1. Marie-Claire Daveu (Kering)
2. Simone Cipriani (Ethical Fashion Initiative)
3. Lewis Perkins (Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute)
4. Livia Firth (Eco-Age, Green Carpet Challenge)
5. Orsola de Castro (Estethica, From Somewhere, Reclaim to Wear)
6. Suzy Amis Cameron (Red Carpet Green Dress)
7. Yixiu Wu (Greenpeace East Asia)
8. Christina Sewell (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)
9. Sarah Ditty (Ethical Fashion Forum)
10. Christina Dean (Redress HK)
11. Marci Zaroff (Portico Brands, Thread: Driving Fashion Forward)
12. Giusy Bettoni (C.L.A.S.S.)
13. Sass Brown (Eco-Fashion Talk)
14. Elizabeth Cline (Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion)
15. Safia Minney (People Tree)
16. Yael Aflalo (Reformation)
17. Javier Goyeneche (Ecoalf)
18. John Patrick (Organic)
19. Karen Stewart and Howard Brown (Stewart + Brown)
20. Aurelie Popper and Jade Harwood (Wool and the Gang)
21. Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart (Vaute)
22. Francisca Pineda (Bhava, Ethical Fashion Academy)
23. Eliza Starbuck
24. Anthony Lilore (Restore Clothing, Save the Garment Center)
25. Bob Bland (Manufacture NY)
26. Chrissie Lam (The Supply Change)
27. Shannon Whitehead (Factory45)
28. Deanna Clark (Fashion Institute of Technology)
29. Bianca Alexander (Conscious Living TV)
30. Rebecca Burgess (Fibershed)
31. Laura Kissel (Cotton Road)
32. Leah Borromeo (Dirty White Gold)
33. Suzanne McKenzie (Able Made)
34. David Dietz (Modavanti)
35. Rachel Kibbe (Helpsy)
36. Jill Heller (The Pure Thread)
37. Anna Griffin (Coco Eco)
38. Amy DuFault (Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator)
39. Greta Eagan (Fashion Me Green, Wear No Evil)
MARIE-CLAIRE DAVEU (CHIEF SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER AND HEAD OF INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS, KERING)
There is an expanding—and much-needed—shift in focus in our industry from looking at a company’s own operations to taking responsibility for the entire supply chain.
2015 will bring about more collaboration between industry peers to share the challenges we are facing in developing more sustainable supply chains and combining our collective influence and resources to change the traditional systems in place.
As a result, we will see a proliferation of new, innovative solutions and greener alternatives supported by multi-stakeholders groups, with Kering as a strong leader.
SIMONE CIPRIANI (HEAD AND FOUNDER, INTERNATIONAL TRADE CENTRE’s ETHICAL FASHION INITIATIVE)
I believe five trends will shape the fashion industry in 2015:
1. In the top segment of fashion, a growing and unstoppable desire for authenticity and uniqueness, whereby consumers will demand real fashion which is about original products with strong artisanal content.
2. Fashion brands will increase efforts to implement corporate-social-responsibility schemes to cope with the above-mentioned demand of consumers. However, these schemes often concentrate on some issues without addressing the core problems: highly advertised CSR schemes that include plenty of activities on environmental practices—which are good, of course, and bloody needed— but scarce or even zero action to integrate artisans in the production cycle of fashion in a dignified way.
3. Fast fashion will keep on producing according to a paradigm that is not suitable for our planet and even less for people, but some will include marginal adjustments and, again, endeavors towards much-advertised CSR schemes.
4. Consumers will keep on shifting their loyalty from top fashion brands that have gone to mass production to those who can prove real and authentic artisanal work that is innovative and includes creative design.
5. A majority of designers will keep on repeating dead models, except for a small and beautiful group of innovators who will conceive amazing products and will be followed by the rest of the crowd.
One thing must be clear: As long as workers and independent artisans are the shock absorbers of the fashion industry, i.e., those who allow big companies to maintain high margins by compressing the remuneration of artisanal products and offering miserable working conditions, this industry will not meet the true potential for development it can provide in building a future for our world.
Greed is the word to classify this attitude. Greed will destroy what we have built in centuries of history: a continuous, troubled effort to build a place where everybody can live decently and in peace.
The crooked timber of the human kind will still be used as wood to burn, and not as raw material for sculptors.
Consumption is a moral act: Pope Francis is absolutely right. But it is also unfair to leave all the burden of change on consumers. Fashion groups, wake up.
LEWIS PERKINS (SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CRADLE TO CRADLE PRODUCTS INNOVATION INSTITUTE)
Over the past year, we’ve seen the end of greenwashing as an industry practice as more designers and brands focus on the internal shifts within their companies and supply chains needed for real actionable change.
While the importance of the consumers’ education for better quality fashion still exists, 2015 will be a year for retooling internal operations.
At the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, we’d seen tremendous interest in our “Fashion Positive” initiative as the tangible roadmap for remaking the way we make apparel, footwear, and accessories.
A new interest in cradle-to-cradle design methodology and building circular economies has been sparked by fashion brand leaders.
We predict continued advancement in circularity of materials. When people say recycling or upcycling, oftentimes they see repurposing materials alone.
Moving forward, there will be more brand and supply chain investment in innovations for post-consumer fiber collection, recycling, and reprocessing. This means we are building the architecture for a system where an increasing amount of materials used in fashion will have both a past and future life.
Along with upcycling, the new industrial revolution in fashion will incorporate more renewable energy in production facilities, water purification systems, and water/energy saving technologies.
The demand for safer chemistry will increase as innovations in textile science and green chemistry to create dyes, materials and processes that make a positive impact on the planet and fashion without toxic chemicals.
