Is yak the new cashmere? A spotlight on Shokay

4th April 2019     News Fabrics Future Fabrics Expo The Sustainable Angle Ethical Sourcing

When Carol Chyau discovered yak down during her travels to Yunan, China, 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 and 1.6 times more breathable than cashmere. They have a fine, smooth texture as a result of their fibre lengths. 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, when farmed responsibly, 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). And as Shokay’s social enterprise model proves, the sustainable production of an animal fibre such as yak down can also leave a positive social impact.

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 process of raising yak in these particular communities is responsible: yaks are low-carbon emission animals that have 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; during harvesting, the hand-combed method used 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 invests in animal husbandry and land conservation workshops that develop the knowledge and skills of the community and of 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, a finalist for Cartier’s Women Initiative, one of Forbes’ Top 30 Entrepreneurs under 30 and named Top 5 Social Entrepreneurs at the Chivas Venture Competition.

Shokay says 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 partners, Shokay has the ability to set the standards for yak collection, segmentation and processing to ensure sustainable scaling and prevent negative practices that might disrupt the yak fibre supply chain.

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, to auditing humane garment factories, to marketing campaigns 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 develop products. Last year they 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

on 14 March 2019, London, UK

It was wonderful to be part of this sold-out event, and to join the conversation examining the challenges and transitions to a more sustainable future for fashion. Over 200 professionals from leading brands and retailers, supply chain specialists, and materials and technology innovators gathered together to explore how to bring sustainability initiatives to the top of the agenda, and unlock the business potential of these initiatives within fashion.

The event opened with MP Mary Creagh’s dynamic address on why fashion needs fixing. She presented the case for an urgent call to action by the fashion industry, outlining its huge environmental impact, its effects on overconsumption,  waste creation and workers’ rights. Creagh shared the findings of the Environmental Audit Committee’s recent report ‘Fixing Fashion‘ — which she chairs — and urged the fashion industry to step up its game in order to meet global targets on climate change, foster sustainable development, and address workers’ welfare. The report proposed sustainable solutions that can involve legislation, such as a 1p charge per item of clothing in the UK to help fund better waste collection and recycling systems.

“Fashion businesses need to sign up to UK’s sustainable action plan,” says Creagh. “Every fashion business should operate under a license that includes targets on carbon, waste and water. Thirsty crops will be taxed eventually.”

The day offered a packed schedule of talks, panels and Dragons Den-style innovation pitches. Discussions involved some of the most progressive and visionary fashion brands and retailers, leading not-for-profit bodies and sustainability champions from around the world big and small, such as Fashion Revolution, Kering, Burberry, and many more.

Forum for the Future‘s Sally Uren urged creatives to design for nothing less than systemic change, while Adidas x Parley for the Oceans presented their AIR strategy (“Avoid, Intercept and Redesign”), an inspiring example to others in the industry.

Katharine Hamnett, one of the original fashion activists, said, “Brands have to be forced to produce more sustainably. Natural fibres are carbon sinks, they cut pollution, and build employment opportunities. Above all, citizens have to be more politically engaged! Ask shop assistants questions, and demand that more organic cotton is used.”

The Sustainable Angle showcased a selection of commercially available material solutions and upcoming innovations from the Future Fabrics Expo, alongside our partner Lenzing Group.

At the conference, Curator Amanda Johnston presented The Sustainable Angle’s ‘8 to Create: Principles for People, Planet and Responsible Prosperity’ to support informed sourcing and design systems thinking. This was followed by a conversation with Tamsin Lejeune from Common Objective. Tamsin and Amanda discussed their perspectives on current and future materials impacts and how their respective projects contribute to minimising the environmental and social impacts of our industry.

A huge congratulations to the Drapers team for coordinating this exciting event that supports the transition to a cleaner, greener future. It is great to see how all members of the industry can make positive contributions throughout the fashion supply chain. 

 

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.

 

Only two days away!
The Sustainable Angle’s 8th Future Fabrics Expo
24th – 25th January 2019
9 am – 6 pm

It’s finally here! This week, our Future Fabrics Expo will be unveiling the largest dedicated showcase of commercially-available fabrics and materials with a lower environmental footprint. Join our expo to discover innovative and sustainable solutions for fashion, as we highlight the whole journey from fibre to garment. 

The 8th Future Fabrics Expo will be displaying thousands of fabrics and materials at a new venue of 22,000 sq ft:

Victoria House Basement
Bloomsbury Square, entrance Southampton Row
London, WC1B 4DA
Nearest tube station: Holborn station, Central line.

