Changing Surfaces: A Swiss Company replaces petrochemicals in textiles and clothing finishings with green chemistry innovation

27th September 2019     News Fabrics Future Fabrics Expo The Sustainable Angle Sourcing

What do your rain jacket, kitchen linens, sports bra, or favourite football jersey all have in common? A textile coating or finishing that you can probably feel with your hands but is invisible to the naked eye. In fact, chemical finishes are commonly added to fabrics during the final stage in order to achieve the performance attributes you love most, such as wicking sweat, softness, or water repellency. 

Finishing processes are often left under the radar, which is why most people think only in terms of the textile materials themselves when it comes to the word “sustainability”.  However, the chemicals used in these processes might actually be leaving a significant carbon footprint on the environment per metre of fabric.

That’s where Beyond Surface Technologies comes in. After working for decades at big chemical companies, a group of textile industry veterans wanted to approach textile chemistry innovation with the environment at the core. In 2008, they founded Beyond Surface Technologies, or Beyond, a Swiss company with the mission to advance green chemistry solutions for textiles. 

Beyond Surface Technologies’s latest innovation is a microalgae-based wicking finish for synthetic textiles, the first in the industry.

 

Conventional textile finishes — commonly used in high-performance sportswear — are often derived from non-renewable fossil fuels such as crude oil and animal fat, and can leach hazardous toxins that pollute our waterways. Instead, Beyond works with renewable materials such as industrial plant seed and/or microalgae oils to create biobased formulations, all under their product line miDori™ (or Japanese for “green”). 

According to Beyond Founder Matthias Foessel, their current miDori™ technologies provide softness and/or wicking/fast dry performance to many different fibres/fabrics/garments – without the tradeoff in performance or price tag. Their formulation is also biodegradable, which means their products will have a low impact on any subsequent recycling/upcycling process. 

This helps reduce the textile industry’s carbon footprint significantly – one of the key challenges that the textile industry faces. 

miDori™ products also live up to their sustainability reputation — all products are GOTS, USDA biobased, and GreenScreen certified.  In particular, miDori™ bioSoft, a finish that gives a smooth hand to textiles, was the first textile chemical to reach GreenScreen Silver status and has also achieved C2C Platinum level certification.  

Patagonia Women’s Active Mesh Bra with Beyond Surface Technologies’ miDori™ bioSoft for added wicking and softness

 

With new material start-ups popping up every week, fashion and sportswear brands can sometimes feel overwhelmed or wary about adopting new methods to create sustainable change.  But the urgent response from the industry is necessary: the IPCC 2018 report states that there are only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5°C – anything beyond half a degree will worsen the risk of drought, floods, and heatwaves.

Realising the barriers to adoption, Beyond decided to design their products to be “plug-and-play” right from the beginning.  “Our miDori™ technologies have been specifically developed for use in the textile industry. Machinery and processes conditions are just like the ones currently been used for the predominant crude oil-based chemicals. The term ‘plug-and-play’ fits very well for our products and we actually do use it ourselves when talking to the industry.”

Organic bedding pioneer Coyuchi is the first in North America to use miDori™ bioSoft green technology for processing its sheets.

 

And the industry is responding. Beyond includes household names such as Patagonia, Adidas, Levi’s, Aritzia, Coyuchi, and Puma in their brand portfolio, and is backed by Patagonia’s corporate venture capital fund Tin Shed Ventures.

“For us, performance comes first,” says Foessel. “We want our customers to buy our products because they perform and then surprise them with the fact that its performance is actually based on green chemistry. This is the only way, in our belief, that the adoption of green chemistry will further advance and eventually succeed over the current primarily crude oil-based chemicals. Price for green chemistry has been coming down steadily over the last years and will continue to do so. This allows us to offer products which as stated before perform alike and will only add marginally – if at all – to the cost of a single garment.”

The next challenge in green chemistry that the company wants to address?  Sustainable water repellency for fabrics.  Beyond is currently putting significant efforts into developing a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) technology alternative that is biocarbon based and PFC-free.

“It is a much sought after missing piece in the puzzle of offering more green chemistry to the textile finishing industry,” Foessel says.

By integrating sustainable innovation directly into the DNA of the business, Beyond Surface Technologies has developed a business model that can help ignite industry change.

Discover more sustainable and innovative mills like Beyond Surface Technologies at our upcoming 9th Future Fabrics ExpoGet your tickets here or sign up to our newsletter below for updates. 

 

Throughout June, our schedules have been packed with presenting and moderating at many different conferences, educational workshops, events and talks in London – all these prestigious events were dedicated to sustainability – a clear sign that the fashion industry is finally putting sustainability centre stage where it belongs, and no longer considers it as a ‘trend’, or just a ‘box to be ticked’ in the corporate reports. However, a sense of urgency to act quickly and decisively is still too often lacking..

 

The Store x The Sustainable Angle

The Store x The Sustainable Angle

Graduate Fashion Week - Considered Design Hub

Graduate Fashion Week – Considered Design Hub hosted by stylist Francesca Burns, with 180 The Strand

               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fran Burns, The Store, 180 Strand

4 June 2019

 

We were honoured to collaborate with Francesca Burns, Fashion Stylist, who invited us to hold a workshop at The Store X for her peers, fellow stylists and friends in the fashion industry.  We valued the opportunity to engage with stylists directly as they are uniquely placed to direct fashion brands towards more sustainable practice. They often take on a role essentially consulting brands, holding the power to engage said brands, asking questions, recommending more sustainable and responsibly produced materials, helping highlight and communicate fashion that has been created responsibly and sustainably.  

Fashion is a key cultural communicator and powerful agent for change that goes beyond simply what we wear.  Stylists are working right at that important stage of connection and communication with brands, holding a unique potential to drive engagement with sustainability. 

