A Renaissance of Sustainable Fabrics
When most of us think about pollution, we often think about CO2 emissions and smoggy air. Many of us don’t realize that the clothes on our backs contribute to most of the world’s pollution coming second to the oil industry. Textile pollution is prevalent in every part of the apparel supply chain- from the farming of pesticide-induced natural fibers to toxic dyeing processes, and dehumanizing labor conditions. The cost of fast-fashion’s low prices is exchanged for the abuse of ecological and human resources. At this point, everyone from start-up designers to the fast-fashion powerhouses must prioritize the sourcing of environmentally respectful, sustainable fabrics.
Thankfully, the textile industry is experiencing an eco-conscious renaissance. Today, there are more and more researchers and companies revolutionizing the idea of sustainable fabrics and materiality. Below we’ve listed 3 of the latest innovations in sustainable fabrics for all of the conscious fashion designers out there!
Renewable Cotton Fabrics
While most sustainable designers default to organically grown cotton, Evrnu has created another alternative for sourcing this fiber sustainably. Evrnu ’s innovative technology recycles cotton garment waste by breaking it down at a molecular level and developing an entirely new raw material.
The cycle starts with cotton garments destined for the landfill. The fabric is shredded and then broken down to its molecular particle size. Next, the broken down particles are extruded as the fiber is ready to be spun, woven, or knit into a new fabric. The extrusion process allows for an array of engineered fabric qualities like stretch, luster, color-fastness, and softness. Evrnu’s cradle-to-cradle approach doesn’t just recycle old garments, but actually creates a brand new raw material from pre-existing garments. Creating a self-replenishing process of raw materials gives design companies a waste-less option for cotton that doesn’t disrupt the fast-paced, trend-centric nature of the business.
The average American throws away 68 garments a year. The recreation of raw materials from these recyclables provides us with enough resources to think twice before abusing our soil and farming an over-abundance of GMO cotton each year.
Evrnu recently collaborated with Levi’s and plans to partner with smaller, emerging brands in the near future.
Material Made from Recycled Plastic
The Parley x Adidas collaboration is the biggest, most recent promoter of “ocean plastics” in fashion. Parley for the Oceans began with a mission to save as much oceanic wildlife as possible. Through partnering with Ocean Plastics, Parley has helped raise awareness for the potential uses of recycled plastics.
First, the plastic debris is intercepted before reaching the shoreline. The plastics can then be broken down, liquefied, and molded into new products. Adidas has been Parley’s biggest collaboration yet. Their recent shoe line was a huge success as the ocean plastic styles only cost $20 more than the average Adidas shoe. Adidas wants all of their shoes to be made using recycled plastic by 2020.
Though it seems these materials are largely available to the bigger fashion powerhouses, we can only believe that such impacts will trickle down to smaller fashion companies as well. Genussee is a start-up that creates eye-wear from Flint, Michigan’s recycled plastic bottles.
Polyester- next to cotton – is the most commonly used fabric used in garment making. But this petroleum-based fiber is not bio-degradable. It results in tons of polyester textiles rotting in landfills and polluting the air with harmful toxins. If the industry insists on producing synthetic fibers like polyester, the least the industry can do is replenish its life-cycle.
Newly discovered polyester-eating microbes can eat an entire garment while breaking down the polymer until it’s a new raw material. The material is then sold back to poly manufacturers and developed into an entirely new fabric.
Recycled polyester is a huge game-changer as synthetic fabrics have been the most difficult fabrics to recycle and renew!
Want to Learn How to Source Sustainable Fabrics for Your Line?
Between high minimums, price, and the seemingly small pool of options sustainable fabric sourcing can be challenging but certainly not impossible! If you’d like to get connected with more resources, we encourage you to book a 1-on-1 strategy session with us so we can help you through the process! 🙂
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