RoundTable: Sustainability after the crisis

RoundTable: Sustainability after the crisis

For this issue, WeAr asked experts across the industry from fiber manufacturers to academics, authors to retailers, how the fashion industry can use the Covid-19 crisis to establish more sustainable practices and attitudes. The responses touch upon a vast range of important topics. Some of the key themes that have emerged are new consumer mindsets; the idea of ‘less is more’; slowing down; rethinking the fashion calendar; reinventing raw materials; recalibrating the supply chain; and, of course, a circular paradigm both in production and consumption.


Stephanie Joy Benedetto, CEO & Co-Founder, Queen of Raw

Fast fashion has driven a drastic increase in textile production. Global per capita textile production has increased from 5.9 kg to 13 kg per year over the period 1975 – 2018 and is projected to continue growing. Up to 15% of that fabric is wasted.

This waste is occurring now more than ever and it is polluting our drinking water. One tee shirt takes 700 gallons of water to produce. If we continue at the current pace of textile production, by 2025, two-thirds of the entire world’s population will face shortages of freshwater and be exposed to hazardous chemicals from textile production alone. So we are not talking about 100 years from now, or even 50 years from now. We are talking about today and on our shores.

We are in a period of massive disruption, requiring us to digitally innovate our way out of crisis. For supply chains to be resilient and agile, this means cutting costs while sustainably securing the materials needed across supply lines in real time. Unused textiles can still fill orders on demand and away from areas impacted by disruption, while supporting commitments to sustainability.

We have already saved over 1 billion gallons of water. That’s enough clean water for 1.43 million people to drink around the world for three years.


Stefaan Vandist, Author of We, Myself & A.I. and Pretopia

A sustainable fashion revolution awaits … thanks to biotechnology
When we look at fashion from a materials angles, clothing always has a petrochemical, vegetable or animal origin. All of them have their own sustainability issues. However, nature’s bacteria, algae and fungi can bring a sustainable revolution.
Covid-19 caused upheaval in the fashion economy – companies already struggling might disappear. But why invest to keep a sputtering economy alive, when you can also invest in a new system?
Biotech start-ups bring climate-positive, biological, non-toxic and regenerative processes to produce textiles, plastic and artificial leather faster, cheaper, safer and more sustainable.

Covid-19 made it clear that our society can react extremely fast and change course. And innovative and agile companies will benefit from changing fashion production processes. This sustainable change is coming … from biotechnology. Changing one of the most polluting industry into a (more) sustainable one.
Luxury and sports brands are taking the lead. Eco-pioneer Algix (Mississippi, USA) grows algae with polluted water and CO₂ as main raw materials. Together with brands such as Vivabarefoot, H&M, Billabong and Clarks, they will have the capacity to produce 500 million pairs of shoes per year from their climate-positive material ‘bloom foam’. Other promising gamechangers are Ginkgo Bioworks, Algiknit, Ecovative, Colorifix and Modern Meadow.


Paul Marciano, Chief Creative Officer, GUESS?, Inc.

While the Covid-19 crisis has turned the world upside down, it is also helping us to see what is most important in life. While luxury is nice, what is most important right now is family and essential needs.

We are all becoming more mindful, including about what we wear. Customers want the brands they love to align with their values. At GUESS, already prior to the pandemic, we were focused on making high quality products that are versatile, durable and sustainable. We use organic, recycled and responsibly sourced materials that are better for the environment, and are working with our factories to increase awareness and take action on environmental issues. This effort is all about transparency. We are asking our factories to share with us what they are doing, which we take into consideration when selecting vendors, and we are working our way to then be more transparent with the customer on where and how our products are made. Transparency, quality and sustainability are the way forward for our industry.


Dana Thomas, author of Fashionopolis and Deluxe

The Covid-19 period, with lockdown throughout the world, has allowed the fashion industry to step back and reassess everything from supply chain to retail, and many brands have done so. We’ve seen the shifting of delivery schedules to be more in sync with seasons, the reduction of the number of collections produced each year, and the transformation of fashion weeks into digital platforms, which is less polluting than the physical editions. But we also saw some horrors: mainly, that brands didn’t pay for or collect finished orders in sourcing countries like Bangladesh, with clothes sitting in containers on docks, and workers unable to pay their bills, even starving. This is an industry-wide embarrassment that must be rectified. Brands insist that they source in these poor countries because they want to lift their citizens out of poverty. That has been proven to be wholly untrue. It is time for brands to pay their workers a living wage, and not one dime less. Until then, fashion will be seen as ugly.