 

supported by Lenzing Group, Old Trewman Brewery

2 June – 5 June 2019

 

The Sustainable Angle’s Curator and Educational Consultant – Amanda Johnston –  hosted a daily educational workshop at Graduate Fashion Week’s newly launched “Considered Design Hub”, powered by Farfetch. She presented our “8 to Create” systems thinking framework, explored material innovations such as

Tencel ™ Lyocell using Refibra™ technology by Lenzing Group, and showcased how to exercise creative thinking when working with sustainable materials as per the dozens of Tencel™  fabrics on display.

The “Considered Design Hub” was introduced as a response to the increase in graduates focusing on sustainability and the need for more ethical and sustainable practices within the fashion industry. Graduate Fashion Week is the world’s largest event for BA Fashion talent, featuring 25 catwalk shows and stands, alongside a schedule of talks and workshops from leading industry names. 

 

Fashion Meets Tech: How Innovation Is Creating Sustainability in Fashion

Decoded Future Stylus Event

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Stylus Event, County Hall

6 June 2019

 

Decoded Future 2019 had the underlying theme of…  you guessed it! Sustainability.  With the aim of shaping a collective vision of what a more sustainable vision could look like, the conference examined everything from the circular economy to the impacts of technological innovations.  Our Founder and Director Nina Marenzi moderated the panel “Sharing Is Caring: Is The Second-Hand Economy A Shift In The Shoppers Mindset Or Just A Desire For Discounted Designer Products?”   Through questioning and discussion with Katy Lubin, VP communications for Lyst, Sara Arnold, Founder of Higher Studio, and Clara Chappaz, Chief Growth Officer of Vestiaire Collective, the panel discussed the ins and outs of the sharing economy.  With consumers continuing to strive for a more sustainable and collaborative way of living (it’s estimated that by 2023 the second-hand market will be worth $51billionUSD), the panel unpacked whether the key solution lies in innovative rental models.  Seeing as, on average, over 80% of garments are worn less than three times, there is promise in alternative systems which create a variance in our relationship with our clothes, allowing space to experience luxury at a lower cost and higher speed. 

 

organised by CoGo x Google for Startups Campus

11 June 2019

 

During London Tech Week, Google Startups UK and Ethical Living App CoGo hosted an event examining how innovation has the potential to create a sustainable fashion that ‘doesn’t cost the earth.’  Our Founder and Director Nina Marenzi was invited to moderate the panel on how innovation is creating a more sustainable footprint in the clothes and ornaments we wear – from diamonds to sweaters and handbags. Kirsty Emery, Co-Founder of UNMADE, Ben Gleisner, Founder and CEO of CoGo, Laura Chavez, Founder of Lark & Berry, and Leanne Kemp, Founder of Everledger joined together to discuss how each of the panellists’ companies is placing sustainability at the centre of its business.  From using decommissioned fire hoses in creating accessories (Elvis and Kresse), to using blockchain for tracing natural diamonds (Everledger), to on-demand, customisable design (UNMADE), to discussing lab-grown diamonds avoiding potential problems with mining (Lark & Berry), and finally an app connecting conscious consumers to sustainable businesses in their area (CoGo) – sustainability was the key driver for these innovative and tech solutions!

Illustrations from the London Luxury Think Tank

TSA Team with MP Mary Creagh at The Telegraph’s Responsible Fashion Forum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

French Chamber of Commerce, Spring Studios

13 June 2019

 

London Luxury Think Tank, a spin-off of French Chamber Great Britain, assembles leaders, pioneers and experts from across the fields of Luxury, Fashion, Technology, Research & Innovation, CSR, Ethics and Sustainability to share ideas, expertise and insights.  It was wonderful to be a part of it again, now for their second edition, at Spring Studios, where the key focus was sustainability.  Our Founder & Director Nina Marenzi was on the panel discussing “What makes a product sustainable & ethical?”  Together with Nicolas Gerlier, CEO of La Bouche Rouge, Sylvie Bénard, Head of Environmental Sustainability at LVMH, and Pierre-Alexandre Bapst, Sustainability Director of Hermès,  on a panel moderated by Brook Roberts-Islam Co-Director of BRIA.  La Bouche Rouge aims to combat harmful plastic pollution of the cosmetics industry by implementing innovative chemical formulation of their purely vegan lipstick which is free of microplastics commonly used in industry, all packaged in a luxurious refillable case.  While Hermès’ approach is to put emphasis on heritage, artisanal skills, promoting high quality and longevity of product life cycle.  This conversation between key industry players highlighted the fact that within sustainability there is often not a singular, simple solution.  There is always a necessity for nuanced, multifaceted, multidisciplinary approaches depending on the ethos of the brand.

 

Jumeirah Carlton Tower

18 June 2019

 

Kicking off with a Keynote by our advisory board member, Arizona Muse, The Telegraph’s Responsible Fashion Forum was a day jam-packed with discussions around transparency, traceability and sustainability across the supply chain. 

Across the board there was a consensus that Environmental and Social Sustainability go hand in hand, the conversations should not be siloed.  This was essential in TSA’s Amanda Johnston’s panel discussion (together with Patsy Perry, Senior Lecturer, University of Manchester, and moderated by Lily Gray, Head of Partnerships, First Mile) where the starting point of discussion was the effects of chemical usage on the environment.  Crucially, it was a question from the audience that highlighted that the true effect of chemical usage is on the people who were not present in that room. 

Water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population, and more than 80 per cent of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers or the sea without any pollution removal (United Nations, 2018).  Most textile processing is heavily concentrated in regions where water quality is already low, putting vulnerable populations at risk.

