Creating Material Change: The Sustainable Angle at the Textile Exchange Conference

6th November 2018     News Fabrics Future Fabrics Expo The Sustainable Angle Trade Shows

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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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.