Sustainability is not an entirely new approach in different sectors and industries around the world. A few countries have already championed it’s approach. The Nordic island country of Iceland has been an early adopter in this regard and currently ranks at #11 on the Environmental Performance Index (EPI). The country has displayed commendable effort in integrating Sustainable Fashion approaches and policies.
With efforts on sustainability being made in various sectors, the fashion industry is not far behind. Organizations, brands, celebrities and agencies are together creating an industry that is more environment friendly.
In The Met Gala 2016 Ema Watson stood out with a monochrome gown made out of yarn of recycled plastic bottles. Another High end accessory brand Elvis & Kresse based in Kent, England and founded in 2005, reclaims materials meant for landfills and repurposes them into accessories like belts and wallets.
Digitalization grabbing the attention of the millennial is a vast resource of initiating sustainable efforts. Constant campaigns like #whomademyclothes, #gogreen #slowfashion and #haulternative are creating a recall effect in the minds of the consumers.
Fashion influencers across the globe are contributing by spreading awareness about ethical fashion. Lauren Singer from NewYork, Amber Boye from Australia and Valeria Hinojosa from Miami are a few of the go green influencers.
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation more than $500 billion of value is lost every year due to underutilization or lack of recycling of clothes. Events like Swap Clothes, Master Classes on Sustainability, Workshops organized by sustainable designers like Button Masala, Eco Fashion Week etc. are giving an opportunity to fashion in growing sustainably.
Technology making fashion a sustainable practice isn’t a novel concept, as technology has always been closely knit to fashion. But in the modern landscape, it is making concepts a reality by bringing sustainability to the table. The fashion industry has seen a lot of advancements in terms of the clothing manufacturing processes.
For instance, there are new concepts being used in the dyeing process of clothing. California based company – Colorep has created an‘Air-Dye’ system which uses 90% less water and 85% less energy than traditional dyeing. It also reduces the energy and emissions drastically.
American denim brand – Wrangler, recently launched their ‘Rooted Collection’, which is made from 100% sustainable cotton. The brand uses farm-to-fabric cotton, implying that every state’s design is grown, cut, and sewn in the U.S.A. Wrangler has also adopted a new foam dyeing technology which subsequently uses 100% less water as compared to traditionally dyed denim products.
Another fine example of technological advancements in fashion and sustainability is the Italian brand Candiani. The 1938 born denim brand recently bagged the ITMA Sustainable Innovation Award in 2019. Candiani Re-Gen is their one-of-a-kind product, which is a denim fabric created from entirely recycled materials. 50% of the re-gen fabric material includes refibra, lyocell and tencel which is made of cotton scraps’ pulp and wood pulp; the other 50% includes post-industrial recycled fibres. Candiani’s fabric materials are also dyed with the help of green technologies, ultimately, reducing the usage of water and chemicals.
H&M’s Conscious Exclusive collection has provided a platform to the brand called Orange Fibre. Created in 2014, the start-up successfully developed a new process that turns over 700,000 tonnes of by-product from citrus industry into a fabric that can respond to the need for sustainability in the fashion sector. They execute this by extracting cellulose from fibres that are left out from the industrial processing of oranges. By using certain techniques, the fibre comes out filled with citrus essential oils, resulting in a truly unique finished product.
The Fusion Fashion
Few designers can mix the old with the new, making tech innovations in sustainable fashion and creating ethical products.
Designer Ruchika Sachdeva’s brand – Bodice, creates effortlessly cool fashion which is sustainable as well. She observed that since ancient times, India’s prowess has lied in its handloom- creating fabric and yarn from scratch. Bodice experimented with wool with similar processes. It all started at a weaver’s cooperative in the Himalayas, called ‘Bhuttico’ where Sachdeva developed fabrics by the extraweft technique. Commenting on combining ancient craft with technology, the designer says: “With Bhuttico it wasn’t just about the textiles, but the whole experience that counts. The weavers have a happy life and that energy translates into their work.”
Gaurav Jai Gupta, came up with a new treatment in Indian Textile weaving steel and copper along with silk, he also weaved wool with chanderi for the International Woolmark Collection.
Rimzim Dadu, A Delhi based fashion designer, has observed closely, both the artisans and the technical processes. She in her collections, uses different materials like silicon sheet, paper, plastic etc and converts them into wearable garments.
Waste remains one of the most poking concerns of the fashion industry. The initiatives and technology that is being innovated in order to tackle the waste management and environmental effects is still at an initial stage. There is an urge and need to grow this and bring down the ill effects of fashion by fusing it with technology.