Sustainability is key for today’s businesses’ success. The end consumers want it and the Earth requires it. However, it is a topic that is difficult to understand and even harder to tackle. WeAr has asked experts across the industry, from fiber manufacturers to retailers to activists, to shed some light on this topic. We have grouped their discussion points into several key topics. These are the complete answers and summarised in WeAr’s issue 60.
CINDY MCNAULL, GLOBAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, CORDURA
A driver for Invista’s Cordura brand fabric is in providing solutions that are durable and long-lasting in order to help minimize waste and reduce water and energy consumption. We believe in responsible manufacturing to use resources effectively and ultimately that ‘Sustainability Begins With Products That Last’. Consumer education to understand sustainable choices will be key to the long term success of brands.
GORDON GIERS, CEO, CLOSED
I don’t think there is sustainable fashion really because clothing and the consumption of clothing as such is not a really sustainable and ecological act.
But we’re doing the best we can to make it as sustainable as we can. We’re trying to be very respectful with our environment. We’re using less water when we wash our clothes, when we are developing environmentally friendly washing techniques and dying techniques. We replaced down with Ecodown from Thremore, which is made out of PET bottles. And it is important I think to be on the case the entire time and to chase new techniques and to follow that idea the entire time.
We’re moving our production closer to our main markets. So we are trying to reduce our carbon footprint where we can.
And we’ve always had a very long-term strategy with everything we did really, with product development and also with relationships we’ve built with our partners. And working with many of our long-term suppliers still after more than 20 years is our probably most sustainable achievement.
I think it’s our general approach to things. We do want to make things as good as possible. We want to make them cool and spot-on trend. But we also want to make sure that we do something that is environmentally friendly and, as we call it today, sustainable.
I think what also needs to be looked at is everything around the product, packaging. How do we ship stuff from A to B? And do we fly it? Do we put it on a boat? What’s better? We’re currently replacing our packaging to recycled paper, and any plastic to biodegradable. It’s important to apply the concept not only onto production but the entire supply chain.
SAFIA MINNEY, MBE, Founder, PEOPLE TREE, advisor & author of ‘Slow Fashion’ and ‘Slave To Fashion’
“The fashion industry is responsible for 7% CO2 global emissions, more than the aviation and shipping industries combined. Fashion and textiles need to become zero carbon by 2030, ideally 2025. It means producing and buying LESS new clothes. We will be buying second hand, renting and swapping clothes, repairing and making our own. When we do by new we will want clothes produced ethically & sustainably – ideally, they will be handcrafted, through Fair Trade, and made from 100% natural and organic materials, to ensuring that fashion promotes better livelihoods for farmers, artisans and workers. People Tree & other sustainable brands show that another way is possible. Fast fashion, is a 40 year blip in history, that put profit before social and environmental justice – it’s a missed opportunity to make fashion a powerful tool to lift people out of poverty – instead we lift glasses of micro-fibre filled water to our lips and toast our failing capitalist system – I think we all hope for better? Shopping ethically and less new stuff isn’t enough, we need to get political too and build a new system. “
RENEE HENZE, GLOBAL MARKETING DIRECTOR DUPONT BIOMATERIALS
In the sustainable fashion industry, emphasis is often placed on the responsible sourcing and composition of materials. Although highly important, other critical factors must also be taken into consideration to maximize eco-efficiency. Garments should have strong performance benefits, including stretch recovery, durability, color retention and softness, so that consumers don’t toss them out after a few wears. Businesses should take note that sustainability and performance do not need to be mutually exclusive – on the contrary, they can co-exist and ultimately elevate each other.”
PAOLO BODO, CEO, Nipi ITALIA
In general, we believe we are putting a strain on our planet. Fashion, in particular, is a highly polluting sector and involves strong consumption of resources.
For us at THINDOWN®, the world’s first and only 100% natural down fabric, entirely produced in Italy by NIPI (Natural Insulation Products Inc), a conscious utilisation of raw materials is key. From the beginning we have paid the utmost attention to transparency and sustainability. THINDOWN® has been RDS certified: Responsible Down Standard which guarantees the traceability of the whole production chain and STANDARD 100 certified by OEKO-TEX® in its highest class, Class I.
Constant research, quality, innovation, technology, are the founding elements of the brand, resulting in our latest product development: the first 100% post consumer regenerated down fabric, THINDOWN® Recycled. A clean version of THINDOWN® offering equal performance and features, but planet friendly. Down has a longer lifecycle than garments and duvets, offering chances to a circular management of raw materials.
Nowadays the real luxury in fashion is represented by sustainability and, with the environmental emergency we are experiencing, sustainability must be an urgent call and the starting point of the whole creative process. The sustainability paradigm should be leading the entire supply chain: from the choice of raw materials, to producing process, distribution, up to the way it is sold and finally disposed from final consumers.
VICENTE CASTELLANO, Executive Chairman NORTH SAILS
As far as north sails is concerned, we are using recycled plastic in our outerware, as much as we can, and we have now reached more than 70% of production. At the same time we have eliminated all the plastic from our ecomm packaging and replaced it with cotton bags to be reused in daily life. Starting from next season, we are introducing new fabrics such as bamboo, viscose and seacell, that are much more sustainable options than normal oil-derived fabrics. Customers have the right to know more and to choose from better alternatives.
These are just few examples: it is a long process, and we are just at the beginning of it, but we strongly believe that it’s essential for the future of our planet
The most important aspect of sustainability is knowledge. Only when people are informed and have options to choose from, then we can say we have reached our objective. We are investing most of our marketing budget into awareness on plastic pollution creating sustainability relataed communication campaigns, we are devolving 1% of our revenues to ocean family foundation to support ocean protection and yarn sourcing is becoming a very important task within the company. We are at the beginning of a long journey but we do believe in this commitment
It’s a new business model and we are satisfied with it.
KRISTINA SZASZ, CHIEF PRODUCT & MARKETING OFFICER, S.OLIVER
Sustainability is more important than ever for the s.Oliver Group. As a family business, it comes naturally for s.Oliver to take responsibility for social concerns, manufacturing processes and safe products. Until recently, these measures have largely run in the background and have not been actively communicated. We are now experiencing a rapid increase in the awareness and interest of our consumers in the subject of sustainability, which is also shown by the requests to our customer service. That’s why we’re going to be more communicative here.
To further strengthen this issue, the Group has its own s.Oliver Corporate Responsibility Board, which is based on top management level. This board has set up the WE CARE program, which bundles all sustainability activities across the Group. In this committee we have also developed a new product strategy and set ourselves binding targets for the procurement of sustainable materials across all divisions.
When it comes to cotton, for example, we at s.Oliver have been working closely with the sustainable cotton standard Cotton made in Africa for many years and have also been a member of the Better Cotton Initiative since this year. We have already almost achieved the target set for 2019 with a volume in the seven-digit range. Another important component is the production of denim, in which we are increasingly focusing on environmentally friendly finishing techniques with significantly reduced use of water and chemicals.The first products will be available from 2020.
We will also introduce our own WE CARE label in 2020. This label will be applied to all products that have been developed and manufactured according to strict criteria with a special focus on sustainability.
ALESSANDRO BIASOTTI OOF
We experience the consequences of climate change firsthand every day and we believe it is our duty now to reconsider the relationship between man and planet. The fashion industry can no longer have a passive approach to the topic. This is why we are trying year after year to offer our consumers not only an increasingly fashionable but also more sustainable product.
Usually you choose a garment only by looking at it but you fall in love with it by touching it with your hands, feeling it and experiencing its consistency. Only a very important detail cannot be perceived in first person: the sustainability of the raw materials used.
For the stuffing of our garments we have chosen for several seasons the Sorona Eco wadding certified by DuPont which offers a reduced dependence on fossil fuels and a limited environmental impact. The fibers of this wadding are 60% degradable and guarantee comfort, elasticity and softness to clothing.
Moreover, for our most fashionable garments we use an eco leather and an eco fur that give a brighter look to the outerwear and accessories, confirming once again more and more animal friendly.
Today it is however difficult to be able to totally control the origin of the garments producing without waste, for this reason we are working more and more in the search for new materials totally and / or partially recycled.
Sustainability for a brand is definitely a complex objective that includes various actions of responsibility by different parties but is certainly achievable.”
BECKY WILLAN, Given London
The McKinsey, State of Fashion Report, found 66% of consumers were willing to spend more on sustainable brands, however sustainable fashion represents just 1% of the entire industry. Fashion brands should make repairing easier than rebuying and increase resale opportunities. A more holistic approach in the value chain is needed to drive positive change, an inhouse team dedicated to sustainability would help this. The beauty industry, L’Oréal ties in sustainability and sales targets and offers a performance related bonus for managers on sustainable products.
Heiko Wunder, CEO Wunderwerk
The fashion industry is one of the largest polluting industries, with many ranking second after the oil industry.
In short, sustainability means thinking beyond this moment and taking humans, nature and the environment into account with the consequences of people’s actions.
