Sustainable Fashion at Festivals and its Importance

Music lovers have sorely missed global festivals throughout the pandemic. Undoubtedly, this has led to a huge decline in the sales of festival fashion. According to Elizabeth Paton (from The New York Times), each year, “Online searches for “festival fashion” usually begin in March and last until July.” Whist many brands intended to sell a mound of festival fashion in early 2020, this wasn’t the case.

As festival garments were piling up in stock rooms, the demand for gym and loungewear took over. Consequently, Sky News reported that the online retailer ASOS had a 50% rise in sportswear sales. Clearly, COVID-19 restrictions determined the demand for fashion in 2020.


As global vaccination programmes take place, it certainly seems more hopeful that some music festivals could go ahead later this year. Although this is positive, the fashion that we wear at festivals is still largely unsustainable. This leaves us to question what can we do to change this, and is there a bright future for festival fashion?


Festival fashion as fast fashion


Our self expression and creativity certainly influences festival fashion. Festivals provide us with the opportunity to experiment with colour, textiles and patterns. However, on the downside, festival fashion is predominantly fast fashion.

Fast fashion is a linear model within the industry; designers produce a new trend as quickly as possible; consumers purchase it immediately; it is worn very few times before being discarded. Unfortunately, fast fashion has a short shelf life.


This is a contributing factor towards the quick trip that festival fashion takes to landfill sites. Furthermore, many festival outfits aren’t suitable for everyday use. This makes it all the more easier for us to bundle unsustainable garments into bin bags and carelessly dump them.

“Buy less, choose well, make it last.” Vivienne Westwood.

The impact of fast and non- sustainable fashion at festivals

  1. Sending clothes to landfill sites increases carbon emissions. Too many festival-goers have a tendency to dispose of last year’s outfit and replace it with next year’s trend. Despite efforts to encourage the recycling of clothes, up to 85% of textiles go into landfills each year. The disposal of festival garments contributes to this figure and is part of the reason why the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions. This is significantly contributing towards global warming.

  2. Glitter is toxic for marine life. Although it may be eye-catching, the glitter trend at festivals is a serious problem. In the fashion industry, glitter is predominantly made from plastics which are non-biodegradable. Therefore, washing clothes with plastic glitters poses a threat to our oceans. In fact, 500,000 tons of microfibres are released into the ocean each year just through washing clothes. Not only is this life threatening for the marine life that ingest micro-plastics, marine life also act as a pathway through which micro-plastics enter the food chain.

  3. Wasting clothes is not necessary! Some of our old festival pieces may not be recyclable and perhaps that holographic rain mack is no longer your style.

  4. However, not everyone is after the latest trends. There are many people who would happily wear pre-owned festival pieces.

“Wear clothes that matter.” Solitaire Townsend

How to embrace sustainable fashion at festivals

  1. You should make an effort to utilise and re-use fashion. Festival outfits usually rely on accessories to give them significance. This may be a bandanna, bucket hat, pair of shades, or (as very appropriate right now) a face mask. Accessories are great for completing outfits! This means that you can utilise clothes that are more practical. Rain macks and wellies have never been strangers at a music festival and will come in handy again for walks on rainy days.

  2. Try to buy from conscious and sustainable brands. BangBangCrash is currently selling a sunflower festival catsuit which is made from eco-lycra. This brand uses digital printing, which means that water is not needed to embed ink into their materials. This prevents ink polluted water from ending up in marine environments. H&M is also utilising sustainable and recyclable materials in their Conscious range.

  3. Invest in biodegradable glitter. If you wish to source your own fabric glitter, Deco Bio-glitter is designed to biodegrade quickly and safely in natural freshwater environments. There were 61 UK festivals which agreed to ban plastic glitter this year… it’s time to find an alternative.

  4. Recycle, recycle, recycle. Unless you wish to sell some online or give them to charity, you should recycle your old festival pieces. They may not be 100% recyclable but those who work in clothes and textile recycling will determine that.

A brighter future


The pandemic has significantly impacted upon so many lives. Unfortunately, the outcome so far has been devastating but we must remain hopeful. It is refreshing to think that we could safely be enjoying music festivals in the near future. After all, large scale events and music brings people together.


There certainly is a brighter future for festival fashion. The organisers of some festivals are now acting responsibly and guiding those who attend on how they can dress and behave in a more eco-friendly way. Conscious and caring brands are also providing their consumers with sustainable festival ranges.


However, there is still more to be done. It is important that we utilise our voices and help to create awareness. We must spread the word if we want to encourage and maintain sustainable fashion at festivals.


As this article explores festival fashion as fast fashion, you may want to educate yourself further by reading an article upon how fast fashion is linked with ‘convenience’. Click here if you are interested.

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