Artificial and Organic Waste Turns into a Fashion Feast
I first heard of the sustainable fashion sometime after 2000s when I saw Freitag bags made of truck tarps. Even though it’s been a while since then, fashion industry still has a huge negative impact on the environment. Luckily, rapidly changing consumer expectations are calling for a change in fashion business.
The definition of fashion has reshaped dramatically during the last decade. It’s not about Versace bling-bling anymore. Now it’s about the ability to support specific ideas or movements by choosing to buy or not to buy. Have you ever thought you would buy sneakers made of algae and ocean plastic and even deliberately pay more? Or what about the packaging made of potato starch, sugarcane or bamboo?
We live in an inspirational age of science, when it seems like anything can be made (or remade) of anything. It is only necessary, figuratively speaking, to look around your yard and find the artificial or organic waste.
Industry disruptors like Piñatex – an innovative animal friendly leather-like textile made of pineapple leaves – are shaping the new landscape of the conscious fashion.
Orange Fiber produces sustainable fabrics from citrus juice by-products that would otherwise be thrown away. Salvatore Ferragamo used these fabrics to create the garments for the capsule collection which reflects its all-inclusive strategy called Responsible Passion.
But even these examples of circular economy are not the ones that fascinate me most. To me, as a representative of a packaging design industry, the most exciting cases are related to packaging waste.
Radical transparency brand Everlane has launched its winter collection called ReNew created out of 3 million recycled plastic bottles. For instance, a puffer jacket that uses 16 recycled bottles or a fleece sweatshirt that renews 35 plastic bottles.
Ok, but it’s still only the niche brands that try to do the impossible and change the world – you’d say. Oh, really? Pharrell Williams unveiled his first collab with G-Star Raw called Raw for the Oceans back in 2014. Adidas launched sneakers made entirely from yarns and filaments, produced using plastic salvaged from the ocean a year later.
Since then, G-Star Raw initiates their regular projects such as Raw for the Planet collection which includes items made of 100% recycled polyester. Meanwhile Adidas has teamed up with Parley for the Oceans for several times and introduced sneakers and even swimwear that is also made of upcycled fishing nets and debris.
Few years ago one of the leading global players in the production of nylon yarn Aquafil presented their new material Econyl. It is made by recovering their nylon waste such as fabric scraps or the fishing nets taken out of the oceans. And it can be recycled again and again. Since then, it’s been already used by such huge brands as Levi’s, Speedo and Stella McCartney.
Moreover, in 2018 Aquafil teamed up with H&M and created Conscious Exclusive collection using Econyl. Two mega brands introduced clothes made of garbage to the mass market and they looks splendid!
This case marks the final step which could be assumed as the sustainability going mainstream. No wonder that while the year 2018 draws to an end, Ellen MacArthur Foundation draws the line in the sand – New Plastics Economy global commitment. And H&M is among more than 250 global leaders who have already signed in.
What’s next? In 2019 the last pillar of unconscious fashion will be ruined. The luxury fashion can no longer avoid sustainability, radical transparency and ethics in general, due to rapidly changing expectations of conscious luxury consumers. Sustainability is not an additional value anymore. It will turn into the new basics. Stella McCartney, Salvatore Ferragamo and Gucci’s program Equilibrium are setting an example for others to follow.
From Freitag to Gucci in less than twenty years. What an inspiring shift!
Happy sustainable fashion year.