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The British clothing market: 10 shocking statistics

lucy_siegle_to_die_forI have been reading Lucy Siegle’s book  ‘To Die For’ recently, and it contains some shocking statistics that define how much we have become accustomed to buying cheap, mass-produced clothing and accessories in the UK.

Britain has become a nation of shoppers buying worthless ‘fast fashion’ without a thought to where it was produced or by whom. Clothing is now so cheap it is disposed of after only a few wears.

Next time you go to buy an item of clothing or a pair of shoes, consider who made it and how long it will remain in your wardrobe. Enough said, I’ll let the statistics do the talking.

  • 80 billion – Number of garments produced annually across the globe
  • £23 billion – Amount spent on clothes and shoes in Britain in 1990
  • £32.5 billion – Amount spent annually on clothes and shoes in Britain today
  • 1.72 million – Amount in tonnes of brand new fashion consumed in the UK every year
  • 1.5 million – Amount  in tonnes of  clothing that we throw away in Britain every year
  • 4.1 – Average number of  items of clothing a shopper buys in the UK each month
  • 10% – Drop in retail prices between 2003 and 2007
  • 3 weeks – Time it takes a fast fashion retailer to get a design from concept to store
  • 40% – Percentage of British clothes bought at value retailers
  • 1 million – Items of clothing sold by Primark Oxford St in its first 10 days of trading



  1. Faith on June 21, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Hard to believe it isn’t it? I think everyone who loves clothes should read this book!

  2. Shireen on November 16, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    We have really ‘lost our way’ in the UK. Cheap, throwaway clothing, badly made, eco-unfriendly and our economy is down the pan….

  3. Jane Foddy on March 7, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    It’s depressing reading. Like food, we have become conditioned to thinking cheap equals good. Our label is the very antithesis of fast fashion and we’re proud to source our cloth and manufacturing in the UK. Fortunatley there are other designers out there who are moving their manufacturing back to the UK too.But, just as with food, customers have to be made to realise that there is a very high price indeed to be paid for a £3 T shirt.

  4. Bertie on June 12, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Your totally right, stats are just crazy. We have just created a great infographic on UK clothing spend which gives you a great overview of how much we are spending on clothing which you might be interested in checking out http://www.bertie.co.uk/blog/?p=132

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