So, it is obvious that something has to change. This applies to the clothing itself, but especially to the manufacturing processes, the dyeings, washes and finishes and packaging. If one imagines that e.g. If you can easily use more than 100 liters of water on a pair of jeans and 1 kg of chemicals can be used to make just a single pair of jeans, then you can easily imagine what the consequences are if in Germany alone about 110 million jeans are sold a year. The water and especially the chemical consumption of (raw) cotton before that process is not even included in that calculation. On top, at least for the transport, each piece is packaged into a plastic bag (“polybag”).
Most brands do not react until they realize that the end consumer has moved on. And that happens right now. Sustainability has arrived, not as a short trend, but long term because consumers now know that things can not go on like this. This is generally about sustainable cultivation and production methods, about the plastic and packaging consumption and also about the respectful treatment of humans, nature and animals.
At Wunderwerk, we use organic cotton right from the beginning and exclude toxic chemicals completely, which means that we do not even put them into circulation and therefore don’t have to filter them out afterwards. This also has the huge advantage that nature, rivers and workers do not even come into contact with these poisons, hazardous waste.
For our jeans, no toxic chemicals such as potassium permanganate or chlorine are used, we work extremely water and resource saving, so we generally have no Jaans with a water consumption of more than ten liters. Since one year we even have decresed our water consumption of dark washings from three to 0.70 liters, and the water is now completely recycled, so that the water is no longer consumed but needed – that is an enormous step that only works if brands and producers work very closely and have the same goals.
Wunderwerk was the first fashion brand to use the fiber “Modal Edelweiss” from Lenzing, Austria, because besides the very sustainable production, it is also made from “domestic” beech wood, ie even considered “regional”, while cotton and also regenerated fibers made of eucalyptus wood, the raw materials are procured from far away. Of course, regionality is also an important aspect, which is why the focus on manufacturing within the EU (approx. 70%) is miraculous.
Since 2010, I have looked into alternative packaging and so, since the first deliveries in 2013, we have been supplying all of our jeans unpacked but with an organic cotton tape and, since 2015, most of our T-shirts, sweatshirts and pullovers with a compostable cellulose film which is also resistant to water and heat. This is very important for the transport from the producer countries, even if though for Wunderwerk these are not the Far East countries but mostly countries such as Greece, Italy or Portugal.
ROBIN YATES, NOBIS
The environmental impact of fashion industry cannot be overlooked. It has been reported that the fashion industry accounts for 10% of the carbon emissions globally. Brands have the power, and the responsibility, to choose materials and products that have been manufactured in factories that control their carbon footprint. We all need to take responsibility of how garments are made and how long they last. We also need to think about what happens after we stop wearing them. We should not forget that there is still a lot of work to be done to improve the living and working conditions of garment workers. Issues related to labor conditions are persistent and brands need to be more diligent when it comes to creating humane, fair and safe working environments.
If brands won’t make the choice, the consumer will. Many consumers are choosing sustainable products and demand to know where and how the products are made. It has become pivotal for brands to build socially and environmentally responsible business models. We all need to do our part to drive a much-needed change in the fashion industry.
DAVID KARSTAD, Vice President Marketing + Creative Director POLARTEC, LLC.
For the fashion industry to truly address sustainability means taking the closed loop model to heart. Improved manufacturing efficiency, more attention to waste caused by over production, and lowering the footprint of our retail cycles are all key pieces to long term, systemic change for the better.
At Polartec, we’ve adopted this ‘whole system approach’ to sustainability that combines production methods, recycled inputs, and distribution efficiencies. This way we work towards a Triple Bottom Line objective for our products: use recycled or natural inputs; create durable and/or re-purposable products to extend lifecycle; develop full biodegradability for a product’s end of life.
As an industry, we must change what we mean by ‘natural resource.’ Natural fiber versus authentic fiber isn’t as clear of a choice as it seems, as the cost in resource (especially water) can outweigh the benefits of natural fibers, while synthetics have the greatest promise in regards to durability and recyclability. Balance, of course, is key. However, there’s a lot of new science being created with the potential to radically alter how we solve one the planets greatest challenges: the preponderance of post consumer/industrial plastic. This intractable problem of too much plastic may actually turn out to be what stimulates innovation of fibers, fabrics, and fashion itself.
As our society demands greater and greater accountability in how we use our resources, sustainability may well be the only viable go-forward business model for the fashion industry. Evolve or die. Literally.
Sustainability is an overused word, especially in marketing, it infers a lot and can mean so little. For example a mill can state that it has reduced its water consumption by 30%, but the question is what is the figure that it is 30% less than? And is that water coming from a sustainable source ? It would be more accurate to measure water consumption in litres used to make 1 metre of fabric and it would be better to have transparency of water use throughout the chain. Sustainability should be about ensuring we can sustain the infrastructure of life including plants animals and people without harming the environment in a fair and conscious manner I fear not all companies claiming sustainability are meeting this criteria.
The most important aspect is undoubtedly water, this planet needs it and it will run out if we as humans do not make some real changes. The industry has a major part to play in this and we need to look below the surface detail, the first step is to look at the source, where it is coming from and is it sustainable. One aspect of water we rarely talk about is ‘grey water’ the fresh water we need to use to dilute the effluent before returning it to its natural state, this needs to be taken into the overall calculation of water use. At Vicunha we created a water project that identifies the use of water throughout the entire production chain, this has allowed us to focus our attention on areas where we can improve on water use. Of course reducing , re-using and recycling makes economic sense, they all go towards creating greater production efficiency.
In the food sector, we have orientation labels or seals, so that the customer can make a well-considered purchase decision. But in the fashion industry there are so many aspects – how does the end consumer orient himself? The biggest sustainability aspect in our society is that everyone wants everything at the lowest price. But there are no sustainable jeans for 19EUR. Of course, there has to be a rethinking of society, but communication must be honest and authentic. Product recall is also an issue, because sustainability starts with purchasing and thus the right conditions have to be set between industry and commerce. Sustainability starts on a small scale: how much paper do I use, how much water – there is no end goal, but sustainability is a permanent process.
Patrick Duffy, FOUNDER, GLOBAL FASHION EXCHANGE
We are in a Climate Crisis caused in large part by the fashion industry so it should be strictly required that it protect the people and environment that power it. The Fashion industry is complex and has many moving parts, all powered by people, most of whom live below the poverty line. Poverty and environmental issues go hand in hand, as environmental damage leads to decreased food production, improper human waste disposal and shortages of vital resources. Shifting the paradigm and creating an infrastructure that focuses on economic security and empowerment of people so that they can live healthy lives, support families, build communities, get access to tools that help them live in a healthy environment as well as survive increasing environmental disasters, will provide the foundation necessary to building a healthy supply/value chain and create a healthy business model for all.
ENRICO ROSELLI, CEO, LA MARTINA
Actually sustainability is an issue that every one individual, company or government has to urgently address: many are saying that we are putting at risk our home planet, The Earth, but this is a misrepresentation because in fact we are putting at risk the conditions on this planet which make it possible for human beings to live on. It shouldn’t be regarded as a noble aspiration but rather an an urgent subject, related to our own survival.
When we hear the word “sustainability” we tend to think of renewable fuel sources, reducing carbon emissions, protecting environments, but it is in general the evaluation on how we can keep the delicate ecosystems of our planet in balance. In short, sustainability concerns how we can protect our natural environment, human and ecological health, while driving innovation and not compromising our way of life.
Also the fashion industry then should address this issue and in particular with respect to the negative effects caused by
– Materials non eco-friendly
– Treatments and dyeing processes
– Disposal of the products, production waste, etc
Actually I don’t think our business is one of the most serious causes non-sustainability or pollution, but as said everyone has to do something and thus fashion too. Moreover fashion has also a high capability of influencing people and this can lead to a faster pace to address this subject. For all these reasons, although we can’t be considered as a sustainable company, we are taking into consideration these matters.
It is good and bad at the same time that now this cause has attracted so much interest, since -being trendy to be enviromental friedly – companies are pushed to express or show that sensitivity, but sometimes it is very clear that it is just a facade and activities in this respect are done just to attract consumers’ attention (and consumption) but then empty in the substance.
Also, I must say that it is impossible today to be fully sustainable: but this shouldn’t be regarded as a reason not to start, each company has to start from something and then implement every day something more.
Another good thing is that sustainability sometime overlaps with being more efficient, reducing waste (of time, energy, material, etc), which is something that every company should seek besides or beyond their environment sensitivity.
In the end, then, our agenda provides:
– Sourcing strategy which favors closer factories vs far and cheap ones (which gives us a better knowledge of their processes, quality but also shorter shipments)
– Higher control over the factories we work with in order to use more and better those who prove to be more sustainable
– Ongoing research on material and processes to impact less and less on the enviroment (however we are using 90% cotton which is per se eco compatible, but we have to deepen our knowledge on the origin of the same)
– Development of more and more digital tools and interconnections among the different areas in the company to improve efficiency (avoid digital silos, implementing analytics, datasharing, AI)
Finally, all these subjects have actually an impact over the business models, but not just in terms of the communication and story telling (which represent also part of the strategy of a company), but also (with many negative effects in the short term) dis-intermediating many activities, creating a more direct contact between the company and the consumers, which also gives rise to a stronger feeling of social responsability (our fairplay campaign).