And all of these advancements will be done through collaborative work within the industry to share environmental-impact metrics, database sharing, streamlined auditing, and non-proprietary innovations in textiles and fashion to create libraries of trusted materials.
LIVIA FIRTH (CREATIVE DIRECTOR, ECO-AGE; CO-FOUNDER, GREEN CARPET CHALLENGE)
In 2015, we will all finally realize that the one action we perform every day—getting dressed—matters not only because of the way it makes us look or feel, but mostly because of the massive repercussions on the environment and the people at the end of its supply chain.
The path to a more just and ecologically sound existence for us all is notoriously rocky, but each industry must play its part in cleaning up and bringing substantive change. For some reason the fashion industry is often ignored, or cast aside as if it was an irrelevance.
But fashion is a pivotal industry to get right. It is a full-spectrum industry. It extends from the farmers that grow cotton to the women beading in ateliers, it encompasses millions of people from agriculture to the creative marketing and selling. It is also dependent on the animal kingdom and some of the most fragile ecosystems on earth. Therefore fashion touches on every great environmental theme: climate change, declining available resources, lost wilderness, flooding, through to the flip side of flooding: drought. And, of course, all of these are interconnected.
But while human kind continues to treat fashion as a frivolous side line, it pollutes and squanders with impunity. In pursuit of selling fast and furiously, it can transgress ecological boundaries and leave social justice in tatters.
Fast fashion has been a huge part of this, as we all became voracious consumers caught up in an unsustainable churn of clothes, micro trends and disposability. This industry has created a “factory of consumers” whereas it is the offer to drive/create demand. We buy in a rush and discard as quickly.
But where all these clothes go? As consumers, we seem to worship at the altar of “wear-it-today, chuck-it-tomorrow” fast-fashion mentality. But short-term thinking inevitably has a later cost.
And let’s not forget that underneath that all we have an army of millions of humans, tilling the soil, picking the cotton, processing it, ginning, weaving, dyeing; working looms, sewing embellishments and sequins and buttons, and working sewing machines in huge factories.
It is the modern slave-trade business entrenched in our clothes, disguised as democracy.
But the number of challenges should also illustrate the scale of the opportunity. I believe we’re on the threshold of a new fashion industry where ethics and glamour co-exist, where new fibers and technology minimize impact, where fashion brands begin to acknowledge their debt to the natural world and the people in their supply chains and invest in sustaining both for their future and our future.
What an opportunity this is! It will give us the golden chance to become active citizens through our wardrobes.
Next time you walk in a fast-fashion shop, look at the garment you are about to buy, ask yourself how many times you think you will wear it. If the answer is “less than 30 times”, put it back on the rack and walk out.
If each one of us did that, 2015 could be the year we change fashion forever.
ORSOLA DE CASTRO (CO-FOUNDER, ESTETHICA AT LONDON FASHION WEEK; CO-FOUNDER, FROM SOMEWHERE, RECLAIM TO WEAR)
And, as consumers are made increasingly aware that both fast fashion and fast luxury are responsible for unethical fashion, I predict the resurrection of the artisan, as we collectively look into our heritage, as well as innovation, for sustainable solutions.
Our clothes are our chosen skin and what we wear matters. Let’s make our fashion choices change the world in 2015.
SUZY AMIS CAMERON (FOUNDER, RED CARPET GREEN DRESS)
With the mainstream media reporting more widely on the pollution and poor work conditions that result from fast fashion, I believe consumers will shift their attention in a big way to brands creating fashionable clothing consciously.
Notables such as Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Karlie Kloss are already shopping L.A.-based brand Reformation and that won’t go unnoticed by young consumers, which is hugely important in bringing about a shift.
As consumers look for more transformational fashion pieces in 2015, I think we’ll see more brands, especially new and emerging brands, move toward season-less collections instead of adhering strictly to two collections a year for Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter.
On the manufacturing front, I believe we’ll more waterless or water-efficient dye techniques employed.
Textile dyeing for the fashion industry consumes trillions of liters of fresh water with the wastewater, often untreated, making its way into our oceans via streams and rivers.
Companies like ColorZen have managed to reduce water usage by 90 percent. With water being such a finite and precious resource, any technology which supports the reduction of its use is an important and welcome change.
Photo by Bridget Backhurst Photography
CHRISTINA SEWELL (VEGAN FASHION COORDINATOR, PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS)
As fashion connoisseurs clamor for stylish, cruelty-free clothing and accessories, the market for vegan fashion is hotter than ever—a trend set to continue in 2015. PETA (whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to wear”) is already seeing shoppers put the brakes on clothing made from fur, wool, and leather as new undercover videos break on social media.
Consumers around the world were shocked to see that ldogs are rounded up, killed, and skinned for leather gloves and other accessories that are misleadingly labeled and exported around the world.
Other hard-hitting videos seen and shared by millions of people include our video showing shearers both in Australia and the U.S. punching, stomping on, and jabbing sheep used for wool and PETA Asia’s investigation revealing how workers on angora farms rip the fur out of rabbits’ skin as the animals scream in pain.
Large retailers as well as smaller boutiques and online outlets have responded to the growing demand for cruelty-free products, including The North Face, whose revolutionary insulation technology, “Thermoball,” mimics goose down but provides more versatility.
Inditex, which owns the Zara brand, and is the world’s largest retailer, recently agreed to drop angora wool sales, joining more than 70 other retailers, while high-end designer Stella McCartney continued to set a high bar for fur- and leather-free clothing.
As design and fashion schools across the country follow this move toward eco- and animal-friendly fashion by educating students about ethical, sustainable sourcing, the industry will only move in a kinder direction from here.
