Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Tackle fast fashion or 'our days are numbered,' warns design icon Dame Zandra Rhodes

British fashion design icon Dame Zandra Rhodes has warned the world must tackle disposable fashion or "our days are numbered".

Dame Zandra made the comments after being shown a film produced by ITV News inGhana.

Piles of waste clothing, much of it from the UK, are stacked up in the African country after being discarded by consumers.

ITV News Africa Correspondent Penny Marshall visited Accra to see the clothing; so much of it has been imported the city's main rubbish dump has now been closed.

The country has a healthy second-hand clothes market, but retailers say the quality of many imported items are too poor to sell on, and that's costing them their livelihoods.

Dame Zandra, who designed clothing for household names including Princess Diana, said shoppers need to be more aware of where their purchases end up when they throw them away.

"You think you're doing a good turn and then you look at that, and it's really a bad turn and ruination of a country," she told ITV News Presenter Julie Etchingham.

"We have to train younger people to be very aware that when they're throwing things away maybe it's got to say: 'where is this going to?'"

Dame Zandra is keen younger people be trained how to make fashion more sustainable. Credit: ITV News

The designer called for the return of lessons to teach younger people basic skills to fix broken items of clothing - and of course make new ones with their own style.

"I think they should bring sewing classes back to schools.

"It would be better if we said 'why don't you try and create your own style,' so that you're not only be aware of what's in there but you can maybe come up with your own individuality," she said.

"Maybe it's instilling more how can we reuse so that we're proud of what we do - and make our young people proud of what they've got."

Homes in Ghana next to piles of clothing discarded by Western consumers. Credit: ITV News

With the rising cost of living in the United Kingdom, the appeal of cheap clothing for many consumers is too much to resist.

Dame Zandra said large companies should have a responsibility to flag up what happens to discarded items: "I think that would be a very good idea to flag up and say 'when you finish with this, (this is) what you're actually doing with it'.

"To ignore that and see that happening on that coastline in Africa was appalling.

"But I definitely think, if we don't do something our days are numbered."