On April 19th The Sustainable Angle was invited to take part in a panel discussion at the American School in London. TSA’s Research Fellow, Martin Brambley, participated at The ASL Sustainability Council discussion during Earth Week. The panel talked on the broad impact of the fashion industry on our environment.
During Earth Week students, faculty and staff looked attentively at conservationist approaches to becoming more ecological. Previously the school had staged a 'meatless Monday!’
The panel was set up to precede the viewing of, ‘A True Cost’ a documentary which explores the unvarnished truth behind the production of fast fashion.
Jessica Sweidan, a founding member of Synchronicity Earth, introduced the panel consisting of Laura Miller, Executive Director at Synchronicity Earth, Heather Knight from Fashion Revolution and Martin Brambley from The Sustainable Angle.
The discussion revolved around issues that are of most concern in the fashion industry, which Heather saw as mainly the huge environmental impact of throwing away clothing, on average a single person may produce 70kg of textile waste per year.
Martin spoke about the lack of knowledge in the fashion industry about such issues of textile waste, pollution stemming from the textile industry and pointed to the many innovations that can now be found as alternatives for example on show at The Future Fabrics Expo and its version online. The Future Fabrics Virtual Expo is a more advanced online research and sourcing platform showcasing a selection of the nearly 3000 materials and 100 mills and suppliers shown at the Future Fabrics Expo, with increased search capability, and opportunity for direct contact with mills. Martin also pointed out the importance of care and maintenance. Author Kate Fletcher also talks about how one of the biggest issues is the water used to continually wash garments instead of perhaps choosing fabrics that need less washing like Wool which is a fibre that is water resistant, air permeable, and slightly antibacterial, so it resists the build-up of odour.
Heather touched on an issue close to her company’s heart. Spreading awareness, to the consumer about who makes clothes. Fashion Revolution asked makers and manufacturers to hold a sign saying ‘I made your clothes’ and posting it online. Fashion revolution started as a reaction to the Rana Plaza building collapse.
Heather enlivened the debate by acknowledging the audience as consumers with power. Heather invited the audience to use a powerful tool, asking the brand who made my clothes. A template is even available on their website to encourage consumers to ask these important questions.
Martin emphasised that If more brands decided to diversify their fibre basket and include sustainable fabrics such as organic cottons, low impact leathers and closed loop cellulosic etc they would be able to reduce their environmental impact. They could also promote their use of more sustainable fabrics and support a supply chain that supports its workers, farmers and the environment.
After the panel Martin brought along fabrics from the Future Fabrics Expo which got Students, very interested and motivated to create more responsible fashion.
On March 10th, 2017 The Sustainable Angle founder Nina Marenzi was invited to be a part of The CSR and Ethical Business Society, London School of Economics, roundtable on “Fashion the Future: Towards Sustainability in the Fashion Industry” as part of their project week on sustainability.
The clothing industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, after the oil industry. Textile waste is increasingly a serious environmental threat. In recent years, the acceleration in speed of the fashion supply chain and changing consumer attitudes towards fashion as a disposable commodity has contributed to the large levels of textile waste generated worldwide. In the UK, an estimated 0.8 to 1 million tonnes of all textiles are sent to landfill each year, and used clothing accounts for approximately 350,000 tonnes of landfilled textiles, an estimated £140 million worth.
The CSR and Ethical Business Society at the LSE aims to raise awareness and draw interest of LSE students on the environmental issues posed by fashion industry, the fast-fashion paradigm and the role of consumers; and current initiatives addressing these issues across the clothes lifecycle.
Panellists made up of David Logan, Nina Marenzi, Christina Dean, Caroline Haycock and Jade Galston, each presented on the issues, solutions and future plans from their point of view within their field of expertise:
The roundtable featured the following panellists:
Christina Dean is a sustainable fashion advocate who founded Redress and the EcoChic Design Award. She has recently co-authored the consumer guide entitled ‘Dress [with] Sense’. Redress’s Frontline Fashion’, the documentary about how designers are changing the future of fashion has just been released and is available on itunes.
Christina Dean proclaimed that educating designers on sustainability is an act of environmental activism. Redress is helping teachers to learn about ideas on how to cut waste out of fashion, and generally about zero waste design and up-cycling.
Caroline Haycock has been working in Ethical responsibility and Quality assurance for more than 10 years she is now the Director of Ethical trade and corporate responsibility at Debenhams, Caroline has also worked on campaigns such as ‘Made by Great Britons' campaign in an effort to help bolster domestic textile production and revitalise the UK clothing industry.
During the talk Caroline referred to the work Debenhams is already undertaking with TRAID, a charity working to stop textiles and footwear from being thrown away to landfill reducing waste and carbon emissions, while raising funds to fight poverty. As well as the informative website on CSR and sustainability they have which you can see here: http://sustainability.debenhamsplc.com. Debenhams’ environmental responsiblitlies focus on carbon, energy and waste, reducing their impact through improved awareness of environmental problems, efficiency and sustainable investment.
Jade Galston founder of Fertha which gives a curated range of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories that has been hand picked from one of their charity partners, creating a sustainable and convenient shopping experience, and extra revenues for the charities they work with.
The roundtable was a great success with good questions from the audience demonstrating how many young people and students are interested in sustainability in the fashion industry, are questioning the status quo and are ready to take action. You can find out more about the work of The CSR and Ethical Business Society at LSE HERE.
The Eco Chic Design award has just been launched again and the deadline for application is 3rd April more information is available on their site HERE.
TSA 2nd annual lecture 24th January 2017 The Sustainable Angle recently hosted its second annual lecture as part of our work focusing on the edible environment, with an aim to strengthening our connection with where our food comes from and fostering a better understanding of sustainable food and agriculture systems. The specific aim of this year’s lecture was to show that the drive towards sustainability, not just in terms of food, but in fashion as well, is a force for good. It is an opportunity to engage with our broader surroundings and is the forerunner of greater diversity and choice - not less. It is not so much about pointing a finger at all that has gone wrong in the food and clothing industry; but rather a discussion and demonstration of how we can change our ways for the better, how we can better protect and nurture life. While fashion shapes and reflects society and communities, their culture and diversity, it is both personal and ubiquitous. It is an everyday phenomenon, as stated by the Centre for Sustainable Fashion. But we need to question current patterns of excessive consumption and disconnection and reinforce fashion’s ability to connect, delight and identify individual and collective values. The same is equally, if not more, true of food. It too has the power to define us personally and culturally. It too is an everyday phenomenon. But not just a phenomenon; it is a necessity. We must eat. The challenge, then comes with how we interact with our food culture. For inevitably the way in which interact, the choices we make about what we consume, how much we consume, how it is packaged, where it is sourced, how it is grown… will either inherently harm or nurture the soils that we depend upon for life. The morning’s lecture proved to be both entertaining and informative as Tracy Worcester shared her passion for the welfare of pigs and encouraged us to eschew all industrially raised pork (and any other industrially raised animal) and to consume only organic pork as it is the only pork not systematically treated with antibiotics and where the animals in question are allowed to behave as instinct would dictate, rather than penned up without access to earth in which to root and nest. When animals are kept in unnatural conditions, crowded and weaned too early, sickness becomes the norm and antibiotics used as routine. Read more about it here. By avoiding meat produced in this manner and instead seeking out that meat which comes from smaller mixed farms where animals are allowed to freely graze, nurture their young and feel the sun on their backs, we are supporting a healthier environment. We are providing more jobs for those who work on the farm. But it is not only the overuse of antibiotics that we need to concern ourselves with, but also the overuse of pesticides and fertilisers used to grow our crops. Peter Melchett policy director for the Soil Association explained the devastating impact of these chemicals on the health of our soils and the quality of our water. Not to mention the wildlife, the birds and insects we depend upon for seed distribution and pollination. As a prime example, he highlighted the vast difference between organic and non-organic cotton. If we need to buy something made of cotton, he encouraged us to to seek out and support those products that use 100% organic cotton. Yet, when we shift our focus from food to fashion - the actual sourcing of our clothing and the textiles they are made of - we recognise the importance of provenance, but surprisingly for many, it is how we wash and dry our clothes that actually has the biggest environmental impact across a garment’s life Kate Fletcher, sustainable fashion pioneer thus challenged us all to first rethink our current wardrobes and to simply consume less, wash less, wear more wool!. She added that we should only buy “what we love” as that garment will have a long and useful life. For those of you who wish to implement change on a very practical level, we suggest the following:
At the Sustainable Angle we spend much of our time researching and sourcing innovative textiles and materials with a lower environmental footprint and reducing the fashion industry’s over-dependency on conventional cotton and polyester. These materials are showcased in the annual Future Fabrics Expo as well as in workshops and Pop ups throughout the year, and a curated selection on www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com. This year we are delighted to have FLAVIA AMADEU’s rubber from the Brazilian Rainforest included in the 6th Future Fabrics Expo 25 – 26th January 2017. You can book Tickets here: http://bit.ly/2bnxkLW
FLAVIA AMADEU supports small producers and artisans from Amazon rainforest, whose economic activities are integrated with the use of sustainable natural resources. The coloured rubber represents a process of social innovation, which resulted from years of research, and has been responsible for generating social transformation and environmental preservation. The Sustainable Angle asked Flavia Amadeu to tell us a little bit more about her work, and what the future holds.