In this last respect we are quite active and this is not absolutely unrelated to the concept of sustainability, defined also as “the process of people maintaining change in a balanced environment, in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations”. As you can appreciate this doesn’t relate just to the effects on the environment but to the final aim that the changes and innovation be done keeping our main values and conditions as human being.
We consider that the respect towards the other, fairness, loyalty are all values which are fundamental to preserve the mentioned harmony and balance, but also to ground an authentic respect of the environment
Tricia Carey, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, DENIM, LENZING:
The fashion industry needs to address sustainability. What does it mean exactly? What are the most important aspects of sustainability and why, and how can addressing them enhance a business model?
The apparel industry is looking at sustainability in a holistic way from fiber to finished garment to consumer use with consideration to environmental and social aspects. Supply chain partners are developing collaborations supporting innovations to reduce environmental impact. Starting with the right ingredients which reduce the impact on the environment, through waste reduction in supply chain to reduced environmental impact of consumer use and finally end of use options. Reduce, recycle, reuse is not just a clever phrase, but a way that apparel industry is evolving.
A great example of addressing sustainability are programs related to circularity, like TENCEL™ x REFIBRA™ Lyocell. Brands like Kings of Indigo, Closed, DL1961, Boyish, Country Road, Levi’s and others are using TENCEL™ x REFIBRA™ Lyocell to bring textile to textile recycling to market. TENCEL™ x REFIBRA, which is derived from cotton scraps to make a new lyocell fiber, maintains the strength and aesthetics of original TENCEL™ Lyocell, as well as a fiber identification for transparency.
MARINA TESTINO, CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR
The fashion industry needs to address sustainability – but what does it mean exactly? In your opinion, what are the most important aspects of sustainability and why, and how can addressing them enhance a business model?
Addressing sustainability requires rethinking the whole system of fashion, that is, fashion’s social, cultural, ecological and financial areas. For that, I understand all fashion’s stakeholders – i.e. citizens, public and private sectors – would have to reach an agreement on what sustainability implies. As of today, there is no governmental definition of sustainable fashion. Generally, it is regarded as an ethereal word, similar to a hotchpotch. Does it refer to ecological integrity? Alternative fashion systems? Sustainably made products? Social justice? Actually, it comprises all of these. We just need to sit down and find the checks and balances between all the fashion industry’s areas. To me, sustainability is a balancing act. Following the United Nations 87’s Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, “sustainable development meets the needs of the present without comprising the well-being of future generations”. With this in mind, I would say that to address sustainability in the fashion industry we shall rethink its system and make it more balanced.
In order to rethink the fashion industry’s systems we require structural and transparent modifications, starting with consumer’s education and information. Consumers need education to make informed choices while purchasing new clothes. Once this is tackled, the industry itself would need to reassess its production practices in terms of social justice, products, systems, productivity, ecological integrity, waste management, textiles, financial processes, but most importantly, liabilities. Governments’ push the industry with their regulations but no one is telling consumers, actual leaders of the industry’s practices, what to do or choose. If the demand of clothes increases, the industry’s offer will also increase to cover those requests (requests, that of course, imply economic opportunities for manufacturers, brands, etc.). We need to reserve that. Start again. Or in other words, be able to properly address sustainable fashion not as a trend but as business model that sustainable in all its aspects: social, cultural, ecological and financial.
Choosing which aspects of sustainability are most relevant represents a dilemma for the industry, consumers and even myself. What is more important and/or urgent, for instance, addressing social justice and ethical production practices or the industry’s water consumption, carbon footprint or waste management? The answer to this, again, seems linked to finding the checks and balances between all areas: creating an industry able to provide sustainably produced products, ethically made, being economically-sustainable and profitable. How? That’s even more complicated as we cannot start from scratch. Therefore? The implementation of strategic and structural modifications on the industry’s current business models is key. I believe the most relevant aspects regarding sustainability integration into business models include, among others, consumers and organisations’ values, investment in R+D and new technologies, internationalisation processes and, most importantly, binding corporate and social responsibility rules. To reach a consensus on how to integrate all these aspects naturally, we require a social agreement between all drivers influencing sustainability: governments, regulatory and markets pressures, value creation and innovation, equity, authenticity, functionality, localism and exclusivity.
At this point is when I ask myself: can the fashion industry ever really be sustainable? If all parties involved have a clear call to action, the answer should be YES. Here is where, again, all industries stakeholders’ have to play their parts. New generations (GZs particularly) are currently demanding for those changes. And consumers are always right, no? That’s why we are starting to see new trends promoting sustainable resource management, design for sustainability, cleaner production and resource efficiency, sustainable transport, eco-labelling, sustainable procurement, sustainable marketing, sustainable lifestyle, waste management, etc. But that’s not enough. The fashion industry can no longer wait for consumers’ shifts, the change needs to be brought from the inside to be real. I believe there is hope if all start making changes. Of course, this is my personal opinion but what’s clear to me is that neither ‘fashion victims’ nor polluting our planet shall ever be in fashion.
Just the idea of writing a sentence including the words fashion and sustainability seems like a contradiction within itself. Yes indeed, sustainability has become fashionable but sustainable fashion? Could supporting a fair produced, ecological piece “spark more joy” – as cleaning expert Marie Kondo would say – than a less sustainable counterpart? My answer is yes, if you are part of the process. Our industry has been trying way to long to match the foodprint of the direct retailing giants, turning pieces, in between collections etc have been an desperate approach to persuade an widely oversaturated consumer to take again a little bit more. We need to explain the consumer, why we do what we do and make them part of the process. Look at our heritage and connect to the future. If necessary adapt your sources, rise your prices and provide an open calculation. But Most of all, communicate, share your thoughts and be honest with the consumer. They realize anyway when you try to greenwash, and they will turn away. Therefore make them part of the journey, explain your choices and most important, get into a dialogue if you want to stay.
ASOS – JANINA
Textile is not sustainable. No matter how hard we try, it is a dirty business. The textile industry has a huge impact on the environment and climate: according to a study, it was responsible for 5 to 10 percent of global pollution in 2016- and about 8 percent of global climate impacts. Let’s not fool ourselves. It is most sustainable NOT to consume.
Precisely for this reason, we as one industry must consider how we can become more sustainable and how we set common standards that at least go in the right direction.
We should try the burden on the environment, animals and humans as low as possible. Together we have to push this as industry and the big player first.
Not only the costumer has to demand or ask for it, that we have to change, we also have to change by ourselves and communicate the importance of the topic to the costumer.
We have to look at the production and its conditions for the human being. In addition, the environmental impact and pollution is an massiv issue but also the use of resources.
I see faster renewable materials that consume less water in focus, such as Tencil and Hemp.
Organic Cotton and similar are not an option in the long term. For 1kg of cotton, an average of around 11.000 liters of water is needed worldwide! That’s 256 km3 of water every year. This amount is enough to supply all people with 120 liters of fresh water per day. Organic cotton needs less but still very and permanently too much, apart from the huge plantation fields that are needed and for wich the forest are cleared.
When we look at synthetic fibers, many of those are made of oil as raw material. Even water- based PU’s , that are called as environment friendly, still consume a large amount of water.
So one thing is to see how we handle the resources and the processing and production to keep the pollution load down.
Then, of course, an elementary aspect is the working and living conditions of the people in the producing countries, as well as the impact on their health. The desire for abundance and dumping in the Western World has had and still has devastating consequences.
With generation Now we are faced with a new challenge. This generation is used to get everything it sees and wants immediately. So how do we fulfill this need and remain relevant to the customer without inciting the ever-shrinking cycle of a product and thus the waste and mass consumption.
So if we produce products with lower impact, the water and CO2 balance as well as the chemical pollution of groundwater and soil will be driven upwards by the increased amount of consumption.
Thirty years ago, you bought a product of the same category 1-2 times a year. Today, the customer wants a new outfit for every new weekend party.
I am convinced that there is a lot of potential in product sharing and product leasing. In big cities, car sharing and Co are already a thing since years and can no longer be imagined. Many do not need and do not want their own car, their entire costs, but in the same time, always have one available, when they need it.
This can and will be transferred to other products. The resell scene in streetwear, but also with luxury brands in Gen Now is growing and growing and enjoying increasing popularity. You have a coveted product, wear it 2-3 month and than you are bored and want something new. To afford this, you (need to) sell the old.
The products hardly lose value because they are on the market in small quantities, are well maintained and have good quality. We should take advantage of these trends. To offer the customer the cycle and thereby also take away the trouble of trading by yourself.
We already have platforms like Stock X and Klekt. New platforms for leasing products are also emerging. Here I see the future. You have a virtual wardrobe that is filled with new items and you can lease those for a month. Or you pay a monthly fee ( membership etc) and serve you from the wardrobe no matter what article.
One one hand, products are worn longer and used, it thus longer in circulation and less quantity must be in the market. In addition, then the brands are required to make a product more durable and higher quality. If these are than more environmentally friendly and produced with full transparency, we are on the right path.
