6 Experts Reveal the Sustainable Fashion Projects to Watch in 2017

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There’s no doubt that the fashion industry is changing. While, for some of us, it may not be changing as quickly as we’d like, there is proof that consumer behavior is shifting, the role of the designer is growing and technology is at the forefront.

Below are six experts in the sustainable fashion industry, sharing the projects they’re most excited to watch in 2017.


“There’s this incredible ecosystem of business resources, services and programs set up to help fashion brands incorporate more sustainable practices into what they’re doing, and it wasn’t that way even two years ago. Some to watch are Factory45, Startup Fashion, ProjectEntrepreneur and TrendSeeder.

I am also paying close attention to the necessary interconnectedness of sustainability in fashion, where you see companies like Evrnu partnering with Levi’s and The Renewal Workshop teaming up with multiple brands to present new ways of thinking about the lifecycle of the clothes we wear.”
Lorraine Sanders, Founder of PressDope by Spirit of 608 and host of the Spirit of 608 podcast


“I’m really excited about the emergence of sustainable undergarment brands. It used to be that there were so few choices that you could feel good about. Now they’re popping up everywhere and range from the fancier styles of NAJA, which has a women-focused social mission, to the fun styles of La Vie En Orange, which recycles your t-shirts into cute cotton undies.”
Nicole Giordano, Founder of Startup Fashion


“This year, I’m excited by brands that are blurring the traditional boundaries of fashion. New brands like Kirrin Finch are filling a void for (proper-fitting) menswear-inspired womenswear as established companies like Burberry make mixed gender shows a fixture of fashion week.

In addition, the concept of quality clothing that purposefully endures through sizes and seasons is resurfacing among sustainable lines: Sotela designs dresses that span several sizes while the made-to-order brand DeSmet rejects the fashion calendar to release just one piece per month over the course of the year.”
Elizabeth Stilwell, Creator of The Note Passer and Co-Founder of the Ethical Writers Coalition


“From yeast-based synthetic spider silk to hybrid fabrics that convert solar power and movement into electricity, fashion innovation will continue to soar to new heights in the new year. But I think that more low-tech pursuits such as knitting, crocheting, and sewing will also see a resurgence, particularly in these uncertain political times, when getting down to brass tacks and working with our hands will bring a more visceral level of comfort.

I’d keep my eyes peeled, in particular, for organizations such as the Craftivist Collective, which uses the art of craft as a vehicle for “gentle activism,” and Knit Aid, which provides refugees with lovingly hand-knit blankets, scarves, gloves, and hats. On a personal note, I’m currently knitting my fourth Pussyhat Project hat for the upcoming Women’s March on Washington. It’s easy to surrender to feelings of hopelessness, but we can rally everything we have against the tide of tyranny and hatred. There is strength in numbers, and it can begin with a single stitch.”
Jasmin Malik Chua, Managing Editor of Ecouterre


“I’m excited to see Increasing alternatives to leather come to the market. Right now most faux leather ‘vegan’ options are plastic-based, which of course is not compostable. But with pineapple-based and even mushroom leather alternatives becoming available, I’m hoping we’ll start to see more and more of them available on a larger scale!”

Rachel Kibbe, Founder of Helpsy


“Because of where I stand in the fashion space, I’m lucky to see sustainable startups launching new projects on a regular basis. The ones that I get really excited about are pushing the boundaries of branding, storytelling and marketing to say something different about what it means to be an ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ apparel brand.

Some of the companies that stand out right now are Girlfriend Collective that opted out of traditional advertising and used their budget to get their product into the hands of their customers. Peche Lingerie is pushing the boundaries of the lingerie industry by making undergarments for every “body” and defying gender norms. And then there’s mompreneur brand SproutFit that is challenging traditional sizing for infants and toddlers by making garments adjust as the baby grows.

If I’ve learned anything over the past several years working with sustainable fashion startups it’s that the companies that get people excited are the ones who tell a different story. It’s those unique stories that I’ll be keeping my eye on this year.”
Shannon Lohr, Founder of Factory45

*This story first appeared on The Huffington Post

8 Sustainable Fashion Projects to Watch in 2016: The Experts Weigh In

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Image: factory45.co

There’s no doubt that the fashion industry is changing. While, for some of us, it may not be changing as quickly as we’d like, there is proof that consumer behavior is shifting, the role of the designer is growing and technology is at the forefront.