TSA - Can you provide a brief outline about what FLAVIA AMADEU is and how it has evolved since its inception?
F – FLAVIA AMADEU is a design brand that supports small producers and artisans whose economic activities are integrated with the use of sustainable natural resources in the Amazon Rainforest. The company is specialised in the design and production of coloured wild rubber and an Amazonian rubberised textile. The company has evolved through years of research, building strong and trusting relationships with a key network including local producers, artisans and many partners from the public and private sectors, both inside and outside of the rainforest.
TSA - What first inspired you to start FLAVIA AMADEU? Was it a desire to improve sustainability in the fashion / textiles industries or something else?
F - Firstly, it started as a desire of promoting social change within my work alongside an early connection with the Amazon rainforest. These values merged during my research with the coloured rubber that began in 2004, in partnership with the Chemistry Laboratory LATEQ, University of Brasilia. This meeting soon became my life mission.
TSA - Can you tell us about any positive environmental / social impacts you have seen or expect to see as a result of FLAVIA AMADEU?
F - I have been working directly with local communities since 2011. Today, my suppliers are small producers who I taught rubber production methods to. It is great to see continuation and progression of the production chain, also enabling the inclusion of women in income generation. 2016 was the biggest year for social impact to date, generating positive achievements. Since my return to Brazil in December 2015, I have worked with more than 120 small producers and artisans; regularly working with 3 communities in the rainforest. In the State of Acre, Brazil, my work engages a local cooperative aside a vast network of people supporting my work including beneficiaries. Another great achievement is the involvement of women in the production chain of wild rubber, who have made up about 65% of the artisans and producers I have worked with.
I am so lucky to have seen such positive impacts spark from my work. When I first began working with communities in the rainforest, children who observed the process are now young adults whose lives have developed through interaction with this rubber production. I have seen women gaining more confidence involved in the production chain showing great enthusiasm about the rubber handcrafts that I introduced to them and even teaching others.
One of the key people I have worked with and spend time with is artisan and rubber tapper José de Araújo, who has become a recognised artisan in rubber handcrafts. He and his family managed to leave a state of poverty to buy land in the rainforest to protect, because of the development of his handmade unique and beautiful shoes. His wife Delcilene Araújo is an example of women empowerment. Nowadays she takes care of the stock, logistics, team work and became also a skilled artisan.
I hope FLAVIA AMADEU proceeds to benefit countless more producers and artisans. I aim for our projects to stimulate empowerment of women and promote more social and economic opportunities, also integrating supply chains in the Amazon rainforest.
TSA - At the moment FLAVIA AMADEU is a new and small-scale company creating innovations like natural rubber from the Amazon. How do you expect it to scale up and be used by the industry in the future – do you think it could eventually be a mainstream commercially used material, and would you want it to be?
F - The aim is definitely to expand, that FLAVIA AMADEU becomes an important reference in sustainable design. In order to scale up, we have been working to multiply the social innovation of the rubber among more producers. I am always looking for project and investment opportunities, which can add social and environmental values to the production chain. Overall, I would like the production to grow in a profitable, but balanced and sustainable way.
TSA - The fashion and textiles industries are some of the worst offenders out there for negative environmental and social impact. What do you think are the most pressing environmental and social challenges that we are facing in the industry?
F - The most pressing issue in my opinion is the human cost disregarded by the fashion and textile industry, which, of course, directly and indirectly relates to the natural environment. In order to put all costs down, life is neglected at all levels. Producers are primarily affected, still working in the most damaging and exploitative conditions in the 21th century! The Bangladesh tragedy put that in our faces and there is plenty more issues we are not being exposed to, for example, lives affected by pesticides, pollution of rivers coming from the washing of textiles and so many more. The drastic impacts drops upon the entire production chain, including the natural environment and final consumers.
TSA - What do you think is the biggest obstacle to becoming a more sustainable and less harmful industry?
F - I believe the biggest challenge is to change mind-sets. This means transformations across the production chains, from company policies to consumers.
The shift towards ecological products and manufacturing methods has begun, people are beginning to become more knowledgeable about the impact their purchases have and are keen to learn the story behind the work, but there is still a long way to go.
TSA - What are your plans moving forward?
F - My future plans include the ability to increase the social innovation of rubber among multiple more communities in the rainforest and to be able to empower women and attract young adults in sustainable work with this material. Additionally, I aim to expand the production and distribute Organic Jewellery globally, simultaneously designing more collections and products. Currently, I am applying for funding and seeking investors who are keen in supporting my business, helping it expand.
TSA - How can industry professionals and consumers get involved and engage with the work you are doing?
F - Information about the company values, artisans and sales of my products are available at www.flaviaamadeu.com.