JAMIE MARGOLIN, FOUNDER, ZEROHOUR
The most important aspect of sustainability is stopping the mindset of constant consumption. You can make a product as “eco-friendly” as possible but if you market it with the same consumeristic “you need to BUY MORE MORE MORE” you are still causing damage to the earth. The truth is the most sustainable fashion is simply not buying anything that you don’t need. The new business model for sustainable fashion needs to NOT be based on constant growth and a constant increase in profit at all times. The culture of constantly “needing” new clothes when we don’t actually NEED it needs to end, no matter what material the clothes are made out of
STAMO, MBA FRSA, Founder, Ecoluxe London
Our legacy to our children is a paradise destroyed by previous generations.
Part of the problem is the second most polluting industry after oil (WTO, 2018) : The fashion industry where a piece of fabric produced in Africa is shipped to Asia for processing and sold all over the world.
The work sustainability exists as a term since the late 80’s (sustainable growth) and ethical and later sustainable fashion since mid-90’s.
Fashion is all about design and Ecoluxe London has defined sustainable fashion as the creation of a fashionable item, always taking into consideration the most appropriate combination of social, environmental and financial parameters at any given time.
In simple words, Sustainable fashion is all about People – Planet – Profit
Minimal carbon footprint, renewable sources, respect of traditional crafts & customs, reinforcement of local economy: we believe in a clear ‘corporate consciousness’ and a responsible approach to the whole supply chain, where a company considers all the above parameters per product and the end users their consumption and product life cycle: A win-win situation for our planet.
Our strategy of continuous improvement relies on a holistic, mindful approach to Responsible Innovation™, which is based on three pillars – creativity, competence and citizenship – and extends to our culture and systems.
We look at water consumption as well as chemicals, dyestuffs, and eco-toxicity measures and we have an Environmental Management System in place, certified to an international standard. We have obtained Life-Cycle Assessments (LCAs) for all our 25,000+ denim products and certified Environmental Product Declarations (EPD®s). These allow our customers to make responsible sourcing choices and led to the creation of independently devised Product Category Rules (PCR).
ISKO Earth Fit™ is our top-end denim collection, the only one worldwide awarded both EU Ecolabel and Nordic Swan Ecolabel. We have also developed a recycling strategy, recently implemented with the launch of the R-TWO™ platform, which includes fabrics with a mix or blend of reused cotton from production loss and recycled polyester from PET bottles.
SARAH DITTY, POLICY DIRECTORY, FASHION REVOLUTION
In practice this means considering the way clothing is designed; what materials are used; how those materials are sourced; how clothing is manufactured; who is involved in these processes and what economic and working conditions they are facing; how products are transported across the world; how quickly we are consuming and discarding our clothes; how we look after our clothes; what happens when we dispose of them; what resources and chemicals are used or emitted in these processes and so much more.
The science is clear. We have very few years to mitigate the most disastrous consequences of climate breakdown. Therefore it’s a business imperative to address sustainability. It’s literally about future survival of the industry and ourselves.
FRIEDERIKE VON WEDEL-PARLOW, FOUNDER, BENEFICIAL DESIGN INSTITUTE, BERLIN
Sustainability for me, is about enriching and embellishing the world and not only about efficiency and sufficiency. Fashion is an incredibly powerful tool – every 6th person worldwide is working in fashion and textiles including all stages from field to retail. If we would turn all these jobs into fruitful and supportive ones, imagine how we could change the lives of all these people and their communities for the better. The fashion industry today is one of the biggest climate-killers. Instead, fashion could contribute positively to the biosphere by using clean and healthy ingredients, energy and processes.
Let’s envision fashion to be the result of intelligent and healthy circular systems and beneficial design that profits everyone and everything involved. A system that creates positive effects for people and environment with responsible growth for all businesses which are part of this transformative change.
LIA KES CARMI BERMAN, FOUNDER, KES
At KES, sustainability means being mindful of the impact we have on the earth. We utilize eco-friendly practices in our manufacturing by recycling garments, using biodegradable materials, and partnering with local plant-based dyers. Our clothes are meant to reflect a lifestyle – not just the latest trend. Each of our pieces can be worn confidently in different locations and circumstances. By creating clothes that are both eco-friendly and timeless, we embed sustainability into the very core of our collection, and encourage thoughtful consumerism. Our mindful production enables us to provide women with clothes that will serve them well and can be worn with pride. KES offers a collection that unites style with spirituality, creating pieces that our clients can connect to on a deeper level. By revolutionizing how women relate to our brand, we ultimately enhance our business. Women who wear KES create a measurable change within our world.
Agostino Poletto, General Manager Pitti Immagine
Yana Chervinska, Founder of the clothing brand Yana Chervinska and the first platform of conscious fashion in Ukraine Sustainable Fashion Pad
The fashion industry needs to address sustainability, but what does it mean exactly? What are the most important aspects of sustainability and why, and how can addressing them enhance a business model?
Sustainable development issues need to be addressed not only to the fashion industry, but also to any business, organization, social movement or festival – this is the future. Many brands, from fast and affordable fashion to luxury conglomerates, are starting to launch special areas of sustainability and open information about the production and logistics to consumers. The flow is no longer possible to stop. For me, the most important moment of sustainability begins with work with the consumer and his/her education. By bringing to consumers information about the dangers of production and the disposal of cheap and low-quality clothes that wear out quickly, we will change the very approach to the consumption. The sustainability factor is becoming increasingly important for business. Here, I will quote The Blueprint “Fastcompany.com website gives optimistic figures: 75% of buyers in five countries (USA, Great Britain, China, France and Brazil) called sustainability a major factor for fashion apparel manufacturers. (The Nosto online sales platform report shows that if 52% of American and British users talk about the importance of ethical fashion, only 29% are ready to buy eco-friendly clothing)“.
Olga Johnston Antonova, sustainable fashion consultant, educator and journalist. Founder of Circular Fashion Russia and Ecostyle360, co-creator of SustainYourStyle, board member of Global Sustainble Fashion Week.
To understand sustainability in fashion you need to think of a garment not as a product but as a process and consider its full life cycle and how it affects people and environment at every stage: from sourcing raw materials to manufacturing, transportation, retail, user– and “end of use” stages. Ideally, every step must be carried out ethically and ecologically – in harmony with people and nature – and produce economic and social prosperity.
For retail it means to:
– stock sustainable and ethical brands
– reduce the amount of plastic and packaging material
– use and reuse eco friendly packaging
– use “green” transport and energy
– introduce size–measuring technologies for perfect fit
– use wardrobe inventory technologies to help customer upgrade their wardrobe
– introduce clothes takeback for resale, upcycling and recycling
– provide mending and repair
– stock ecofriendly care and laundry products
– enable customers to design own clothes
– sell virtual outfits
– become a place where “shoppers” consume experiences, create and connect IRL
Denim continues to be one of fashion’s key markets, even though it has faced multiple struggles in recent years. For this special issue, WeAr has asked some of the world’s key denim insiders, including both young and established brands, fabric and fiber manufacturers, finishing specialists, denim retailers and trade show executives, what the industry could do in order to return denim to its former glory. Some answers were so detailed and fascinating that we have created a special page on our website to reflect the richness of ideas proposed by our interviewees.
FRANÇOIS GIRBAUD, CO-FOUNDER AND OWNER, MARITHÉ + FRANÇOIS GIRBAUD
Aside from the above, I have also been asked these questions for decades:
- What will replace the denim industry?
- What will replace jeans in our everyday lives in the coming years?
Jeans are the most popular item of clothing in the modern history of fashion: 6 billion pairs are produced annually worldwide. It takes 5,678 litres of water to grow the cotton to make a single pair of jeans + 70 litres to wash each pair. Let’s not forget the insecticides – 25% of the worldwide production is used by cotton growers, or the chemicals used to wash and artificially age the jeans – some of the most toxic that exist. I’ve been speaking about these facts and figures for years now, most of the industry will know them off by heart now.
We all know that petroleum derivatives, among other things, are not biodegradable. Do we want to create a continent of plastic floating on the ever-rising tides or add to the mountains of indestructible throwaway clothing? So, what are the alternatives? What resources will replace cotton or can be integrated into the existing supply chain: beans, stones, nuts, plants, stones, minerals, plants?
How are we going to be able to clothe the inhabitants of our planet and which country and workforce are we going exploit next to improve profits?
We keep going back to cotton, which, for all its faults, inspires us. It tells great stories about adventures in the open air, bikers, campers, guitars and Cadillacs… everything we’ve always wanted.
We can continue to believe that the solution is to use buzzwords such as recycling, organic, circular economy, transparency and traceability to ease our consciences. But we know all too well that we don’t have much time left and that the next generations will have to deal with the mess we leave behind!
As designers, brands, an industry, we have to accept responsibility for what we do and the message we communicate. There are no excuses today, everyone has to be held to account. The creative possibilities of jeans as a product are enormous, but I can’t envisage any real change coming from an industry in full transformation. The big fashion houses are all eager to embrace street culture and the youth market. Sneakers and jeans are part of this package, but not innovation.
