• Agata Elandt-Kasprowicz

Clothing recycling and PR in Poland - will the giants leave fast fashion?

Updated: Oct 20

In 2017, all the Polish public eyes were directed to the one brand. One of the most recognizable luxury brands, Burberry destroyed its unsold clothes, perfumes, and accessories worth 28.6 million pounds. It has been said that in the last 5 years, Burberry products worth 90 million pounds have been disposed of. The Swiss company Richemont bought over its unsold exclusive watches for $ 0.5 billion in from distributors. Most of these products were destroyed to protect the prestigious brand image. However, there are more and more reasonable voices of reason in the fashion industry that pay attention to the possibility of recycling products, especially luxury ones. Do giants have a real chance to leave fast fashion? Or maybe is it just a PR? And what do we hear about it in Poland?


H&M and Garment Recycling


The well-known in Poland brand – H&M proofs that it is possible to create even exclusive-looking clothes using recycling. Every season, the Swedish brand presents its ecological propositions in the Conscious line. This line is actively supported by influential activists such as singer M.I.A.

What is more, H&M allows Poles to return your old clothes to stores in order to give them a second life. This was a particularly loud topic in 2013 when H&M released widely publicized in the Polish media Garment Recycling campaign. The famous graphic appeared not only in the women's magazines, but also most of the fashion websites, and even in Polish Forbes. We can still find information about this action on the Polish brand's website. H&M was also powerfully involved in the World Recycling Day, reporting its engagement on Polish social media.



Environment-friendly lines


H&M is not the alone – & Other Stories in Poland buys worn clothes, old bedding, and towels too. People can also bring used packaging from brands cosmetics. All items are sorted and returned for recycling or re-use to charity organizations, and customers receive a discount. On the occasion of Earth Day, a lot of news about Stella Simone (which co-operated with the brand last year) appeared in the Polish websites. She was loudly speaking about recycling activities and conscious fashion.


More and more clothing brands available in Poland talks about re-using recycling materials: Kappahl (with fair trade certificate), Zara (with Join Life line), Mango (with an environmental-friendly Committed collection) and Vans (many materials used in sneakers come from recycling).


A few days ago, one of the hottest topic in all the Polish fashion was Adidas new campaign in cooperation with Parley organization – the Run For The Oceans movement. Moreover, the brand is going to produce 11 million pairs of shoes made from the plastic found on the beaches. The action was loud in the Polish media last year, because of the engagement of the Polish model – Anja Rubik.




Recycling and luxury brands


The owner of luxury brands such as Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent introduced on Chinese market My EP&L (Environmental Profit & Loss) program. It informs customers about all the costs that the environment has incurred in products production. Moreover, at the last Copenhagen Fashion Summit over 100 luxurious brands, including Gucci, Hugo Boss, and Balenciaga, promised to start recycling programs and increase the percentage of recycled fibers in new clothes.


Burberry, unanimously criticized for 2017 actions, proclaimed that it ends up with the practice of burning unsold things. Brand's representatives went even a step further - they announced not only the recycling of non-bought products but also the end of the use of natural fur. However, this message went around the women's press. But are all these assurances still not a PR trick?


Look at the latest activities of Hermès which appear on the Polish market this year. In March, Polish media related to fashion and marketing were all about the brand's new advertising campaign. Hermès decided to face the problem of excessive consumerism and prove that luxury is not the amount of branded bags or shoes, but about quality and durability. Thus, Hermès created a spot in which it shows, how brands products can be repaired even if they avoid destruction.



What does Polish high fashion say?


Fashion recycling slowly becomes to be a part of Polish luxury brands actions. Some time ago, various Polish media talked about the cooperation between Polish fashion designer Mariusz Przybylski and textile recycling company -VIVE Textile Recycling. They created a collection for women called "Transplantacja" – the first project of this type, combining two distant fields – high fashion and recycling of used clothing.


As we see, the departure from fast fashion definitely comes faster and less painfully to mainstream brands. On the one hand, luxury seems to be governed by its own laws, but the collection of Przybylski and its enormous publicity proves that it is quite a possible way for the coming years. In Poland, the awareness of the protection of the environment, clothing materials, and their origin is regularly growing. Now, more and more Polish clients are looking beyond just the appearance of clothes. And that's what brands should look at as well, especially luxury ones, which are more and more willingly entering the Polish market.

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