The Sustainable Angle teamed up with our longstanding sponsor of the Future Fabrics Expo, Kassim Denim to talk about the future of denim. We have had the pleasure of showcasing the forward-thinking Pakistan based mill Kassim Denim for several years now, and are delighted to welcome them back once again as sponsors of the 6th Future Fabrics Expo 25-26th Jan’17 (Tickets available here: http://bit.ly/2dP00xN). Kassim Denim have worked with some of the world’s best known fashion brands to create top quality materials, and are constantly working on innovations to reduce the negative impact of the textiles industry. We asked Sohail Ahamed, market developer at Kassim denim to tell us more about their work and how they see the future of denim in terms of sustainability. Read the full conversation below, and discover a range of Kassim Denim fabrics with a reduced social and environmental at www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com TSA - Kassim Textiles have been supporters of the Future Fabrics Expo for many years, also generously sponsoring the Future Fabrics Virtual Expo, our online showcase of sustainable materials, since its inception. Can you tell us why you think it’s important for Kassim to work with organizations like The Sustainable Angle, and projects like the Future Fabrics Expo and Future Fabrics Virtual Expo? K - Working with TSA and The Future Fabrics Expo (FFE) has always been our affirmation in the belief that the world needs a more sustainable and eco-friendly environment. Simply put, we define sustainability as to keep doing what we have been doing while leaving behind enough resources for the coming generations to keep doing it too.Being a part of FFE we have the chance of both showing the world what we do and to also learn what others are doing in their respective fields. TSA - The Future Fabrics Expo is based in London, and you also exhibit at trade fairs elsewhere in Europe and Asia. Looking back at 2016, have you noticed a significant difference in these markets when it comes to knowledge of sustainability and demand for sustainable materials, and (how) does this influence Kassim’s development of more sustainable materials? K - Over the past year’s brands, buyers, and the end consumer have become more conscious and aware of the declining environment and the impacts it is having on mother nature and the earth. This gives Kassim the added impetus to drive our sustainable production further in line with our corporate statement “Kassim Denim has always strived to be eco-friendly producing sustainable denim fabrics, and our “Green Kassim” is based on these principles and includes a dedication to protecting the health and safety of our employees and others, and using resources more efficiently. Our sustainability vision focuses on three major areas: manufacturing excellence, product sustainability and corporate citizenship. KASSIM is committed to conducting all affairs lawfully and with integrity and to ensuring excellence in environmental, safety, and all other areas of compliance. TSA - Kassim Textiles produces a vast amount of denim for the global market. Can you tell us about the most innovative types of raw materials you produce that have a reduced environmental impact, and are there any processes you are working with that you think could be good alternatives for the future? K – For us at Kassim it’s important that we develop our processes to be as efficient as possible throughout the whole supply chain. For us sustainability is to always have future generations in mind, and reduce our environmental impact so that we leave enough resources behind for future generations to come. “Sustainable, environmentally responsible, green management” are the key factors to Kassim Denim’s endeavors to produce the best denim fabrics possible, whilst maintaining the true essentials of being environmentally friendly, to match up with the drive of consumers to buy sustainable products. Each of these three perspectives are integral parts of our commitment for integration of an environmental and social lens into core operational and financial management - from material sourcing through product design, manufacturing, distribution, delivery and end-of-life management. TSA - The textile industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. What do you think are the most pressing environmental and social challenges in the fashion and textile industry? What needs to be done so the textile industry increases the use of materials with a lower environmental impact? K - It’s true that the Textile Industry is the second most polluting industry, and the most pressing challenges for the textile industry is how to lower the use of water, keep a check and balance on the carbon foot print, and most of all making products from bio-degradable materials and in turn producing products that can be easily recycled, TSA - What are Kassim denim’s plans moving forward? K - Moving forward Kassim denim and in line with our “Green Denim” concept, we are stressing on the use of more compliant chemicals, and including fibers that are proven sustainable. Kassim Denim offers a broad selection of fabrics with an reduced environmental impact in fibre type ranging from organic cotton, linen, Tencel®, to recycled polyester etc. to discover more about Kassim Denim, visit The Future Fabrics Expo (25-26th Jan) 2017 or online at www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com Follow us: @Sustainable_Ang @TheSustainableAngle #futurefabricsexpo
At the Sustainable Angle we spend much of our time researching and sourcing innovative textiles and materials with a lower environmental footprint and reducing the fashion industry’s over-dependency on conventional cotton and polyester. These materials are showcased in the annual Future Fabrics Expo as well as in workshops and Pop ups throughout the year, and a curated selection on www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com. This year we are delighted to have DANI S.p.A included as both exhibiter and speaker at the seminars during the 6th Future Fabrics Expo on the 25 – 26th January 2017. For seminars and Exhibition register here.
For more than 10 years, Dani has chosen to be a sustainable company, recognising the social and environmental responsibility principles that guide its current and future business accomplishments, that are oriented towards development of the company and its employees, while safeguarding the future generations. Dani S.p.A is a leading leather manufacturer that has chosen to compensate circa 2,000 tonnes of CO2 released for the production of "Zero Impact" leather.
We had the pleasure of interviewing DANI S.p.A Marketing Manager Marta Fumei about their Zero Impact leather and what obstacles they think the fashion industry needs to overcome to become a more sustainable industry.
TSA - Can you provide a brief outline about what Zero Impact is and how it has evolved since its inception?
DANI - As a 66 year old family owned tannery, at Dani we felt it was important to develop what would have not simply be a “new product” but an icon of our corporate philosophy -that touches each strategic choice and innovation technology- integrated in the company’s DNA.
This is how Zero Impact Leather was born. We developed this project in three winning moves.
More Innovation: Innovations along the production process thanks to technological improvement in un-hairing, tanning, re-tanning and finishing phases, to substitute all heavy metals.
Less Emission: Thanks to our ability to measure CO2 emissions and the innovations introduced in the production phases, we were able to lower our CO2 emissions by 5%
Zero Impact: To reach the total compensation of CO2 produced, we are involved in a reforestation program in partnership with AzzeroCO2. Since we started we already planted 1,869 trees in Italy.
TSA What first inspired the owners to start developing Zero Impact? Was it a desire to improve sustainability in the fashion and leather industries or something else?
DANI Thanks to the technology available today, there are less concerns related to the sustainability of leather tanning. Innovations have been implemented to all phases of the process to limit the use of natural resources, to recover the waste and to have a better control of the entire production while safeguarding the working environment and respecting the laws that regulate our industry.
The desire to brush off our shoulders the image of a polluting and carless industry guided our development and choices, until sustainability became for us the priority: we conduct ongoing research to reduce the environmental impact of our production and at the same time we collaborate with the tanning district of Arzignano, including the purifying plant, chemical companies and all other partners that transform our waste into other products.
TSA Can you tell us about any positive environmental / social impacts you have seen or expect to see as a result of Zero Impact?
DANI The realisation of this project was also possible thanks to the involvement, participation, suggestions and experiments conducted with our partners.
With this project we would like to approach even more sustainable brands, building together a product that is responsible for consumers, the environment and the future generation. We would like to build awareness about the possibility of producing in a more sustainable way, and about the fact that we always put the research of innovative products as a starting point for everything we do.
To prove this, for two years Dani has been publishing its Sustainability Report: distributing it is our free choice, and represents our will of informing our stakeholders about the impact of our activities in a social and environmental context, explain our remuneration policy and commitments to employees, provide information on the relationship with customers and suppliers, and our involvement with the local community.
TSA Do you expect Zero Impact to be used by more large industry players in the future?
DANI Of course! We know for a fact that we are not the only one looking into this kind of innovation, but above all, we know that our customers are looking more and more for a partner rather than a supplier, someone that is safe and reliable, that can assure a certain level of quality, especially when it comes to what do we use to tan our leather.
TSA The fashion, leather and textiles industries are some of the worst offenders out there for negative environmental and social impact. What do you think are the most pressing environmental and social challenges that we are facing in the industry?
DANI Unfortunately the past actions and the past practices undertaken by the fashion industry have not always proved them right. Is it also true, that the world as it is today cannot keep up with the increasing demand of throw away fashion: our habit has changed so much that, for a lot of people, now shopping is just a primary leisure and they want everything at a low price. The fashion industry has a very complex supply chain and, for this reason, companies should start looking at each stage and character of this: not only to reduce the use of natural resources and better select the raw material needed, but especially behaving ethically and contributing positively to the society and to the environment, everywhere in the world. It is important to pay attention to all the sustainable dimensions in order to start making the difference. When we only consider one or another, we lose something along the way and our commitment does not build as much.
