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The growth of sustainable fashion

As UN Launches Alliance For Sustainable Fashion, Demand For Environmentally Conscious Clothing Continues to Rise.

Not long after National Climate Day earlier this month, the UN announced its official launch of the United Nations Alliance for Sustainable Fashion at the Environment Assembly in Kenya last week. As the fashion world contributes one of the largest environmental footprints of all industries, the organization ‘is seeking to halt the environmentally and socially destructive practices of fashion, and instead harness the industry as a driver for improving the world’s ecosystems.’

courtesy of UN news

Comprising of UN and specialized agencies, the alliance will aim to address and combat all aspects of the challenges facing the industry by means of an integrated approach involving major stakeholders, whilst raising further awareness about the need to change consumption habits.

So how can our much loved fashion world play a role in preventing the destruction of our beautiful planet? Whilst the fight against ‘fast fashion’ has now become a global movement, demand has grown exponentially for suppliers and designers to increase their ability to produce recycled materials in large quantities. The hot topic of the moment is undoubtedly the crucial need for plastic alternatives. We’ve all seen the heartbreaking footage of the devastating harm that our plastic waste is having on ocean wildlife; its struck a nerve within all of us. However, looking forward with hope, many brands have already made significant moves to counteract, or at least prevent, the catastrophic effects on our oceans.

courtesy of courreges paris

Most prominently, Adidas has pledged to use only recycled polyester in all its shoes and clothing within the next six years. As the second largest sportswear brand in the world, the brand has vowed to create 11 million pairs of shoes containing recycled ocean plastic this year. Longstanding supporters of the movement, last year the brand sold 1 million pairs of its recycled Ultraboost Uncaged Parley trainer, as part of their partnership with environmentalists Parley for the Oceans.

courtesy of

Another notable advocate for sustainability is Stella McCartney whose brand will give up virgin nylon from 2020, in favor of Econyl derived from recycled fishing nets; in 2021. The official website for her brand states, ‘Our goal is to create a business that is restorative and regenerative by design, striving to incorporate as many circular materials as possible into our collections.’

courtesy of

Late last year, Zadig & Voltaire fronted the ‘No More Plastic manifesto’, a project in defence of the oceans financed by the sales of a sea turtle brooch, in order to raise more awareness. Countless others with influence have been vocal or featured more eco-friendly items such as Gucci, who in 2018, produced around 40,000 pairs of shoes with soles that contained 50% bio-plastic content. For the established high-end brands, there’s a whole wave of new, sustainable fashion companies as the movement has made the leap from the margins to the mainstream - it’s an issue that can no longer be ignored.

So, whilst more and more companies are doing their bit by transforming plastic waste into clothes and accessories, looking ahead to the next step in the solution we optimistically ask, could disposable plastic be replaced entirely with a natural alternative? At Biofrabicate, the annual summit for growing materials using living organisms, there’s hope; “Biofabrication is designing and building products with biology. Harnessing organisms such as bacteria, yeast, algae, mycelium, mammalian cells, to cultivate consumer goods as varied as footwear and furniture to fashion and food.”

Whilst key stakeholders and designers rush to get on board with satisfying this demand of our times, and with the UN potentially defining the processes, the future for sustainability is looking that bit brighter.

Alys Jackman

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