Li Edelkoort | Source: edelkoort.com
Li Edelkoort: Fashion will move beyond leather
Imran Amed, founder of Business of Fashion talked about the future of fashion education with tendency forecaster guru Li Edelkoort in a podcast. Edelkoort points out the changes needed in fashion education towards a multidisciplinary, nonspecialist approach in order to develop designer skills to create hybrids between a smart, tech-scene and handcrafting traditional artisanal culture. Questions about sustainability couldn’t be left out: from minute 17, the main topics of the green future of fashion are mentioned, like leather use. According to Li Edelkoort, finding a leather substitute is not that important because “fashion will move beyond”: we’re attracted to leather as it somehow keeps us close to animals and as this relationship has been changing, also our desire for leather products will change. She points out the critical situation of artisanal fibre- and fabric- producing techniques that have already disappeared in our century because of fast fashion.
College of Microsoft
As Forbes reports, London College of Fashion has initiated a collaboration with Microsoft to integrate designer know-how and needs with software and hardware solutions for future fashion systems. One of the outcomes called SWAPP allows consumers to swap their face into promotional brand content to "see themselves" in ads.
Resort 2020 | Source: Caroline Herrera official website
Inspiration or fashion crime?
The female embroiderers of the remote Mexican mountain village of Tenango de Doria made worldwide headlines when their government’s culture secretary went to war with the artistic director and founder of a New York fashion label. Wes Gordon and Carolina Herrera were accused of cultural appropriation as their Resort 2020 collection uses Mexican traditional colours, patterns and embroidery. As BBC reports, Ms. Frausto, of the Mexican government, asked whether these communities would benefit in any way. Four years ago, another indigenous Mexican community complained that the French designer Isabel Marant had plagiarized a 600-year-old Tlahuitoltepec blouse design that symbolises the Mexi community for one of her collections, reported in this article in The Guardian.
Diagnosis: Fashion poisoning
The world’s most toxic materials are fluorinated chemicals, formaldehyde (known to cause cancer), and phthalates (disrupt the body’s endocrine system, impacting metabolism and fertility); and these are actually used in clothing manufacture. The fashion industry has been creating new alternatives, but there is not enough attention paid to finding eco-friendly alternatives to toxic chemicals, especially to those used for special finishes like odour-proof or anti-wrinkle. Rachel Cernansky writes in Vogue Business that one of the solutions could be changing consumer behaviour towards adapting to what the market offers. Patagonia has pioneered this idea and has refused to use anti-wrinkle treatments. Patagonia has instead gone to teach its consumers how to care for their clothes so these chemicals are no longer needed.
Candiani Demin | Source: Candiani Facebook
Candiani denim for the win
ITMA, the textile and garment technology exhibition, held every four years, took place this past June in Barcelona. During the six-day conference, the industry converged to explore fresh ideas and innovate the world of fashion. This year, the Industry Excellence Award was won by a recycling project by Milan based company Candiani SpA, who uses regenerated and recycled raw materials to produce denim fabric. The technique was presented to commemorate the family firm’s 80th anniversary of the foundation. Other nominees included Levi Strauss’ FLX Customisation Studio, said to revolutionise in-store customisation by allowing customers to pick their denim finish and create a unique pair of jeans in less than two hours, and VF Corporation, which leverages Tonello’s garment finishing system for its Wrangler and Lee denim. Download the full report from ITMA 2019 here and find Sustainability and Recycling topics on page 58-59.
Chemical Free Fashion
Maeve Campbell of Euronews reports on Chanel’s investment in Boston-based silk technology start-up, Evolved By Nature. They revolutionized the process of creating high-performance textiles by replacing synthetic chemicals with liquid silk. Published by the Greenpeace Detox Campaign, here is an essential guide on harmful materials used in the fashion industry and how to find alternatives.