TSA What do you think is the biggest obstacle to becoming a more sustainable and less harmful industry?
DANI The biggest obstacle would be not to focus on all aspects of sustainability but only on one of these. In fact, there cannot be an economy without a society, and a society cannot survive in an environment that will not last for long. We should not forget that the environment is the most important element, where everything happens and on which everything depends.
TSA What are your plans moving forward?
DANI With the project Zero Impact we would like to start a contagious activity, not only directed to our B2B customers, but also to the final consumer. We would like to bring to their attention the care and the attention we pay every day in what we do and how we do it. We are looking at the future imaging new partnership with University and research Institute, to make sure to build together innovations. We are also looking at young generations, trying to leave them with a knowledge about higher care for the society and the environment, and trying to give them the possibilities to grow with us.
TSA How can industry professionals and consumers get involved and engage with the work you are doing?
We always love to promote our “open door” policy, and one of our main aims is to welcome anyone that has is curious, or is willing to learn more about leather. We would like to invite professionals and consumers into our plants in Arzignano to experience a day at the tannery. We would like professionals to try our products while sharing the same visions and values. We are here to give you all the explanation you might need and to share our passion and our knowledge.
To find out more about DANI S.pA and their Zero Impact leather (http://www.zeroimpactleather.com & http://www.gruppodani.com)
At The Sustainable Angle we spend much of our time researching how fashion’s environmental impact can be lowered through textile innovation, and novel ideas to transform the fashion system and design practice. Certifications and standards play a hugely important part in the monitoring and transparency of these innovations and textile practices. Today we are continuing our questions with Christopher Stopes the UK Representative for The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). You will find hundreds of GOTS certified fabrics in the Future Fabrics Expo 25-26th January in London, as well as a preview of a selection of these fabrics in our Future Fabrics Virtual expo available 24hrs online here. If you missed Part 1 you can catch up here
TSA: In debates about more sustainable fibres, cotton is often considered as too ‘thirsty’ and therefore not a viable option for a future with low water tables. Would you say organic cotton is a viable option, though?
GOTS: Organic cotton uses less water, so it is an obvious choice if you want to be more sustainable. According to a report from MADE-BY for UK government, “Organic cotton production can reduce the toxicity, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions of growing cotton and has the potential to deliver added social benefits”. Buying organic cotton has been calculated by the Swiss organisation Helvetas to cut CO2 emissions by 18% when compared with buying conventional.
TSA: As the world’s leading standard for organic textile processing, what is GOTS’ biggest challenge moving forward?
GOTS: Making sure that the fashion industry cleans up its act through taking on board high standards, such as GOTS, that cover the whole supply chain and are independently certified. We want to make sure that the textile sector (fashion and apparel, work wear and personal care) provides a truly sustainable organic option, using organic approved processing and organically produced fibres. We are not only talking about organic cotton, but organic wool, linen and other organic fibres too.
TSA: Today the fashion industry is said to be the second most polluting industry in the world, next to the oil industry. What do you think are currently the most pressing environmental and social challenges in the fashion and textile industry?
GOTS: There is an urgent need to work to stop the appalling social conditions in the industry, one that depends too much on child labour, modern slavery, in unsafe buildings and bad working conditions. We see the consumption of cheap clothes on the backs of many people! And there are huge challenges from the highly polluting textile processing plants. GOTS places tight requirements on the permitted chemicals (GOTS exceeds the Greenpeace Detox requirements) and it is mandatory for GOTS certified textile wet-processing plants to have a working water treatment plant.
TSA: Where do you see the most potential for change in the fashion industry?
GOTS: Changing consumption patterns, caring for our clothes and making them from high quality organic fibres, in socially and ecologically sustainable value chains. That’s what GOTS is about! And it requires independent third party inspection and certification – so it overcomes one of the huge problems in the fashion industry – greenwash!
TSA: How do you think initiatives like the Future Fabrics Expo can help organisations such as yours?
GOTS: The Sustainable Angle and Future Fabrics Expo help spread the word and that means we can work better together and so help make a difference in the fashion industry!
TSA: How can industry professionals and consumers get involved and engage with the work GOTS do?
GOTS: Look at our GOTS simple show video to find out more about GOTS. Remember that there are important differences between organic and conventional cotton production and processing. Find out more about GOTS certification through the GOTS website.
At The Sustainable Angle we spend much of our time researching how fashion’s environmental impact can be lowered through textile innovation, and novel ideas to transform the fashion system and design practice. Certifications and standards play a hugely important part in the monitoring and transparency of these innovations and textile practices. Today we are talking to Christopher Stopes the UK Representative for The Global Organic Textile Standard GOTS. You will find hundreds of GOTS certified fabrics in the Future Fabrics Expo 25-26th January in London, as well as a preview of a selection of these fabrics in our Future Fabrics Virtual expo available 24hrs online here.
TSA: Can you provide an outline of GOTS’ aims?
GOTS: The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) aims to be the comprehensive ecological and social standard for the entire textile supply chain based on the use of certified organic fibres. It is the gold standard for sustainable organic textiles.
Organically produced fibre is required in GOTS. This means that on the organic farm no GMOs, no artificial fertilisers and no agro-chemicals are used. Instead certified organic farmers use crop rotation and alternative methods of crop production.
GOTS covers textile processing, manufacture, labelling and sale of clothes and other products through to the final consumer. Permitted chemicals allowed in textile processing meet stringent criteria for environmental and human health (exceeding Greenpeace Detox requirements).
There are clear ecological and social benefits from the strict criteria in the standard. Customers can check the certification ID on a GOTS certified product in the GOTS Public Database.
TSA: Can you tell us more about what you think the future looks like for the organic cotton market, in a world where fertile soil is becoming ever more limited and eventually required for increased food production?
GOTS: It’s really important that we look after our soils and that means fostering natural cycles. Organic farming produces cotton and other fibres in a way that helps protect the environment and enhance biodiversity. The demand for organic cotton is growing steadily as more and more people realise the social and environmental problems with GM and pesticide based cotton. Organic cotton farming depends on crop rotation including food crops, so small farmers benefit from better food security – something that can be really important for them.
TSA: With most cotton usually being grown in monocultures, can smaller organic cotton farms ever grow enough cotton to replace what is currently grown in intensive agriculture?
GOTS: The other way of thinking about that question is whether we can afford to go on as we are! We are consuming cotton too freely, for fast fashion – where we throw away our clothes without a second thought. There is a huge challenge ahead about rethinking our consumption – of food, and fashion, and many other things. Thinking that we can rely on conventional intensive monocultures is old thinking. We can produce enough if we produce with the principals of health, care, ecology and fairness – we just have to look after what we produce!
TSA: Can you describe your favourite encounter with an organic cotton farmer or other hands-on-experience while working for GOTS?
GOTS: One of the most inspiring things about organic cotton farming is the stories from small farmers for whom organic production has meant that they can free themselves from the dependency on dangerous pesticides and grow organic cotton and food crops in rotation so helping to feed their families. I love the three great stories from farmers in China, India and Benin in the Soil Association Report Organic Cotton Helps to Feed the World. They really show how organic cotton can make a difference.