CHRISTINA DEAN (FOUNDER AND CEO, REDRESS HK)
The future of the fashion industry is in the hands of the youth!
We are already seeing a surge of young sustainable fashion design talent —who are passionate about both design and about eradicating textile waste and reducing environmental impact — rising around the world and especially in Asia.
This year, I predict that sustainable design practice will become even more entrenched into emerging designers’ DNA and their resulting products.
This will be further catalyzed by the growing obnoxious taste given off by the conventional fashion industry, which will increasingly assault emerging designers’ aspirations and their values so as to instill better practices in tomorrow’s industry.
YIXIU WU (DETOX MY FASHION PROJECT LEADER, GREENPEACE EAST ASIA)Over 20 brands have now committed to Detox, so we predict 2015 to the year that these promises are delivered.
We will see brands be more transparent and eliminate more chemicals from their supply chains.
Public awareness about toxic chemicals and the effect they have on our future generations will reach a tipping point.
And as brands reveal the true impact of their factories on local waterways, communities will be empowered to take action.
The resource-hungry “buy often and cheaply” business model results in a vast amounts of waste, both in production and as a consequence of clothes being discarded after purchase.
If they can do it 2014, why can’t the rest of the industry do it now?
SARAH DITTY (EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, SOURCE INTELLIGENCE, ETHICAL FASHION FORUM)
2014 marked a year of global tumult, both politically and socially. We’ve seen a public reawakening on issues ranging from race and gender equality to new forms of protest, digital security and minimum wages. All of which I predict will have a transformative impact on the state of the world, including the fashion industry, in 2015.
2014 has seen dozens of strikes and protests by garment workers in Cambodia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and now even in the United Kingdom, namely for pay rises, improved conditions, the right to organize and overdue financial compensation for victims of factory disasters.
2015 will see more of these demonstrations as compensation from some of the world’s biggest retailers remains unpaid and wages stagnate far below the standard of living in most of the countries that make the world’s clothes.
On the brighter side, Fashion Revolution enters its second year. Carrying on the groundswell of international support, the global conversation will be opened even further. More people than ever before will demand to know that their clothing has not been made at the expense of people or the planet, and the public will expect that brands are able to ensure this.
2015 will also bring the announcement of new technologies that may deeply transform the way that fashion is made, used and disposed of. Direct-to-consumer business models (think brands like Everlane and Reformation) will further pick up speed, cutting out middle men and creating the space for greater transparency and accountability between producers, sellers, and buyers.
In 2015, we’ll also see a lot more storytelling, with designers and brands eager to share their commitments to the environment and to the people that make fashion. The greatest luxury of all will become things that are made by hand, especially amongst the emerging consuming classes in rapidly developing China and Brazil, who appear to have an appetite for luxury, innovation, and provenance. Much greater value will be given to exquisite artisanal skills.
SAFIA MINNEY (FOUNDER, PEOPLE TREE)
I predict in 2015: A new push for transparency demanded by customers that will put pressure on major retailers to begin to look at human rights violations and environmental destruction throughout their supply chains. This will question the sustainability of their business models.
There will also be a huge number of fashion companies that go bust as consumers spend less, decide they want less, and become less enamored by conventional fashion. They start to realize what true health and style is.
Between those two consumer preferences ethical and sustainable fashion will prove to be the only way forward. Despite the greenwash and lack of integrity of some conventional fashion companies, the good energy, brand loyalty, and credentials of the ethical fashion pioneers will shine through for 2015, proving that fashion done differently works!
We have one planet. We are one family. The family of humankind.
MARCI ZAROFF (PRESIDENT, PORTICO BRANDS; FOUNDER, UNDER THE CANOPY; EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, THREAD: DRIVING FASHION FORWARD)
I believe 2015 will be the biggest breakout year for eco-fashion in the history of our movement.
Propelled by new levels of fashion industry engagement & collaborations (like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Ethical Fashion Forum, Textile Exchange, the Organic Trade Association’s Organic Fiber Council), accelerators focused on sustainable textiles and organic cotton (Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator and Orange County Business Accelerator), worldwide campaigns such as Fashion Revolution Day and Global Wellness Day, new certifications efforts such as Cradle to Cradle’s “Fashion Positive,” and a strategic focus by retailers positioning for the rising tide of the millennial/digital media generation (80 million-plus consumers, with over $1.7 trillion purchasing power, shopping with their values), a tipping point is imminent.
Fashion schools will continue to infuse sustainable fashion more deeply into their curriculums. Other business sectors, including the United Nations, Renewable Energy Institute International, and Sustainable Brands, will join forces to address the impacts of the fashion and textile industry.
From field to shelf, and from apparel to home to hospitality, we will witness a new level of forward progress in sustainable fashion and textiles. With authenticity and transparency as paramount, we also will see major additional inroads on made in the U.S.A., Global Organic Textile Standard-certified, and fair-trade-certified clothing and home goods.
As Lao Tzu once said, “The journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.” Relatively speaking, we have a long way to go, but since business as usual is no longer acceptable, we are finally on the path to a positive paradigm shift, creating a new reality for the future of fashion.
GIUSY BETTONI (CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, C.L.A.S.S.)
C.L.A.S.S. (Creativity Lifestyle and Sustainable Synergy) is a unique, multi-platform worldwide network that showcases exclusive fashion, textiles, and materials created using smarter sustainable technology for designers, buyers, media, and business. It is a complete 360-degree initiative that provides a comprehensive global communications, marketing and product development consulting service, specializing in a new kind of luxury for fashion and fabrics created through innovative and sustainable design solutions.
