Environmental issues are becoming a defining issue of our time. Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with adjusting their shopping habits to align with their sustainable values. This means that as the pressure rises, brands are focusing on ways in which they can smooth the transition from fast fashion to sustainable fashion.
Technological advancements in the fashion industry are evolving rapidly. Here are some examples of how technological advancements are allowing brands to begin ditching fast fashion and prioritising sustainability.
According to the Fashion Revolution, it is reported that the number of garments that are being produced annually has doubled since 2000. An estimated 92 million tons of textile waste is believed to be created yearly from the fashion industry. Most of this waste ends up in landfill but in fact around 24% of waste produced in the fashion industry is fit for re-use. So what is being done about this waste that is fit for new clothing?
The industry is aiming to create a circular economy for textiles. Meaning that the apparel sector is aiming to stop the sourcing of virgin materials every time a new product is made. The FiberSort is a technology that is used to sort large volumes of mixed post-consumer textiles by fibre types. This means that the artificial intelligence-powered piece of equipment makes it easier for those materials that are fit to be turned into new pieces of clothing to be separated from textile waste. Once these materials are sorted, they can be broken-down mechanically or chemically and transformed into nearly-new materials that are then used to produce new garments.
However, for FiberSort to make a lasting impact, brands will need to create a market for recycled clothing. This can be costly, but as consumers are putting more pressure on the increasing demand for this due to environmental reasons, FiberSort believes it has the potential to break the cycle of textile waste in fast-fashion.
To make Stretch denim, cotton is woven around petrol-based elastomers. These threads allow stretch, but the material that is produced is not biodegradable. This means that stretch denim is not capable of being decomposed naturally. It is reported by the owner of an Italian manufacturer Candiani Denim, that approximately 300 million pairs of jeans clog up landfill sites annually.
However, the Italian manufacturer has partnered with Denham (Dutch jeanmakers)to launch the world’s first pair of biodegradable, stretch denim jeans – created using plant-based yearns. The key piece of technology behind the creation is “Coreva”. Candiani Denim states that Coreva “replaces the common synthetic elastomer with a smart natural rubber elastomer that comes from natural and renewable sources.” This Coreva piece of technology guarantees 40% greater elasticity than normal stretch denim.
However, it could not be for everybody due to the price to make it. It costs approximately 25% more than normal stretch denim, which hints that it could only be suitable for luxury market consumers. Candiani Denim has many partnerships in the pipeline, one being Stella McCartney for A/W 20.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE FUTURE OF SUSTAINABILITY?
It is evident that fast-fashion is having a detrimental impact on our environment. It is important to understand that the future of sustainability is not focused just on the packaging or the materials of a garment – but it is the brands placing emphasis on working in a way that is making the environment a better place for us to live in. It is not a shock that the transition from fast fashion to sustainable fashion is difficult, but with the technological advancements in today’s industry it could be a little easier.