Martin Lowe: ‘Sustainability is within reach, but licensing won’t deter fast-fashion’

Licensing will forever have one foot in the fast fashion culture, forcing a need for better attention to the materials being used in the clothes consumers wear today, is the message to emerge from the popular sock merchant Roy Lowe & Sons.

Talking to, Martin Lowe, director of the UK sock seller has put the onus on manufacturers to do away with the ‘wear it once’ approach of fast fashion and invest in better and more sustainable materials.

His sentiments arrive following reports that Roy Lowe and Sons had seen an increase in retailer enquiries into sustainability in the fashion space. Lowe has suggested that sustainability can only truly emerge from the point of manufacture and the option to use fully processed raw materials, so that clothing “lasts the correct amount of time.”

“Sustainability starts with using the right processed material that doesn’t fail at the first hurdle,” said Lowe. “If products were first designed and then costed, rather than manufactured to meet required price, then things would last longer and then naturally, we’d send less to landfills.”

The message of sustainability in consumer products is one that has picked up a lot of pace among shoppers, and increasingly retailers, over recent years, having been brought into public conversation by ambassadors like Sir David Attenborough and his Blue Planet series.

Amid the conversation, Lowe has sided with those that suggest changes need to be made to the manufacturing processes, before the issue around fast fashion and sustainability can be addressed effectively.

“Sustainability is the latest buzz word in retail, following on from Ethical Audits,” continued Lowe. “License products that hit the retail space will, of course, have to follow a process. Any product can follow a process that pacifies a tick sheet type questionnaire to give a confirming result… it is the questions that are asked on the sheet that makes the difference.”

Three Little Pigs

To explain his thinking, Lowe indulged with his nursery rhyme analogy. It’s a take on the story of the three little pigs.

“As we all know, in the story we end up with three lovely new build properties, each built in differing materials: straw, twigs and brick; each with the obvious differing level of costs, too,” he explained.

“The pig with the straw house had the most money left, followed by the owner who built the twig property, leaving the brick built home owner enough to get by. Along pops the wolf, who loves a huff and puff, leaving two pigs with rubble, and the pig in the brick house sitting comfortably. Only one house was sustainable.”

The director went on to suggest that while licensing will ‘definitely never deter fast fashion,’ with “one foot firmly in the culture,” it’s not to say that garments should be worn out after a few months. “After all, this month’s must have license is also next month’s land fill,” he added.

While Lowe’s suggestion that today’s retailers would be happier to pick up the cost of the materials used has been met with some scepticism, he has remained optimistic that sustainability in fashion is within reach.

In conversation over LinkedIn, he stated: “Everything has cost involved and yes, we can [make sustainable socks]. Small steps would be to use raw materials that have the correct processes. Chasing price cheapens the end result and drastically shortens how long things last.”

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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