Franc’ Pairon, Founder of La Cambre Mode and IFM MA Design Paris

Fashion is ill. This phenomenon is not new: frantic pace of creative production, pirating of ideas, surplus production, shifting of seasons, anachronistic sales …
The entire system needed to be reviewed. Several voices were raised to denounce these dysfunctions, but the cogs were too well oiled to be stopped! It took a planetary health crisis, Covid-19, to impose a period of reflection … mandatory and perhaps beneficial.

The rhythm of always new collections had something inhuman about it. This mandate to create collection after collection put the studios in constant turmoil. Journalists barely had time to decipher the novelties, and retailers were lost in the multitude of offers. At all levels, the unease was noticeable.
Can we believe in more sustainable practices? There will now be a dark period in our fashion landscape: layoffs, restructurings, bankruptcies. Will it be bad for good? Consumers have been living in confinement and were confronted with their living space … with often overflowing wardrobes!
Covid-19 will inevitably change the buying behavior. A new fashion effervescence has yet to be found.


Sonja Noël, Owner, Stijl Brussels

Covid-19 has fuelled people’s awareness to “buy locally”: local production (e.g. in Europe) means less transport, less pollution in the production chain and better working conditions.

Covid-19 also inspired consumers to “buy less”. Less but better: beautiful pieces that become a part of oneself and which one can enjoy for years.
This may cost the consumer (slightly) more, but “paying a higher price is an added value”: it will help to keep the entire industry alive and counter the impossible-to-follow (from a retailer point of view) discounting. This “race to the bottom”, to be the first to sell at a discount prices, eventually caused the current overproduction.

This “fashion with added value” – local creation and manufacturing, no production (and discount) rat-race. Fashion with value is made manually and has an artisanal production process. Made in small quantities, it becomes the new exclusivity.


Dana Davis, Vice President of Sustainability, Product and Business Strategy, Mara Hoffman

Sustainability has been inherent to us since we transitioned into a more aware, responsible and accountable business model back in 2015. Covid-19 hasn’t changed that for us. Before we faced the pandemic, we were thinking about the next evolution of our brand and this moment in time has forced us to make these changes abruptly, which affected our structure and production times.

To us, the future means breaking away from the traditional fashion calendar, producing less, and working with existing fabrics and products to create something new. We will continue to push innovation within circular systems and create new business models to support that work. When we were first getting started in our shift, we looked to other brands who were leaders in this space long before us for guidance. Collaboration will be extremely important if we want to change the industry as a whole, not just within brands, but also with retailers, manufacturers, vendors, etc.


Anastasia Podolskaya, Founder, Sane Fashion Philosophy

The first thing all fashion companies should pay attention to is the supply chain. Responsible choice and close relationships with the producers of raw materials, suppliers and factories is a path not only to sustainable development, but also to reducing many risks associated with a pandemic.

Openness and transparency in communications become a new necessity. Customers pay more attention to the ethical side of companies. They want to make sure that people involved in the production of clothing are socially protected and do not suffer from discrimination or any kind of violence. And the guarantee of this is the maximum traceability of the supply chain, as well as the open publication of information such as addresses, phone numbers and photos of factories, mentions of suppliers, certificates, and the company’s environmental and social initiatives.

It is worth noting that transparency is integral to an ethical and sustainable business. And the crisis very clearly highlighted the failure of the majority on this very issue.


Martijn Hagman, Chief Executive Officer, Tommy Hilfiger Global and PVH Europe

Covid-19 has only accelerated how we’re approaching sustainability. The pandemic has forced us all to think differently – to let go of traditional ways of working and seek innovation that furthers our vision in the context of this new world. Now is the time to drive real change throughout the fashion industry by rethinking current business models and practices. In our own value chain, we’ve implemented new solutions to promote environmental and social sustainability, all aligned to our mission of making it possible to be a fashion company that Wastes Nothing and Welcomes All.


Amy Hall, VP, Social Consciousness, Eileen Fisher, Inc.

As Eileen always says, there is opportunity inside every crisis. The pandemic gives us the rare opportunity to reinvent all facets of the industry, starting with the fashion calendar. Anyone who has been working from home these past six months now knows: we only need a fraction of our clothes. Why design into quarterly, monthly or even weekly deliveries? Can the industry slow down and use this time to reduce, refine, refocus? The consumer will follow our lead. We will then be able to design properly, with the end in mind. Is each garment reusable and – ultimately – compostable? Is the supply chain as tight as possible while providing meaningful livelihoods for its workers? Is every component thoughtfully and responsibly sourced? If not, we have the time and obligation to course-correct now. The trees, the water, the people and the ecosystem will thank us later.