Climate change, caused in a large part by the actions of industries and consumers across the world, is destroying the subsistence of rural tribes in far-ranging areas such as Meghalaya, in the north-east corner of India.
Decreasing precipitation and raising temperatures are making it impossible to continue agricultural activities as usual, and so to prevent further migration into India’s overcrowded cities it is essential to create new opportunities for these communities to earn a sustainable living.
An important opportunity is silk-rearing, which has been practiced by women in the area for centuries. An increase in silk-rearing along with a growing market for natural silk in Europe can help current and future generations of women to earn a living.
This goal can be reached with the help of training, the introduction of efficient working practices and new handcraft technology, building-up a community of producers and continuous consulting to ensure successful development. The objective is the empowerment to manufacture consistently high-quality products in larger quantities, that meet the needs of the European market.
Seidentraum, a sustainable silk supplier that has been showcased in the Future Fabrics Expo since its inception in 2011, is seeking support to help make this happen.
Meghalaya is a wonderful but poor area in the north-east corner of India, at the foot of the Himalayas, with approximately 12.5% of inhabitants living below the poverty line. Traditionally, the people of Meghalaya have practiced organic rice farming and fish breeding, as well as harvesting fruit and vegetables, pursuing farming and handcrafts in accordance with nature.
The promotion of traditional peace silk manufacturing offers new and sustainable subsistence opportunity. Meghalaya is optimally suited to the increase of eri silk rearing, where no silk worm is killed for silk fibre production, but instead only empty cocoons are utilized for making yarn.
To be successful, it’s necessary to improve the quality of the silk yarn and fabrics, by providing training for farmers, spinners, and weavers. By increasing demand for eri silk, the handcrafters will be able to work regularly, thereby continually improving skills and product quality, ensuring traditional handcrafts and techniques are not forgotten.
Seidentraum are working on a 2.5 year project in collaboration with the German Association for International Collaboration and the Government of Meghalaya, to support product development, offer consulting in quality and design, and help build the market. Developments include ensuring workers health is better protected, by replacing floor looms with Flying-8 looms to remove back stress. This new equipment is cheap and easy to build, but can have an immeasurable impact on the community.
Seidentraum are seeking support for this initiative, to enable the provision of spinning wheels, materials to make Flying-8 looms, training, and participation at trade fairs. If you would like to find out more or support the project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find a range of Seidentraum organic and peace silk fabrics on our online sourcing tool www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com, along with further information about how they are working to create a more sustainable silk industry.
Last week we were delighted to welcome hundreds of visitors over two days to the 5th edition of the Future Fabrics Expo, inside Fashion SVP at London Olympia exhibition centre. The 5th Future Fabrics Expo presented a curated showcase of globally sourced materials with reduced environmental impacts, featuring approximately 1500 qualities from over 80 mills, with sustainability information displayed for each mill and fabric.
We additionally presented a seminar on how to source more sustainably, exploring our top tips and strategies for sustainable sourcing, key innovations we have discovered, and how different ways of measuring impacts can help you build a more sustainable supply chain.
The 5th Future Fabrics Expo enabled visitors to join the dots of their supply chain, reinforced by key research and resources for sustainable textiles and fashion, including the Higg Index by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC). SAC is the apparel, footwear and home textile industry’s foremost alliance for sustainability across the entire supply chain. SAC has developed the Higg Index, a standardized supply chain measurement tool for all levels of industry. The expo also featured String3 by Historic Futures, a powerful new digital alternative to manual supply chain intelligence gathering processes, which supports the traceability of raw materials, as well as an exhibition of designs from The EcoChic Design Award, which is organised by Redress.
A key focus for the 5th Future Fabrics Expo was to showcase leading innovations from around the world, summarised by highlighting our ‘Top 5’ innovations including leather alternatives made from waste pineapple leaf fibre, South American giant mushrooms, and natural rubber from the Amazon rainforest, along with biodegradable resin buttons, and organically tanned by-product exotic fish skin and ostrich leather.
Other exciting materials and processes showcased included:
Two of our sponsors, Kassim Textiles and Elmer & Zweifel respectively showcased the highest quality reduced impact denims made with diverse fibres including linen and Tencel®, and responsibly made organic cotton in a range of knitted and woven qualities.
For the first time we also welcomed the Taiwan Textile Federation to join the expo to showcase leading Taiwan Eco Textiles focusing on performance and technical textiles. Hundreds of innovative materials were showcased from the Taiwanese mills Everest, Minlan, Tai Yuen, Merryson, Lily Textile and Grandtek, suited to a wide range of applications from active wear to fashion. The interest generated by these mills was indicative of the quality of the materials on offer, and Taiwan’s increasing success at developing high quality materials with a reduced environmental impact.
We have come away from our 5th Future Fabrics Expo feeling energised by the increasing commitment from brands to consider more deeply their material and manufacturing choices, and from mills to work collaboratively with the industry to help reduce impact across the supply chain. The Future Fabrics Expo provides not only a dedicated hub for sustainable sourcing, but also a dynamic networking forum – a place for sharing best practice for the benefit of all. There is still a long way to go, and we look forward to working with more brands to help embed sustainability throughout business activity.
Even if you didn’t make it to the expo you can still discover hundreds of sustainable materials from the Future Fabrics Expo by visiting www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com. In addition, the whole Future Fabrics Expo can be booked by brands and organisations, to be brought to their HQ or events – please contact email@example.com for information.
The 5th Future Fabrics Expo took place on 29th - 30th September 2015 inside Fashion SVP at London Olympia exhibition centre.
Photography by Zephie Begolo.
written by Charlotte Turner
We have had the pleasure of showcasing the forward-thinking Pakistan based mill Kassim Denim for several years now, and are delighted to welcome them back once again as sponsors of the 5th Future Fabrics Expo, taking place on the 29th-30th September 2015 at London Olympia Exhibition Centre, as part of Fashion SVP.
Kassim Denim have worked with some of the world's best known fashion brands to create top quality materials, and are constantly working on innovations to reduce the negative impact of the textiles industry, and in particular denim production, which has been known to have large-scale impact on water contamination and supply.
We wanted to let Kassim share their thoughts on sustainability in the textiles industry, what they are doing to help improve it, and why it's so important to them.
Read the full conversation below, and discover a range of Kassim Denim sustainable fabrics at www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com.
TSA: Kassim Textiles have been supporters of the Future Fabrics Expo for many years, also generously sponsoring the Future Fabrics Virtual Expo, our online showcase of sustainable materials, since its inception. Can you tell us why you think it’s important for Kassim to work with organizations like ours, and projects like the Future Fabrics Expo and Future Fabrics Virtual Expo?
Kassim: Organizations like The Sustainable Angle with initiatives such as the Future Fabrics Expo are truly the organizations needed to help people move towards a greener world, and Kassim sincerely believes in making a green and pollution free world for generations to come.
TSA: The Future Fabrics Expo is based in London, and you also exhibit at trade fairs elsewhere in Europe and Asia. Have you noticed a significant difference in these markets when it comes to knowledge of sustainability and demand for sustainable materials, and (how) does this influence Kassim’s development of more sustainable materials?
Kassim: Generally most people are becoming more and more aware of sustainability, regardless of which region they are in. This helps us to maintain our research on the matter and seek developments to augment the supply of these buyers’ needs for sustainable denim fabrics.