The perfect finale was hearing from Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Mary Creagh MP: Coincidentally the conference took place on the very day of the disappointing decision by the UK Parliament to reject every recommendation from the Fixing Fashion report proposed last February by said committee. This is directly in contradiction with the announcement the week before when the same government enshrined in law that the UK will have “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  We commend Mary Creagh for her work and tenacity: When asked “What’s next?” by a member of the audience, she urged everyone in the room to keep pushing for sustainable practice because the voice of the consumer is next, together making it impossible for the government not to listen.

As ever, at The Sustainable Angle, we are presenting thousands of innovative sustainable textiles solutions to the fashion industry that are commercially available. We have been researching and gathering these materials since 2010: we are busier than ever filtering through materials that are produced more sustainably and responsibly in order to ensure they really do have a lower environmental impact. They are in our London studio: see them at one of our masterclasses or book a visit to one of our workshops and will, of course, be showcased at the 9th Future Fabrics Expo 29-30th January 2020save the date! Early Bird Registration will open soon…

Read more about the Future Fabrics Expo

If you work in the denim industry, chances are you’ve heard of Bossa.  Based in Turkey, Bossa has been leading the textile industry in sustainable denim production since the launch of their ecological Re-Set collection back in 2006.

Back then, sustainability in fashion was a hush-hush topic behind closed doors, and today it has become one of the biggest buzz words around.  For Bossa however, sustainability is not just a trend — it has always been a principle of practice.    

Bossa’s Re-Set Collection was one of the first to prove that a collection of fabrics made entirely from 100% recycled materials was possible, and its environmental impact was even calculated and certified through a Life Cycle Assessment.

Recycling is an important theme for Bossa as natural resources become increasingly limited.  The company reuses their own textile production waste by turning them into raw material, and also works with fibres obtained from plastic bottles as part of their r-PET project.

And what about all the clothing waste that ends up in landfills? Staying true to their vision of sustainable textiles, Bossa also launched “Denim is Reborn in Bossa”, a post-consumer denim recycling (PCRD) concept where old jeans are collected, sent to their partner in Gaizantep, Turkey for shredding, and then fibres are remade into fabrics.  As an idea, about 1000 old jeans can be used to produce 2000 metres of 20% PCRD Blended Fabric. Major brands such as Nudie, Zara, Kuyichi and Marks & Spencer are a few of the brands using fabric from Bossa’s concept. 

As a growing number of brands are requesting sustainable denim, Bossa has adapted by continually improving their end-to-end production process to reduce environmental impacts. For example, the company uses organic cotton, and natural chemicals and dyestuffs; they conserve energy by 20% through their own on-site cogeneration plant; they save about 85% of the water used in production through their “Saveblue” process.  After all, sustainability requires a holistic view.

So what sort of obstacles is the denim industry facing to becoming more sustainable? Most companies would agree that the government plays a vital role, especially when it comes to raising public awareness and enacting laws that benefit businesses who prioritise sustainable practices.  As an example, Bossa suggests that governments could provide tax incentives for garments with a Global Recycled Standard certificate. 

If everyone in the supply chain down to the consumer plays a role, fashion can have a positive impact on nature and communities.

“Denim starts with cotton, so farmers should prefer more responsible production methods such as organic farming.  Mills should be responsible and transparent. They should use greener denim production methods – such as increasing recycling, decreasing water use — and then report the numbers of their ecological footprint,” says Bossa.  “Brands should appreciate the value of the research that goes behind sustainable production and support it, while customers should be aware of what they are buying and choose more sustainable products in the market.”

By doing their part and offering solutions that do not compromise the needs of future generations, Bossa is taking action to address the critical imperative of sustainability while embracing its opportunities. 

More sustainable initiatives by Bossa:

 

Watch Bossa’s interview at the 8th Future Fabrics Expo:

 

Discover more about Bossa 

 

Interested in exhibiting at the Future Fabrics Expo in 2020? Contact us today info@thesustainableangle.org 

When Carol Chyau discovered yak down during her travels to Yunan, China in 2006, she knew that the best way to help catalyze the growth of social enterprise in China was to start one of her own. Chyau founded Shokay, a textile company which crosses disciplines and geographies to bring premium yak down products to market and social change to the communities behind them.

Yak fibres are sustainable alternatives to cashmere and wool — they are 30% warmer than wool, 1.6 times more breathable than cashmere and have a fine, smooth texture. As a comparison, an individual yak fibre is 18-20 microns with a length of 30-40mm, and cashmere is between 14-30 microns and 20.5-90mm long.  

Taking inspiration from the qualities of the yak fibre, Shokay has developed an extensive range of fabrics, yarns and hand-knitting yarns in 100% pure yak down for luxury outerwear, as well as in unique yak blends composing of wool, organic cotton, in-transition cotton, hemp, Tencel™, and recycled PET.

Animal fibres often get a bad reputation for having high environmental impacts due to land use, water consumption, animals feed and chemicals required for production (EAC “Fixing Fashion”, 2019). More importantly, animal farming for textiles brings up several issues surrounding their welfare, ethical treatment and effects on biodiversity. 

However, with sustainable practices, government policies, and international support on-the-ground training for local herders in place, animal fibres can be a sustainable choice as they have high-performance technical properties and very low end-of-life impacts on the planet (compared to other natural fibres such as conventional cotton, or synthetic fibres such as virgin polyester).

Shokay’s social enterprise model leaves a positive social impact which empowers young Tibetans and the livelihoods of Tibetan herders. The yak fibres used in Shokay’s products are sourced directly from Tibetan herders, enabling them to earn a living while preserving their traditional herding and community lifestyle.

The boom of the animal fibre industries has led to overgrazing and grassland desertification in many areas across China and Mongolia. As yak fibre enters the fashion industry, sustainable herding practices must come hand-in-hand with economic growth.

