to purchase more, the higher TAX could lead people to think twice before purchasing a brand new item to only use twice. That is definitely not enough though, the world in general should work to reduce this over consumption, be it brand new stuff or even second hand. Having said all this, I feel that unfortunately, the way that world politics work at the present moment, this change will not happen any time soon, especially when there are massive lobby groups lead by the fashion industry monsters. This is also a question of priorities — where in certain areas people are more concerned in looking in a certain way, in other areas, clothing is just a way to cover yourself from the elements.

3. Do they [Hudson] see a problem in second hand fashion exports to Africa from Europe, often seen as a destructive factor for local production, tradition, heritage and industry development?

Yolande Svensson - We are conscious of the waste produced by the fashion industry and the impact of this on vulnerable areas such as Africa. It is therefore high time that we get together and mitigate this. We operate three offices in Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Nigeria) and distribute to over 30 countries in the continent. Our offices and stores are operated by locals, ensuring we are sensitive to local realities.

From an organisation point of view, Hudson is currently conducting an exercise with its consultants to identify our ESG impact and will take action to mitigate any high-risk impacts once it is identified.

4. What is the source of your fabrics?

Luke Azzopardi - Our fabrics are meticulously sourced from renowned regions to ensure both quality and sustainability:
  • Silk is procured from Cuomo, renowned for its exquisite quality.
  • Our silver is recycled from Italy, reflecting our commitment to eco-conscious practices.
  • Chantilly lace, known for its intricate beauty, is sourced from France.
  • We integrate cutting-edge technology fabrics like recycled polyester, sourced from France, to promote sustainability.
  • Leather, vegetable-tanned for durability and eco-friendliness, is sourced from Italy.
  • Additionally, we utilise various high-quality deadstock materials, purchased in low MOQs, to minimize waste and uphold our standards of excellence.

5. Is it really sustainable to send clothes abroad and then bring them back to Malta - considering carbon footprint?

Christian Bartolo Burlò - With regard to the carbon footprint, this is definitely not ideal. I have already tried sourcing stuff from Malta to resell, however, I immediately realised the root problem of why the second-hand market in Malta never really took off. In the early days of thrift, I ran an experiment on our website (www.thrift.mt). Essentially, I wanted to see what people will purchase more of: clothes sourced from other countries or clothes sourced from the local market. To run this experiment, I sourced clothes from both the local and the foreign market and presented them in the same manner (on our online store, without informing anyone where the clothes actually came from). After a while, we saw a much higher demand for the foreign clothes rather than the local clothes. The reason for this is simple: our fashion options in Malta are very limited, with the same shops being present everywhere you go selling the same stuff, one does not really have a lot of variety to choose from. This meant that the stuff that was locally sourced was just 'more of the same’ and people would not just purchase something second hand when they can get a brand new one from a shop that is just a few taps away on their phone. This meant that, for the time being, until people get more accustomed to purchasing second hand clothes, we have to source different stuff from abroad for our store. Of course, this is just the start, and I feel that the carbon footprint is a fair price to pay, when considering who us thrift shops are up against. Of course, also due to shipping costs, there’s nothing stopping us from eventually starting to source more clothes locally.

6. In the case of Luke Azzopardi, the brand offers custom-made clothing that are meticulously designed and many times used for occasions. Can you please provide the benefits of buying from brands like Luke vs buying from fast fashion brands. And what is the probability that garments of brands like Luke, will be used again given their complexity?

Luke Azzopardi - When comparing brands like Luke Azzopardi to fast fashion brands, several benefits become evident. Firstly, purchasing from brands like Luke ensures superior quality and craftsmanship. Each garment is meticulously designed and tailored, offering unparalleled attention to detail and durability compared to mass-produced items from fast fashion brands. In terms of sustainability, choosing brands like Luke Azzopardi aligns with eco-conscious practices. Custom-made clothing tends to have a longer lifespan due to their timeless designs and superior construction. Regarding the probability of garments from brands like Luke being reused, despite their complexity, it's important to recognise that custom-made clothing is often cherished and passed down through generations. While intricate designs may limit everyday wear, these garments are cherished for special occasions and events, ensuring their continued use and relevance.

7. What about introducing % discounts to people to exchange their clothes when buying new items?

Yolande Svensson - Thank you for your suggestion, which I will divert to our retail/brand department. It’s good to note that international brands provide guidelines that we would need to follow. These brands are developing incentives to encourage clothing recycling, amongst other initiatives, which we may choose to adopt within our different countries of operation, should they make sense to the local markets.