Sustainable Packaging for Clothing: A Guide for Eco-Friendly Fashion Brands
The fashion industry has undergone an extreme makeover — sustainability has become a major priority for most clothing brands.
Price, convenience and quality have long fed into fashion’s ever-evolving trends. Still, the latest challenge new and established brands face is acting responsibly (for the good of the planet) in creating and selling clothing — both online and in retail.
In a fiercely competitive industry, staying relevant means paying close attention to consumers’ needs. Nowhere is this more clear than with sustainability, from the materials used to make the clothing to the packaging it comes in.
As the UK’s first plastic-free and carbon-neutral packaging experts, we’ve compiled a handy guide for fashion brands looking for the most eco-friendly clothing packaging for their customers.
Is Sustainable Clothing Packaging Important?
Fashion and plastic go way back. From fast-fashion items made of polyester, nylon or acrylic to polybag packaging for clothes used in factories — the industry has always relied on using plastics in production and packaging.
According to a recent report, packaging contributes to 40% of all plastic waste. Depending on the type, plastic can take 20-500 years to decompose entirely. Ending up in oceans, ecosystems and even us — more must be done to prevent non-sustainable packaging from polluting our environment.
The fashion industry is notorious for its power to impact society and change consumer buying habits. The fashion industry can create a market for new styles or bring back more retro favourites by implementing trends pioneered by coveted celebrities or influencers.
But, what is often forgotten is that the fashion industry is shaped by consumer demand. Currently, consumer demand is focused on sustainability. The use of eco-friendly materials and promoting brand sustainability are two important factors consumers now consider before purchasing.
Choosing sustainable packaging for your clothes and other fashion items is vital to stay relevant in an ever-competitive market. Switching to sustainable packaging is an easy first step on your eco-journey, signalling to eco-conscious consumers that you’re a planet-positive brand, which sets you above the rest!
Types of Sustainable Packaging for Clothing
The fashion world is incredibly varied and complex, and many types of clothing, footwear, and accessories require different eco-friendly packaging. In addition, if you’re shipping clothes for eCommerce, you’ll need different packaging than retail packaging for selling clothes in-store.
Here are some examples of sustainable packaging for clothing which you can use to show off your eco-friendly credentials to green-minded customers.
The best clothes packaging bags don’t last forever. Most mailing bags are made from polyethene, known as “polybags,” for eCommerce shipping. As polybags are notoriously hard to recycle, most end up in landfills and can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, putting many animals at risk.
Compostable mailing bags are a better choice for clothing packaging bags as they’ll break down over time. Made from renewable plant-based materials like cornstarch, our compostable mailing bags are 100% biodegradable within as little as 90 days (in an ideal composting environment).
Our compostable mailing bags are printed with a sustainable message, using eco-friendly water-based inks. This bold and clear labelling lets consumers know you’re promoting sustainability, an important consideration they’ll make before buying from you.
Mailing bags are the best clothing packaging bags for more lightweight garments like t-shirts, blouses and dresses. If you’re using our compostable mailing bags, they already have easy peel-and-seal closure so you won’t need any tape. Place your item(s) in the bag, peel away the strip and press down to secure.
Related: Can You Recycle Mailing Bags?
Postal Boxes for Clothes
Another eCommerce packaging staple is postal boxes and mailers. Cardboard postal boxes are recyclable and often made from recycled content too. Postal boxes offer more rigidity and security for particular items like hats, shoes or even accessories like jewellery.
Our brown and white postal boxes are made from 80% recycled content and are 100% recyclable. Easy to store and assemble (they come flat-packed), a hinged lid makes for quick packing, unpacking and a convenient unboxing experience.
If efficiency and speed are a priority for your clothes packaging operation, try self-seal postal boxes. Our recyclable self-seal containers are packable in under 20 seconds and feature a tear-open strip for opening, making unboxing a dream (it also makes your products easy to return). Underneath the strip, a little message reminds your customers to recycle the postal box after use.
