The 50th anniversary of Earth Day this May set sustainability front and centre. Introducing Conscious Materials and Biodegradable Clothing.
From structural change surrounding how the fashion industry performs, to the development of new conscious materials and biodegradable clothing initiatives. Sustainability is still a major conversation for many brands. If anything, the pandemic has demonstrated the need for a circular economy that is not so dependent on the fragile ‘take-make-dispose’ model. Here is how the industry is reacting this month.
The Industry Breaks Form
A recent call for change, coined “An Open Letter to the Industry”. This has brought forth the systematic issues ingrained into the traditional retail cycle. Initiated by designer Dries Van Noten and also signed globally, the letter highlights ways in which the system can work toward a more sustainable and creative future, explaining,
“Working together, we hope these steps will allow our industry to become more responsible for our impact on our customers, on the planet and on the fashion community, and bring back the magic and creativity that has made fashion such an important part of our world”. Find the full document here: https://forumletter.org/
So, Gucci has been one of the first major players to act on Van Noten’s calls, announcing that they are going to transition into bi-annual collections. Creative Director Alessandro Michele said that he is abandoning the unsustainable seasonal rhythm of the industry because of the need to reduce the brand’s footprint. In his statement, De Michele also explained how the catastrophic situation created by Covid-19 has led him to rethink the entire system of fashion and the environmental impact it causes.
De Michele said, “Clothes should have a longer life than that which these words attribute to them. Two appointments a year are more than enough to give time to form a creative thought, and to give more time to this system.”
Image: Gucci ‘Off the Grid’ Collection
Consumer spending has reflected this desire change for years. Research by the Fashion Retail Academy showed that the number of consumers who actively support fast fashion has dropped by 46.2% in the past year, and more people are choosing to buy long-lasting clothes over fashionable items. We highly expect brands to follow Gucci’s footsteps in the coming months and welcome the change.
Innovative Materials & Conscious collections
Responsible collections should be sustainable in their creation, as well as their distribution. Innovative materials and fabrics are making this much easier to achieve. Brands have begun to innovate with leather alternatives, seen as Lineapelle leather fair, that are derived from nature such as cactus-based Desserto, mushroom- based Reishi and vegan beLEAF.
This month, sportswear brand Puma introduced an environmentally responsible collection named Design to Fade, developed with support from biology experts Living Colour. Beyond being 100% degradable, pieces are dyed using bacteria-based natural processes and will be made exclusively to order, avoiding waste. Puma hopes the initiatives will drive shifts in how sportswear is made and because of this they also want to lead the way to a zero-waste future.
Image: Puma ‘Design to Fade’ Collection
So, how can you incorporate eco practises into your daily life? As consumers it can feel overwhelming having to consider so many factors. This is mostly noticed when it is often not financially viable to opt for greener products. Arguably, it is the responsibility of brands to incorporate sustainability into their values. However, WGSN have outlined 4 action points that will allow you to contribute to the green movement and advocate for change, whether you are a consumer or business owner.
- Rethink schedules. Slow down and rethink your agenda. Reconsider imposed seasonal cycles and similar marketing appointments. Trend-led fashion is designed for consumption, but you are not obliged to participate. Focus on long lasting and high-quality fashion that can take you through seasons.
- Collaborate. Brand’s may partner with like-minded influencers or manufacturers to ensure sustainable values are upheld throughout the production cycle.
- Focus on resale. Calling all thrifters! The resale market is consistently growing in popularity and becoming a vital part of the retail mix. It’s a win win.
- Push for change. Use your voice, energy, and money to advocate for change.
For those in the hair and beauty industry, the concept of sustainability is far more complex because you work on a service basis and there is often no tangible product to consider. Our blog post ‘Waterless Revolution’ highlights a simple change that is easily applicable to salon settings. Go give it a read!
Written by Rhiannon hudson
Video by Diana Chicaiza