A new solution to face the challenge of waste reduction is to use a flat pattern-cutting technique that could cut fabric usage in half. Holly McQuillan, a New Zealand academic and designer, has shown that a pair of trousers can be made from just 75cm of fabric, substantially less than a conventional trouser pattern. Melanie Plank, Head of Content at Common Objective, in this article, shares how production processes need to be developed in tandem with design to achieve commercial viability while reducing waste.
They have Cotton On!
Cotton On, an Australian retail chain, has been awarded the 2019 Responsible Retailer Initiative of the Year at the World Retail Congress Awards in Amsterdam. Standing out for the company’s Cotton On Foundation Kenya Cotton Programme, Cotton On aims to improve the livelihoods of the Kwale community by increasing sustainable agricultural productivity in the region. Farmers are trained in sustainable cotton farming practices and are assisted in establishing their farms. However, note that sustainable production does not mean organic production, in fact, Kenyan BT cotton farming and pesticide usage have been hot topics in the last years.
100% recent history of cotton
Professor Andrew Paul Gutierrez, University of California at Berkeley, recently published a review on BT cotton’s influence over the Indian cottonfield landscape. The review continues in an interview, by Lakshmi Supriya on The Wire, that highlights the gravity of BT cotton’s huge changes in Indian agriculture, which has allowed for faster and bigger cotton production that now positioned the country amongst the largest producers in the world.
This year, the Global Cotton Sustainability Conference was held between June 11th-13th in Shanghai, China. You can follow the publication of the key takeaways and the full report online in the next days here. Attached is the report for a complete cotton trading update with price monitoring and market analysis.
Fashion for Good in Asia
Amsterdam-based innovation hub Fashion for Good has entered the South Asian market, opening up a call for start-ups and innovative solutions. Chosen projects will be able to showcase their work and enter into a supportive network. See the official call here.
IED Sustainable Menswear Collection | Photo: Alexandra Korey
Green news from Tuscany during Pitti Uomo
The Florentine, an English news magazine in Florence, dedicated this month’s issue to fashion with a focus on sustainability, in conjunction with annual fashion fair, Pitti Uomo 96. Marco Badiani writes about how textile recycling and sustainability has always been part of Prato’s heritage. The Florentine also published an article about the Digital Heritage project by TCBL, where correct digitalization of textile archives can lead to new productivity and creativity. During Pitti Uomo, students of IED Firenze fashion school presented a menswear collection developed in collaboration with the Italian Detox Improvement Consortium and Greenpeace Italy – see the TCBL report on this fashion show.
Political setback in the UK
UK MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) recommended a charge of 1p for every garment produced in order to urgently raise £35m per year to fund clothing collection and sorting. The government has, however, refused to implement the tax, choosing only to leave it up to retailers and producers to voluntarily implement recycling programs. (See this article in The Guardian.)
Meanwhile, the government has also refused to accept other recommendations set out by parliament members in the recent Environmental Audit Committee. These recommendations addressed issues such as forced labour, environmental damage, and excessive waste in the industry.
4 Better options for dyes
Nano-dye, a company that has developed a cationic textile-dyeing technology, could start a revolution in the fashion industry. This technology is the result of 20 years of research and has just recently installed its first two mass production systems installed in Bangladesh. This dyeing technology allows cotton exhaust dye jets to use no salt, 75 percent less water and 90 percent less energy. Another solution to reduce the impact of fabric dyeing is to use natural agents.
The Chinese herb Spatholobus is the subject of this research paper that studied its potential as a colourant for wool; it was tested both with and without metal mordants. The dyed fabric showed various colour shades based on the type of mordant used, proving the viability natural agents in the fabric dyeing process.
Sanitized, a leading producer of antimicrobial textiles, has also invested in using natural agents with their recently released odour-management additive for cotton textiles. According to Innovation in Textiles, this additive is made naturally from peppermint and is completely metal-free.
Vogue Magazine’s list of 5 ways to lessen the fashion industry’s pollution highlighted two solutions in the dyeing field: scaling natural artisanal dyeing techniques and converting molasses into colourants.