Fast fashion: Average wardrobe has 31 items of clothing we don't wear, study says

Around of quarter of clothes found in an average wardrobe go unloved and unworn, according to a new survey.

Figures suggest that textiles and fashion are responsible for between 4% and 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

And, with the UK population spending an estimated £4 billion on clothes each month, waste charity WRAP is hoping alternative schemes could reduce that figure.

In a bid to create a "sustainable fashion revolution" the charity found that each wardrobe has around 31 items of clothing that go unworn throughout the year.

Across the country, that means around 1.6 billion items of clothing are just left on their hangers.

It is hoped these figures can help encourage people to become more open to new ways of clothes shopping that could significantly reduce the environmental cost of clothing the nation - and save shoppers millions of pounds.

The charity also found that between 2013 and 2021, the predicted length of time people in the UK kept a range of clothes increased.

Today, non-padded coats and jackets have the longest lifespans at more than six years apiece, while underwear and bras have the briefest at just 2.7 and 2.6 years respectively. 

They also found that preloved or second-hand vintage tended to be kept longer than those purchased brand new.

Shopping habits haven't slowed even as around a quarter of clothes in UK wardrobes go unworn. Credit: Unsplash

"Many people are already buying and selling pre-loved clothing, but our study shows the huge financial and environmental opportunity that is unworn in all our wardrobes," Catherine David, director of collaboration and change at WRAP, said.

“The clothing and textiles sector has the fourth largest environmental impact on the planet and that’s why WRAP is working with the UK’s biggest retailers and brands to address this through the ambitious targets of Textiles 2030."

She added that repairing schemes need to become more widespread for the fashion industry to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Even with almost a quarter of clothes going unworn, shopping habits haven't slowed.

A significant number of people purchase clothing at least once a month (45%), and around one in eight buying clothes weekly.

This translates into a UK average monthly spend of £76.53 on clothing for the whole population, increasing to £133.06 for the more frequent shoppers who purchase clothing at least once a month.