The circular economy is here to stay — and no industry is better positioned to take on this challenge than fashion. The designers, innovators and business people in this industry are starting a revolution that ensures doing good never goes out of style.
Historically, the fashion industry has thrived on a quick pace of change. Every season, designers unveil their newest collections on runways around the world and the fashion industry completely turns over to make room for the latest trends. These trends filter down from couture houses to department store racks, and many consumers completely reinvent their wardrobes, disposing of the old to make way for the new.
This system of producing and disposing of clothing faster than a camera flash is dangerously unsustainable. The pandemic has forced us all to take a pause and reassess. Consumers are taking stock and reconsidering their spending and consumption habits. This includes an assessment of the frequency and quality of their purchases. People are looking for clothes that last longer, and that are created to look good and feel good wear after wear.
A circular economy is a win-win-win for consumers, the environment and companies. Circular systems reduce the amount of waste, harmful materials and greenhouse gas emissions degrading the environment; while also allowing companies to optimize resource use to ensure they are operating more cost-efficiently and performing effectively against their bottom line. Consumers also can take advantage of the benefits of a circular economy by fully utilizing the clothing they buy, rather than discarding them after only a few wears. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation — which is leading the way with a groundbreaking new initiative to create a circular fashion economy that minimizes waste, pollution and unnecessary resource expenditures — estimates that more than $460 billion is wasted annually by consumers who fail to effectively utilize the clothing they buy. That’s a lot of money that can go back into our wallets and be redirected more efficiently.
We know the industry is looking for ways to meet consumers where they are, and we envision a future for fashion that reduces impact on the environment. As brands and designers navigate the future of fashion, it’s time to consider innovation in material selection for more enduring styles. Fabric selection can be a key driver in sustainability both upstream and downstream, all leading to a more circular economy.
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DuPont Biomaterials is proud to offer real solutions that contribute to a circular economy. We believe deeply in the power of the circular economy and the unique role biomaterials have to play in making our clothing more renewable and sustainable. Sorona®, our high-performance fiber made from 37 percent plant-based materials, is a key ingredient in clothing from some of the world’s most popular brands — and its superior performance qualities are already transforming the way apparel companies think about the viability of renewable ingredients.
Biomaterials are not the “green but underperforming” products of yesteryear. Sorona and other bio-based solutions on the market are proof positive that renewable and sustainable ingredients and systems are possible, performance-driven and profitable; and they’ll be a key factor in a fast and successful transition to a circular economy.
Fabrics that use Sorona fibers give designers and brands a partially bio-based option that is durable, has an amazing hand-feel, and a lower environmental footprint. Moreover, at the end of life for a garment, Sorona is recyclable. To reinforce our support for designers and brands as they create for circularity in fashion, we’ve introduced our new Common Thread Fabric Certification Program. Mills with this certificate assure fabrics have the unique molecular footprint of partially plant-based Sorona polymer, and meet the quality standards Sorona is known for — including unparalleled softness, long-lasting stretch performance and durability. We are committed to ensuring that mills, designers and brands have clarity on our offering and that they can trust the source of the materials when they’re choosing Sorona fabrics.
We know quality, sustainable fabrics create garments that will perform better over time. Clothes that no longer fit, or lose their vibrancy and stretch, are discarded and pile up in landfills. Greenhouse gas emissions from constantly churning textile and clothing factories contributing to the fast fashion economy have reached an astounding 1.2 billion tons per year, and harmful chemicals and materials used to produce clothing are released into our water and air. The scale of these impacts on the environment globally is almost unfathomable.
Many in the industry have recognized that it’s time for a change, and that’s why Sorona is committed to being part of groups such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. With the support of some of the biggest names in fashion — including Burberry, H&M, Nike and Stella McCartney — the Foundation's Make Fashion Circular initiative aims to reinvent the way we think about clothing by ensuring that clothes are durable, long-lasting, recyclable and do no harm to people or the environment.
A circular economy is the economic model of the future. Consumers are increasingly demanding that companies in every sector do better for their employees, for the environment, and for the world at large. For the fashion industry, a circular economy means creating garments built to last with renewable and safe materials; and at the end of their life cycle, these items can be repaired, repurposed and/or recycled into the next generation of fashion-forward clothing.
We see our five branded fabric collections and the Common Thread Fabric Certification Program as part of this solution:
Sorona Agile is a long-lasting, stretch fabric option that provides better resistance to heat, UV rays and chlorine. It’s an ideal alternative in any garment where spandex-free stretch is needed. And, unlike spandex, Sorona is recyclable.
Sorona Revive is another great option for stretch. It provides long-lasting performance with shape retention and stretch recovery so there won’t be any of that undesired sagging and bagging.
Sorona Profile fabrics retain their shape and provide a consistently smooth look wear-after-wear. Used as a replacement for 100 percent nylon-based fabrics, Sorona Profile fabrics are partially bio-based and have improved crease recovery, while maintaining a rich hand feel that redefines softness.
Sorona Luxe fabrics afford natural fiber blends enhanced performance, softness and recovery. From linen and wool to silk and cotton, natural fabrics can now have a smooth handfeel with comfort stretch, dimensional stability and reduced pilling.
Lightweight Sorona Aura insulation provides unparalleled softness that redefines how warmth should feel with outstanding fill power and a higher level of thermal insulation for jackets, pants, gloves, hats and more, offering breathable warmth for almost any climate.
We’ve also introduced Sorona faux fur, which is made with 70-100 percent bio-based Sorona fibers, creating one of the first commercially available faux furs using partially plant-based ingredients. It was awarded the ISPO Textrend “Best Product” in the Accelerated Eco category for the Fall/Winter 2021/22 season. As the apparel industry is increasingly pivoting away from the use of animal fur, this innovative product provides a thoughtful solution to fur with a luxurious, premium look; paired with key performance attributes including warmth, design flexibility and dyeability. It means customers don’t have to sacrifice form for function.
Fashions come and go, but I’m confident the circular economy is here to stay — and no industry is better positioned to take on this challenge than the fashion industry. With abounding fearlessness, creativity and an uncanny ability to reimagine the status quo, the designers and business people in this industry are starting a revolution that ensures doing good never goes out of style.