Sustain Your FashionMar 31, 2021 12:00PM ● By Brian Scott Lipton
Among all industries, none is better known for its trends than fashion. But anyone who thinks “sustainability” will go the way of Nehru jackets or culottes should reconsider. The industry’s devotion to creating environmentally conscious clothing is growing by leaps and bounds with new innovations being announced nearly on a daily basis.
Admittedly, sustainability can take on a lot of meanings in the fashion world, from using recycled and upcycled materials to using less water in the production of a specific product to providing better condition for workers. But the most impactful current movement is the creation and use of sustainable and biodegradable materials.
One of these is regenerative cotton, which comes about through better farming practices, including not using chemicals or simply growing cotton alongside other crops that are more likely to divert pests from the cotton. Global powerhouse VFCorp, already a leader in sustainable practices, recently announced that regenerative cotton will be used for a new collection in 2022 by one of its signature brands, The North Face. The popular activewear brand will team with Boston-based, nature-based solutions company Indigo Ag to produce this unique line of clothing.
Toronto-based women’s designer Hillary McMillan, who produces “cruelty-free” clothing, is justly proud of her popular Sustainable Blouse line. “We chose to use Cupro, a regenerated cellulose fabric made from unused cotton byproducts, because not only does it mimic the texture and feel of silk, but it is also eco-friendly,” says McMillan. “It is fully biodegradable and created in a closed loop which means all water runoff used to create the fabric is reused. Furthermore, our mill uses only natural dyes from off-cut plant materials like onion skins, grapes and bamboo as opposed to chemical dyes.”
Outland, an Australian-based denim brand long known for its commitment to sustainability, recently introduced Reset, a new, ready-to-wear women’s collection of clothing that is made of all-natural, sustainable (non-denim) fabrics. “We want to provide more options for our customers who want to wear sustainably made clothes—which are clothes that match their values,” states James Bartle, the company’s founding CEO.
As expected, a number of denim companies, including Lee and Diesel, are also leading the way in creating more sustainable fabrics. Revtown recently launched a new line of denim that will be made from BCI-certified cotton, an initiative aimed at creating cleaner, sustainable cotton production. The company’s denim is also sustainably dyed using shrimp and nut shells, and orange peels, a process that uses 30 percent less energy, 50 percent less water and 70 percent fewer chemicals than traditional dying techniques across the industry. Further, 100 percent of all waste is recycled into denim yarn or insulation for local housing.
Accessory and footwear companies are also in the forefront of the sustainability movement. Nixon, already lauded for making bags that are made from 100 percent ocean plastics, has recently added a line of digital watches made from that exact same material. Meanwhile, Junes has found plenty of buyers for its sustainable reusable bags made from Bio-Knit, a material created from recycled plastic bottles and CiCLO technology that helps reduce plastic pollution the nation’s landfills and waterways.
Meanwhile, Italian-based brand Scarpa’s new Mojito Bio shoe is its first 100 percent biodegradable sneaker, including the use of a landmark performance rubber sole, uppers made from a Bio Knit fabric and a natural cotton lining. Finally, Moral Code recently introduced a line of footwear and leather goods called MC Ethical Living, which will be the brand’s first sustainable collection.
Moreover, Moral Code is now one of the only brands in the U.S. to use Olivenleder—a patented technology using fallen olive leaves that would otherwise go to waste—as its tanning agent. “By utilizing this waste as a primary ingredient in footwear and accessories, we are actually removing leather from landfills,” says CEO Mark Kohlenberg. “But, more importantly, we are also creating beautiful and long-lasting products instead of perpetuating disposable fashion that is discarded after a season or two.”
These developments all show that after years of so-called “fast fashion” ruling the market, disposable is out—and sustainable is in.