 

Register for your ticket today, and keep scrolling below to get a preview of all our Future Fabrics Expo highlights!

REGISTER TODAY

 

For the first time, the 8th Future Fabrics Expo will be featuring two curated areas dedicated to fashion brands who are integrating sustainability at the core of their businesses:

Supported by Lenzing Group:
Mara Hoffman / Chen Wen / Armedangels / Giray Sepin / Rajesh Pratap Singh / Soster Studio

Curated by Arizona Muse x RCM Studio:
Bethany Williams / Tiziano Guardini / Patrick McDowell / Swedish Stockings / Mother of Pearl / Maggie Marilyn / Kitx / Aiayu

8th Future Fabrics Expo seminar series in partnership with G-Star RAW:

Our popular seminar programme will run alongside the expo throughout both days, featuring speakers from some of the most influential organisations in sustainable textiles and fashion. Speakers and panel discussions will be introduced by Clare Press, presenter of the Wardrobe Crisis podcast and Australian VOGUE’s Sustainability Editor-at-Large, Arizona Muse, model and sustainability campaigner, and Bel Jacobs, ethical fashion journalist and former fashion editor for Metro.

 

VIEW THE FULL SEMINAR PROGRAMME HERE

 Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for live updates of our seminar series.

 

The thousands of materials on show at the #FutureFabricsExpo represent true alternatives to conventional fabrics. Discover materials such as:

• Biodegradable Tencel™
• Recycled wool
• Low-impact leather 
• Eco responsible viscose 
• Organic cotton
• Sustainable denims 
• Vegan leather
• Recycled pre/post-consumer textiles
• Low impact linen, hemp and silks
….and more!

 

From biodegradable sequins and “leather” skins made from grapes, to software and apps offering sustainable solutions in the fashion industry — these are the few examples of the next-generation innovations featured in the Innovation Hub that have great potential to reshape the fashion industry:
 
Explore the Innovation Hub:
• Materials made from agricultural food waste
• Mycelium mushroom textiles
• FSC-certified flexible wood veneers for accessories
• Engineered spider silk
• Fibres from banana trees
• Brazilian plant leaf for vegan fashion
• Biodegradable dye pigments produced from bacteria 
• Recycled leather from gloves…and more
 
 
The Future Fabrics Expo will be surrounded by dedicated presentation spaces of our sponsors, core-exhibitors and manufacturers: 
 
SPONSORS
CORE EXHIBITORS
 
MANUFACTURERS
 
 
 

We’re very excited about our collaboration with Holition for the 8th Future Fabrics Expo to showcase the materials of tomorrow. We will be unveiling an exciting projection mapping that sheds light on the innovation in textiles. From mushrooms to algae, the materials of tomorrow will reinvent the clothing of today.#MaterialiseTheFuture

Holition is an award-winning creative innovation studio, creating bespoke experiences for pioneering brands. Discover more about them here.

REGISTER NOW!

 

During the festive season we are bombarded with even more pressure to buy, update our party looks and overload our wardrobes, encouraging rapidly increasing clothing waste.  According to the report A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future published by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation in 2017, 53 million tonnes of fibres are produced annually for the clothing industry, and 73% of garments end up either landfilled or incinerated after consumer use.

At this time of year retailers slash their prices in the sales; bargains are alluring, and we are made to believe that we really need that cheap piece of clothing, but we want to explore how to love and enjoy fashion by building a Sustainable Wardrobe:

 

• If you buy, choose only items that can create new looks by complementing what is already in your wardrobe. Before purchasing, think about how many times you will likely wear the new item. The #30wears rule suggests that when shopping, ask yourself if you would wear an item at least 30 times – but aim higher, we would say at least #300!

Buy smart. Products at low prices are of low value and made cheaply. Invest in quality items that last and which can be resold. Check out The RealRealVestiare Collective and similar new secondary market companies #invest

Get creative: Create your own look and wardrobe that includes vintage and secondhand items, don’t buy a whole look, get #creative

Buy from brands who integrate sustainability at the core of their business – this means brands who not only produce responsibly with sustainable materials but who also ensure fair labour practices. Check their websites #investigate

Repair– use your needle and thread to mend your loved clothes. Find a local tailor to help if needed. You can even get creative here by customizing and adding elements of your personality or by updating the silhouettes of your garments. #mend #fix #reinvent

• Choose only items that are of good quality and can be loved for a long time or eventually passed down to family and friends- those pieces have emotional resonance and amazing stories attached to them!  #handmedown #secondhand

• Look at care labels, check out a brand’s website and search for information about sustainability – ask store staff for more information about the products that you’re buying

• Prolong the life of your clothes by following the washing instructions inside. The Carbon Trust reports that 1.5% of global production of CO2 emissions occur in the consumer washing/laundering process. Check garment labels to care for your clothes properly, skip the dryer and opt for line drying, use cold water settings and wash less often so we can protect our world’s drinking water.