Currently, yaks are farmed on a small scale, and as the demand and awareness for yak fibres grow, Shokay’s efforts in building sustainable practices for yaks and the herding communities now will allow the yak market to scale in a healthy manner.

Yaks are low-carbon emission animals. They are currently raised by Tibetan herders with a semi-nomadic lifestyle, which prevents overgrazing of land; their tongues are short, therefore they do not pull grass from the root when feeding which is beneficial for grassland conservation; the hand-combed method used during harvesting is not harmful or invasive for the animals; the relationship between yak and herder is personal and animals are treated as an extension of family and livelihood.

One per cent of Shokay’s sales revenue goes towards their Community Development Fund, empowering the communities in their supply chain. Over 800 herders in Western China have benefitted from Shokay’s healthcare programs. A projected 500 tonnes of yak will be sourced in the next 3 years, with the opportunity to positively impact one million Tibetans. In addition, Shokay plans to facilitate and invest in workshops for animal husbandry and land conservation in order to develop the knowledge and skills of the community and future generations.

Carol Chyau’s social enterprise has drawn attention for its vision — in 2006 her business idea won first place at the Harvard Business Plan Competition.  She was selected as an Echoing Green Fellow in 2008 and a finalist for Cartier’s Women Initiative. Chyau was also named one of Forbes’ Top 30 Entrepreneurs under 30 and one of Top 5 Social Entrepreneurs at the Chivas Venture Competition.

Shokay believes that yak can really play a part in the future landscape of materials. Since yak is not yet commercialised, the company has spent several years developing a traceable supply chain for their yarns and fabrics, even creating the first yak grading system.  By working closely with their supply chain and industry association partners, Shokay aims to set the standards for yak collection, segmentation and processing to facilitate sustainable scaling and prevent negative practices that might disrupt a sustainable yak fibre supply chain in China.

The company believes that the fashion industry needs to address our pressing environmental and social challenges by integrating change at every level of the supply chain: from sourcing sustainable raw materials, to working with certified mills, and audited garment factories, to marketing campaigns with other leading sustainable fashion brands that educate end consumers regarding the urgency and importance of knowing where your products come.

As for what’s next, Shokay has been busy collaborating and adopting holistic approaches to the way they source fibres and develop products.

Last year, Shokay signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ICIMOD. Based in Nepal, ICIMOD is an intergovernmental organization that works to develop a sustainably-sound mountain ecosystem in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region that can help improve the living standards of mountain populations and sustain vital ecosystem services for the 1.3 billion people living downstream. Shokay is exploring opportunities to build best practices for the livelihoods of yaks and the herding communities, coupled with land preservation in the mountainous areas. Shokay became a member of Textile Exchange and exhibited at the Future Fabrics Expo by The Sustainable Angle.

The company also launched Shokay Lab, a community of brands, designers, and manufacturers that share resources and jointly develop products that are thoughtfully made. The creative social enterprise also has plans to launch an accelerator program to empower material innovation.

Seems like a strong contender for the future of fabrics.

Shokay will be presenting a joint masterclass with The Sustainable Angle on 9 May 2019, from 9:30-12: 30 pm in our London Showroom, W10. Registration details TBC. 

 

Watch Shokay’s interview from our Future Fabrics Expo: 

Discover more about Shokay

You’d be hard-pressed to find a closet without a single piece of clothing made from denim. According to FashionUnited Business Intelligence, 1.25 billion jeans are sold annually worldwide, with women owning 7 pairs of jeans on average and men owning 6 pairs. As one of the most purchased fabrics on the planet, denim has a huge impact on our resources. It takes 20,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of cotton for a single pair of jeans. Factor in the hazardous health effects caused by indigo dyeing and denim finishing, and you have a basic wardrobe staple that affects both people and planet at a very large scale.

One of the mills investing in innovative technology to help lower the environmental impact of denim manufacture is Advance Denim, a core exhibitor at our recent Future Fabrics Expo in January 2019. Founded in 1987 in China, Advance Denim is a key player in the industry with an annual output of up to 40 million yards of fabric. With sustainable initiatives such as aniline-free dyeing with Archroma’s Denisol® Pure Indigo 30 liq, Zero Cotton fabric made with TENCEL™ fibres, and Greenlet™ ecore yarn, the company’s commitment to constantly improve their production processes and techniques dispels several myths around sustainable manufacture in China.   

For our latest Masterclass, we asked Enrico Forin from Advance Denim to be our guest speaker and discuss the realities of producing more sustainable denim in China, as well as the changes the industry has seen within the past few years. We caught up with Forin after the workshop to learn a little more about the company and their ethos.

The Sustainable Angle: What are the main products Advance Denim creates, and what key aspects make them more sustainable than conventionally-produced denim?

Enrico Forin: Since 1987, Advance Denim has been producing a wide range of indigo products, from traditional denim, intricate jacquards, smooth flexible coatings to real indigo knits. Currently, Advance Denim is focusing considerable efforts to produce a wide array of fabrics in the most sustainable way possible, by applying creative and technical expertise to solve manufacturing challenges affecting our natural resources, such as water, energy and waste. We are planning on reaching our sustainability goals by using eco contents to build the fabrics as well as cleaning up the entire manufacturing process.

TSA: How can fashion have a positive impact on nature and communities? 

EF: More and more fashion brands now are sensitive to the ecological impacts of the fabric, accessories and trims that make up their collections. These brands are now making a conscious effort to source recycled materials wherever possible. This is already a considerable step forward and will have a positive impact since less natural resources will be consumed. This reduced consumption of raw materials will consequently benefit communities, especially in locations on the planet where raw materials are scarce.

TSA: What do you think is the biggest obstacle to becoming a more sustainable and less harmful industry? 

EF: I don’t see any major obstacles that could block the improvement of sustainability in our industry. Since there are sustainable chemicals, equipment and technologies that are currently available in the market, it is up to each company to invest in a sustainable future. We believe that it is just a matter of ethics and social responsibility.

