Thanks to Earth Day (April 22 2019), this month’s news roundup is rich with sustainability related features and launches, from campaigns pushing ethical products to strategic political decisions, and solutions addressing even grey areas like packaging and textile waste due to cutting processes.
Docu-pills on sustainable fashion
The second episode of Catwalk 2 Creation created by a duo committed to ethical fashion, Charney Magri and Ramzi Moutran, was released on Earth Day after the pilot showed at the V&A Museum in autumn 2018. The 15 minute episodes tell what’s behind the scenes of the sustainable fashion evolution and give insights on recent innovative solutions and news, for example on Lenzing’s strategies to develop next-generation sustainable materials. The docu-series features interviews with high profile industry insiders including the founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Dame Ellen MacArthur, British Fashion Council’s CEO Caroline Rush CBE and Nicole Rycroft, Canopy founder and executive director speaking about policies protecting ancient forests in the process of global viscose production. Funding the series was one of the most challenging parts of the production, as photographer and author Charney Magri reveals in this interview.
Bag it: Is Your Life Too Plastic? That was a good question back in 2011 and today it still is. According to this supply chain insight, packaging is accountable for half of the global plastic waste. 2019 already feels like a turning point for retailers, as this panorama on major multinational retail demonstrates with information about how retailers from Unilever to The Body Shop take steps toward a sustainable packaging. Cosmetics retailer Lush cites its "naked" products on the shelves as a way to address the problem of waste in their store in Tokyo. Amazon’s combined shipment option or Loop’s reusable delivery box save on transportation and materials.
Sustainable packaging can open interesting opportunities especially in fashion, as a Vogue article has pointed out this month: package is a further space for brand communication and also a design itself. In circular fashion the container should be part of the concept, just as for Gabriela Hearst, who uses compostable TIPA bags in lieu of plastic, and Maggie Marilyn that recently introduced a biodegradable cassava-root bag that dissolves in the waste.
The Truth and the NY Times
Everlane’s business model has been based on supply chain transparency ever since its launch in 2010 and it’s still committed to “inspire a future generation” with anti-fast fashion values. The brand has just announced The New York Times Climate Collection, created as part of a partnership program with the publisher colossal: every sold piece means free yearly subscription to the newspaper for nine high school students. The minimalistic design of the sweatshirts and t-shirts of the collection are benchmarked by NYT’s emotional messages about journalism. To read more on the ethical smart-luxury brand Everlane, see here.
Big steps for sneakers
Adidas took a huge step towards making fashion circular with the launch of its new FutureCraft Loop sneaker which is made from sustainable materials and can be repurposed into a new pair of shoes after they’ve been worn down. This is possible because this shoe is made from a single material, unlike most of the sport shoes composed of 15-20 types, all of them to be processed for reuse separately, which is the critical point in shoe recycling. When you’ve worn it out, you can send it back to Adidas to be washed, ground into pellets, and melted into material for a new pair of shoes, with zero waste and nothing thrown out. This is the second ecological product after the Parley shoes made of ocean plastic.
The company is committed to using only recycled polyester in every product and on every application where a solution exists by 2024. Alongside Adidas, Everlane’s sneakers line Tread by Everlane could disrupt sporty shoe market forever, as this Vogue piece explains, “the world’s lowest-impact sneakers,” launched this month for online sells.
Political support for positive change / Trust politics
It starts with an “if”, but still, if the French government developed this idea into law, that would mean a very concrete step toward lowering overproduction on long terms. Brune Poirson, the Secretary of State to the Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition in France, is “drafting a law to prevent companies from destroying unsold clothing,” as part of the measures took after the 50-point Roadmap for the Circular Economy released in April 2018.
Staying in North Europe, there is some good news also from the Netherlands: according to the annual report of the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile, the members have met 2018 targets and 92% of garment and textile producers are now engaged.
This is the moment to remember also that the City of New York last month joined forces with the Ellen McArthur Foundation to start a garment recycling programme.