Jeans have been endlessly transformed, from workwear to streetwear to luxury wear. I believe my responsibility as a designer is to create garments with long-lasting appeal that will stand the test of time and endless successions of short-lived trends. To this end, I’m working on re-establishing the practice of constructing garments to flatter the body through innovative and precise cuts, and the development of a new generation of sustainable fabrics. I’ve developed environmentally friendly methods such as the ‘Watt Wash’ to reduce the negative impact of the production of jeans on the planet and the people working in the denim treatment industry. We now have revolutionary laser technology to allow us to endlessly transform denim without destroying the planet; the only limitation is our creativity.
Modern techniques made by hand still applies to our work and we should never forget that the forefront of technology is the human touch. Our clothes are made with love for life. I don’t know about denim’s glory days, but I would like to come full circle and make workwear for today, adapted to our urban lifestyles. Jeans are no longer indicators of social class, generation, or signs of protest, they’ve become a uniform for all, from baby boomers to Generation Z.
MARK WERTS, FOUNDER, CEO, AMERICAN RAG CIE
Decline in denim?! Many years ago, I shared what I thought to be a brilliant entrepreneurial idea with a multi-millionaire, a used clothing dealer called Jim Johnson, based in Brownsville, Texas. Jim always had a toothpick in his mouth. I explained my idea to this extremely successful man, and he was skeptical but pondered a bit and then replied to me in a strong Texan drawl: “Ah shit Mark, anything’s good if ya do it good.”
Denim is fine. There is no decline. Here at American Rag Cie we’re experiencing robust sales of denim and denim-related products. Anyone that isn’t “doing it good” is in decline. Denim is a white canvas that depends on the artist who is painting on it. Paint beautifully. “DO IT GOOD!” F**k decline.
P.S. I just checked our denim sales, both men’s and women’s. We are single digit “up” in both categories. We have experienced ZERO decline in 2019. I don’t buy into self-fulfilling prophecies.
RUDY BUDHDEO, CEO, SON OF A STAG, LONDON
We are still doing extremely well with denim probably because our choice is much greater than other retailers and we have a huge selection covering all style wishes to the widest choices in sizes & lengths up to 41″ inside leg. It is important to give the very best choice in the market place & show total confidence when buying and presenting. Our staff are dedicated to having the best product knowledge because the consumer is now much more aware about manufacturing processes & we are able to offer strong knowledge how the fabric will evolve, shrink and fade.
We offer free of charge shortening on the original chain stitch machine on the spot and can even make other denim tailoring adjustments including taking in the waist, moving pockets, tapering from inseam with top stitch and meaning the selvedge is unaffected. We also have a huge choice of denim shirts and jackets in additions to the jeans category. We study our customers’ wishes and make the impossible possible. A lot of customers know that we have unique fittings on much of the stock we carry so that the same model they buy from us will fit differently if they try it at another retailers somewhere else in the world – we often have the styles recreated with adjustments in particular with the rise of the jeans and taper gradings. This means that we have to do bigger minimum orders and pay extra to our suppliers, but we have learnt it is much better to have the perfect product. It is great to also have brands which have very select distribution that include Smith-Sato-Suzuki and our own brand Soldier Blue London. This way our customers are super loyal.
JEFFREY RUDES, CO-FOUNDER, J BRAND AND CEO, L’AGENCE
Why a downturn in denim? We are missing newness. New fabrics, finishes and fits are what are needed. Regarding style, I wouldn’t change a 5-pocket classic to a fashion jean. I think the consumer always identifies with a 5-pocket. It’s familiar, reliable and she trusts them. Denim jeans are soft right now although color, print and coated finishes are doing extremely well. Today you need to be innovative and create new treatments and textures. L’Agence has everything that is working, which is why our denim business is substantially ahead of plan and why we are a leading brand in premium denim.
ADRIANO GOLDSCHMIED, PRESIDENT, HOUSE OF GOLD
I totally feel that if denim is not cool right now is almost entirely our responsibility as we have made important strategic mistakes. For many years we have been fighting for sustainability, for changes within the production cycle, from cotton to indigo, to the dyeing system and obviously the finishing. We have been pushing the envelope to the limit with innovation and technology and we honestly achieved substantial and remarkable results. The fact is that we totally forgot about and underestimated the value of design, creativity and new communication ideas. This is what makes jeans an object of desire. We should be learning from sneakers… let’s bring back new ideas and creativity – and be brave!
SEBASTIAN KLINDER, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND OWNER, MUNICH FABRIC START EXHIBITIONS GMBH
Driven by the disruptive millennium, we will soon see an evolution in denim which will be similar to what we have seen recently in sneakers, athletic gear and urbanwear among others. This will require the involvement of technological discoveries, starting with alternative raw materials – new fibers mostly of sustainable origin; or high-performance innovations, such as carbon or conductive end uses. Denim is becoming inherently more performance-oriented, with garments offering climate control features, or worn as protective items for urban mobility. Designers are already embracing new practices and techniques which make jeans smarter and more wearable. Automation will play an essential role in the jeans manufacturing process.
Combined with new ethics and environmental rules, which demand more responsible means of production and manufacturing, we will see an increase in the range of treatments created with almost zero impact. We are about to experience a brand new, brave blue world – let’s enjoy it.
FATIH DOGAN, GENERAL MANAGER, CALIK DENIM
We are currently in a price-oriented market for denim due to the sector receiving significant investment, resulting in surplus capacity and subsequently high costs and prices. The strategies we believe to be key to reinvigorating the denim market and moving away from this price-led approach are as follows.
Firstly, we need to focus on product differentiation, including value-added and sustainable products, as well as prioritizing investment in research and development. For product differentiation, it’s vital to expand the uses for denim beyond the fashion industry. In terms of production and distribution strategies, sustainability is hugely important to move denim into the future, responding to the changing demands of the consumers and the planet itself.
Then, in terms of communication strategies, we believe in the power of collaboration, both within and outside the sector; providing the power to act and communicate together, to help drive change and create a wider impact both within and beyond the denim industry – by working with universities, brands and developing non-profit initiatives.
ENRIQUE SILLA, CEO, JEANOLOGIA
I wouldn’t say that denim is living difficult times. It is true that we are facing overproduction, but consumers still love authentic blue jeans. To build a brighter future, and to sustain the blue jean legend, in Jeanologia we are working hard on 3 concepts:
- A complete elimination of water and toxic chemistry on 100% of global jeans production. Our aim is to “dehydrate” and “detox” the global jeans production by 2025. If as an industry we achieve this goal, the new generation will understand that we are still rebels and will be proud to wear jeans.
- Making mass customization a reality on blue jeans through laser technologies.
- Introducing a new sourcing model that combines production in low-cost labor, duty-free zones and finishing near the consumer in America, Europe, China and Japan. All of this is already possible thanks to technologies like laser, ‘G2 Ozone’, ‘eFlow’ or ‘H2 Zero’.
For the first time in history we have the necessary technology that allows us to make short and fast series, making it possible to produce what sells instead of selling what is produced.
GUGLIELMO OLEARO, DIRECTOR, DENIM PREMIÈRE VISION
Despite the macro analysis showing a continuous growth in the denim market, the contingent situation is difficult for most of the actors. The market is more fluid than ever and the needs of the customers are evolving faster than in the past. On the other hand, denim clearly has an incredible appeal, considering its presence in almost all the [fashion] collections, the growing amount of new denim brands and the fact that is considered a pioneer element in the sustainable textile improvement.
The big challenge is to transfer to the new generations of denim lovers all the values behind the “denim” brand. We need to focus on the PRODUCT and re-build knowledge around it. Collaboration within the value chain is paramount, along with a comprehensive and transparent vision. This is one of the key targets of Denim Première Vision too: we focus on responsible fashion collaborations and on share of knowledge.
- connect and collaborate to analyze, define and share best practices in order to improve the quality along all the value chain.
- increase the standard of true responsibility in all the segments of the value chain.
TRACEY TAN, CO-OWNER, QUEEN’S COUTURE / THE DENIM STORE, SINGAPORE
We have seen the denim business go through a challenging period in the past couple of years. We also see many brands digging back in their archives and reproducing exact replicas of the past. It is not a bad thing to look back to get inspiration. However, as a retailer and in order to get customers excited again, we hope to see new silhouettes with vintage fabrics, details, construction, etc.; or past silhouettes with a modern take on fabric and other innovations to suit the modern lifestyle.
GORDON GIERS, CEO, CLOSED
Denim currently has big chances in terms of ecological improvements as there are innovations strong enough to really make a big step forward in terms of more sustainable jeans. At Closed we started our Eco Denim line ‘A Better Blue’ three seasons ago. By now, many of our denim competitors are also using sustainable fabric developments from Candiani or other mills. But we’re doing the entire process, 360 degrees [in a sustainable way]. We are using fabrics from Candiani that are recycled or at least organic cotton. We’re sewing the line in Italy. And we are washing it, obviously, in Italy, with our long-term partner Everest. We’ve developed washing techniques that are outstanding and, I think, very unique. ‘A Better Blue’ jeans probably have the lowest possible impact on the environment.