C.L.A.S.S. DNA is based on the strong belief that each single fashion garment, ingredient, accessory, product needs to be built and communicated around three key elements: creativity, innovation, and responsibility—and they all need to be present and represented in an appropriate way!
We started our journey in 2007, and at that time our main objective was more linked to prove that “sustainable” fabrics and garments could be as beautiful and performing as the conventional ones in order to be able to offer fashion collections with an appeal appropriate for contemporary consumers.
Today, the situation is really evolved, and after the big technologic step forward derived from an important commitment and investment from a new and evolved supply chain—from fiber to fabric to dyes to finishing—that took place in the last years, we are looking with excitement to 2015.
2015 will be the time that will see the true possibility to finally show, offer, and prove that smart textile is the most avant-garde, exclusive, and unique way to make fashion. It is not just about being “sustainable” but being cool, innovative, and much more, with a new and unique concept of quality that will be for the first time really a complete one; a great performance from a functional but also from a “good product story” point of view.
It is really great to be able to tell where these materials are coming from, who made them, and the good skills and quality of life behind them. And 2015 will be the year of the real next step: a brand new, smart offer for a new way to be fashionable thanks to such an incredible new choices in materials menus that are just waiting for the right chef to be launched in a collection!
BOB BLAND (CEO/FOUNDER, MANUFACTURE NY)
This is the year we’ve all been waiting for—2015 is the opportunity for fashion, technology, and sustainability to finally meet on a level playing field.
Those who have spent the better part of this decade building a supportive infrastructure for ethical designers and manufacturers to make and sell their products will be rewarded by unexpected interest from bigger brands and organizations who are ready to improve their business models to be lower waste, authentically transparent and economically sustainable.
Partnerships will abound throughout the industry (and the world), creating ecologically win-win scenarios from some of the strangest bedfellows in fashion. And perhaps most excitingly, thanks to the divest/invest movement in impact investing and renewed interest in advanced manufacturing from the federal government, we are now seeing traditionally inaccessible funding sources turn to both emerging wearable technology and ethical manufacturing/supply chain startups for their next venture. This year, solving real problems with sustainable solutions in wearable tech is the ultimate competitive advantage.
Bottom line: Sustainable fashion professionals who have persevered will be rewarded in 2015 with tremendous opportunities, and its up to us to embrace these new relationships with a view towards fundamental, long-term transformation throughout the industry. Be strategic, do your research, and don’t fear the future; this is a year for renewed optimism and focus!
The hard work isn’t over, so it’s also very important to savor your successes and share that joy with your family, friends, and local community. There’s no point in improving our world if we forget to enjoy it along the way.
Here at Manufacture NY, we are extremely grateful for our recent $3.5M funding award from the New York City Economic Development Corp., and 2015 will be a year of inclusive growth as we work to build out our new 160,000-square-foot space (and create 200-plus local jobs!) at Liberty View Industrial Plaza.
We look forward to continuing our mission to reawaken and rebuild America’s fashion industry, foster the next wave of businesses, and create a transparent, sustainable global supply chain.
SASS BROWN (AUTHOR; PUBLISHER, ECO-FASHION TALK; ASSOCIATE DEAN, FASHION INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY)
Ethical fashion alternatives to the high street will have finally reached a tipping point across all price points and taste levels, where no one has to ask the question: “Where do I find ethical fashionable alternatives that fit my price point or my style?”
As part of a general revaluing of clothing as an investment rather than a consumable, I think that global craftsmanship and indigenous tradition will play a much greater role in the luxury fashion market, spawning partnerships with master craftspeople around the world in an effort to retain and revalue tradition before it is relegated to the history books.
I think that collectively people are beginning to revalue clothing as an investment instead of a throw away commodity to be worn once and discarded. We are at the early stages of seeing “mass consumerism” and “fast fashion” becoming dirty words and dirty deeds.
Consumers will realize the power they have through purchasing, and will instead seek to invest their hard earned dollars on cool, cutting-edge fashions that support local designers, or far flung artisans, thereby building a material connection to their purchases, making it much more likely to repair or re-gift than discard them.
ANTHONY LILORE (DESIGNER, RESTORE CLOTHING; BOARD MEMBER, SAVE THE GARMENT CENTER)
For the first 15 years of this century, our acute awareness and experience of widespread decimation and fantastic growth have played out and been broadcasted globally.
The enlightenment derived from this real-time psychodrama, complete with both unprecedented sensitivity and indifference, is perhaps only akin to biting on aluminum foil with a filled tooth.
Okay, so we know we’re alive. As we begin the second half of a decade-long cycle, the positive changes that we have laid the foundation for with our sacrifices will begin to manifest and come to fruition.
Careful what you wish for—all of the design-speak, ideation, research, collaboration, editing, housecleaning, “digital this and digital that,” storytelling, and process authentication have become part of the mainstream vernacular. So too, is the great divide.
Can we handle the scaled growth and at whose expense? In short, the chickens are coming home to roost, this time in a good way.
2015 is a knockout–home run year.
CHRISSIE LAM (FOUNDER/DIRECTOR, THE SUPPLY CHANGE)
I’m currently traveling the world—30 countries in the past six months—working on the #loveisproject: photographing and filming people’s definition of Love while wearing a “Love” beaded bracelet I designed with the Masai tribe in Kenya.
I predict more love in the world. Creating products made with love and connecting people around the world in the greatest love story of ever told. Join us!
SHANNON WHITEHEAD (FOUNDER, FACTORY45)
If 2014 was the “year fashion woke up,” then 2015 will be the year fashion steps up. An understanding of “ethical fashion” has finally reached the mainstream consumer, so there’s a good indication that there will be more pressure than ever on fast-fashion chains to clean up their supply chains—with labor rights at the forefront.
