ENVIRONMENT activists are calling on major clothing chains to change their ways.

Extinction Rebellion Brighton held a protest outside Churchill Square on Saturday as they demanded stores take action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Standing outside clothing stores in the shopping centre, they held placards with messages including “trendy today, trash tomorrow”, “planet over profit” and “no fashion on a dead planet”.

They want companies to move away from fast fashion, a phrase used to describe mass-produced clothing based on trends, and instead take up a more sustainable approach. This follows reports from The Guardian in April claiming that more than one million Bangladeshi garment workers were sent home without pay or lost their jobs after the coronavirus crisis created a huge shortfall in demand for new clothing.

The Argus:

“Western clothing brands cancelled or suspended £2.4 billion of existing orders in the wake of the Covid-19 epidemic”, according to data from the Bangladeshi and Garment Manufacturers Exporters Association.

Hermione Berendt of Extinction Rebellion said: “Black, indigenous and people of colour living in the global south are already the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which are fuelled partly by fast fashion.”

She accused the clothing industry of “putting profit before people and planet once again”.

The Argus:

Ms Berendt said: “This is a window into the future. The vulnerability of garment workers in the global south will only get worse as the impacts of the climate and ecological emergency ramp up.

“Now the shops are back open, will the big brands go back to business as usual or will they come together to build back a better fashion industry?”

A representative for Churchill Square said the centre could not “speak for the individual retailers”.

Mark Buchanan Smith, centre director commented: “We can confirm a protest took place on the piazza outside Churchill Square. There were approximately 15 people in attendance, social distancing measures were adhered to and the peaceful protest lasted one hour.”

The Argus:

Protesters carried signs which named brands including Topshop and Zara as they urged companies to make positive changes to the ways they operate.

Representatives from both companies were contacted by The Argus. Topshop did not respond and Zara did not provide a written response.

But a representative from Inditex, which owns the Zara brand, provided background information.

The Argus:

Inditex is a signatory of The Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action. This states the aim of achieving net-zero emissions in the fashion industry by 2050, with Inditex pledging to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.

After the Covid-19 pandemic saw a sudden drop in demand for clothes, Inditex agreed with independent labour rights organisation The Worker Rights Consortium to “pay in full for orders completed and in production”.