top of page

Festivals: The fashion show must go on

Switch up the norm

The cancellation of the 50th Glastonbury Festival last summer was a disappointment for many, and with no festivals going forward in the UK in 2020, it’s been an uneventful year. Despite the upset caused, it does bring one positive however, that not as many outfits have been worn once and then never again.

Sustainable festival brands are harder to find for festivals, mostly because festival season coincides with summer, and so it is easier to categorise them in one group. There are ways to avoid this fast fashion, however.

Firstly, by DIY-ing your own clothes, you can reuse those once-worn outfits and upcycle your wardrobe. YouTube and TikTok have so many tutorials on sewing and cutting material, and even platforms like Instagram have small DIY pages that give quick and easy reworkings to make renewable clothing the new trend.

Local vintage shops are also a leading way to find clothing that has been reworked instead of buying a new outfit to only be worn once.

The Festival Clothing Company, uses and recycles old Saris in order to make more clothing. Because of the amount of material from Saris this recycling ensures that, while a lot of clothing can be produced, one Sari is a finite material and does not contribute to fast fashion because of its uniqueness. Another positive of this is because the material is so unique, it creates more diversity within the industry.

Sustainable and eco friendly accessories at festivals are key: bum bags are so important for keeping personal items close and can also be entirely renewable and sustainable. Brands such as United by Blue, Parker Clay and Rags2Riches are leading the sustainable biodegradable bags trend, instead of buying the transparent, plastic bum bags that are not only unsafe but also not ecological.

Glitter in recent years has become a staple festival trend. Whether worn in the hair, on the face or even the beard, the consequences of this has been called out in recent years, as the tiny pieces of plastic can pollute the ocean and eventually enter our food systems.

Fortunately, many accessible, high street make up brands have started to use and market biodegradable glitter, such as Ecostardust, Sleek and Barry M.

Festival Frenzy

Glastonbury has been home to many iconic outfits, as every year celebrities step out with one key feature: wellies. In 2010, Emma Watson paired her wellies with a corset and shorts, and Alexa Chung serves continuous looks every year, but no look would be complete without wellies.

Glastonbury fashion also extends to the performers, and Stormzy’s 2019 performance included a black stab proof vest painted with the Union Jack, and discussed issues such as knife crime, and his support of the Labour party. By making a political statement with his stage and also clothes, his performance was made even more memorable and significant.

While Glastonbury fashion connotes bucket hats and welly boots, Coachella, allows a far greater look at festival fashion. It often pulls celebrities with bigger social media presences such as the Kardashians and notable YouTube personalities like James Charles, whose infamously bear-all 2019 outfit drew huge attention.

The difference in festival aesthetics between Glastonbury and Coachella is hugely apparent, while Glastonbury fashion appears more practical with welly boots and clothes to combat any weather scenario, Coachella fashion is more diverse.

Because of the desert setting, the weather is easier to predict and fashion is more widely emphasised upon because of the huge celebrity presence. It is because of this emphasis and huge social media impact that the wear-it-once culture is so large here. Coachella is more Instagram-worthy and so there is a greater demand for more fashionable pieces and new, different looks for social media.

Glastonbury’s practical fashion doesn’t mean its not designer, although until Gucci desgins a British-weather proof cagoule, wellies will remain the Glastonbury staple.

Then and Now

The hippie culture of the sixties and seventies is still extremely popular, and can be seen through the repeated annual trend of flowing, bright material, that is especially seen at Coachella in the desert setting. Fringe clothing and flares still influence festival fashion, but the demand for new clothing to suit the festival trend every year becomes a huge problem for fast fashion, and dies out as soon as festival season is over.

Because of the timed fashion trends every year that last a little over a month, the amount of clothing wasted every year and not recycled impacts our environment more than ever. The festival outfits of one year can be easily reworked and the stigma of wearing an outfit more than once also needs to be addressed and denounced as a negative thing.

Through the growing trend of recyclable clothing and renewable apparel, there is a shift in the right direction, and hopefully the only trend to die out will be the wear-it-once mindset.


bottom of page