Below are eight experts in the sustainable fashion industry, sharing the projects they’re most excited to watch in 2016.

jasmin malik chua

I’m excited to see what the fashion industry does with recycled ocean waste. From Raw for the Oceans’ line of denim to Adidas and Parley’s 3D-printed shoe to Ecoalf’s dredging of the seabed for textile materials, trash has never looked so promising!


— Jasmin Malik Chua, managing editor of Ecouterre


I am so interested in 2016’s take on textile waste and more discussions on closed loop production. One company I have been watching for the past 2 years or so is Evrnu. Evrnu is a revolutionary technology that recycles cotton amy-dufaultgarment waste to create new, renewable fibers. Considering in the U.S. alone, 14.3 million tons of textile waste was created last year and with fast fashion showing absolutely no signs of slowing down production, companies looking at textile waste, like Evrnu are not only going to be part of those closed loop discussions, they’re going to be sitting on a gold mine.

— Amy Dufault, director of digital media & content at the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator


marci zaroffI am super excited about the launch of Metawear — the nation’s first and only GOTS and Cradle to Cradle Certified manufacturer, producing fair labor organic/sustainable T-shirts and custom contract apparel. This 40,000 sq ft turnkey factory based in Fairfax, VA offers cut & sew, garment dyeing and proprietary seaweed-based, GOTS certified screen printing all under one roof — using solar and geothermal renewable energy. Truly sustainable style, made in the USA is here!


— Marci Zaroff, founder of Under the Canopy and Metawear


sass brownI am excited about the speaker series, The Hand of Fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology, a collaboration with Simone Cipriani, Founder of the Ethical Fashion Initiative, a flagship program of the United Nations. The series is free and open to the public, and incorporates EFI partners and brands talking about their journey towards a more ethical fashion industry.

— Sass Brown, author of Eco Fashion Talk & professor at FIT



Good Clothing Company, Cape Cod’s first and only sustainable and ethical small batch apparel manufacturing facility, is expanding to Fall River, MA. With a focus on re-shoring US based jobs, supporting a living wage and spearheading positive change in the fashion industry, GCC has been working side-by-side with the Massachusetts state legislature to legalize hemp as an industrial and agricultural crop. In anticipation of the successful passing of the bill and a desire to revitalize Fall River’s manufacturing hub, GCC will be opening Good Clothing Fall River and Good Textile Company, the nation’s first hemp textile mill in over half a century.

— Kathryn Hilderbrand, owner of Good Clothing Company


kate-blackFashion is undergoing great steps towards sustainability but the one area I am most excited about is textiles. Cradle to Cradle keeps increasing their ‘perpetually cycled materials’ library and Kering has included the textiles from their Materials Innovation Lab into their new EP&L; measuring the long-term environmental impact of material choices. Add to that, new advances in recycling in cotton, cellulosic fibers, nylon and a new plant-based polyester plus what will be revealed from the MIT/Nike “Materials Matter” global competition (ends January 29, 2016): textile innovation will be the big news of 2016.

— Kate Black, author of Magnifeco: Your Head-to-Toe Guide to Ethical Fashion and Non-Toxic Beauty (Oct. 2015)


kestrel-jenkinsMySource is a newer name to the game, but they’ve been tackling fashion industry challenges since 2006 as the Ethical Fashion Forum. Their evolved product is meant to match individuals with tools to build a better fashion brand. I’m intrigued to see the response to their innovative technology, and especially to watch how far they can break through the conscious realm and into the mainstream.

— Kestrel Jenkins, founder of AWEAR World & co-founder of Falcon Related


shannon-whiteheadI’m really excited to watch the Carolina Textile District continue to grow and reshape what it means to manufacture in America. There are some key players organizing the value chain within the region so that everyone can win. By coming together as collaborators, instead of seeing each other as competitors, these suppliers are partnering in a way that benefits their businesses and the entrepreneurs who work with them.

— Shannon Whitehead, founder of Factory45

*This story first appeared on Factory45 blog.