Peers urge support for sustainable fashion

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Peers have stressed the importance of sustainable, ethical fashion during a debate on 19 March 2013.

The debate was led by crossbencher and chair of the all-party group on sustainable fashion Baroness Young of Hornsey, who warned of the consequences of certain clothes production techniques for the environment.

She said: "Consumers need to make the link between their desire for cheap clothing and the loss of livelihoods through depleted, polluted fishing stock and ever-depleted food and water resources."

She went on to suggest that "we need multiple strategies and to work collaboratively and internationally to effect sustainable change".

Conservative peer Lord Patten spoke of his "admiration" for "the creativity of the British fashion industry" and pointed out that "ethical measures are appealing to customers", before Lib Dem Lord Razzall talked about the need to raise the status of fashion in higher education and professional qualifications.

Labour's Baroness Prosser focused on the cotton industry in Uzbekistan and condemned the use of quotas which, she said, "is by any other name slave labour".

Speaking for the opposition, Baroness Jones of Whitchurch claimed that "it remains surprising that the government pays so little attention to the fashion sector" and asked what the government would do to "build up our UK textile capacity and attract the brightest and best".

Environment Minister Lord de Mauley described the fashion industry as "a vital part of our economy" and concluded: "There is no simple answer to the many economic, environmental and ethical issues associated with global fashion industry but I hope noble Lords will agree we are taking action and we are making progress."

He cited his department's ongoing work on the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan, which was set up under the previous government.

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