Invest in filtration gadgets such as this gadget to help fight the microfibres problem that comes from washing our clothes. Synthetic fabrics shed tiny plastic microfibres when washed – 250,000 plastic microfibres can be released after just one washing of a synthetic fleece jacket (EMPOWER @filterfibers) and up to 700,000 microfibres can shed from a typical 6kg (13lb) household load (BBC News). It is not perfect but improves the situation.

Clothes swapping and rental systems: Hold clothes swaps with your friends, or join designer rental companies such as Rent the RunwayDrexCode, or Armarium. London-based Higher Studio offers more avant-garde choices for the artistically inclined.

• Consider local brands and materials as it also helps reduce your garment’s carbon footprint in the shipping and delivery process. #local

 

For a quick 5-minute snapshot to building a sustainable wardrobe, see Anuschka Rees‘s beautiful visualisation below:

 

Discover sustainable materials, fibres and the innovations that will influence the future of a more sustainable fashion system at our upcoming 8th Future Fabrics Expo on 24-25 Jan, 2018. 

 

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

Image courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum

 

Every year the world’s famous and historic Victoria & Albert Museum in London curates a major fashion exhibition that brings relevant cultural issues to the forefront. This year’s theme is Fashioned from Nature, the first UK exhibition to explore the complex relationship between fashion and nature from 1600 to present day.

The exhibition presents fashionable dress alongside natural history specimens, innovative new fabrics and dyeing processes, inviting visitors to think about the materials of fashion and the sources of their clothes. (V&A Museum, 2018).

Fashion’s latest complex relationship with nature — sustainability — was the core topic of the recent conference hosted by the V&A on 5 October, “Fashioned From Nature: Designing a Sustainable Future”.

The Sustainable Angle’s Founder and Director, Nina Marenzi, and Curator & Consultant of the Future Fabrics Expo, Amanda Johnston, both had the pleasure of being guest speakers at the conference, covering “The Material Future of Fashion”. The material discussion was finished off with a Q&A alongside Orr Yarkoni from Colorifix, and Oya Barlas Bingül from Lenzing.

Key speakers at the conference ranged from academia to global brands to journalists to textile leaders, including our friends at Centre for Sustainable Fashion, CELC, Nike, and Stella McCartney to name a few. Industry experts were brought together to explore creative and practical ways to reduce the environmental impact of fashion, from small-scale innovations to new methods being introduced by global brands.

Edwina Ehrman, Senior Curator of ‘Fashioned from Nature’

Against the beautiful backdrop of the Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre, environment takes centre stage as attendees come together to discover the future of a more sustainable fashion industry, through emerging alternatives in fashion and textile production and design. (V&A, 2018)

As Edwina Ehrman, Senior Curator of Fashioned from Nature, states, “In this fashion exhibit, the environment and nature is at its core”. Sustainability is now a design principle.

Guest speakers Amy Powney and Carrie Somers from fashion label Mother of Pearl, can attest to this. They started their design process via a pilot sustainability project, researching materials with conscious environmental and social impacts with the aim to create a transparent supply chain. This led to the ‘No Frills’ collection, one of their most commercially successful collections. Beyond being aesthetically beautiful in design, many of their materials turned out to be cheaper than using conventional materials. Mother of Pearl’s project proved that the benefits of applying sustainable material sourcing are not only environmental but economical.

Image credit (left to right): Mother of Pearl’s No Frills Collection; Stella McCartney’s Spring Summer 2019 Collection

CELC Linen, The European Confederation of Flax and Hemp suppliers is the main sponsor of Fashioned from Nature. Their socially responsible European Flax® fibre certification ensures no irrigation, GMOs or waste. The Masters of Linen certification label from CELC means the entire supply chain of flax is grown, processed and manufactured in Europe.

Claire Bergkamp, Worldwide Director of Sustainability and Innovation for Stella McCartney, says that their Spring/Summer 2019 collection was the most sustainable yet. The collection used recycled materials, sustainable viscose, and innovative leather alternatives to name a few. “Leather is 10-20x more impactful on the planet than vegan materials”, she adds, but recognizes that synthetics do have problems such as their end-of-life stage.

