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Style and Sustainability: What’s Happening in the Industry Now?

Updated on February 13, 2018

From adapting their manufacturing methods to varying the materials that they use, what is the industry doing to reduce their carbon footprint? Trilogy Stores, r

The problem

The fashion industry has been under criticism in recent years for their contributions to global warming. The players in the industry should be working together to improve their production process and become more environmentally conscious. Currently, less than 1% of material used to make clothing is then recycled into new clothing. There are other worrying facts that are associated with the industry too:

  • The estimated cost to the UK economy of landfilling clothing and household textiles is £82m per year.
  • People aren’t wearing their garments as much as they used to — the average number of times a piece of clothing is worn before it’s no longer used has decreased by 36% in 15 years.
  • One kilogram of fabric generates an average of 23 kilograms of greenhouse gases.

The solution

Fashion retailers could consider using different materials to help solve the growing problem. Hemp for example, is a plant-based material and is one of the most versatile out there. It’s currently used for cleaning products, building materials and has been found to be stronger than the commonly used cotton. It’s good for the environment too as it requires less pesticides and herbicides than cotton needs to grow.

Players in the fashion industry need to become more transparent too. This can push them to become more environmentally friendly as consumers and governing officials can see their supply chain and identify any areas that could be improved. Fashion Revolution have their own index, The Fashion Transparency Index (FTI), that ranks how much information the largest 100 global fashion businesses reveal about their social and environmental policies. In 2017, they discovered that 31 brands now disclose a list of their suppliers for all to see — an increase from five in 2016.

Soy is another alternative that some fashion retailers can consider using in their clothing manufacturing process. Unlike silk and cashmere, animals aren’t involved in the production of the material and it is machine washable and wrinkle resistant — a plus for fashion consumers.

Fashion giant, H&M, sponsored a project that launched a €1 million competition asking for ideas on how to make the industry more sustainable. This is what some of the innovators discovered:

  • Polyester-eating microbes — this discovery of a new type of microbe is able to eat an old shirt and break the polymers down so that they can be sold back to manufacturers that work with polyester.
  • Recycling food waste — this innovation involved turning by-products of citrus fruits into raw materials that can be used to create clothing.
  • Recycling cotton — using an environmentally friendly solvent, old cotton clothing is dissolved and a new material is created that can be spun into new fibres.

Sustainable shopping

There are some brands that already make efforts to become more sustainable and they address the eco-conscious consumer — a growing global market.

AG Jeans

AG Jeans use technological advancements such as Ozone Technology which reduces water consumption by 50% and decreases the need for chemicals and energy when creating clothing. They also use sustainable fibres such as Tencel® and Modal® which are entirely biodegradable and therefore don’t have long lasting effects on the environment as other materials do.

They also use heat-saving equipment which recycles heat from dryers to reduce laundry energy consumption by up to 46% according to the brand.

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney’s clothing is entirely free of animal product. In fact, hers was the first luxury brand that was anti-leather and anti-fur, with many other brands following in her footsteps. Her brand prides itself on its commitment to leading ‘a responsible, honest and modern company’.

Over 50% of her womenswear is sustainable and she has developed jackets and sneakers that were made from 100% recycled polyester.

Almasanta

This company is a selection of sustainable brands from all over the world. They have created a platform where eco-conscious fashion customers can browse various garments in one place. Brands are all made from natural fabrics and long-lasting products.

They only stock products that guarantee a reduced use of energy and water, they also send their products out in 100% recycled packaging.

We are a long way from the fashion industry becoming fully sustainable but there are small changes that can be made. Even if each retailer made a small environmentally-focused change, we’d see a huge difference. With advancements in technology with eco-friendly clothing materials, who knows what the future holds?

Sources

https://www.agjeans.com/supply-chain.html

http://www.scmp.com/magazines/style/fashion-beauty/article/2104776/stella-mccartneys-eco-friendly-fashion-fuelled-her

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/28/stella-mccartney-calls-for-overhaul-of-incredibly-wasteful-fashion-industry

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability-and-resource-productivity/our-insights/style-thats-sustainable-a-new-fast-fashion-formula

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/what-is-the-most-animal-and-eco-friendly-material-for-clothing/

https://almasanta.com/es/pages/about_us

https://www.fastcompany.com/3055925/5-new-solutions-for-the-fashion-industrys-sustainability-problem

https://www.net-a-porter.com/gb/en/Shop/Designers/Stella_McCartney?pn=1&npp=60&image_view=product&dScroll=0

https://www.vogue.com/article/vogue-forces-of-fashion-stella-mccartney-sustainable

From adapting their manufacturing methods to varying the materials that they use, what is the industry doing to reduce their carbon footprint? Trilogy Stores, retailers of premium designer clothing, investigate.

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