We wanted to create a sustainable product that has the same aesthetic as the conventional jeans in our collection. So we tried really to get at least the same result in terms of the washings, in terms of the fabrics. They look the same but are so much more sustainable.
FABRIZIO CONSOLI, FOUNDER AND CEO, BLUE OF A KIND
My impression is that a certain change the denim industry has “suffered” is here to stay. A market polarization is underway: on one side we are flooded by mass products meant to last a season or two; on the other, denim is increasingly becoming a premium item, “what vinyl represents for music,” as a big player in the industry told me recently.
Technology is definitely key to instigating a change from a sustainability standpoint, nowadays an indispensable attribute. Nonetheless, we all feel the cultural clash in using science and progress to produce “antique” visual effects and finishes.
So now more than ever a change in perspective is needed. We must flip the way people relate to jeans, bringing back the “love story” consumers once had with them. We need to narrate the product to highlight the uniqueness every pair gains with time, in a one-to-one relationship with its owner.
JASON DENHAM, FOUNDER, DENHAM
Denim has always been great, and it will stand the test of time because there is no cloth like it. Denim’s roots are in quality: it is hard-wearing, versatile, durable and since the 1850s this cloth has evolved to become the highest performance, most technical and sustainable fabric you can wear.
We are in a new era of communication, product life cycle and consumer habits. The denim industry is still as dynamic as it always was. There are more players now from the high street, the big online channels, the brands and the catwalk, and everyone is doing denim in their own way. Production, distribution and communication have never stopped evolving over the last 50 years and right now we are in a peak of change. Sustainability is at the core of every denim manufacturer’s priorities list, and rightly so. Online sales have transformed the distribution landscape and communication is digital. Embrace it; never stand still.
MENNO VAN MEURS, CEO, TENUE DE NÎMES
The first and most important thing we need to do to get denim back on top of the game is to quickly step away from the idea that denim can be something cheap, or worse; something disposable. Let’s put denim back where it belongs: the strong and durable center point of our wardrobe. The future of fashion is about consuming less but better. Well-made jeans should be considered the bright future of our industry. Denim is the only thing we actually appreciate becoming older. Jeans are the sexiest, most versatile and personal garment out there. Let’s consider jeans as workwear again: 21st century workwear. Anyone should choose one pair, invest in it, wear it, love it, repair it and love it even more. To me, well-made and honestly produced jeans are the perfect start of a new paradigm in clothing: buy less and pay more! Wear jeans!
FATIH KONUKOĞLU, CEO, ISKO DIVISION
At Isko we don’t feel that denim is having a difficult time right now.
This is perhaps because two of our core brand pillars are innovation and citizenship. Our Research and Development center is the heartbeat of Isko, located at our headquarters in Inegöl. Here, a team of physicists, chemists, biologists, mathematicians and textile engineers work to solve real consumer problems and needs, in order to impact people’s lives in a positive way. As a result of this, we are continuously bringing new products onto the market, keeping our offer fresh and exciting.
An example is our Isko ‘Vulcano’ finish. This is a new laser friendly finish that delivers natural, denimy, clear effects in laser applications. It eliminates the need for dry and chemical processing, making production faster and more efficient in terms of energy used. So, we can safely say that ISKO ‘Vulcano’ is both beautiful and responsible.
JORDAN NODARSE, FOUNDER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR, BOYISH JEANS
I believe denim is having a re-birth actually. Manufacturers, brands, and even consumers are now opening their eyes to the extensive supply chain behind denim and its impact on humans and mother earth. I think the most change that needs to happen is within brands though. Manufacturers have had the technology for a more sustainable supply chain for a long time but the brands are too focused on reducing their costs for a higher profit margin because they know that they cannot sell all their goods at full price. That is a ridiculously backwards way of thinking.
If brands look at their impact and deliver a clear message of true transparency all the way to the farms that produce the fiber that goes into their fabrics, they will see that their consumers care more about their products and put a higher value on them. After all, 60% of a jeans impact comes from the fabric, 30% from laundry and CMT, then 10% to the remaining trim and other items on it. So, the most impact one can make is with their fabrics.
However, just make sure you certify and audit your supply chain with professionals. There are a lot of lies going on out there. For instance, only 0.5% of the worlds cotton is actually truly organic. Oh, and stop using recycled plastic in every day garments that get washed and dyed extensively. Micro fiber shedding is a real thing and a huge problem. These microplastics are ending up inside our stomachs and there is already eight billion tons of it in the oceans. So, if you’re a brand, stop trying to take short cuts by putting abnormal amounts of recycled polyester or nylon into your garments. Even if you take ocean plastic and make it into recycle fiber, thats not a solution. The plastic is still ending up back in the ocean but this time it’s more damaging!
TSUYOSHI NOGUCHI, DIRECTOR, MINEDENIM
In recent years the Japanese denim industry has been quite saturated. MINEDENIM which launched during the A/W 16 season thinks of itself not as a denim brand but rather a brand where standard and innovation coexist. We tend to limit the details and focus on the beauty of silhouettes. One of our strengths is that we own our factory in Okayama prefecture, a place internationally renowned for denim manufacturing. Thus we can guarantee the quality of the fabric, finishing and techniques. Naturally, the price point is higher compared to China and Vietnam; however, we believe that the price is justified for the quality. We’ve been collaborating with fabric mills to reduce the environmental impact during the washing process. By honing our production process and schedule we have managed to limit their waste as well.
DEBORAH TURNER, MARKETING AND PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, VICUNHA
The denim industry needs to keep pushing for more transparency throughout the whole production chain and bring more information to the customer about the products they are buying. This market is driven primarily by price, but sustainability needs to be seen as equally important. I am always astonished how little the end consumer actually knows about the sustainability of the products they buy, I think we can improve greatly on this with better, clearer marketing.
We will always refer back to the heritage of denim but we need to look forward to a new era. There is always a cycle of fashion and denim has its highs and lows, it has however over time broadened in category and now comes is many more guises.
We need to move forward and face the challenges of change, embrace new yarns, technologies and production methods to meet the needs and wants of the future consumer.
DANIEL GRIEDER, CEO, TOMMY HILFIGER GLOBAL AND PVH EUROPE
Tommy first got into fashion by selling bell-bottoms from the back of an old VW van when he was 16, so denim has been a timeless staple at the core of our classic American cool DNA from the start. But we are always evolving, and our strength has come from experimenting with innovation, sustainability and customization techniques that consumers are looking for and that are essential to the future of our industry.
We all share a responsibility to manufacture products in a more thoughtful way. At our Product Innovation Center in Amsterdam we are setting new standards for producing denim styles using techniques that can reduce water, energy and chemical consumption by up to 70%. We work with best-in-class partners and state-of-the-art equipment on-site to refine our processes and further push the boundaries of our denim collections. The Center also allows us to experiment with innovative fabric and finishing techniques in real time without needing to send samples back and forth between vendors […] Only by continuing to fuel this important discussion through transparency and the sharing of best practices can we drive our industry forward for good.
REINHARD HAASE, CEO, UNIFA GROUP
In the past, retailers looked out for new denim products and developments in trade shows, but today, fairs are no longer visited as much as showrooms, and even there retailers only really look at brands with which they have pre-scheduled appointments. Take True Religion: multiple retailers still associate the brand with thick seams and therefore categorically reject it [even though the brand has moved on]. Buyers have to travel more and become curious again. As someone who has been in the business for so long and has worked as a retailer with Jades, as well as a producer, distributor and agent, I can also say that denim has cycles and we are now at a stage where the customer wants new qualities. But that’s not unusual; we’ve gone through these stages several times. That’s called a trend. We sell denim well, more for women than men, because there are too few good men’s retailers, but the hype for the blue fabric is missing – it must be pushed again.
MARCO LANOWY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ALBERTO
Denim works through new brands or those that are always reinventing themselves. Just a new wash is no longer the core business of denim. We have success with our Premium Business Jeans, but they are often not displayed adequately on the retail floor. Why is there hardly a super denim world in retail? Most denim floors in stores look the same throughout the year and do not create any new impulses.
AGOSTINO POLETTO, GENERAL MANAGER, PITTI IMMAGINE
The jeans industry is showing clear signs of dynamism and positive evolutions that we will see more and more in the coming seasons. We are following with great attention the new phenomena involving the denim world: big brands and denim players are undoubtedly demonstrating their stylistic strengths, a series of innovative efforts in terms of marketing and communication, and all these movement are creating a lot of new buzz towards denim and revamping sales, also among young generations. In fact, I see that younger consumers are crucial in leading the most prominent changes in these field. Among the drivers of the evolution I see fashion collaborations – which are becoming a strategic tool to target new consumers and create new interest around a brand and its style. And another strong current is related to high-tech customisation options: features that could enlarge the possibilities for the consumers and the occasions for them to be dressed in denim. Actually, we have in mind denim-focused projects for the next editions of Pitti Uomo: we all love denim and in fact it is one of the most versatile and fashionable fabric, able to add a very contemporary and fresh attitude to your style.