TSA: Kassim Denim produces a huge amount of denim for the global market. Can you tell us about the types of materials you produce that have a reduced environmental impact, and are there any sustainable fibres of processes you are working with that you think could be good alternatives to standard cotton denim?
Kassim: “Sustainable, environmentally responsible, green management” are the key factors to Kassim Denim’s endeavors to produce the best denim fabrics possible, whilst maintaining the true essentials of being environmentally friendly, to match up with the drive of consumers to buy sustainable products.
Each of these three perspectives are integral parts of our commitment for integration of an environmental and social lens into core operational and financial management — from material sourcing through product design, manufacturing, distribution, delivery and end-of-life management.
And on this we seek out the best possible alternatives, for example the use of recycled PET yarns or Tencel® to achieve a similar cotton hand feel.
TSA: How do you think we can increase the use of sustainable materials in the fashion industry?
Kassim: To do this we need to create sustainable materials that are both high quality and fashionable. So these will be made using sustainable fibers/yarns, eco-friendly processes, and less harmful chemicals, but will really appeal to customers through looking good and performing well.
TSA: Last year, Kassim Denim were sponsors of a student project on the MA Fashion and the Environment course at the London College of Fashion. Why do you feel it’s important for you and other textiles mills to engage with students, and do you think we could create more positive change by getting fashion students involved in the textiles industry earlier?
Kassim: Upcoming and young designers are those who will soon bring the world the true essence of a sustainable fashionable culture. So we believe we all need to support these rising designers in their efforts, as they will shape the industry of the future.
TSA: You have said before that textiles manufacturers need to cater to the demands of consumers – is there anything you think we should be doing to help increase consumers' demand for more sustainable materials?
Kassim: The best recourse in this matter is that organizations like yours keep communicating about these new innovations, and launch awareness campaigns to help educate the end user about the facts and pros of sustainability.Kassim Denim fabrics can be seen at the 5th Future Fabrics Expo on 29th – 30th September, London, and all year round on www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com. They can also be visited twice a year at several global trade fairs: Texworld, Munich Fabric Start, Premier Vision China, Premier Vision Istanbul, and Bangladesh Show (Dhaka). Kassim Denim are generous sponsors of the Future Fabrics Virtual Expo, and the Future Fabrics Expo. Along with researching and showcasing materials and innovations with a reduced environmental impact, we have long been interested in steps being taken in academic and industrial research, which are encouraging the fashion and textiles industries to move towards more sustainable, progressive, and thoughtful practices. This has led us to showcase a range of PhD research and funded projects at our annual Future Fabrics Expos, as well as emerging project platforms and tools. One project that stands out for its interactive and technical nature is PhD research by Royal College of Art student Bruna Petreca. Bruna has been exploring the nature of tactile fabric selection, participating in the past two Future Fabrics Expos to enable visitors to interact with the research. The research looks at ways we can combine traditional textiles sourcing with technology, which has the benefit of ‘physically’ interacting with materials with differing levels of sustainability, sourced from around the world, in the same ‘tactile’ digital space. This could have fantastic implications for resources like the Future Fabrics Virtual Expo, our online sustainable textiles sourcing resource. Bruna shares more on the project here. Written by Bruna Petreca: Feeling textiles: investigations towards more sensible and sensitive selection Sourcing textiles is both an inspiring and a crucial task in the design process and we as designers need to be imaginative as well as fulfil technical and socio-environmental requirements. The Future Fabrics Expo (FFE) provides invaluable support to the fashion industry, which is highlighted by their unique work in selecting and curating sustainable textiles, and by establishing a platform that facilitates dialogue between researchers and the textiles industry. I have been fortunate to be able to immerse myself in such an environment for the past two years, by conducting live studies within the Expo to investigate the needs and opportunities for supporting sourcing activities from a sensory experience perspective – for designers, suppliers, and hopefully for the FFE. While preparing this post I have been participating in puzzling debates. On the one hand, visionary trend consultant Li Edelkoort asserts that “fashion designers [are] being trained who are not familiar with fabric, who do not know how textiles work or how fibers react.” (Anti-Fashion Manifesto – Paris, February 2015.) On the other hand, all the moving initiatives around Fashion Revolution Day are intriguing. As I stay with this thought about fashion designers’ knowledge regarding textiles, questions remain about how we are currently addressing this issue, and how we can address it in a future that demands creators who understand the impacts of their materials and production choices. Through this post, I wish to contribute to this discussion by sharing my story of working with FFE in supporting fashion designers in sourcing textiles. I have been investigating people’s sensory experiences with textiles since 2009 when I began collaborating with the project Digital Sensoria. One of the goals of this feasibility study was to create digital tools that enable people to understand the multisensory properties of textiles through rich-media interfaces (more information at  and ). Supporting people in communicating their sensory perceptions is challenging, particularly for designers, as their expert perceptions require specialist tools. This led me to focus on designers’ sourcing activities, and, considering technological developments, this issue becomes even more critical; besides being exposed to not always inspiring training in textiles, as suggested in the quote above, designers are increasingly working with digital tools, and occasionally risk losing material references in digital interactions for sourcing and designing. Recently, I have been experimenting with tools to address some of these emerging issues. The collaboration with FFE arose from our shared interest in quality, performance, sustainability, and experience in textiles sourcing. The first published outcome from this encounter is a study conducted as part of FFE13 that investigated designers’ needs in textile sourcing. “The Future Of Textiles Sourcing: Exploring The Potential For Digital Tools” was presented at the 9th International Conference on Design and Emotion 2014: The Colors of Care. October 2014, Bogotá - Colombia. (pp. 366-377). We also explored if sourcing activities could be somehow enhanced through the support of digital tools. “(…) we considered that the visiting experts would be open to the idea of digital tools that could offer new more sustainable alternatives to the current market models for sourcing textiles. We wanted to understand experts’ perceptions of their current practice and how open they are to change to more sustainable conduct, provided that technology offers alternatives to gather the information they need about materials.” (Petreca et al. 2014) The study reveals designers’ use of sensory information and experience in support of sourcing activities, besides highlighting requirements for designing future tools, which should provide a better experience while informing designers about materials and their behaviour and impacts. These also point to the need to enhance current technology if willing to communicate the sensory properties of textiles remotely, which should be desirable once the study shows that feeling samples is crucial. Hence, only if technology is further developed will the industry be able to experiment with changes on sampling processes towards reducing waste. As this was a small study, ultimately we were not able to verify if further support to sourcing activities digitally might reduce traveling to fairs, as designers value the social dynamics of textile fairs. Further discussions with the research community when this paper was presented at the Design and Emotion conference showed interest in seeing a better use of sensory understanding within the digital context, for example, to enable a better communication globally in support of the dissemination of knowledge about traditional textiles, which are difficult to transmit through the tools currently available. Our learning from engaging with the FFE reveals diverse opportunities: through our design practice, in creating interactive videos using sustainable fabrics provided by the FFE, we learned that one can experience standard and sustainable materials comparatively using interactive videos, which highlighted that when representing the characteristics of the materials our concerns are fundamentally the same. Reflecting on designer practice and training from this textile knowledge-sharing perspective reveals several issues and opportunities for change. As a researcher, I will keep working towards new understandings about our sensory experiences with textiles to hopefully support training and sourcing activities. From the trade fairs perspective, Future Fabrics Expo is a good example of how pushing the boundaries persistently can have great impact, besides nourishing and inspiring the industry. From a stakeholders’ perspective - as a designer, a trend-forecaster, a journalist, a tutor, a buyer, a manager, etc., how do you participate in this conversation? And what should our next question be? Let’s talk about it, but most certainly let’s keep doing it.