TSA: What are the goals and plans moving forward for Advance Denim?

EF: Advance Denim has a detailed and aggressive sustainability initiative. We are planning to have green fibres account for 90% of our products in the next 5 years. We will also be investing in new technologies throughout the entire production line that will further reduce water and energy consumption. Though Advance Denim will be making a considerable investment in new sustainable technologies, we are attempting to limit the effect that these investments have on the cost of the final product, and in some cases, the effect may be cost-neutral.

For more information about Advance Denim, visit http://www.advancedenim.com/

For updates on our events, initiatives, and suppliers, follow us on Instagram and Twitter . 

 

Our 8th Future Fabrics Expo returned last week on 24-25th January 2019 for its most ambitious showcase yet!

8th Future Fabrics Expo at Victoria House in London January 25, 2019.
This image is copyright Suzanne Plunkett 2019©.

Our biggest-ever edition of the Expo took place in the sleek, 22,000 sq ft venue of Victoria House Basement in central London, and welcomed more than 2500 visitors over the two days. The turnout and engagement truly exceeded our expectations, with a record number of visitors ranging from luxury brands to high street retailers to startups, academics and students.

As the largest dedicated showcase of sustainable materials for the fashion and textile industry, the 8th Future Fabrics Expo featured over 5000 commercially-available fabrics and materials from suppliers who are offering innovative solutions with a low environmental footprint.  For the first time, we showcased a dozen best practice suppliers in their own stand. 

The two-day event is unique: a curated showcase which displays educational background information alongside thousands of materials. This enables fashion industry professionals to engage with positive and informed decision-making. We provide tools and advise on responsible practices, promoting a diverse material future. Each material in our showcase is individually labelled with sustainability information, as well as its key environmental criteria, which we developed with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion back in 2011.

As the consumer demand for sustainable products continues to heighten, the fashion supply chain is responding by finding solutions and collaborative opportunities that address the environmental damages caused by our industry.

To support this growing conversation, The Sustainable Angle expanded its 8th expo to showcase the whole sustainability journey, from fibre to garment. This year, we featured 12 best-practice core exhibitors and manufacturers in their own booth, a bigger Innovation Hub that included a collaboration with Fashion for Good-Plug and Play Accelerator Programme, an information zone, and a fashion brands space. Our popular seminar series hosted a dozen discussions with 26 speakers to a captive audience of 250!

The awareness around this year’s 8th Future Fabrics Expo is evident that sustainability is no longer a “trend” or option, but a critical imperative for one of the most polluting industries on the planet.  “This culture has to change. We need to be more curious: read the label, ask questions and research the brand’s sustainability credentials,” says Nina Marenzi, Founder and Director of The Sustainable Angle.

Through the resources and activities showcased at the Expo, The Sustainable Angle aims to promote and connect materials suppliers with visionary designers and brands, who realise that fashion can have a positive impact upon nature and communities by working with safe, renewable materials and responsible practices throughout the supply chain.

See the core exhibitors and sponsors that were shown alongside the curated showcase of 5000 materials:

Lenzing Group with TENCEL™ // Hallotex// Toyoshima // Nova Kaeru // Shokay // Advance Denim // Coccccon Crafts Loom // Beyond Surface Technologies // Mozartex // Comistra // Santoni // Procalcado // Bossa Denim // Organic Textile Company // Lebenskleidung //

Manufacturers: Gaia Sourcing // Supply Compass // Profits Fund // Papillon Bleu //

Thank you to all who helped us organise and support this 8th edition, and a SPECIAL thank you to the kind support of all our wonderful interns and volunteers helping during the last few days leading up to the expo.

Event Highlights:

Our favourite seminar quotes:

Full video seminar series available for streaming soon…sign up for our mailing list to stay updated!

STAY CONNECTED >>> to find out more about our upcoming masterclasses on sustainable materials for fashion, resuming March 2019 in London.

 

A big thank you to:

Avery Dennison//  Holition // Fashion for Good // Jeffies // Journey // ModusBPCM // Plates London // Perception Live // Domaine La Ferriere // Elf Ideas // Design Surgery // Showhow // Femi Fem // Papertown // Greenhouse Graphics // Get a Grip Studio

All images copyright2019© photographed by Suzanne Plunkett.

 

Textile Exchange’s 2018 Textile Sustainability Conference in Milan, Italy October 22-24 2018

The Sustainable Angle showcased a selection of materials from our extensive collection at the Future Fabrics Expo. The theme of the Global Conference was United by Action: Accelerating Sustainability in Textiles & Fashion.

The Sustainable Angle display at the Textile Exchange 2018

Our partnership with the conference aimed to generate greater industry awareness about the ever-increasing range of innovations in sustainable materials currently available. Examples included Toyoshima’s food waste textiles, Shokay Lab’s yak down fabrics, and from Bossa Denim; low impact denim.  The Indian subcontinent presents Cocccon’s GOTS certified silk, and South American ingenuity brings Nova Kaeru’s fish skins, as bovine leather alternatives. These were just a few of the diverse examples showcased from our collection.

Left: Tesler + Mendelovitch; Right: Sustainable Sequins Company

The Textile Exchange conference was attended by high-profile leaders and professionals working in corporate social responsibility and sustainability, sourcing and supply chains, product, business development, design, education and advocacy. 

Critical climate change issues around water saving, recycling and the circular economy imperative took centre stage during the seminars, while roundtable discussions covered topics around understanding sustainable practices for the production of organic cotton, the place of recycled polyester, what responsible wool production means, and the advent of the bio-synthetics era.