Vincent Djen, Director, Cheng Kung Garments

I am seeing new developments, such as chemically recycled cotton textile waste fabric entering the market. Secondhand and reselling, too, continue to gain market shares. Covid-19 has pushed the digitalization of collection development – such as using 3D design tools and 3D virtual cutworks.
Covid-19 has also raised public awareness on which brands really walk the walk in terms of business ethics, treating their suppliers correctly by paying their orders in full and on time – a feat that many a worker’s livelihood heavily depends on. But I think the most important impact is that Covid-19 seems to lead people to spend money more rationally and truly observe the importance and power of Mother Nature. I hope this is the beginning of a consumer mega trend towards total well-being and sustainable living.


Mimi Sewalski, Managing Director, Avocado Store

The Covid-19 crisis is causing many consumers to rethink how they shop. The fashion brands that will emerge victorious from this crisis will be those that impress with their transparency, authenticity and good ‘story doing’ – and that show that instead of twelve collections a year, we need fashion that boasts fair and eco-friendly production, longevity, quality and a truly fair price. Then consumers will get on board too and perhaps start consuming less but better.


Renee Henze, Global Marketing and Commercial Development Director, DuPont Biomaterials

My fervent hope is that the change will manifest itself in a collective acceleration towards greater sustainability and transparency practices across markets, geographies and products. For the fashion industry, we’re starting to see hints of how this may transpire. At the beginning of the supply chain, we’re seeing an even more rapid increase in interest for new, sustainable materials. Coupled with that interest, our brand partners are seeing validation from the market for products that incorporate the best performance with the most efficient, sustainable feedstocks. The forced slowdown has given mills and brands the chance to re-evaluate their sourcing strategies, with a piqued interest in new materials that adhere to the principles of the circular economy and a heightened insistence on transparency. We’re seeing a rapidly emerging consumer preference for well-being, assurance, trust and comfort directly translate back into our fashion supply chain. In addition to producing higher quality, durable products that are less disposable, I believe that both beginning and end-of-life solutions for textiles will become mandatory – if not by regulation, then by brand policy or consumer insistence.


Thimo Schwenzfeier, Show Director, Neonyt

What we all felt in our personal lives, as well as on the business side, is that the people’s sentiment towards sustainability has changed and that there is a deeper engagement with the issue. I think that was a long overdue and very important step towards a more sustainable textile industry; consumers are changing their behavior, which results in more pressure on companies to change their way of manufacturing. And in order to become fully sustainable, we need to map the entire value chain and thus identify opportunities to limit the negative environmental and social impacts of the textile industry and, at the same time, put a spotlight on accountability and transparency.


Jose Pinto, CEO, Lemon Jelly

The tendency for simpler, minimalist and versatile products that also reflect a care for the Earth’s resources is not only a request from consumers but also a necessity for more functional products, facilitating its recyclable facet. There is a need for products with style but mostly purpose. And it’s time to make a difference, to investigate and create new raw materials that bring less impact to the environment, and to reduce waste from production.

And although digital has never been so strong, the same is also true of our awareness that the people behind each brand and cause are the key to pump energy, creativity and innovation into the future. It’s time to come closer than ever to our suppliers and customers, to work in unison, to act together to achieve something meaningful.

With this in mind, we have developed a new biobased material and continue to take action with our Wasteless Act and Closing the Loop initiative, where our waste is taken into account and our products are able to reintegrate the production of new shoes.


Bernd Hausmann, Founder & CEO, Glore

The fast fashion industry unmasked itself once again during the Covid-19 shutdown. It was shocking to see that companies canceled orders in production countries and put textile workers into existential hardship. In our communication, we should always work out what makes sustainable fashion different. Our values are based on human rights and sustainability, and not on pure profit maximization. Every brand can immediately switch to sustainable materials, but no multinational corporation can manage to operate sustainably and act out of inner conviction.


Ruth Farrell, Global Marketing Director, Textiles, Eastman

Even before Covid-19, we were seeing a trend toward brands wanting a more sustainable fabric. Today, it is even more important. Now womenswear designers and manufacturers are clamoring for sustainable fabrics to meet the demand of discerning customers, who care about the materials in their clothes. Naia cellulosic fiber is at the nexus of comfort and luxury because it renders soft, skin-friendly fabrics in rich, vibrant colors with a sumptuous drape.
In the fashion industry, we have to take a conscious look at the big issues we are facing and collectively come up with solutions to solve them, waste being one of them. We have all got to play a role in diverting waste from landfills, and the Naia team is excited to be launching Naia Renew this autumn, which is sourced from 40% recycled plastic waste.