We’re going to see more from small,independent designers as domestic manufacturing and sustainable sourcing become increasingly accessible with eco-fashion-focused incubators and accelerator programs like Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator, Manufacture NY, Portland Apparel Lab, and Factory45.
I’m still waiting for that moment when buying a cheap top from Forever 21 garners the same reaction as chowing down on a Big Mac… I’m not sure if this is the year, but it’s coming.
DEANNA CLARK (FASHION COMPLIANCE ATTORNEY; ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, FASHION INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY)
The idea of 1. “repurposing” goods and 2. having a “social good” agenda in one’s business practices were two noteworthy topics whose popularity was on an incline in 2014 and all indicators suggest a steady increase in both of these in 2015.
From taking discarded coffee bean sacks from a local café and reusing them to create part of a handbag, as New Orleans-based RepurposingNOLA Piece by Peace does—and quite fashionably I might add —to taking pieces of former leather coats and couches and refabricating new “old” leather jackets out of them, to decomposing cotton T-shirts and making new ones, “repurposing” what would otherwise be materials dumped into the trash and turning them into functional and stylish fashion is a rapidly emerging area that goes to the heart of what eco-fashion is all about.
In tandem with this is the notion of having a “social good” component in a business so that its impact goes beyond the bank accounts of the business owner. Examples of this can be seen in startup retailers like Zady in New York City whose focus is on selling stylish merchandise with a low environmental footprint, high labor standards, and which seeks to provide a “solution to right the wrongs of the fashion industry,” according to its mission.
Similarly, the large retailers have signaled a need to change their status quo practices as well, as illustrated by a statement made by Marigay McGee, president of Saks Fifth Avenue, where during a speech at Glasgow Caledonia University in 2014 she stated that having a social good component was “critical to success in today’s retail market.”
Whether it’s protecting the environment, improving working conditions, or bringing awareness to new causes, repurposing and operating with a social good component are two areas we can be sure to see more visibility of in 2015, and we will be all the better for it.
BIANCA ALEXANDER (CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND HOST, CONSCIOUS LIVING TV)
Astrologers predict that the energetic vibration of the planet will increase more than ever in 2015. Though it may result in turbulence the first part of the year, this shake up will help us uproot old, unconscious ways of thinking and relating to ourselves and the world that no longer work for us, clearing the path for greener pastures in 2015 and beyond.
As such, this year will set the stage for a consciousness revolution in fashion, with several evolutionary movements gaining momentum and re-setting the buying criteria for how we shop, dress, and live:
With more and more fashionistas opting to swap, thrift, rock vintage, or recycle existing garments rather than contribute another hard-earned dollar to the fast-fashion epidemic, anti-consumption will be the new black in 2015! This is one of my personal resolutions—no “new” fashion purchases in 2015.
KNOWING “WHO MADE MY CLOTHES”
Consumers will be less willing to purchase clothes unless they know the story behind the human beings who made them, including how they live and are treated, as evidenced by last year’s Fashion Revolution, which will continue to gain momentum and reach in 2015.
In addition, the local/made-in-the-U.S.A. movement, fair-trade legislation, traceability efforts like Zady’s “Sourced In Movement,” Indigenous’s Fair Trace tool, and more ethical shopping and style sites like FashionKind, Helpsy, Modavanti, and Awear will continue to launch, connecting consumers to their values and raising the bar for transparency.
With growing awareness about horrific cruelty to animals in the leather, fur, and cosmetics industries, and more people embracing the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, this consciousness will translate to increased demand for fashion made mindfully with animal-friendly materials like Vaute, peace silk, faux skins, no animal testing, and more humane approaches to harvesting animal-derived products.
In our growing “post-racial” society, there will be a continued revolt against cultural homogeneity in the fashion industry, including a demand for African-sourced goods, as well as for more models of color on the runways, in print ads and corporate leadership, an escalation of the groundbreaking “Balance Diversity” initiative launched in 2014 by supermodels Iman, Beverly Johnson, and Bethann Hardison.
Advances in energy-enhancing fashion, including virus-blocking outerwear, mood-boosting accessories, chakra-balancing stones and diodes in yogawear, three-dimensionally printed bio-fabrics that help the skin absorb phytonutrients and the use of natural functional fabrics for health reasons, will make technology in textiles all the rage this year.
Vive la évolution!
JAVIER GOYENECHE (PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER, ECOALF)
I believe 2015 will be the year for many young companies trying to do things in a different way to arise. Young labels with fresh energy who want to stand for something they really believe in.
Fashion cannot just be about looking good. It also has to be about doing what is right and feeling good about it.
We need a new generation of brands searching for new ways to improve the impact on the environment whilst creating a great product.
Companies who want to make a change and bring knowledge forward.
Photo by Winnie Au
SUZANNE MCKENZIE (FOUNDER, CEO, AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR, ABLE MADE)
I see 2015 being a year lead by four concepts that will drive impact and spotlight accountability: design, mentorship, scaling and making. “Slow fashion” is becoming the equivalent of agriculture’s “slow food.” More and more people want to know the journey of the items they wear much like they want to know more about what goes into the food they eat.
Although consumer mindset is shifting to a more transparency-demanding consumer culture, center stage still belongs to a consumer desire for inexpensive, trendy clothes, and bottom-line, profit-driven businesses that drive down business costs resulting in less responsible practices.
I believe design has the power to help change these main stage dynamics and increase the consumer demand of transparency and authenticity from who they choose to buy from.
CONNECTING DESIGN AND EMOTION TO ETHICAL FASHION
I forecast that design of product continues to be an imperative part of the responsible fashion storytelling model in 2015.