Pertaining to this year’s most important topic —water scarcity — Jason Morrison (Head of CEO Water Mandate and President of the Pacific Institute) discussed the apparel sector’s water stewardship opportunity to help fight climate change. “Sometimes you have to expand the problem in order to solve it,” Morrison says. He references how “by 2050, global water withdrawals are projected to increase by some 55% due to the growing demand from manufacturing (400%)” (OECD, 2012).  Morrison suggests that businesses can: (1) develop water strategies around Sustainable Development Goal 6; (2) talk in the same language as their civil partners, and (3) report annually to the CEO Water Mandate.

Renewable natural fibres were also central topics, particularly around how the entire supply chains of responsible wool and sustainable cotton need to be addressed.  Sometimes with sustainability, we often become too dependent on statistics or rating systems, when in reality it is important to look at the impacts of a natural fibre across all stages of its life cycle, from fibre source and processing through to garment.

One example was provided, in the roundtable discussion “Wool: The Facts Behind the Figures”, where we were taken on a tour of the wool supply chain to learn more about the impacts at each stage of wool production: from animal welfare and the impacts of grazing, on land health at the farm, chemical use during processing through to end of life (and recycling).  In the roundtable “The Sustainable Cotton Change Agents”, discussions around how cultivating healthy and resilient cotton communities can help lift farmers and families out of poverty. 

In “A Conversation on Sustainability in Luxury”, Dr. Helen Crowley (Head of Sustainable Sourcing Innovation from Kering) emphasised the luxury industry’s responsibility to keep quality alive. She urged that social communities can be preserved by finding partners with historical expertise and craftsmanship such as in Italy. She also discussed that in order to reverse the looming environmental crisis, biodiversity will be their main priority over the next 2 years and climate change over the next 10-12 years.

With the new Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action formally launching soon at the United Nations COP24 meeting in December, the conversation around sustainable sourcing and production practices in the fashion industry is truly more expansive and inclusive than ever before. We were delighted to have been able to join these relevant conversations about how creating material change can address climate change.  We look forward to next year’s Textile Exchange in Vancouver!

For more material discoveries, register and join us at the Future Fabrics Expo.

We love colour! But at what cost? The fashion industry invests extensive research into colour trends each season, which means textile dyeing and processing plays a vital role in the supply chain. Yet how much water is used (and often polluted) in order to achieve the colours we love so much?  

Traditional textile and fibre processing — which includes dyeing, printing and finishing — is intensive in water and energy consumption. According to WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), the water footprint in the UK alone is 2,534m3 of water for every tonne of clothing used in one year, with 318m3 /tonne at the processing and manufacturing stage (WRAP, 2012)  — that means the water used in processing and manufacturing is almost the size of an average swimming pool!

Water is one of The Sustainable Angle’s main environmental concerns, and a key criterion when it comes to selecting suppliers for our Future Fabrics Expo.  In support of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation, our ‘Water’ criterion encompasses the reduction of water use and wastage across the textile supply chain, the treatment and filtering of effluent and wastewater, and the use of exemplary wet processing methods.

From URS for WRAP’s Report, “Review of Data on Embodied Water in Clothing Summary Report”

 

Addressing water scarcity and pollution are important global issues, along with the effect upon biodiversity and associated human health risks. Water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population, and more than 80 per cent of wastewater resulting from human activities is discharged into rivers or the sea without any pollution removal (United Nations, 2018). Most textile processing is heavily concentrated in regions where water quality is low, putting vulnerable populations at risk.

Earlier this month, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report warning that there are only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C. At 1.5C the proportion of the global population exposed to water stress could be 50% lower than at 2C. (The Guardian, 2018)

However, new solutions and innovations have made dramatic improvements in the reduction of water consumption and chemical pollution. These innovations consider water use, chemicals, the ingredients dye pigments are made from, where dye is added, and in which stage of the process.

Reinventing the way denim is dyed is one way to address these challenges.  Archroma’s Advanced Denim processes use a new eco-conscious generation of concentrated sulfur dyes, instead of the high-risk chemical aniline traditionally used in indigo.  These sulfur-mixed dyes are fixed to the fibre, applied with protective starch, then oxidized with bi-catonic agents, eliminating all other steps in the dyeing process including wastewater.

By avoiding the batch-dyeing process entirely, and applying colour directly into the filament is how We aRe Spindye is addressing textile dye challenges. 

Imitating nature’s colours using microorganisms is an ingenious reinvention of the colouration process, developed by Colorifix.

To learn more about these and other low-impact and water saving dye innovations, register to visit our 8th Future Fabrics Expo in January 2019.     

For more information about The Sustainable Angle’s Environmental Criteria, click here

 

References:

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/water-and-sanitation/

URS for WRAP. (10 July 2012). Review of Data on Embodied Water in Clothing Summary Report. Retrieved from  http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Appendix%20V%20-%20Water%20footprint%20report.pdf

Watts, J. (8 October 2018). We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report

13th September 2018

Mercedes- Benz Fashion Week in Istanbul 

On the  13th of  September The Sustainable Angle’s curator Amanda Johnston was invited to join the Lenzing Sustainability panel discussion during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Istanbul. This year the event was held at the Zorlu Performing Arts Centre, nestled within the luxurious Zorlu shopping centre.
The history of Istanbul Fashion Week only dates back to 2008, then named Fashion Lab, expanding to become a fully-fledged fashion week in 2010.
The panel were greeted by a packed theatre with a diverse audience comprised of fashion fans, industry insiders, buyers, journalists, bloggers, influencers and photographers.
The discussion was chaired by renowned journalist Ferhan Istanbullu, and the panel was coordinated by Hale Saracoglu from Lenzing, who also contributed her expertise in the fashion industry supply chain and in the field of man made cellulosics. She conveyed the importance of clear communication around sustainability to the discussion. Hale explained and highlighted the FSC certified wood feedstock, closed loop production process and key benefits of different Lenzing fibres such as Tencel™, Eco Vero™ and Refibra™.
Ferhan was interested to hear the panel’s thoughts on defining sustainability, and to frame the importance of our fast fashion habits as contributors to the culture of fashion consumption. The panel observed that with fast fashion we have been led to consume very easily in excess quantities. We can throw away the products we don’t like or we don’t want anymore so easily, as their price suggests that their value is disposable, and we have lost the desire, patience and knowledge to care for and repair our clothing.
The challenges designers and brands face today is in implementing holistic sustainable practices- and understanding that sustainability goes beyond choosing the right fibres or production processes, but is also about the quality and longevity of garments, in order to stem the huge environmental impact that comes from today’s throw away culture of clothing.