Use eco-friendly void fill as an added buffer to protect your clothing and accessories. Damaged clothing is one of the most common reasons consumers will return items. To mitigate this risk, use eco-friendly tissue paper or kraft paper sheets to wrap around your products as an extra layer of protection.
Use paper tape to seal void-fill wrapping and the outside of the postal box if needed.
Customising sustainable clothes packaging with your unique brand goes a long way for eCommerce and retail.
From an eCommerce perspective, the unboxing experience is paramount when customers receive your product. It’s their first impression of your brand and gives them an indication of the quality of your items and what kind of values your business has. Branded eCommerce packaging is memorable and can encourage familiarity with your products, inspiring future repurchases.
Similarly, luxury rigid boxes add an air of sophistication to accessories like socks, underwear, ties and jewellery. This kind of packaging makes any accessory or item of clothing feel “exclusive”.
If you’re an online retailer on a budget but want to go custom with your sustainable packaging for clothes, opt for a simple postal box with a printed sleeve. We can help you finalise your custom packaging with our in-house design team and use water-based inks to print a non-toxic, eco-friendly showstopper.
When considering retail packaging, custom paper bags can help your brand stand out in a public setting. Your packaging will become a walking advertisement for your brand when customers leave stores with your brand printed on the large, flat surface of their bag.
Discover our range of custom packaging solutions.
Packaging Different Kinds of Clothing
Different types of clothing will need suitable protection during transit. Footwear, tops, hats, bottoms and skirts come in varying shapes and sizes. It’s important to consider how your product will cope in transit.
Headwear like beanies stored flat can be shipped in mailing bags. Hats with more structure, like top hats, bowler hats or fascinators, need to be packaged securely. Delicate headwear that needs extra protection should be dispatched in shipping boxes with additional void fill to protect your merchandise in transit.
Tops & Bottoms
A compostable mailing bag will be more than adequate for lightweight tops and bottoms. Heavier garments like ball gowns and suits need more sturdy packaging. A sustainable postal box works well here, which can be secured by biodegradable paper tape.
For all footwear (unless it’s second-hand), original boxes for trainers and shoes need to be kept intact. Why? Because shoeboxes are often used to preserve the shoes inside through storage. We recommend using a 100% plastic-free double-wall shipping box to protect the shoebox and demonstrate your commitment to sustainability and quality.
Smaller items can benefit from made-to-measure packaging, but a more cost-effective option is our book wrap mailers, which are 100% biodegradable, compostable and recyclable. The advantage of this packaging is that you can pack a range of products at varying measurements safely and securely without buying separate boxes for different products.
Need advice for your packaging? Get in touch with our friendly team!
Case Study: Reef Knots
The idea behind Reef Knots began in November 2012, when founder Patrick was made redundant from his corporate job of 13 years. He didn’t let that discourage him, though, and decided he wanted to bring back popularity for the humble tie without the corporate associations.
Reef Knots grew, focusing on incorporating recycled plastics and organic cotton into their expanding clothing range to have as little impact on the planet as possible. Reef Knots partners with several ocean charities such as the Blue Marine Foundation charity and the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow.
Reef Knots used our luxury rigid boxes to relay a premium feel and continue its reputation for producing high-quality clothes and accessories. The vibrant teal colour they chose to accentuate their packaging pays homage to their ocean-conversation work and the nautical name of their brand.
Get in touch for a free design quote for printed packaging.
Ordering Packaging for Clothes with Us
Consumer demand for sustainable clothing packaging and products is growing. Customers want to know that the packaging used for their products is eco-friendly and easy to dispose of responsibly. This all contributes to your brand image and reputation, essential to driving sales for your business.
At Packaging Supplies, we’ve helped many clothing brands create bespoke, sustainable packaging. Our experienced packaging experts can make your products stand out in the retail world or be a memorable unboxing experience for an online customer.
Fashion trends may come and go, but looking after our planet will always be a priority. Join us on your eco-friendly journey and invest in sustainable clothing packaging.
Get a free, no-obligation design quote for custom cosmetics packaging for your products in just 48 hours.