Our own The Sustainable Angle presentation was about “Transforming the industry requires a bold re-imagining of how we manage our resources. It is presenting opportunities for material innovation,” says Nina Marenzi.

Together with Amanda Johnston, a range of materials from the Future Fabrics Expo were introduced to the audience. This included emerging innovations such as Nova Kaeru’s fish leather processed with low impact tanning, and organic silk denim and biodegradable sequins. Commercially available fabrics were also shown, such as sports fabrics made with Seaqual’s recycled and recovered marine plastics. There were also biodegradable cellulosic fibres from sustainable wood sources produced in a closed loop cycle, such as Tencel™. An updated, sustainable denim from Bysshe was introduced, which is composed of fibres made from hemp (grown on marginal lands without pesticides, fertilizers or irrigation) and blended with organic cotton (rainfed, grown in crop rotation).

Left to right: Nova Kaeru, Seaqual, and Bysshe.

Amanda Johnston adds, “When deciding what materials to use for fashion, the key considerations are: raw materials that take into account agriculture, limited natural resources availability, material processing and end-of-life use.”

With major industry players placing sustainability at the top of their agenda, Fashioned from Nature is a culturally-relevant exhibition that dissects how the fashion industry can use the past and present, to become empowered to think for the future of the planet. We were proud to have contributed to the exhibit by introducing the curators to sustainable materials from the Future Fabrics expo. Thank you to the V&A for inviting us to speak at the conference.

REGISTER TODAY for our upcoming 8th Future Fabrics Expo.

Fashioned from Nature is on display at the V&A until 27 January, 2019. Visit the exhibition.

Amanda Johnston, Curator and Consultant at The Sustainable Angle, with our Future Fabrics Expo exhibition at Chatham House’s Reinventing Fashion. Image courtesy of Chatham House.

 

“Can innovative ideas, designs, business models and materials help reinvent the future of fashion?” 

This was the central topic of discussion on the 4 October, when The Sustainable Angle’s Future Fabrics Expo joined “Reinventing Fashion”, an event hosted by the Hoffman Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy hosted at the Chatham House, in collaboration with the Circular Economy Club.

The event brought together consumers, designers, retailers, innovators, material scientists, business and media leaders, policy makers and campaigners to discuss cutting edge technologies that could shape the future of fashion.

Panel speakers at the event included Sarah Ditty from Fashion Revolution, Pamela Mar from The Fung Group, Fee Gilfeather from Oxfam, Zoe Partridge from Wear the Walk, Giorgina Waltier from H&M Sustainability, and Orr Yarkoni of Colorifix

Panel speakers at “Reinventing Fashion”. Image courtesy of Chatham House.

 

“As a society we purchase 400% more clothing than we did just twenty years ago,” says Sarah Ditty, Head of Policy at Fashion Revolution, during the discussion. 

With its heavy environmental impact, the current state of consumer fashion paints a notoriously bleak picture: tonnes of unused clothing ends up in landfill waste or incineration, plastic microfibers make their way to the aquatic food chain, and 98 million tonnes of non-renewable resources such as oil, fertilizers and chemicals are consumed for production purposes (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future, 2017, http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/publications).

Pamela Mar, Executive Vice President, Supply Chain Futures, and Director of Sustainability for The Fung Group, sheds a positive light to this context during the discussion. “Manufacturing is decoupled from design, and we need to bring them back together – if you adapt your design it can take pressure off the garment workers.”

“Bring design into manufacturing. So that the designer is aware how any changes can directly affect production. This can be enabled by #tech to create direct connection,” says Mar.

Mar could not have described better the work that we do here at The Sustainable Angle’s Future Fabrics Expo.  After the panel discussion, guests were invited to preview our curated selection of materials in the halls of Chatham House. We enabled attendees to have a tactile experience and discover the collective and material efforts of innovative leaders and suppliers who are driving the fashion industry forward. 

“Reinventing Fashion” was a perfect setting for us, as we continue to provide designers and brands with innovative, integrated solutions to responsible sourcing that challenges the fashion industry.    

REGISTER TODAY for our upcoming 8th Future Fabrics Expo.

 

Guests received an exclusive preview of our upcoming 8th Future Fabrics Expo. Image courtesy of Chatham House.

 

Watch the Panel Discussion here. Images and video courtesy of Chatham House.  

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.