Amanda introduced the work of the The Sustainable Angle, what we do, and how we developed our criteria, highlighting examples of more sustainable and responsible materials for fashion in both man-made and natural fibres which have a low environmental impact, highlighting the variety of choices available and the necessity to move away from unsustainable non-renewable virgin polyester and conventionally grown cotton currently dominating the market. We discussed the need for diversification of the global fibre basket, and the crucial need to develop circular models throughout the textiles supply chain, and through to product in order to provide solutions to our growing, and unmanageable material waste streams. We shared the interest from industry partners in projects that propose how we may think differently about material sources in the future, and how we manage those waste streams.
At retail lack of information on labels means that consumers don’t know where the fabric come from, what is it made of? The answers to these questions and transparency of process are important. For example TENCEL™ branded fibers come from trees. But, understanding the processes that makes the fibre, yarn and fabric are as important as the raw material of fabrics, only this way we may understand its impact to the environment and make informed choices when we shop. The need for full transparency of information, certifications and supply chain traceability being key.

Simone Seisl, Materials expert, Ambassador and Consultant for Textile Exchange said; ‘we are talking about a very serious subject with global climate change, and we need to act as a community to create a change. We have duties individually both in our professional work environment and personally in our private life. We don’t expect anyone to make a dramatic change from day one to day two however starting from today we need to start this movement step by step. Water waste, global climate change and the micro-plastic issue in the oceans are some of the environmental problems. There is no one solution to all, all the problems are linked together.’
Simone flagged up an opportunity and observed that Turkey is a key player in Denim production in the world, and that Textile Exchange believe that Turkey is poised to play an important role in the successful recycling of Denim in the future, lowering the impact on natural resources and initiating an important step towards the circular economy for textiles.

All agreed there is now an urgency to investigate how we can produce raw materials more sustainably, and innovate, by first thinking in a solutions based way. Also, discussions about some of the new innovations and solutions, developed to address our most pressing sustainability issues, including leather alternatives and the interest in recycling technologies and pre and post consumer industry and food waste materials suggested a new, responsibly produced materials landscape for the future.

The discussion concluded with a Q&A, of not only consumer habits and how to make the right fibre choices, but most importantly of how to think creatively, how sustainability should be recognised as a game changer and an opportunity, for businesses to future proof their operations. The discussion also drew attention to the significance of the impact that we as consumers and industry practitioners can have through our everyday choices.

Many thanks to Hale and the team at Lenzing Istanbul for their organisation and hospitality.

24th – 25th January 2019, Victoria House, London , WC1

 

The Sustainable Angle is delighted to announce that the 8th Future Fabrics Expo will present its largest ever dedicated sustainable materials showcase at    a new venue, Victoria House, Central London (Holborn WC1) in January 2019. 

Following the success of the 7th Future Fabrics Expo in January 2018, and in response to demand from both our partner mills and industry visitors, the 2019 8th edition of the Future Fabrics Expo has increased in scale, ambition and vision.

Our aim is to provide the fashion industry with a one stop shop for accessing a broad range of material solutions, and the strategic tools needed to respond to the critical imperative to change current practices presented by the wasteful and polluting impacts of the fashion and textile industries.  Since our inception in 2011, the Expo has facilitated and supported sustainable sourcing practices, enabling fashion brands to begin diversifying their fabrics and materials and lowering environmental impacts.

These materials are global qualities, which  showcases and enables informed sourcing. We situate this resource in the current sustainability context, providing educational background information and research, aiming to demystify the complexities of sustainable practice. The best practice traditional natural fibres, regenerated cellulosics, naturals and synthetics bio source, and closed loop materials.

Enhancing our curated selection of globally sourced textiles and materials will be ten specially selected best practice mills and suppliers, presenting their materials in their own dedicated space. For the first time we will also showcase several manufacturers and globally recognized certifiers. A new space presenting fashion brands working with materials sourced via the Future Fabrics Expo provides a view of best practice, from materials sourcing through to product realisation.

We will also again be presenting an exciting expanded Innovation Hub, showcasing both emerging and commercially available innovations, featuring a collaboration with Fashion for Good organisation. The Innovation Hub acknowledges the recent surge in research and design that has led to the plethora of materials innovations we are now seeing surface in response to material scarcity, increasing waste streams, the need for transparent and traceable supply chains, and those addressing the cellulose gap for example .

We have coordinated again an inspirational seminar programme, featuring key thought leaders, panel discussions and presentations from innovators, industry insiders, textile producers and designers.

 

 

Why Visit?

