During the pandemic, so many people had extra time because they stopped commuting to work or attending social functions that it caused a huge shift in behaviour toward clothing and fashion. This story of change offers evidence-based hope for a much slower and less wasteful future for the fast fashion industry.

Fashion is still one of the largest industries in the world with annual revenues of around $1.4 trillion in 2018, 7 carbon emissions of 2.1 billion tonnes 8 – more than aviation – and over 60 million people working along the global supply chain.

What was new during the pandemic was the way people had time to consider where their clothes came from, who was making them and even whether they really needed them in the first place. Fast fashion had grown into almost the definition of wasteful, unsatisfying, over-consumption. But the pause enabled by the pandemic’s upheaval, and opportunity for reflection, rethinking, and trying different ways to approach clothing – one of our most basic essentials – may well have set our behaviour, and the industry in a new, healthier and greener direction.

This story is part of the Reset series – a collection of short downloadable stories that  look in more detail at over consumption and unnecessary travel. They consider some of the key messages and solutions that have become apparent during the pandemic that could help us make the rapid transition to a more sustainable future.

This guide has been made possible by the support of ClimateWorks Foundation.


2010s, 2020s, 2030s

Areas of change

Clean energy, Decent work