The growing trend for recycling ocean waste and turning it into fashion is, according to The Future Laboratory* researcher Rachael Stott, "a definite Blue Planet effect. The [TV] series reached and impacted millions of people and highlighted how our everyday habits as consumers were causing horrific damage to wildlife and the ocean, and in particular our resilience of single-use plastics."
In The Guardian article Stott says, 72% of Generation Z women say that it is imperative to buy brands that are environmentally friendly. “Brands need to recognize that by changing their supply chains to integrate recycling, they are future proofing their customer base.”
Brands are responding
Brands including Stella McCartney, Richard Malone and H&M and are all starting to look at incorporating innovative and sustainable new fibres and techniques into their collections. By partnering with pioneering textile manufacturers the aim is to create a fresh, wearable and modern aesthetic in the world of eco-fashion.
Stella McCartney: sustainable fashion
Stella McCartney Cares Green is a not-for-profit charity platform which supports the designer’s on-going commitments to sustainability.
The campaign aims to create positive change in the fashion industry, and the world at-large, by inspiring and empowering individuals, students, professionals and businesses to embrace sustainable design through a variety of different projects.
One of the projects now in progress is a biodesign education programme which focuses on scientific innovation in textile design. Another project will see the organisation partner with the Central Saint Martins’ Material Futures Course. Students will be encouraged to develop using alternatives to animal fibres and will focus on a sustainable future in textiles.
Richard Malone: plastic fashion
Designer Richard Malone is another leading proponent of sustainable fashion and textile innovation. His graduation collection used discarded materials from the construction site his father worked on, while his Spring/Summer 2019 collection uses econyl to create form fitting bodycon dresses with ruched detailing and upcycled tarpaulin to create colourful tote bags.
Econyl yarn is a durable and regenerable yarn manufactured in Italy from discarded plastic waste, much of which is found in our oceans and can be used to create new textile materials.
Both McCartney and Malone are increasingly using pioneering fibres in their collections and in doing so they’re message is filtering down to the high street and the contents of our own wardrobes.
H&M: rising eco-credentials
The high street fast-fashion giant H&M is investing heavily in trying to improve its eco-credentials to fall in line with society’s drive to become more sustainable.
From the Conscious Collection, launched in Spring 2011, which included materials like organic cotton and recycled polyester, as well as a garment collecting initiative in 2013, the brand has committed $177 million to reach the UN’s sustainable development goals for 2030.
One of its current projects is a hydrothermal recycling system which separates fibre blends, making them easier to repurpose.
The harrowing statistic from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that there will be more plastic waste in the sea than fish by 2050 is finally resonating with brands in the industry who are pledging to clean up their act. By eliminating single use plastic packaging from their entire business model, proactively recycling and reusing plastics already in circulation, and innovating with methods to reduce plastic waste, the fashion industry can actively contribute to a more sustainable future.
What ways have you noticed the fashion industry becoming more sustainable?
*Visit the Future Laboratory website for more information.
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