Not A Trend, But A Movement
Some question whether sustainability is just another passing trend or if it’s actually a real movement, but we don’t have the luxury to coast on an ‘ignorance is bliss’ type of mentality anymore. Responsible production and responsible garments are here to stay, so let's take a look at some of the hot topics in sustainable fashion and denim right now.
Biosynthetic are the talk of the town that paints us a utopian vision of never using our finite resources ever again, but with all of the benefits of using natural materials. Beautiful graphics and expert advertising have heightened our interest in them, however, most are currently not commercially available. Bolt Threads, creators of Mylo, a leather alternative derived from mycelium, have daringly announced that products made with Mylo will be available starting in 2021! The time is coming, so get ready! We were also introduced to Galy this year by Transformers Foundation who makes cotton from cells. That’s right, they don’t grow it, they make it by mimicking nature using plant cells. “Basically, what we do is we have a bunch of different cotton plants in our greenhouse,” Luciano Bueno, CEO and Co-Founder explains. “Then we cut a piece of the plant and that plant has a bunch of stem cells. The stem cells have the ability to pretty much transform into any part of the plant.” The process is said to be 10 times faster than traditional farming, or 18 days compared to 180 days because, “Instead of growing the whole plant, we go from the cell directly to the fiber,” Bueno says.
Natural and bioengineered dyes are entering the main stage. For us denim lovers specifically, bioengineered indigo is wildly exciting. Synthetic indigo is what colors the world’s jeans and we now have alternatives out there with very low levels of chemicals in them, but what if we could eliminate them all together? Huue. uses biotechnology to create non-toxic dyes for the industries that are shaping the future of Earth and we were lucky enough to be their first mission: indigo blue for denim makers. It’s based on a fermentation process that looks similar to making beer, so there is a massive opportunity for scaling and cheersing to a new future for dyeing. Natural dyes from agricultural waste or organic materials have also gained some attention as consumers took to DIY home dyeing for some socially distanced summertime fun. Companies like Tonello are using plant and vegetable waste, such as flowers, berries, and roots, to produce beautiful dyes and it is no wonder since Mother Nature is the best artist and creative genius we know. Lastly, the industry continues to work on creating the best dyes to colour our blue jeans without exhausting the world’s finite resources. In line with this, Calik has recently launched their new dye technology called Dyepro, which uses no water and in turn creates no chemical waste during the dyeing process. Supporting eco-conscious production at every level is one of Calik’s main goals, so applying this technology to their product families has been very important as it enables outstanding resource savings.
We’re seeing the rental and resale economy continue to gain market share with secondhand clothing expected to reach US$64 Billion. But, what’s new is that we’ve been seeing brands like Levi’s and Nudie Jeans create their own platforms for reselling their brand’s second-hand pieces. As the sustainable innovations out there develop commercial viability, what we are realizing in the meantime is that the best thing we can do is keep our garments in use as long as possible. According to WRAP, extending active use of a garment by 9 months would reduce carbon, water, and waste footprints by around 20-30% each. So while we continue to research how to create garments that benefit our three P’s (people, planet, profit), new models of business are proving to be one of the trends brands are taking for sustainability. It’s important to put responsibility and accountability at the core of your business, but there are however, topics that peak consumer interest more than others. Keep a real-time pulse on the changing consumer preferences, but remember: Sustainability is not a trend, it’s a movement.