Leading with beautiful design is a feel-good way to engage consumers, and not only the consumer segment that is already socially conscious. Inspiring design and products drive people to learn more about the pieces they are buying, engaging a broader audience and providing business building opportunities through education on meaningful design practices, slow fashion, who makes the pieces and their work conditions, eco and responsible sourcing and transportation.
In other words, beautifully crafted products are a way to highlight and celebrate value designers offer with being an ethical brand. Slow fashion will win faster with consumers if the product rocks first.
SCALING SLOW FASHION
In 2015, I predict that we will start to see increasing consumer demand for emerging triple-bottom=line, ethical fashion businesses. Therefore, emerging ethical brands will need to work towards not only sustaining but also scaling their businesses.
Can an ethical fashion brand first and foremost generate enough sales or injections of investment capital to sustain their business, and then scale without sacrificing sourcing, materials, transportation, and working conditions for employees?
Brands will have to become savvy with direct retail and distribution partnerships moving into 2015 to help drive sales. Growing ethical businesses gives consumers a more accessible way to participate in the process of buying meaningful pieces.
MENTORSHIP AND TOOL SHARING
This year, believe we will see more cooperation and content sharing among retailers and designers, and as a result, less duplicated efforts.
Sharing benefits everyone. And we are already seeing leaders in the fashion industry becoming mentors for emerging talent to help them grow, i.e., Tory Burch Foundation business mentorship program for women owned businesses, Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Fashion Incubator, more inviting roundtable discussions like Glasgow-Caledonian University’s “Fashion Sharing Progress”, and fashion leadership participating on advisory boards or as angel investors for ethical fashion startups as we have with Able Made.
In addition, I would love to see more shared resources and eco/ethical/transparent content development, like Higg Index developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and increasing supportive incubator environments such as Manufacture NY.
MAKING VS. CURATING
I also foresee emerging brands finding their own voice and going beyond selecting other people’s product to retail, and creating their own point of view and impact.
With more accessible tools and resources, designers will be able to forge ahead with creating more authentic products and companies.
It goes without saying that in retail, to do things responsibly is harder than taking the cheaper and faster route. But as a community, we must.
JOHN PATRICK (DESIGNER, ORGANIC)
After establishing the Organic brand in 2004 we will now enter our second decade and celebrate many milestones, some good, some bad.
My overall feelings as I stand here today are as follows:
The environment and the ongoing environmental issues globally will continue to inspire designers, brands, and consumers.
Worldwide resistance to global environmental destruction engages the design and manufacturing industries to reach even higher.
Consumer patterns and habits will change even more to shop rationally and stop supporting the polluters.
I look to Mexico and Latin America for more rediscoveries of ancient techniques and ideas. The newest data coming out about the collapse of the Maya civilization leads one to question the overgrowth that continues in the west even after the drought continues.
It all works hand in hand as we become more and more local-centric and lifestyle-demanding in our desires and needs.
I am traveling next week to Sweden to Hammarby Sjöstad to see firsthand what is part of the new 21st century.
All of the different outposts and communities in the world now are able to communicate and discourse on a very transparent level. This continues to slowly seep into the manufacturing and design industry.
Fashion follows architecture and will continue to both embrace and reflect the true needs and desires of civil society to break through the shackles of the past 500 years, including colonialism, and move forward in a holistic and welcoming manner.
In summary, at Organic, we continue to push ourselves to think deeper, move slower, and to look at the bigger picture.
HOWARD BROWN AND KAREN STEWART (FOUNDERS, STEWART + BROWN)
Ethical fashion and sustainable supply-chain management begins with great design, technological innovation, and entrepreneurial thinking and action. The damaging and deadly effects of conventional production are now part of the national and international conversation driving global awareness and demand for our responsibly made products.
One of the wonderful takeaways from 2014, is that we, as designers and entrepreneurs, now have a Partner of considerable might and resources to take our Revolution to the next level: ubiquity. And that partner is the global investment community.
As Buckminster Fuller once said, “There is only one revolution tolerable to all men, all societies, all political systems: revolution by design and invention.”
Predictions for 2015:
1. Vertically integrated and domestic manufacturing models further sustainability efforts allowing ethical brands to compete with conventional fast-fashion brands.
2. Exciting tools and technologies, such as 3D printing and open-source bootstrap Web development platforms and templates, are the enablers for the next generation of ethical designers.
3. Investment and innovation in robotics will continue to develop and provide a “solution” to those pesky human-labor issues and rising wages and scrutiny for the behemoth brands.
4. The “reverse” Industrial Revolution—hopefully!—begins.
AURELIE POPPER AND JADE HARWOOD (CO-CREATIVE DIRECTORS, WOOL AND THE GANG)
Mindfulness is key in 2015. Being mindful of what we consume, eat, wear, travel, etc. The fashion story is changing and the future is human. The rise of the local maker and the return to home-manufacturing isn’t a niche anymore.
Brands should take care of their resources and processes and consumers understand the story behind their clothes. There’s a big shift from “having” to “being” and fashion is part of it. The “Gang Maker” will become even more central to our business model getting involved into the design process, too.
Sustainably produced on-demand fashion that minimizes environmental impact is where all the research should be focused on. Upcycling and repurposing will still be integral to textile development and where the academic research should be focused on this time.
TECHNOLOGY AS ENABLER
Along with passion and doing good will be the triptych to success. Young entrepreneurs, fashion activists, sustainability prophets, and vegan designers will form a new generation of “fashion radicals,” revolutionizing not just the way of doing things but also the way we think.
