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COVID-19 & Fashion: Time For A Change?

What impact has the global pandemic had on the fashion sector – and how about clothes recycling?

COVID-19 Fashion

Fashion industry alone
is responsible for

0 %
of the world’s water waste

Store closures on the high street. Plummeting clothes sales. Digitisation and the meteoric rise of online shopping. The disruption of production and supply chains around the world. Piles of pre-loved clothes left outside charity shops closed because of COVID regulations. And a growing number of consumers voicing their concern about the impact of the industry on the planet.

From consumer trends to on-the-ground production, the global pandemic is changing the face of fashion. And the clothes recycling industry is no exception. In this blog, we examine the impact of COVID-19 on our industry – and explore some of the changes we at Donate Clothes have made in response to the issues thrown into the spotlight as a result of the pandemic.

Are we finally moving towards a circular economy?

Economies around the world have been hit hard by the pandemic. But recent studies have suggested that a shift towards a circular economy could actually drive recovery.

If you’re interested in sustainable fashion, you’re likely to have encountered the term ‘circular economy.’ Essentially, it means ensuring that products and resources stay in use for as long as possible — and then regenerating old clothes into new. This is, of course, in sharp contrast to the fast fashion model, where clothes are produced (and discarded) quickly using cheap labour and greenhouse gas emissions are excessive.

While it’s not a new concept, big players in the industry are beginning to embrace the value of circularity – and they’re devising innovative ways to engage their customers on the journey. Check out these ideas:

While innovations such as these are not yet widespread, the idea that becoming more sustainable will make you a better company is definitely gaining pace. Thanks at least in part to changes instigated by the pandemic, fashion retailers are beginning to understand that a move to a circular approach will positively impact top and bottom line – driving both profits and customer loyalty.


Of course, recycling clothes is not in itself a new concept – in fact, it’s one that we’ve been shouting about for years!

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So how has Donate Clothes responded to the pandemic?

The pandemic has fundamentally shifted the way we approach our lives and livelihoods. Not only has it intensified the way we think about issues like hygiene and personal space. It’s also increased inequality and made it more important than ever to support charities. So, it’s perhaps unsurprising that COVID-19 has also been a catalyst for change in the clothes recycling industry.

We’ve been collecting pre-loved clothes from your doorsteps, and recycling them to raise funds for British charities, since 2010. In that time, we’ve donated a huge £1.4 million to our partner charities, mainly via donations collected on behalf of our partner organisation Your Donation.

But when the pandemic (and subsequent lockdowns) hit, traditional ways of donating pre-loved clothes — such as taking them to a charity shop — became much harder. At the same time, consumers like you were stuck at home desperate to declutter your wardrobes while helping those in need. This led to piles of pre-loved items being dumped outside charity shops that were closed and unable to accept donations.

We wanted to enable you to continue donating clothes and supporting charities.

So, what was the solution?

Support Charity Online

Thanks to your clothes donations,
we’ve raised an amazing

£ 800000
for our partner charities

Introducing online booking for contactless clothes collection

We acted fast – with the introduction of an online booking system that empowers you to book a slot, pack up your own pre-loved items and leave them out for collection on your chosen day.

No longer do you need to leave your home. And no more waiting for an (unsustainable and unsolicited) plastic bag to be pushed through your door. Instead, you donate your pre-loved clothes and other items in a way that suits you.

As one of the first clothes recycling companies to introduce an online booking system, we’re proud to be an industry pioneer – helping you donate your pre-loved items through the pandemic and beyond.

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Thanks to your clothes donations we’ve raised

£ 0 M
million & counting
for our partner charities
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