FRANCO CATANIA, CEO, GIADA S.P.A.
Giada has always adopted a certified, eco-sustainable policy for the realization of its products, from denim dyeing, which occurs with natural indigo color, to washes that employ reduced quantities of pumice stone and water, which is later recycled. In addition to this, Giada has developed the ‘Ice Finishing’ system a few years ago: an eco-friendly washing process carried out with the use of ice. The Bronte plant is our success story. All energy is self-produced, and 60% of total water is recycled through water purifiers. All this allows our jeans to have a lower business impact. With Hand Picked we also try to develop intelligent sample sets, avoiding warehouse overloads with goods to be disposed of.
KRIS PARK, CEO, SIWY DENIM
When you are facing a slower growth in your industry, do not panic. Denim is like life, it has its ups and downs… but it is also timeless, and everyone always comes back to it.
In those difficult times, the most important decision to make is to never compromise on the quality of the product you are offering to your customers. Always search for the best fabrics, develop the best washes, techniques etc.
It is also fundamental to constantly offer novelties and fashion pieces to your customers, to remind everyone that denim is not only a basic outfit that you keep in your closet forever, but also a strong fashion item that adapt to the trends and sometime create them. You must take risks; however, you shall always follow your initial DNA. That is what we do at Siwy, and this year we are celebrating our 15th Anniversary.
Finally, living in a world of competition, where denim (among other apparel products) is offered in many places at very low prices, It is essential to communicate directly with your customers, and to educate them about your product, Its origin, Its manufacturing process..
Why your denim is different? Where is it from? how is it made? the quality of the fit, the work, the efforts, the ethics, and the people behind your product. Those are the values that it is imperative to share with the world.
WeAr has been covering sustainable developments in fashion for years. To celebrate the magazine’s 60th issue, we have revisited our archives and selected some key articles that feature green projects from the last 26 issues.
WeAr No. 34
HAIKURE: SMART ECO-PANTS
Italian eco-fashion brand Haikure is experiencing rapid growth. Sales have jumped 50%, export markets now include five countries and 150 stores, and the collection sellout rate is up to 85%. The label offers premium denim and glam pants with original washes and Made-in-Italy details, proving that fashion trends and sustainability can coexist. Collections for men and women are made of sustainable materials using energy saving processes. Founder Federico Corneli uses high-tech denim fabric specialist Isko’s Recall in Shape technology for the label’s special stretch jeans.
ARTISTIC MILLINERS: SUSTAINABLE DENIM MANUFACTURING
The newest factory of denim fabric and garment producer Artistic Milliners, the eco-friendly AMG-4, raises the bar for the entire industry in giving back to the environment and the community. Omer Ahmed, Director of Artistic Milliners, emphasizes that the facility will be a LEED certified green building, a rare achievement. Artistic Milliners is aiming for a Platinum LEED rating, which requires the highest energy and environmental standards. The AMG-4 factory will excel in the categories of water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design process. Community is another important aspect of the rating; Artistic Milliners already employs an exceptionally high proportion of female workers (70%) its garmenting facilities as well as 150 individuals with disabilities in its finishing departments. The company keeps all of its processes—cutting, stitching, washing, drying and finishing—at the cutting edge by using state-of-the-art machinery and holding special workshops and training sessions. The combination of working with one of Italy’s top washing facilities and creating an environmentally—and community—friendly manufacturing facility sets the company on a sure path to success.
WeAr No. 35
PROJECT PIOLA: RAW RUBBER SNEAKERS
Project Piola is a fair trade footwear label collaborating with 33 rubber producers from Peru. Through a fundraising initiative Piola raised money to educate these Peruvian producers on how to diversify their revenue sources. To celebrate the success of the initiative a limited edition of 150 pairs of Madre de Dios will be launched, featuring a special thank you message on the sole.
MUD JEANS: LEASE A JEANS
The Dutch sustainable brand Mud Jeans introduced a new way of recycling fashion with its Lease a Jeans concept. After signing an agreement the customer gets a pair of jeans for 5 euros a month plus a join-up fee of 20 euros. The denim is made from organic cotton and is recycled into a new pair after the initial lease period of the client is up. Three different washes are available for both men and women.
WeAr No. 45
ECO PRK: SUSTAINABLE TECHNIQUES
Eco-friendly denim laundry ECO PRK is promoting its dedication to creating sustainable production processes. As the first eco-friendly laundry of its kind, it develops washes for private labels and its own premium brand-Tortoise Denim. Aware of the environmental impact involved in the traditional indigo wash processes, the team has created a process that eliminates the use of toxic chemicals. The garments are washed in the ECO PRK headquarters in Paramount, California, using its patent-pending #61698554 “Wiser Wash” technology. This method uses natural and biodegradable additives along with Ozone, eliminating the need for corrosive chemicals, using little water and still bringing that true vintage look.
WeAr No. 50
BONAVERI: THE FIRST ECO-MANNEQUIN
Bonaveri presents the first display mannequin manufactured from bio-degradable material. The figures are formed from bioplastics derived from sugarcane and painted with a paint made from renewable raw materials – this was developed in four short years as a result of research carried out jointly by the traditional Italian company and the Polytechnic University of Milan. The resulting mannequins have the same lifespan as those made from synthetics or fiberglass; yet, unlike these versions, the bioplastic version will subsequently degrade without a trace. The famous, elegant ‘Schläppi 2200’ model costs around 1,800 EUR for the eco-friendly version.
WeAr No. 51
RAINFOREST-FREE FASHION: SUSTAINABLE VISCOSE
Following cotton, it is now viscose’s turn to get eco-friendly. Its production can cause huge environmental damage due to heavy use of wood. This is why GOTS, the organic textile standard, now only certifies clothes made of fiber mixes containing no more than 10% viscose or modal (the more eco-friendly lyocell can make up 30% of the blend). Several conservation groups are campaigning against viscose sourced from tropical forests. In a global ranking of leading cellulose fiber producers, the Canopy Planet Society has named the Lenzing Group number one in sustainable wood sourcing. Lenzing produces Tencel, a lyocell fiber.
WeAr No. 52
WOMENSWEAR LABELS TO WATCH: GILBERTO CALZOLARI
A son of a fabrics salesman and a high-end boutique manager, Milan-born Gilberto Calzolari has lived and breathed fashion since childhood. He graduated from Brera Academy of Fine Arts and began his career working for Italian powerhouses such as Marni, Alberta Ferretti, Valentino, Miu Miu and Giorgio Armani. In 2015 he founded his eponymous label. The brand’s logo – two ginkgo leaves intertwined around the initials “GC” – combines Japanese and art nouveau references and symbolizes a brand rooted in the Milanese luxury traditions but drawing inspiration from world cultures. Floral prints, embroidery and appliqué details and refined sartorial silhouettes position Calzolari’s collections between prêt-à-porter and couture. His first A/W 17-18 collection, produced in Marche region, was inspired by Arctic glaciers. White, light blue and wisteria colors light up the natural precious mikado and duchesse silk, wool crêpe and kidassia eco-fur used for the jackets. An eco-conscious designer, Calzolari supports Polar Bears International, a non-profit that aims to safeguard polar bears and their habitats. The brand is represented by Spring-Up showroom in Milan and shows during Milan Fashion Week.
WeAr No. 56
1WOR: CHINESE ECO-PLATFORM
Founders of textile group Bobaolon – Weixiong Chen and Nana Chen – created the platform 1WOR to promote upcoming Chinese and international designers. While the Chinese apparel industry is focusing on expanding production with foreign design, 1WOR rather concentrates on sustainable designers. With more than 100 stores in China, they are now looking to bring their fashion to Europe as well creating partnerships with designers worldwide to be presented on the Chinese market. Therefore they will have a showroom at Shanghai Design Week.
M-ODE: FOUNDATION FOR TALENTS IN FASHION
The new Dutch foundation M-ODE is a coaching hub for talented fashion designers, developers and entrepreneurs. The platform provides experience based tools and guidelines for start-ups, in order to become sustainable and responsible companies in the international industry. With special events, workshops, seminars and master classes they bring together necessary expertise and opportunities on various aspects within the fashion chain. Visibility and press, production and sales, network and collaborations are included in the support, all with a strong focus on sustainability.
ACCESSORIES REPORT: Poppy Lissiman
The Australian accessories designer Poppy Lissiman is another brand to embrace the skinny sunglasses trend. Passionate about future-oriented silhouettes and her visits to Art Basel, Lissiman creates retro-maximalist eccentric and colorful sunnies that have, since last year, become an Instagram force to be reckoned with. One of the label’s iconic styles, ‘Le Skinny’, is a sleek cat-eye acetate frame with lenses of a matching color that comes in a rainbow of pop-art hues, including mandarin orange, lilac, strawberry and pink. All products are handcrafted from ethically sourced materials and have a reasonable price point, usually retailing at under EUR 100.