REBECCA BURGESS (FOUNDER, FIBERSHED)
The soil is the underwriter for the clothes we wear; fashionable or not, it’s fundamental unless you’re wearing a fossil-fuel derivative.
In an era of divestment campaigns urging us into a new biosphere based economy and material culture—fashion has an opportunity to take this climate message to the people.
I think we’ll see a new era of storytelling that will link our garments to the farms and ranches from which the natural fibers are sourced. We’re seeing this begin to take off already, with one prominent example coming from the outdoor retail giant: The North Face and its Backyard Program.
I sense this is just the beginning of a movement towards fashion providing a forum for us to create more meaningful connections with the land, not just so we are appropriately sheltered as we enter the elements, but with the added layer that our clothing represents a deeper harmonizing with natural systems.
I also sense our quantitative tech culture will find increasingly apt ways of measuring our climate and water impact through a streamlining of life-cycle assessment protocols, and in a manner that brings transparency and clarity to the carbon and water accounting process.
I also see a new forging of diverse natural-fiber blending that brings ancient and modern know-how together.
Manufacturing these new yet old textiles will be done through materials designers becoming increasingly collaborative with fiber farmers and increasingly educated about best practices.
A surge in “regionally sourced artisan lines” will surface in large brands and small design houses alike.
Fashion will become more intimate with its source, not simply because it’s the next trendy move, but because it’s simply becoming the most meaningful and ecologically apropos call to action we can take.
LAURA KISSEL (FILMMAKER, COTTON ROAD)
I think there will be ongoing interest among designers and brands in 2015 to find innovative ways to communicate to customers about the sourcing, labor, and environmental impacts of clothing.
Some companies are leading on this now; they’ve realized that if consumers are asked to think about these things, their habits and values may change to support more sustainable options.
I recently cut out the care label inside a shirt I purchased and it said this: “We’d like our clothes back. Recycle them at our U.S. stores, #thxverymuch.” This is an innovative way to ask for a consumer’s participation in thinking through the life cycle of our clothes.
I know a lot of college students and recently met two young women who are leaders in a sustainability group in their campus’s Greek life community. Their goal is to reduce the consumption of cheap T-shirts that Greek chapters print to advertise social and charity events.
These women also want to educate campus leaders about alternatives to cheap, and ultimately discardable, T-shirts by drawing attention to a regional company that make T-shirts entirely in their home state from “dirt to shirt,” with a transparent supply chain.
When I meet young people like this who are dedicated to raising awareness about more sustainable and eco-conscious options within their peer groups, I feel more hopeful that there will eventually be long-term, systemic changes in textile sourcing and production.
LEAH BORROMEO (FILMMAKER, DIRTY WHITE GOLD)
Okay, so we’ve not come off the fast-fashion crack and we’re still buying into the micro-season trend. Because advertising.
We’ve been getting into upcycling and vintage clothing as a kind of assuaging methadone, but we’re still hooked on the hard stuff because oh man, so cheap, and I’m so broke, but hey gotta look good.
Predictions for 2015 are less about looking into crystal balls and more about praying for the fashion-buying public to enter a 12-step program.
Of course the onus isn’t all on us. The market has to play along, too. Dear fashion industry: Just because there are 365 days in the year doesn’t mean I need a different wardrobe for every day. Please stop trying to convince me I do, and maybe I might want to say something nice about you for a change.
YAEL AFLALO (CREATIVE DIRECTOR, REFORMATION)
We are looking forward to the development and expansion of technology that will help to pave the way for more ethical and sustainable production and retail methods. We see this as a huge opportunity not only for our company, but for other small companies, who would like to be active participants in the sustainable fashion movement but do not yet have the access to these types of systems.
We are also looking forward to the continued education of our customers and the fashion industry as a whole, by teaching the best sustainable practices in areas such as water recycling and conservation, renewable energy sourcing, and updated waste programs, and providing new tools so customers can learn the environmental impacts of products.
We are excited to see the fashion industry embrace new technologies in 2015, from waterless dyeing, to improved mechanical recycling for cotton, to high-tech consumer-facing websites. It’s an exciting opportunity to push for a larger industry shift toward widespread supply-chain transparency.
FRANCISCA PINEDA (CREATIVE DIRECTOR, BHAVA; FOUNDER, ETHICAL FASHION ACADEMY)
While having an authentic brand mission is still imperative, as our in-boxes continue to rival for our precious time and attention span, brands will have to maximize outreach efforts with as few words as possible.
Focus on design will be the most meaningful way to reach an audience that is hyper-aware of marketing and looking for a fresh perspective.
As the number of designers and retailers entering the ethical fashion space increases, ethically minded stories become diluted and innovative and smart design that is reflective of the needs of modern life will stand out.
New materials, technologies, and collaborations will continue to excite consumers and provide much needed value addition to retailers.
On-the-move consumers will continue to rely on the Internet to purchase whatever they want from wherever they are, but memorable experiences incorporating art, culture, and social media will continue to blur the lines between art and commerce.
Overall I am optimistic about 2015, but now that more issues than anyone can keep track of are out in the open, there is also a desire to work beyond sustainability towards a long overdue process of restoration.
One example is to look beyond just providing jobs, to improving self worth. Human, environmental, cultural, and spiritual restoration are key to a thriving planet and its people.
No industry, country, company, or person is separate, we are all undeniably interconnected, and with this realization there can be an increasing awareness of the importance of our daily choices.
LEANNE MAI-LY HILGART (DESIGNER, VAUTE)
It’s been a rising momentum in change for the fashion industry over the past several years, and while at first this meant the little guys with the big dreams were putting blood, sweat, and tears into proving demand and proving concept for ethical (for people, planet, and animals), and innovative textiles and apparel, I have a feeling this is the year where the tide will turn.
