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From mushrooms to metaverse: where is the future of sustainable fashion heading?

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“Future-wear” has undoubtedly been a trend since the pandemic, whether in luxury Marine Serre moon masks and bodystockings, or Balenciaga exoskeletons and blackout suits. As fashion reflects a culture and a place in time, it suggests that the future is, well, now.

Almost two years after the debut of Roaring ’20s 2.0, we are witnessing the fate of fast fashion; an overexploited and environmentally damaging industry that prioritizes convenience and profit over quality and ethics. Fast fashion has changed the way we interact with clothes and shop according to our needs. As social media fuels ever faster trend cycles and makes styles more disposable than ever before, the volume of clothing produced each year is reaching unprecedented heights. Between 2000 and 2014, clothing purchases increased by 60% per capita and customers keep their clothes half as long as a few decades ago.

While the fault cannot be blamed on most of the brands we love, but rather on the framework in which they are designed to be complicit, it is to be hoped that all brands and fashion lovers will sooner or later embrace long-term efforts to make fashion as sustainable as possible. possible. It’s going to have to be a team effort between the wearers of the clothes and the manufacturers of the clothes.

The basic principles of reduce, reuse and recycle will always apply – and strictly in that order. First reduce your purchases and waste, reuse vintage items and recycle your clothes by reselling, donating or renovating them. But that’s not enough to color the industry green. And mass-produced semi-durable clothing that only adds to the towering pile of fashion waste won’t either.

What does real sustainability look like in fashion?

Well, first off, it sounds a lot more individualistic. As the industry embraces body diversity, clothing reflects the culture shift, venturing beyond standard “inclusive” sizes. The idea of ​​mass-producing generic fitted clothing is no longer viable, as slow fashion, made with quality and the potential for lifelong use takes priority. In a few decades, our clothes will suit us, in tailor-made sizes. Some brands are starting to 3D scan customers’ bodies for their best fit and store their measurement data for future shopping and easy online shopping.

Standardized sizes will be a thing of the past, from blouses to shoes, and clothing will be physically accessible and directly represent the consumer. Vanity Sizing, aka “Madness Sizing,” conjures up customer frustration and large-scale clothing returns based on distorted cuts. Fashionista reported that $ 240 billion in clothing is purchased online each year, although shoppers return around 40% of their purchases online, mostly due to sizing issues. Tailor-made not only ensures a positive shopping experience, but it also reduces the brand’s overstock as inaccurate adjustments hamper conversion rates and overall textile waste.

Plus, the future of fashion will focus on recovery, mending, and extended wear, even for lower quality casual wear – so make sure you have a good tailor in line. Ideally, a “circular” production line will be widely adopted, where no scrap is wasted. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that Americans produce 16 million tonnes of textile waste per year, where, on average, three million tonnes of clothing are incinerated and 10 million tonnes are buried in landfills. Brands can take Patagonia’s “don’t buy this jacket” approach, taken from the brand’s 2011 Black Friday ad in the New York Times.

Patagonia

Patagonia

Patagonia

The Common Threads Initiative campaign features an image of a polar fleece, which is not recommended to buy, along with statistics indicating that it takes 36 gallons of water to produce it (enough to hydrate 45 people a day. given) and 20 pounds of carbon dioxide are emitted in the process (24 times the weight of the product). The purpose of the was to raise awareness of the need, where a Patagonia buyer doesn’t need an extra jacket, as theirs is designed to last a long time. The brand presented the 4 Rs: Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle. The Commitment takes responsibility to the planet to fix clothes instead of throwing them away, with the help of Patagonia, and embraces the “circular” model, as the brand accepts and resells unwanted products. The fifth “R” is Reimagine, “Together we reimagine a world where we only take what nature can replace.

Levi, Strauss & Co. recently endorsed their new ‘Buy Better, Wear Longer’ mantra, promising to “make products that are sourced better, from better materials, made with the highest quality and designed to be extremely sustainable. And you ? Just keep wearing the products you love for as long as possible. ”The denim company known for its sustainability is aiming for a 2025 target of 100% sustainably sourced cotton, 100% renewable energy in its owned and operated facilities, 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Recognizing that sustainability will always be a work in progress, Levi’s has also committed to reducing the use of process water by 50% in areas of water stress by 2030. It is not impossible for the industry to turn a new leaf in this way, and succeeding names like Patagonia and Levi’s are proof of that. It is a feat that may not immediately be possible. for younger and smaller labels, but the big companies that fuel fast fashion and seemingly breed weekly to keep up with trends surely have the funds to rethink traditional operations.

Fashion will also have to adopt the use of biodegradable and sustainable materials, such as recycled fabrics and leather of vegetable origin. This is a necessary next step as fashion relies too much on synthetic materials derived from fossil fuels in the production of clothing, such as polyester and nylon, and constitutes 65% of clothing. It is estimated that 342 million barrels of non-renewable crude oil are used each year for these inexpensive textiles. Not only are these clothes of poor quality and only useful in the short term, especially the time it takes for a trend to pass, but they will never break down and never sit in landfills for the rest of your life. Earth. Natural cotton even requires a lot of water, pesticides and fertilizers, which depletes resources and leads to chemical runoff that endangers ecosystems.

hermès mushroom leather

Hermes

mccartney

Stella mccartney

Mushroom leather is the latest scientific feat in fashion, although designers have been experimenting with plant-based and cruelty-free leather for years. More recently, Stella McCartney featured mushrooms on the Spring 2022 catwalk (designed with nylon and recycled fabrics) and the Hermès leather authority is planning to launch a mushroom-based handbag. The leather-like material is made from mycelium, which is regenerative and feeds on natural resources, and can be simply reproduced in the lab. Besides the hardware and zippers, these clothes will eventually biodegrade. It won’t work like a vintage piece in a few hundred years, but that’s the point.

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Digital fashion is another invention that will solve the waste crisis, in fact it produces zero waste. Dubbed “the new fashion frontier,” digital 3D designed clothing is unlike anything we’ve bought before (unless you’re a video gamer). It gained traction during the pandemic when much of the industry shut down, but offered designers the opportunity to create digital prototypes that would eventually streamline production after lockdown and save money. material costs and waste. The reveal by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook’s Metaverse will open up a new outlet for luxury brands and fashion lovers. “You’re going to have a wardrobe of virtual clothes for different occasions, designed by different designers and from different applications and experiences,” Zuckerberg said in an interview.

Dear Horowitz digital closet in a distraught 1995 film

Primordial

Everyone’s avatar will look exactly like themselves, effectively diffusing their personal existence in pixels. While digital design is not a new concept for artists in the industry, demand will only increase in the consumer sector as the technology develops. The thirst for fashion consumption in general has never been stronger, due to fast fashion trends that cool faster than hair grows, and digital fashion can meet this desire without the ill effects on the market. environment and ethics. It’s also essentially fluid in terms of gender and size, as it’s designed to accommodate all digital iterations of real-life humans. In the Metaverse, you can show off your new threads and post a “fit photo” without ever wearing, storing, modifying, or physically repairing them. It looks like a shopaholic’s paradise. Plus, imagine what fashion will be designed when physical limitations such as material supply or, say, gravity are no longer a factor. So, now that we have up to five “R’s”, let’s add a “D” for “Download”.

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    The biggest fashion misconception among sustainable efforts is that solving the problem means doing more. thing. Greenwashing and buzzwords are not only performative, likely to benefit well-meaning consumers, but also inherently counterproductive. Any garment produced must be made with the aim and respect, in guaranteed sizes, of biodegradable textiles, or pixels. Real sustainability is the future, because it has to be – as long as we want to enjoy fashion forever.