The latest research by Mintel into clothing sizes reveals that sales of plus-sized men’s clothing have increased by 40% over the past five years. This growth in XL and above sizes is partly due to spiralling levels of obesity: it’s predicted that nearly a third of men will be obese by 2013 and 90% of all UK adults are expected to be overweight or obese by 2050. The market for men’s clothes sized XL or larger is now worth £1.7 billion, up from £1.2 billion in 2003. The other driver for XL clothing sales is the modern desire to wear loose clothing such as T-shirts that are not tucked in and hoodies that have drooped shoulders and can fit at least two tees underneath.
DEFRA also reveals textiles have become the fastest-growing waste product in the UK. Nearly 74% of the two million tonnes of clothes bought in the UK each year end up in landfills. Meanwhile, the poor quality of the cheap fashion that is sold in cut price stores has destroyed the recycled textile industry. Cheap imported fashion, like t-shirts for a pound, has removed any possibility of selling second-hand tees at charity shops. And very little of the material that can’t be sold, can’t be recycled either less than 4% of the two million tonnes, around 13% is incinerated and the remainder is either sent abroad or buried in British landfill.
To stop this wasteful behaviour, DEFRA wants us to buy less often, buy better quality and take more care of our clothing. Their suggestions for better clothing behaviour will be revealed in February and are likely to include a focus on buying pure cotton t-shirts, rather than cotton/synthetic blends, for everyday wear and keeping mixed fibres for performance clothing like sportswear; investing in clothing that can be layered: T-shirts under hoodies, sweatshirts under jackets, rather than buying individual garments to be worn alone; and not buying complete holiday wardrobes cheaply that will not be worn again when you return.