Christina Dean, Founder/Chair, Redress; Founder/CEO, The R Collective

We will see an increase in collaboration across the industry and within companies themselves in order to find ways to reduce textile waste. Covid-19 let fashion’s previously rather hidden waste story out of the bag. As we witnessed consumption and sales come to an abrupt halt, so too did we see textile materials stranded all over the world; from shop floors, design studios, warehouses to factories. This enormous waste hangover will require collaboration – across the supply chain and also within businesses’ various departments – from finance, design, retail and logistics. Waste – which used to be quietly handled by small inner teams, including finance, at large companies – is now an issue that broader management teams must collaboratively solve to protect their bottom lines.


Hans Martin Galliker, Ecopreneur-In-Residence, Huadao Ecovillage

Does it matter whether or not you are a conscious industrialist?
If you don’t care the polar bears and workers in Bangladesh – then at least do it for yourself. No more yo-yo diets, expensive psychiatrists and false friends. Swap your superficial facade with becoming an original style icon. It’s simple: slow down your life. The upgrade to becoming healthy, beloved, stylishly unique and wise requires you to shift gears.

“Less is More” gives yourself a break, buys you freedom, skips the noise so that you finally hear your heart.

“Quality first” will make you care and others who care too will mind the difference.

“Sharing” will lead to family fun during clothes swaps, making new friends while mending together clothes in a hip repair cafe or cycle superfluous samples to second hand markets.

The slowness virus will enlighten you and your beloved ones, colleagues and business partners. Before you can say “mindful” will your new-found inner peace and healthy lifestyle expand your horizons and guide you towards more sustainability-minded business decisions.

V&A to display first ever Hermès Birkin bag

V&A to display first ever Hermès Birkin bag

The V&A Museum’s Bags: Inside Out exhibition will be dedicated to bags and will feature the first-ever made Hermès Birkin bag owned by Jane Birkin, alongside Mulberry handbags worn by Kate Moss and Alexa Chung.

From rucksacks to despatch boxes, Birkin bags to Louis Vuitton luggage, Bags: Inside Out will explore the style, function, design and craftsmanship of the ultimate accessory.

NYFW: Pantone reveals colour trends for S/S 2021

NYFW: Pantone reveals colour trends for S/S 2021

Published for the fashion industry by the Pantone Color Institute, Pantone’s trend forecasting and color consultancy, this season’s report features the top 10 standout colors, as well as current takes on the five core classics we can expect to see on the New York runway as fashion designers introduce their new spring/summer collections.

According to Pantone Color Institute experts, colors for Spring/Summer 2021 New York emphasize our desire for a range of color that inspires ingenuity and inventiveness – colors whose versatility transcend the seasons and allow for more freedom of choice – colors that lend themselves to original color statements and whose flexibility easily adapts to our new and more fragmented lifestyle.

“Offering a range of shades illustrative of nature, colors for Spring/Summer 2021 underscores our desire for flexible color that works year-round. Infused with a genuine authenticity that continues to be increasingly important, colors for Spring/Summer 2021 combine a level of comfort and relaxation with sparks of energy that encourage and uplift our moods,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute.


The Spring/Summer 2021 New York Color Palette: Shades illustrative of nature coupled with new core classics come together to create a palette inspiring ingenuity and inventiveness.

 

The Spring/Summer 2021 Core Classics: Core hues whose versatility transcends the seasons and allows for more freedom of choice.


 

Carolina Herrera releases mini-documentary for NYFW

Carolina Herrera releases mini-documentary for NYFW

To celebrate Carolina Herrera’s presence in New York Fashion Week for the past four decades, this season the fashion house will be airing The Conversation, an intimate, never-seen-before conversation between our founder Carolina Herrera and Creative Director Wes Gordon.

Filmed by acclaimed filmmaker Lisa Immordino Vreeland, this mini-documentary captures the unique bond between Carolina and Wes, as they discuss the past, present and future of fashion while sharing personal memories and anecdotes in this fun and witty toast to New York and the fashion industry. The documentary launches today on 14th September 2020.

TikTok launches #TikTokFashionMonth

TikTok launches #TikTokFashionMonth

TikTok has announced it is launching #TikTokFashionMonth until 8 October, coinciding with the end of Paris Fashion Week, the final week of global fashion month.

The mobile video platform will host a series of events, initiatives and hashtags dedicated to the world of fashion which sees high social interest during the catwalk season. The platform will host weekly livestream events, including the fashion shows of luxury brands such as Saint Laurent, J.W. Anderson and Louis Vuitton.

