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.
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!
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 garment 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.
I 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!
I 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.
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.
Fashion 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.
MySource 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.
I’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.
Cambodia-based eco-fashion brand Tonlé are all about zero-waste production. They are currently the largest ethical apparel brand in the country, offering fair wages and a secure working environment since 2013. Their motivations stem from what they refer to on their website as the “enormous global problem” of excess waste material when factories value profit over the environment. From the get-go Tonlé decided to make this waste fabric their main component in their designs. Around 90% of their materials are recycled from factories and 10% are from sustainable suppliers with the aim of having a minuscule environmental footprint and maximum social benefit. They say that through their production methods they save 22,046 pounds of materials from ending up in landfills, in comparison to the average manufacturer. Having recently launched a hugely successful new kickstarter campaign they are getting their beautiful and eco-friendly garments out to a wider audience.
Check out their campaign page and website for a full look at their work.
The idea behind the Electroloom is to make it even easier for anyone to become a designer, which would in turn mean less waste in clothes production and items would have a smaller carbon footprint. Sounds too good to be true? With this advanced 3D fabric printer the Electroloom team say that in order to design and create seamless fabric items all you would need is the Electroloom and a bit of CAD know how. The team developing this technological feat are three engineers who have established an electrospinning process that makes even an amateur be able to become part of their “community and design ecosystem”. They dub this Field Guided Fabrication, whereby just following three steps – designing a mold in CAD, put it in the Electrloom and watch it work its magic! – and anyone can design and make items, translating as less waste fabric in the long run. Their Kickstarter campaign is underway to turn this possibly anti-waste revolution into a reality. Here is Electroloom’s Joseph White speaking with Ecouterre about the sustainable potential of the 3D printer.
What inspired the Electroloom concept?
Really, the Electroloom started as a conversation about the future. It was a “what if” kind of thought—what if we could print our clothes and anyone anywhere could be in control of the design of their clothing?
Electroloom began with a question: What if we could design and print our own clothes?
From there it grew into something that was constantly on our minds about how we actually might be able to do it until we eventually came up with a way we thought would work and started building it.
Who are you targeting with your Kickstarter campaign?
This campaign is not yet a product. We’re looking for early adopters to begin to experiment with our technology in a very early stage.
Does Electroloom have a sustainable story to tell?
There’s a lot of waste in the textile industry. Electroloom has the potential to reduce the impact of this waste in a variety of ways. We’re still in such an early stage, however, so a lot of this is still speculation for us.
There are fascinating ideas around dramatically reducing the amount of waste that goes into the fabric-manufacturing process because we’re able to go from raw material directly to finished good.
Electroloom could potentially reduce the amount of fabric waste in the garment industry.
We’re able to reduce the carbon emissions of shipping various components of the textile creation process because it occurs in a single step with Electroloom.
Again, there are many ideas here, but it’s hard to say how close we will be to these because we are still in an R&D stage of development.
Will Electroloom usher an age of democratic fashion design?
A lot of people talk about this idea, and it’s definitely an exciting one. I think our big vision is one that includes the freedom for anyone to design clothing and share it with the world.
Our technology isn’t quite there, but it’s one of the things we’re definitely interested in and working on.
You say you want people to experiment with the technology in order to further develop it. How do you envision Electroloom evolving?
We want to explore, via our developers, what the limits of our technology really are. We’ve done a lot of experimenting ourselves, and we like some ideas we’ve come up with on how our devices can be used. But we know how creative people can be when given access to new creative outlets and freedom to design.
We imagine optimizing our future iterations around what our developers are most interested in, where they see the most value, and what works the best with our early machines.
The main ingredient in Electroloom’s prototyping material is biodegradable.
Do you plan to use more eco-friendly materials?
This is already an area we’re very conscious of. The main ingredient in our current prototyping material is biodegradable, and our materials engineer is hard at work to create blends that rely on water as a main constituent, rather than any harsher chemicals.