Fashion is slowly shedding its negative rep as brands continue to embrace circular and forward-thinking practices that drive innovation and product durability.
Only weeks after announcing a new partnership with Parley for the Oceans, luxury label Stella McCartney has made yet another push to keep the world’s oceans waste-free. The brand has revealed that its Autumn 2017 collection of Falabella GO bags will be made with yarn derived from converted ocean waste.
Produced by Aquafil, an Italian manufacturer of synthetic fibers, ECONYL® yarn is made from 100 percent regenerated nylon waste. Aquafil’s ECONYL® Regeneration System diverts waste from landfills and oceans through the recovery of abandoned fishing nets and other discarded nylon waste. The resulting fiber retains the same level of quality and performance as traditional nylon, but boasts the ability to be recycled an infinite number of times without any loss in quality.
“This partnership represents the future of fashion,” said Giulio Bonazzi, CEO of Aquafil. “It proves that when sustainable ingredients are of the highest quality, they will be adopted by brands from sportswear to luxury. When sustainability is treated with the same reverence as performance and quality, we see beautiful and impactful collections take shape.”
The move adds to the label’s growing portfolio of alternative fibers and supports its commitment to operating a responsible, modern business. Stella McCartney will roll out products featuring both ECONYL® and Parley’s ocean plastic fiber this fall.
Circularity is only one small piece of the sustainable fashion puzzle. Designing clothes that are built to last is critical for shifting away from a take-make-waste model. According to a new report by UK-based Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), 80 percent of a product’s environmental impact is determined during the design stage. This presents a monumental opportunity for designers and brands to enact change.
WRAP’s updated Sustainable Clothing Guide provides designers and technologists with new research, case studies and actions they can take to enhance durability across eight key product categories. Previous WRAP research has identified extending the life of clothing as the most effective way to reduce carbon, water consumption and waste.
Extending the life of 50 percent of clothes by an extra nine months of active use would reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by 4–10 percent each. In addition to reducing the environmental impact of clothing, the report points to durability as driving quality, which in return safeguards against garment failure, strengthens brand reputation and cements customer satisfaction and loyalty.
The Sustainable Clothing Guide considers durability in physical and emotional terms. It defines physical durability as garment design and construction in order to create products that can resist damage and wear, while emotional durability takes into account relevance and desirability to the consumer.
The report also includes a series of guidance notes on the top five actions for enhancing durability across eight key product categories: children’s clothing, occasion wear, knitwear, tailoring, denim, sportswear, casual wear and underwear.
Seven new case studies from ASOS, COS, John Lewis, New Look, Novozymes and Ted Baker have been incorporated into the updated guide, providing organizations with concrete examples of how their industry peers are putting these best practices into action. In conjunction with the report, WRAP has also developed a How to Measure guide to help achieve consistent clothing measurements in men’s trousers and shirts.
With the rerelease of the report, WRAP hopes designers and product technologists will use the guide in their everyday work to embed durability at the product design and development stages. “Working together, the clothing industry can pioneer sustainability throughout the lifecycle of clothing,” says WRAP.
Meanwhile, DyStar and C&A have shared insight on the process of developing C&A’s new Cradle to Cradle Certified™ GOLD T-Shirts during a recent webinar hosted by Fashion Positive.
C&A debuted the t-shirts early in May of this year, following a nine-month development process in partnership with McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry and two India-based garment manufacturers Cotton Blossom and Partibha Syntex. One of the most significant achievements in the product design stage was eliminating all sensitizing and halogenated dyes and replacing them with dyes that met Cradle to Cradle standards.
Early on, DyStar was distinguished as the ideal supplier from which to source the dyes for C&A’s new product. The company has spent the last 20 years screening the chemicals in its dyes to assess their toxicology and environmental impact and has developed a portfolio of vat, disperse and reactive textile dyes that are Cradle to Cradle Certified GOLD: Dianix® for polyester, Remazol®, Indanthren®, and Levafix® for cotton, Realan® for cashmere, wool, and silk and DyStar Indigo Vat 40% Solution for denim. For the purpose of C&A’s project, Levafix® and Remazol® dyes were used to create a palette of 17 colors.
According to Charline Ducas, Unit Leader of Global Circular Economy at C&A, working with a company that already had a wealth of data at their disposal was definitely an advantage. DyStar’s extensive research and data provided a solid starting point for C&A and helped accelerate the entire process. But Ducas admits that the collaboration required a certain paradigm shift. She explained that, traditionally, a brand would present a Pantone color to a dye manufacturer for them to recreate. For its Cradle to Cradle t-shirts, the company was required to look at what dyes were available that met Cradle to Cradle standards and develop a palette based on that.
“It was a challenge was not feeling limited because it looks like there are only eight dyes, but you can actually make 100s of shades,” said Ducas. “We need to think about color differently.”
Ducas and John Easton, Global Ecology Services Manager at DyStar, both pointed to cooperation at each point of the design and production as a key driver for the product’s success and necessary for understanding what can be achieved.
Have successfully created a Cradle to Cradle Certified GOLD product, the two organizations admit that the challenge now lies in creating more demand and developing methods for embellishing products with trims, prints, brighter colors and nicer fabric blends that allow for the creation of pieces with greater aesthetic appeal. Ducas sites 360 degree communications efforts that help educate consumers about the product’s environmental and social responsibility as being essential, as well as continued research and development to drive materials innovation.