Wedesign, a digital educational platform that houses interviews with founders, academics, and experts on art and design, now also has a section dedicated to sustainable fashion design, with online and offline executive masterclasses, workshops and open discussions for free. The platform is recommended in this Forbes article because of its focus on the practical elements of running a business, as claimed Simon Collins, previous Asia-Pacific Creative Director at Nike, co-founder of the project.
Google’s sustainable practise app
The creators of Your Plan, Your Planet - a Google web app to help people make more sustainable choices at home – is a collaboration between Google, the California Academy of Sciences and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Initially addressing three “pillars” - water, food and energy – they have now added one further about fashion and “stuff” we consume. The fourth pillar of the interactive app was nicely timed to be online on Earth Day. This app suggests easy little tricks to make your household part of a circular economy. For more info on how it works, read this.
Rana Plaza, 6 years on
Six years on from Bangladesh's Rana Plaza tragedy, more than half of survivors remain unemployed due to the physical injuries and psychological impact of the disaster: in fact unemployment rate has increased almost 10% in the last two years, as shown on a survey by non profit organization ActionAid. Eco-Age highligts the political background behind the actual scenario that endangers ActionAid’s future activity in the country. Given this political attitude in the country of sweatshops, at this point a major transparency of producers that (under)pay for work would be necessary to get to the problem from the other side. This was the aim of the project of Fashion Revolution with the Fashion Transparency Index that shows how brands fail transparency, according to Business of Fashion. Though there are signs of improvement from previous years there remain major gaps in the information most fashion companies provide, particularly when it comes to disclosing the effect of social and environmental commitments.
There are a lot of numbers that shows how fashion ruins the planet, but where do they come from? The answer to this by Maxine Bedat is a new institution called The New Standard Institute that publishes only scientifically accurate, cross-checked data on fashion. According to Vogue, even the much cited data that fashion is the world’s second industry with highest environmental impact may lack real evidence.
Digital modeling for a green future of fashion
From the Industrial Revolution when automation and large-scale machinery increased quantities and overall accessibility of fabric until today the production of knitwear has had little changes and progress.
This innovative approach of PH5 involves advanced 3D modelling that shortens pattern development to create their garments which were rewarded by being among the finalists at BoF China Prize this year. Knit fabrics can be produced at zero waste process. Unlike woven textiles that need pattern and to optimise that, the team of designers Kazuya Kawasaki, Shimizu, Kotaro Sano and machine learning engineer Yusuke Fujihira looked for a solution in the digital world. They founded Synflux that offers customised pattern development through 3D-scanning technology alongside CAD software, a process they call Algorithmic Couture. Also Forbes featured a project, Couturme, that uses digital fitting to develop patterns followed by all the steps to design yourself a customised item with a perfect fit and style just as you want. In order to have a complex picture about this trend read the blog of Lead - Innovation Management magazine that explains 3D and 4D printing processes in a general, extended panorama. Forbes reports also an other way of how artificial intelligence can improve customer experience and provide complex data with this digital service with high level metataging inventory tool among others.
CFDA launches sustainability hub
The Council of Fashion Designers of America, CFDA, has launched a resource hub to educate students, professionals and designers on the topic of sustainability. Information includes a Guide to Sustainable Strategies with tools on how to conduct a self-assessment and how to structure a roadmap and sustainability strategy for the future, and, most importantly, a constantly updated A-Z Materials Index, a directory of more than 40 materials on available fibers.
Finnish startup joins forces with fashion colossal
High demand for cotton to meet sustainability criteria has been the main motivation behind textile fibre research. A Finnish tech company Infinited Fiber has announced they had raised €3.7m funding from investors H&M Group, Fortum and Virala for closed loop cotton alike fibre business made of cotton and cellulose. The process is also claimed to be flexible enough to be integrated into existing pulp, dissolving pulp and viscose fibre plants, and to be recycled.