 

Nearest tube station:  Holborn station, Central line. Address: Bloomsbury Square, London WC1B 4DA

Please contact us if you require further information at info@thesustainableangle.org

 

REGISTER HERE to sign up to the  8th Future Fabric Expo

 

To find out more about The 7th Future Fabrics Expo:

https://thesustainableangle.org/the-7th-future-fabrics-expo-3/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7Iwmiwq8mw

 

To find out more about recent events where the Future Fabrics Expo was showcased such as Copenhagen Fashion Summit, The London Textile Fair and London Fashion Week, please see below:

Copenhagen Fashion Summit:

https://thesustainableangle.org/the-sustainable-angles-future-fabrics-expo-at-copenhagen-fashion-summit

The London Textile Fair:

https://thesustainableangle.org/london-textile-fair

London Fashion Week:

https://thesustainableangle.org/london-fashion-week-round-up

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The Future Fabrics Expo at The London Textile Fair

The Sustainable Angle showcased the Future Fabrics Expo for the first time at The  London Textile Fair on the 18 & 19th July 2018 at the Business Design Centre in Islington, North London.

The London Textile Fair invited the Future Fabrics Expo as part of its vision and commitment to help guide designers and brands on their journey towards more sustainable fabric sourcing and practices.

The Sustainable Angle presented a special edition of the Future Fabrics Expo, which showcased an information platform, enabling visitors at The London Textile Fair to access and discover a diverse range of commercially available sustainable textiles and material innovations for the future of fashion. This debut of a dedicated focus on sustainable fabrics at The London Textile Fair reflects a timely recognition of the critical imperative for the fashion and textile industries to practice sustainability throughout the fashion supply chain, starting with materials sourcing, at the very fibre and fabric stage.

Within our Expo we featured two seminars each day, the first by The Sustainable Angle curator Amanda Johnston, highlighting current fashion and textile impacts. The critical need to think more intelligently about outdated models that pollute, waste precious resources and perpetrate the abuse of human rights and animal ethics were discussed. The seminar summarised the key sustainability issues of fibre and processing types, and introduced the Sustainable Angle’s perspective on materials sourcing. 

Oya Barlas Bingual from Lenzing Group introduced the company’s global firsts regarding fibre technology in low impact regenerated cellulosic’s, and the newly launched innovations that are providing viable alternatives to cotton and silk, whilst importantly paving the way towards closing the loop on our material streams. For example, LENZING™ ECOVERO™ viscose fibres are created from certified raw materials and controlled sources, and TENCEL™ Lyocell with REFIBRA™ technology involves up-cycling a proportion of pre- consumer cotton scraps.

We were delighted to present for the first time, a curated selection of qualities that meet our criteria from the London Textile Fair exhibitors, and to highlight examples of best practice responsibly produced fabrics on the Future Fabrics Expo Forum in the main foyer. Here we also introduced our organisation and research, highlighting current data which emphasizes the need to practice more responsibly in order to future proof supply chains and business. These qualities showcased the broad range of sustainable solutions, from closed loop c, eco- down, ‘waterless’ printing, recycled materials through to GOTS certified cottons produced in France, exemplified by Les Trouvailles d’Amandine

This special edition of the Future Fabrics Expo aimed to educate and inform visitors about the latest research and initiatives of global textile organisations, who are making positive contributions to the design, manufacture, and functionality of more sustainable practices, creating and extending sustainable networks in the fashion and textile industries. We supported this by presenting a broad range of fabrics, materials and key information that contributes to increasing knowledge and providing solutions from a sourcing perspective.

The Future Fabrics Expo provide their experience, research and robust criteria to create a specially curated selection of materials and textiles with a lower environmental impact all in one place at the London Textile Fair. To enquire about our projects, research and consultancy for the fashion industry services please email info@thesustainableangle.org

Thank you to The London Textiles Fair team for hosting us, and for the overwhelmingly positive feedback from all our visitors!

 

The Sustainable Angle has reached the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. On 6th of July, The Sustainable Angle showcased a selection of low impact textiles at BAFTA as part of the event Albert Quarterlies: Designing the way to Sustainable Costume. The aim was to raise awareness about the importance of sustainability in the costume industry while giving participants the opportunity to make more sustainable material choices by sourcing from a curated showcased by The Sustainable Angle.

Hundreds of materials were displayed and were selected specifically for costume designers with an attention to small order minimum quantities and short lead times. As part of the selection were organic cotton, naturally dyed fabrics, but also bast fibres, colour grown cotton or materials made from food waste and recycled fibres.

 

 

Next to the opportunity to source fabrics, a range of speakers offered insights into their work and discussed the challenges and opportunities ahead:

Costume designers have usually only a short time frame to work which is a particular challenge, as well as the frequently changing projects were identified as making sustainability harder to tackle consistently by Sinead O’Sullivan (Co-Founder of The Costume Directory). She highlighted that collaboration and the sharing of resources are key to address these issues.

BAFTA and Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran discussed how she incorporated sustainability on the set of Beauty and the Beast and Mary Magdalena, from the vintage textiles sourced specifically for the project to the natural dyeing techniques used to create the final effect.

Orsola de Castro, co-founder of  Fashion Revolution spoke about the importance of transparency to ensure social and environmental sustainability. She emphasized how persistence and the act of asking questions can change the industry step-by-step, question after question. Her presentation was centred around: Be curious, find out, do something.

Charlie Ross, founder and Director of Offset Warehouse was talking about her journey towards sustainability and addressed questions surrounding ethics.

 

The event brought together experts in the field of sustainability of both the fashion and costume sector and we were thrilled to be part of this conversation and able to offer material solutions. It is great to see that our message to make sustainability key to every design process is also increasingly being embraced by the costume industry.

Many of the fabrics displayed at the event can also be found on our Future Fabrics Virtual Expo, online HERE, particularly in the ‘Mills with small order quantities’ section.

24th – 25th January 2018, London

The Sustainable Angle holds the 7th Future Fabrics Expo, a curated showcase of 5000+ sustainable innovative fashion materials with a lower environmental footprint, on 24-25th January 2018. Since 2011, our aim is to support sustainable sourcing, enabling fashion brands to begin diversifying their fabrics and materials basket right now in order to reduce their environmental footprint.

 

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