 This was proposed earlier by Charles Goodwin (1994) in relation to discursive practices within specialist communities. He shows how certain groups of practice develop tools and are expected to “see and categorize the world in the ways that are relevant to the work, tools, and artifacts that constitute their profession”. In: Goodwin, Charles (1994). "Professional Vision." American Anthropologist 96(3): 606-633.
written by Charlotte Turner
2014 was a big year – a year of progress, of discussion, debate, and new learning. Both for us at The Sustainable Angle, and others we had the opportunity to meet and work with throughout the year.
A highlight for us was organising the 4th Future Fabrics Expo at the end of September, hosted once again at London Olympia as part of Fashion SVP. We showed over 1000 sustainable fabrics with a reduced environmental impact, along with new research, tools and resources, and the newly relaunched Future Fabrics Virtual Expo (our online 24/7/365 showcase of hundreds of sustainable materials and resources). It was a real pleasure meeting everyone who visited, and whose positive feedback was instrumental for our 2015 ambitions. 2014 also turned out to be a record year for the expo, with hundreds more registrations, more repeat visits, and another fully packed seminar on sustainable textiles sourcing. We hope (and plan!) to make it even bigger and better in 2015.
Save the date now, to visit us on 29th – 30th September in London. You can keep up to date with our event news by signing up to receive updates here. We will also be announcing the upcoming expo on our website and blog.
In addition to the main Future Fabrics Expo, we enjoyed popping up elsewhere, including at the SB’14 Sustainable Brands Conference in London, where we showed an edited version of the expo to wide range of global industry leaders. We heard about their experiences with and responses to environmental and social sustainability issues – and not just from fashion and textiles companies, but as wide as TV, transportation, beverage and technology sectors. This was a key opportunity to showcase a range of our sustainable materials, to get wider global industries involved in the conversation about the impact our textiles have – and to realise that no matter what industry sector, chances are your business will have something to do with materials, whether through buying them, giving them away, or just in the day to day through the clothes we choose to wear.
2014 also saw us run a multi-brand Future Fabrics Workshop in West London, welcoming designers and buyers from leading global retailers and suppliers, as well as new designers and boutique brands. This was an incredibly valuable chance to share some of our newest research on sustainable materials, and for participants to explore our entire materials collection. If you are interested in future workshops, you can sign up for our newsletter here…
With the same goal, we got involved in the Centre for Sustainable Fashion’s ‘Creative Hub’ initiative, running a workshop for emerging designers based on building a sustainable business, highlighting the use of reduced impact textiles as a key component to best practice. An ideal initiative for start up companies, Creative Hub returns this year with more workshops.
Along with these events, we were delighted to announce the release of the 2nd edition of ‘Fabric for Fashion’, co-authored by Amanda Johnston (curator of TSA’s Future Fabrics Expo), which has been expanded to include man made materials as well as natural fibres, delving in to the history, production methods, and characteristics of a huge range of fibres – a must have along with ‘Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book’, which includes over 100 fabric swatches.
Ahead of us in 2015….
We’re sure that 2015 will be just as exciting as 2014, so to get us started, here are just a few of our plans for the year:
written by Charlotte Turner
For those who couldn't make it (and those who could), we wanted to share news about the 4th Future Fabrics Expo, which was just successfully hosted for the second time inside Fashion SVP at London Olympia. We were visited by hundreds of fashion and textiles professionals, as well as students who will soon be bringing this sustainable sourcing knowledge to jobs throughout the industry.
If you missed the expo, you can still visit www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com all year round to discover a wide range of the fabrics on display at the expo, plus tools and resources to help on the journey to reducing the environmental impact of your supply chain. You can also get in touch to discuss tailored hands on workshops and presentations for your company or event.
This was a record year for the Future Fabrics Expo, which received over a thousand registrations from leading high street, luxury and start up brands, as well as educational, government, and NGO organisations, showing that there is most certainly a growing desire to understand and learn about what our clothes are made of.
The Future Fabrics Expo was shown to be a key platform for showcasing both sustainable textiles, and initiatives and tools from a range of organisations such as WRAP’s Knowledge Hub, String3 by Historic Futures, and ground-breaking research projects from the Royal College of Art and London College of Fashion.
A key focus for the 4th Future Fabrics Expo was on supply chain traceability, showcasing mapping and connecting tools from Historic Futures, and the FireUP project from UAL. In addition, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) was showcased, resulting in a broad showcase of projects and tools addressing all areas of the textile and fashion value chain. Examples of CmiA fabrics from some of their dozens of member producers were on show - you can find a full list of CmiA producers via their website.
We additionally presented a seminar on 'building sustainabiltiy into your textile buying', exploring how to assess fabrics in relation to sustainability, avoiding pitfalls when sourcing sustainably, and developments of the sustainable textiles market.
This year the expo was generously sponsored by Kassim Denim and Elmer & Zweifel, also sponsors of the Future Fabrics Virtual Expo (www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com), our online sustainable fabrics sourcing tool available throughout the year.
If you are looking to source sustainable fabrics in low quantities, we will soon launch a fabrics sourcing pool hosted on www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com, to allow smaller companies and emerging designers to purchase fabrics with a reduced environmental impact at manageable quantities. The launch will be announced via our periodic newsletter in the coming weeks so sign up now to make sure you don't miss out - we'll also be sharing information about the latest fabrics to be added to the Future Fabrics Virtual Expo.
written by Charlotte Turner
Kassim Denim is a pioneering vertically integrated denim mill from Pakistan, and long time supporter of the Future Fabrics Expo and The Sustainable Angle. Kassim Denim develop, innovate, and produce an extensive range of denims, many made with organic cotton and cellulosic fibres, finished using low impact processes.
Kassim Denim have worked with some of the world’s leading denim brands, so we has a conversation with Sohail Ahmed, Kassim Denim’s market developer, to find out the latest news on what the company is doing to reduce it’s environmental impact, and instead create positive change for the company and the environment that hosts it.
Read the full conversation below, and discover a range of Kassim Denim sustainable fabrics at www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com.
TSA: Can you tell us what your role is, and how you are involved in improving sustainability within your company, and in the textiles industry? KD: As a market developer it’s my task to keep our administration updated on matters of sustainability, whether it be sustainable processing, or sustainable raw materials like yarns, dyes and chemicals.
TSA: What first inspired Kassim Denim to start working on improving sustainability in the textiles industry? KD: Our motivation... “Sustainable, environmentally responsible, green management” are the key factors to Kassim Denim's endeavors to produce the best denim fabrics while maintaining the true essentials of being eco-friendly, to match up with the drive to consumer product sustainability.
Each of these three perspectives is an integral part of our commitment for integration of an environmental and social lens into core operational and financial management — from material sourcing through product design, manufacturing, distribution, delivery and end-of-life management.
We travail to implement sustainability-focused initiatives along our entire supply chain, both upstream and downstream.
TSA: Can you tell us a bit about what Kassim Denim is doing to be more sustainable? KD: We keep a stringent vigilance to environmental, health and safety-driven issues, and always take immediate initiative on new regulations like restricting toxic chemicals, innovations in toxic disposal etc. We have committed ourselves to minimize our carbon footprint, in addition to other major concerns such as energy use, material and water resource use, and waste management.