“We’ve seen the fashion industry reinvent what luxury fashion means to culture and society through TikTok by bringing fashion into the homes of our community during quarantine. With the launch of our TikTok Fashion Month, this is just another way for our brand partners to leverage the platform’s authentic and community-driven approach to showcase their art, creativity and personalities in a unique and truly TikTok way,” says CeCe Vu, Fashion Content Partnerships Lead at TikTok. “We’re so thrilled to be able to offer an inclusive and immersive virtual fashion month experience for our community and are excited to see how they engage with each piece of live programming, hashtag challenge and creative effect.”

Fabric Days closes doors to physical editionFabric Days closes doors to physical editionFabric Days closes doors to physical edition

Fabric Days closes doors to physical edition

FABRIC DAYS closed its doors after three successful fair days from 1 – 3 September 2020, where it explored its seasonal theme ‘Hopetimism’.

Around 1,300 visiting companies on site gathered new impulses and inspiration for the Autumn.Winter 21/22 collection. Around 300 suppliers presented in over 700 collections their novelties in the 6 areas Fabrics, Additionals, Denim & Sportswear, Innovations, Design Studios and Sourcing. The foyer of Hall 4 of the MOC was dedicated to innovative approaches with the proven ReSource Area and the Sustainable Innovations forum curated by Simon Angel.

“With the organization of the first fabric trade fair for the textile industry, we took on a great responsibility. After the cancellation of numerous trade fair events, we are particularly proud to have been able to realize FABRIC DAYS. The positive response and gratitude is overwhelming. We are very pleased about the cohesion and also the discipline with which everyone here on site worked together and we are happy to conclude the trade fair as an important source of inspiration with this result.” Sebastian Klinder, Managing Director Munich Fabric Start

Sorona celebrates 20th Anniversary of First Commercial Run

Sorona celebrates 20th Anniversary of First Commercial Run

DuPont has announced the 20th anniversary of its first commercial run for the 3G2 production line at the Kinston, North Carolina plant site, signifying the launch of the world’s first 3GT polymer, known by its trademark Sorona. To mark this milestone, celebratory events will be held to pay honor to the history of Sorona, and to focus on its future.

“We’re proud of the role Sorona has played over the past 20 years in making the textile industry a more sustainable place,” said Mike Saltzberg, DuPont Biomaterials global business director. “It’s exciting to be part of an industry that puts performance and sustainability at the forefront of everything they do.”

DuPont developed Sorona in the late 1990’s by leveraging the innovative bio-based monomer Bio-PDO as the basis for the polymer. The development process for DuPont Sorona begins by harvesting feedstock and extracting glucose from the crops. Next, proprietary microorganisms are added to ferment the sugar to create Bio-PDO. TPA (terephthalic acid) is added to the monomer to create Sorona polymer, offering spinners, mills, retailers and consumers a high-quality, eco-efficient product that doesn’t sacrifice performance.

Dior joins UNESCO Global Education Coalition

Photo Credit :Christian Dior

Dior joins UNESCO Global Education Coalition

Maison Christian Dior recently announced its support for the UNESCO Global Education Coalition. Created several months ago in response to the Covid-19 crisis, the initiative aims to support countries in scaling up best distance learning practices to provide education opportunities for children and youth who are most at risk. The first couture house to join the initiative, Dior is building on the engagement of its Women@Dior educational program for young female students.

“Never before have we witnessed educational disruption on such a scale,” said UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay. “Partnership is the only way forward. This Coalition is a call for coordinated and innovative action to unlock solutions that will not only support learners and teachers now, but through the recovery process, with a principle focus on inclusion and equity.”

Kenzo launches new sportswear line

Kenzo launches new sportswear line

Under the creative direction of Felipe Oliveira Baptista, KENZO has launched its new sportswear line ‘KENZO Sport’ which is “inspired by movement and protection”. The collection offers a wardrobe with a strong graphic design, where technical materials are worked to combine elegance and comfort. It is created as a distinct style, with functional and unisex accents, inspired by movement and protection.  

DFO Showroom presents September campaign

DFO Showroom presents September campaign

Warming up to a strong S/S21 market season and Shanghai Fashion Week, DFO is presenting its latest sales campaign all throughout September. As the fashion market in China quickly rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic, buyers are seeking to spend their budgets on pre-orders and immediate delivery orders to keep up with growing consumer demand. With domestic travel allowed across the market, the DFO DI:LOFT will physically showcase collections for buyers who will visit the showroom in central Shanghai.

DFO’s showroom in downtown Shanghai is open for one month to welcome buyers at their convenience. Buyers who are not able to visit can place orders via DFO’s online platform which provides detailed photo and video content, live streaming sessions and possibility for one-on-one buyer appointments digitally.