More Creative Solutions For Sustainable Fashion

On the tide of growing awareness that modern industries and lifestyles wreak havoc on the environment, the fashion industry has copped a tsunami of criticism for being one of the biggest culprits.

Clothing has become virtually disposable as people throng to keep up with the latest trends, sending millions of tons of clothing to landfill or incinerators each year in the U.S. alone, making room for more fashions that use precious water, pollute the air and water with toxic chemicals, release polyester microfibers into waterways where they poison the food chain, and emit 10% of humanity’s greenhouse gases.

Now, a Google search for sustainable fashion gets 280 million results as people and businesses rise up to meet demand for clothes and trends that are gentle on the environment and fair on workers.

While some companies are focusing on sustainable clothes manufacturing, using ethical materials, rolling back on frequent fashion changes and making garments to last, other creative businesses are recycling plastic to make puffy jackets, shoes and yoga pants and discarded fishing nets to make durable parkas.

Another massive issue is fabric wasted during clothes manufacture. A Danish company’s answer to eliminating fabric waste is 3D textile printing. Son of a Tailor, co-founded by Jess Fleischer, recently completed a Kickstarter campaign for their 3D merino wool pullovers for men, amassing 400 orders in the first 24 hours and reaching their $15,000 target in under 40 minutes.

“The fashion industry must finally rethink,” said Fleischer in a statement. “The success of our Kickstarter campaign shows that consumers are ready for this. Sustainability is not a choice. We need to change the negative impact of our consumption on the environment as quickly as possible, but this can only happen if all manufacturers rethink and run their production lines in a more environmentally friendly way.”

Their minimalist pullovers reduce fabric wasted in the cutting process from 21% to less than 1%, producing a garment that is made to last from one piece with no seams and reinforced edging. They use an algorithm based on data gathered from 30,000 men globally to create avatars and custom design garments from customers’ weight, height, age and shoe size. This achieves a 4% product return rate compared to the 25-50% average.

All their outerwear for men is made to order from sustainable materials and they have no stock inventory, aiming for zero waste all round. European workers put the garments together under fair working conditions, meeting more of the fashion revolution’s goals for sustainable fashion.

In achieving these goals, transparency is an important first step, along every stage of the supply chain. “There is no beauty without truth and there is no truth without transparency,” says Fashion Revolution founder Carry Somers.

Ultimately, a culture shift is also needed for people to embrace rather than shun hand-me-downs and seconds. Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour urges people to value the clothes they have and pass them on.

“I think for all of us it means an attention more on craft, on creativity,” she told the Independent, “and less on the idea of clothes that are instantly disposable, things that you will throw away just after one reading.”

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