TSA: What do you hope your initiatives and products will change and improve? KD:
TSA: What do you think are the most pressing environmental and social challenges in the industry currently? KD: We look at the impact textile production has on global climate change. We equate climate change with our own lives and base this on studies of just how the changes will impact us directly, that wet regions will be wetter, causing flash flooding; dry regions will get drier, resulting in drought. And … a heat wave that used to occur once every 100 years now happens every five years. Most of the current focus on the carbon footprint revolves around transportation and heating issues, and the modest little fabric all around seems to be unseen. But we at Kassim Textiles see it as a gigantic carbon footprint. The textile industry is the 3rd largest contributor to CO2 emissions in Pakistan, after primary metals and nonmetallic products and their exhausts.
TSA: What do you think is the biggest obstacle to becoming a more sustainable and less harmful industry? KD: The biggest obstacle to sustainability is greed. The race to make more and more money with minimum expenses. And to top it all the total lack of respect of the nature and turning a blind eye to the future of this planet.
TSA: What positive developments have you seen in the industry over the years? KD: In the years I have been working here at Kassim and also observing industrial changes, though very slow paced, there is a definite awaking to the realities of the dangers to the environment. The bodies working for environmental protection have gained the voice to bring their point to the consumers, who in turn are now demanding eco-friendly and sustainable products from the producers.
TSA: In your opinion, will it be the consumer who will facilitate the change in the supply chain, or will it be the design and manufacturing industry? KD: Designing and manufacturing is always dependent on the consumers wants and demands, hence it’s the consumer who will initiate the want, and the manufacturer shall have to cater to these demands.
They can also be visited twice a year at several global trade fairs: Texworld, Munich Fabric Start, Premier Vision China, Premier Vision Istanbul, and Bangladesh Show (Dhaka).
written by Charlotte Turner
As one of the companies featured on our sustainable textiles sourcing website Future Fabrics Virtual Expo, we wanted to introduce natural dye studio Bougainvillea Couture, which was founded in 2011 by UK based and renowned textile designer Luiven Rivas-Sanchez. Bougainvillea Couture produces limited edition ranges of sustainable luxurious fashion accessories, ensembles and fabrics using premium natural materials, responsibly and globally sourced from all over the world.
We spoke with Luiven to find out more about Bougainvillea Couture, sustainability in relation to textiles production and finishing, and what needs to improve in the fashion and textile industry.
Luiven explained that "Bougainvillea Couture engages in holistic and generative textile processes that transcend design trends. We work with a dedicated team of textile experts, designers, artists and practitioners. Together, we source the finest fabrics worldwide to selectively and sustainably hand dye and treat cloth. With craftsmanship and intimacy at the helm, every fabric and accessory created under the Bougainvillea Couture label, meets with uncompromising standards of sustainable assurance and ethical excellence, key factors we believe have been stripped away by a fashion industry with imperatives leaning towards speed and low cost."
You can read the full conversation below...
TSA: What was the motivation to start Bougainvillea Couture? BC: Being trained in design, the motivation to found Bougainvillea Couture was firstly based mainly on aesthetics. However, as we became more aware of textile pollution, our design ethos and rationale consequently changed.
TSA: How has your work with natural dyes evolved since its inception? BC: Our work with natural dyes has come a long way. We are in a position to develop dyeing strategies and invest in lower impact methods of fabric production. It is a team effort that requires constant research and nourishment.
TSA: What first inspired you to start working on improving sustainability in the fashion / textiles industries? BC: Colour, and the way it can be used to improve textile dyeing strategies without compromising the environment.
TSA: Can you explain how do you classify ‘sustainability’ in relation to your work? BC: At Bougainvillea Couture, we aim to be as innovative and sustainable as we possibly can, for us sustainability means the ability to design and produce high end fabrics using low impact dyeing methods and techniques.
TSA: Can you provide an outline of your project? BC: Our project is based on long term ideals. We have a vision to develop a range of sustainable fabrics and fashion accessories for men and women using sustainable guidelines. We work closely with practitioners and suppliers and have huge respect for them. It is part of the sustainable strategy we support, and one of the reasons that makes us proud of what we do and produce.
TSA: What do you hope the work of Bougainvillea Couture will improve in the industry? BC: Because of the amount of chemical dyeing processes remaining unchanged, with critical high levels of pollution still affecting our eco-systems, we hope that our revised dyeing guidelines will eventually make a difference.
TSA: Can you tell us about any positive impact you have seen from your work? BC: Yes, the way our customer base see textiles through our work is slowly changing. They understand more about how it is made and are more respectful of our ideals and goals.
TSA: What do you think are the most pressing environmental and social challenges in the industry currently? BC: Chemical pollution is still top of the agenda, the elevated cost of sustainable organic materials, and lack of respect towards the lower tier members of the supply chain continue to negatively affect the industry. Practical and feasible changes are needed to achieve higher standards of textile and social sustainability.
TSA: What would you like to see happen more in the fashion and textiles industries? BC: We would like more comprehensive dialogue and collaborations between textile manufacturers, suppliers, scientists, designers and consumers.
TSA: Are there any common misconceptions about sustainability in fashion and textiles that you’d like to talk about? BC: There is this huge misconception that sustainability is fashion exclusive and part of a trend. To us, sustainability means consumption in dire need of reassessment, purely to avoid further environmental disasters, if not for us, for future generations. To widely address and embrace sustainable issues, the industry and consumers need to take a more holistic approach to clothing.
TSA: Do you see designers and practitioners becoming more sustainable in your eyes, and how? BC: The potential is huge, but only if their general views of sustainability are pragmatic and their goals are realistically achievable, slow and long term planning is part of our mantra.
TSA: In your opinion, who will primarily facilitate change in the supply chain? BC: We believe the biggest onus lies within the manufacturing industry, but designers need to work closely with them, it needs to be a symbiotic relationship. The consumer tends to be price driven.
TSA: Do you have any events or courses coming up where people can connect with you? BC: Yes, we have started running sustainable dyeing workshops, and have plans to develop and expand on this.
Earlier this month we attended the Outdoor Show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, to discover new innovations in performance textiles, and hopefully discover a wide range of materials with a reduced environmental impact. Visitors were greeted by outdoor equipment and clothing manufacturers and brands, as well as dozens of suppliers and manufacturers specialising in outdoor and technical fabrics and finishes, many of whom are certified bluesign® partners.
bluesign® certification is a good sustainability indicator for performance fabrics, as it assesses water effluent, air emissions, energy consumption, worker safety, consumer safety, RSL/chemical residues, and responsible use of resources for textile products, from fibres and yarns to fabrics and final products; components for textile products, chemicals and dyestuffs, and textile processing techniques. The step of so many mills from the sector to work to the bluesign® guidelines showed a positive move towards a less harmful industry.
When talking to the companies it soon became apparent that sustainability is more of a priority in the outdoor and performance industry than in the fashion sector, with brands and mills both making it a priority to reduce their impact on the environment that they are designing for. By showcasing more of these innovations, we aim to showcase even more ways that the fashion textiles sector can lower their impact and improve on their business practices, and by proxy benefit through the reduction of waste and chemical outputs, and the saving of resources.
To round off the trade show, the European Outdoor Group hosted a Sustainability breakfast, which included presentations on topics including the environmental impact of the leather production process, cellulosic fibres, and the EOG’s latest projects. Overall it was positive to see commitment from many suppliers and brands to progress more sustainably, and hopefully seeing the outdoor industry bring greater cohesion to this journey will provide the fashion industry with more positive examples to build on.