4 ways fashion is becoming more sustainable
One of the leading trends in 21st-century fashion isn’t about colour or cut, but embracing sustainability as new customers search for ways to help the planet while still looking their best.
1. 3D printing a perfect fit
It’s been around a while, but the next ten or twenty years should see 3D printing’s disruptive potential really coming to the fore. And, just as architecture, product design and even sculpture look set to be revolutionised, so clothing could follow.
Olympian snowboarder Amy Purdy previewed the possibilities at the Rio Paralympics with a dress printed precisely for her. Leading Israeli designer Danit Peleg was responsible for the futuristic garment, and continues to push the techniques toward the market. She allows buyers to make design changes to the online template of limited edition garments – which Peleg will then print, finish and ship.
And, while the process is fascinating – it’s also notably greener than traditional manufacturing since there is no wastage of material – an incredibly important shift in the industry when over 15 million tonnes of textile and fabric is discarded every year in the US alone.
2. Extending the life of items
Fast fashion – in which each item is so cheap it’s essentially disposable – has proven to be one of the most disastrous retail trends for the environment. It’s the exact opposite of how clothing was treasured throughout most of human history – and made to last as long as possible.
Thankfully, some companies have recently committed to resurrecting this model – and it’s the makers of hard-wearing clothes for extreme conditions who are leading the way. For example, Patagonia – the popular supplier of outdoors types everywhere – has recently partnered with Yerdle, an online reseller to create Worn Wear. Here, customers can buy second-hand – but professionally refurbished – clothes at a reduced cost.
This is on top of Patagonia’s Cast Iron Guarantee – which offers a repair, a replacement or a refund across their range.
3. Radical transparency
There’s no getting away from the fact that, for a long time, the clothing industry has been one of the very worst offenders for ecological impact – from landfills to plastic and synthetic dye pollution.
Now that there’s a real effort to realign its practices with the tastes of a new, greener generation, some companies will merely try to pay lip service to sustainable ideas while continuing much as before. But, according to the State of Fashion Report 2019, the key to brands being accepted as serious about the increasing crisis will be in the form of radical transparency.
Tomorrow’s consumers will demand more than slogans. And being able to show the entire supply chain is the way to win their trust. Companies like Stella McCartney are already moving in this direction.
4. Rent an outfit
Another idea gaining supporters is the application of the rental model to fashion. And it makes a lot of sense – as a means of reducing individual expenditure without compromising the ability to express yourself through your outfits.
After all, in terms of big occasions, many men already rent suits. Extending the model from weddings to other high-profile parties or functions means high-end fashion can be an affordable treat which won’t then moulder in a closet (how often do most people even have appropriate opportunities to dress up to that degree?)
Multiple companies are currently exploring how a web-based interface can be used to make peer-sharing items of clothing an accepted convenience. Whoever perfects their interface first could soon be the market leader in a whole new industry, just as Uber and Airbnb before them
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