WeAr No. 59
NEXT GENERATION: BETHANY WILLIAMS
The young Brit showcased her final year collection in January 2016 – and just this February, Bethany Williams received the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design and was shortlisted for the LVMH Prize. A graduate of the London College of Fashion, Williams takes an extremely radical approach to design: she believes the future of high fashion lies in recycling and upcycling.
Williams tries to put sustainability at the heart of as many aspects of her streetwear collections as possible; her work is focused on tackling social, ethical and ecological issues. Each of her gender-neutral looks is produced using 100% recycled or sustainable materials. She employs homeless men and women, former female inmates and drug addicts to help turn organic cotton, discarded paper, recycled plastic and other waste materials into typical streetwear styles, such as wide-legged jeans, oversized shirts, boxy jackets and casual tops for both women and men.
Her latest collection for A/W 2019, ‘Adelaide House’, was produced in collaboration with a women’s shelter in Liverpool, which will receive 20% of the profits. Vivid primary colors in a patchwork design and patterns consisting of large handmade screen prints define the looks; the abstract graphics that feature are the work of artist Giorgia Chiarion. Hand-knitted pullovers made out of thick wool, jeans and jackets crafted from organic denim, tops cut out of recycled tents, handwoven coats made from colorful strips of waste newspaper: as the producers involved in the complex manufacturing process are paid a fair wage, T-shirts retail at around 200-400 EUR; a pair of jeans costs upward of 1,100 EUR. Bethany Williams’ styles are available at retailers such as Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Nid in Tokyo as well as online at Farfetch and odd92.
Tommy Hilfiger’s Fall 2019 TommyXZendaya capsule collection created by Tommy Hilfiger in collaboration with actress and global brand ambassador, Zendaya, and image architect, Law Roach was presented at the TOMMYNOW show in Harlem, New York during New York Fashion Week this week.
“As two determined optimists, Zendaya and I wanted to find new ways to celebrate and promote women’s empowerment through fashion,” said Tommy Hilfiger. “The TommyXZendaya collection in fall 2019 challenges and redefines power dressing. The concept has become a state of mind today that is not just about clothing. This second collaboration is about encouraging everyone to embrace their uniqueness and celebrate their individuality in their own terms. ”
“It’s about redefining what power dressing means in the world today, and I’m curious how fans around the world interpret each style as unique to them,” said Zendaya.
The TommyXZendaya collection celebrates the legendary power dressing of the 70s, blended with the classic American cultural heritage of the TOMMY HILFIGER brand. The monochrome color palette blends with rich burgundy and metallic, while a fusion of prints and polka dots gives textured silhouettes and shawls an unexpected twist. Creamy leather, faux fur and fine velvet fabrics with silver metal details provide a luxurious touch.
On The Fringe NYC will present a showcase during NYFW, to be held on September 7th. On The Fringe NYC creates and hosts the space for brands from South Korea. This Collective consists of Korean Brands : Fashion, Beauty, Artist and Accessories:
PLAYNOMORE pursues pleasure of fashion through its key identity SHYGIRL. We want to revive childhood memories and small concentric remains in our hearts. PLAYNOMORE interprets the contrasting concepts such as luxury versus wit, classic versus pop art with our own interpretation.
“We bring out the new image of fashion brand with contemporary wit, introducing a new discovery of the value of the material that has been undervalued with designer’s vision.
CANEZOE is derived form the French word Canezou, which means Cape-style outwear for European ladies in the 19th century. With a differentiated concept that presents European aristocratic style with a modern touch, the haute couture brand offers products with delicate touch and craftsmanship, and offers original and luxurious styles at a more reasonable price. Gisu Lee majored in fine art and textile design in South Korea. Her work inspirations are from nature and universe, and she pursues abstraction and minimalism. K-Beauty is short for Korean Beauty, which is currently drawing attention to overseas markets like K-POP, and is making inroads into different markets.
Tommy Hilfiger announces the Fall 2019 TOMMYNOW “See Now, Buy Now” experiential runway event featuring the TommyXZendaya collection, co-designed by Tommy Hilfiger with global TOMMY HILFIGER brand ambassador, Zendaya. The collection redefines power dressing and celebrates inclusion, diversity and empowerment. TOMMYNOW is returning to New York City for the first time since the platform first premiered there in Fall 2016. The Fall 2019 experiential runway event will take place on Sunday, September 8th at 8:30 p.m. EST at the Apollo Theater.
The Apollo Theater in Harlem has hosted some of the world’s most iconic entertainers including Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Patti LaBelle, and The Supremes. The event will be infused with a cinematic ‘70s Harlem twist, bringing Zendaya’s confident sense of style and optimistic spirit to audiences onsite and virtually around the world.
This season, Tommy Hilfiger is introducing an online virtual reality (V.R.) commerce experience. Building on the trend of elevating the shopping experience though V.R. technology, it is the first time in the industry that such a web-based V.R. experience is introduced at such scale. The V.R. provides audiences worldwide with unparalleled access to the TOMMYNOW show at the Apollo. Users can visit a virtual pop-up merchandise shop, browse product on backstage dressing racks and shop styles worn by models. On the day of the show, 360-camera views placed at the location of the V.R. views at the Apollo Theater will broadcast live feeds into the experience. This will provide a real-time window into the TOMMYNOW world throughout the evening from angles including the red carpet, backstage, and front row. The V.R. experience will launch on September 8th at 8:30 pm EST/September 9th at 2:30 a.m. CEST.
Gucci has launched the second piece of an ongoing collaboration with Comme des Garçons. The two luxury labels began their partnership last December, debuting at the time a shopper tote. The second collaboration product of the Gucci x Comme des Garçons project is a shopper tote, this time featuring a new print, with the iconic Gucci stripe running down the middle of the design.
Featuring a see-through exterior printed with a floral design and a brown paper interior, the shopper tote features signature elements from both labels.
The Gucci x COMME des GARÇONS bag will be available on September 7 at Dover Street Market Ginza.
“The British Fashion Council (BFC) continues to emphasise that a no deal Brexit is a scenario that should be avoided. The reality that a no deal could still happen, continues to have a negative impact on our industry. Based on export figures from 2018 it is estimated that switching to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules would cost the fashion industry between £850 and £900 million* (source: UK Fashion & Textile Association).
The UK leads the world in creativity, innovation and business and we need to retain this reputation. As an industry worth £32billion to the UK GDP and employing more than 890,000 people – almost as many as the financial sector, we urge the Government to:
– seek a deal with the EU that would guarantee the healthy and steady growth of the fashion industry
– give access to funding that would help create stimulus that will ensure British designer businesses continue to remain competitive internationally through trading agreements, access to finance, free movement of talent and support for promotion
– advise on all the different scenarios and translate them into what they mean to the fashion industry and the best way to navigate global trade challenges Ahead of London Fashion Week September 2019, the BFC held a seminar for designers specifically around preparing for a no deal Brexit, helping them identify the risks and challenges to their business and help them prepare for WTO rules in the event of no deal being reached by 31st October 2019.”
The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco is to present the largest public display of Levi Strauss archival material assembled as part of its new exhibition named ‘Levi Strauss: A History of American Style’ next year, opening on February 13th and running till August 9th, 2020.
This exhibition tells the distinctly American story of Levi Strauss—a Jewish immigrant, businessman, and philanthropist whose lifelong commitment to family and civic life were fundamental to the history of San Francisco. Starting with the company’s foundation and early local renown as purveyors of “waist overalls” for gold miners and famously indestructible garments for farmers and tradespeople, the exhibition follows the evolution of Levis Strauss & Co. Continuing into the early twentieth century, the exhibition illuminates the pivotal role Levi Strauss & Co. played—through finely crafted clothing and advertising—in capturing the expanding mythology of the American West. The exhibition culminates in the second half of the twentieth century, when the democratic blue jean became a cultural staple and a blank canvas for the rising international youth culture—a symbol of effortless cool for youth, rockers, and revolutionaries alike.
Featuring over 150 items from the Levi Strauss & Co. Archive, Levi Strauss: A History of American Style represents the largest public display of the company’s archival materials ever assembled. The show will also present a range of loans from additional lenders.
Stone Island has opened at K11 MUSEA – a unique cultural-retail destination situated in the heart of Victoria Dockside redevelopment on the iconic Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront.
The new store covers 130 square metres that show the Stone Island and Stone Island Shadow Project collections inside the brand new retail space: K11 MUSEA, a destination designed to enrich the new consumer’s daily life through the power of creativity, culture and innovation.
The interior design follows the concept used for Stone Island stores created by Marc Buhre, industrial designer from Heidelberg (Germany) and founder of Zeichenweg TM architectural firm. Each element of the system has been created to work together in a highly functional design.
The bush-hammered stone selected for the floor features steelsections Geometries embellish the shaped ceiling.Hangers are made of carbon and anodised aluminium bars. The modular shelves in mirror anthracite Alucobond are covered with black felt. Furnishings and details in compressed in felt and MDF are enhanced with unprecedented craftsmanship and an industrial look. The area dedicated to the Shadow Project is defined by a blue-black steel floor and carbon garment hangers on the walls.