In 2015, ethical fashion will no longer mean alternative fashion. It will begin to mean the new standard, the new bar in apparel business. This will be the result of dozens of innovators pushing to create textiles and apparel and accessories that are better than the convention.
While the big fashion houses have and will be adopting conscientious textiles and collaborating with independent labels as their strategies see fit, the biggest growth will happen as the innovators get more support for their work from the growing conscientious community of people around the world, the same way that conscientious food companies have grown and risen in the past decades to now become mainstream.
ELIZA STARBUCK (DESIGNER)
Let’s admit it: it’s been a rough year—and, at the same time, a productive year, full of positive developments.
Our society, with all its material trappings, is simultaneously disgusting and appealing. Who needs all this junk? Yet, meanwhile, have you noticed that some very cool stuff is popping up for our consuming pleasure?
Virtually anything you can think of can be made or found on the Internet. To buy or not to buy? For many, that has become the question.
We of the sustainably minded design world will continue to be optimistic that conscious design intentions and processes and individual lifestyle choices can eventually transform the human collective and bring higher peace and balance to Earth. We keep our eyes on the goal: a kind life together with and on Earth.
As designers and artisans, we acknowledge our responsibility to educate society by offering an experience of quality, care, and craft.
In return, we will continue to request a fair exchange that expresses gratitude for our service. We anticipate that conscious people will choose to buy things less often and more thoughtfully, to pay a little more for goods that are better designed and longer lasting, to patronize small businesses that form the foundations of communities, and to support not only the human lives committed to the making of the material world but also our Earth, whose resources are finite and not disposable.
Earth is a bubble in which we all live. We must take care of one another and our bubble if we are to survive here in outer space.
However, even with these hoped-for developments in consciousness in the New Year, there likely will continue to be a consumer and stakeholder base that takes a polarized attitude toward the world: people whose understanding of arithmetic is sadly lacking. (They think they can subtract more than they add and get a positive result).
There will continue to be some with a separatist philosophy who do not understand or, possibly, care about their impact on other people or the world.
In 2015, I expect that the stragglers out there will continue to create material and spiritual poverty, will continue to push a brink-of-disaster approach toward life, sending it reverberating through the media and the rest of society.
Some of us will pay attention to these people, then ignore them, then forgive them, and then continue on our preferred paths with the greater goal in mind.
What else can we do?
I can make only one projection about the future with certainty: Earth does not need humans. None of us are necessary. Will some disaster change everything? Yes. Read the news. Disasters happen every day, human lives are lost, Earth is damaged, and somehow we continue to march on together with the sad lessons we have accrued.
Would it alleviate these challenges if we adopted a less polarized point of view? It might help.
So, while I cannot predict much outside our negligible and shifting attitudes, I can state a few wishes I have for humanity this year.
Perhaps we will learn not to think in black-and-white terms. Maybe we will consider that not all solutions have yet been discovered and that anything is possible.
Could we all please pause a second or two longer this year before purchasing beloved new things to ask how, why, and from what they were made? Can we all please mend our clothes and get our shoes repaired and resoled? And can we please get the recycling into the correct cans?
I wish you all a very supported and joyful 2015.
JILL HELLER (PROPRIETOR, THE PURE THREAD)
2015 will be a year of deeper conversations, collaborations, and implementation where growth and sustainability go hand in hand.
Each stage of the fashion production cycle, from the design phase and the use of raw materials, to their manufacture and production, to consumer purchasing patterns will be more carefully evaluated by fashion houses of all sizes.
There will be a continued focus of the relationship between the fashion industry and the environment. Recognizing the enormity of the task at hand, designers search for eco-friendly materials and techniques.
Look for growth in the use of natural fibers as well as the repurposing or recycling of old fibers into new ones.
In terms of manufacturing, there will be a continued push to rebuild “made in the U.S.A.,” bringing jobs back to America and providing clean and safe working environments, with consumers paying slightly more for U.S.-made products even if these goods cost slightly more than ones manufactured overseas.
Design trends highlight artisanal products with high quality, hand-crafted accents such as embroidery, crafts, appliqué, embellishment, blanket stripes, and florals. Smart retailers are approaching artisanal groups in developing economies to collaborate, resulting in unique products that make a difference.
In addition to the increased awareness of ethical and environmental issues with fast fashion, more consumers are simply looking for higher-quality pieces that will last beyond one or two wears, slowing the pace of consumerism.
With the increase in media attention to promoting ethical fashion as sexy and glamorous, paired with the emergence of transparent brands creating truly beautiful product, comes the development of higher quality retail experiences without compromising aesthetic.
I have witnessed and participated in the growth of a more sustainable fashion industry, with higher quality product on store shelves, gaining and sustaining the consumer’s interest.
It’s only when the consumers warm up to a concept and start to support it that anything really takes off.
I have so many ideas and thoughts about how we could all collaborate to create a buzz and love sustainable goods among my constituency: the luxury woman who is concerned about the state of the world and the environment, and will so fully embrace the opportunity to use her resources to put some balance back in the ecology and the human justice systems.
I think that with my expertise in communicating with this population, sustainable fashion brands could become household names in 2015.
RACHEL KIBBE (PROPRIETOR, HELPSY)
In 2015 I’m really hopeful for advancements in new eco-friendly textile technologies and research.
A story that really stuck with me this year was of plastic microfibers from fabrics being a main source of plastic pollution in the ocean.
Since I’m a big skier and beach person, I am a big user of activewear and feel terrible about the impact of these materials on the environment.
I’m hoping this will be a year of advancements in textiles for performance-wear that are not just made out of recycled materials, but also biodegradable. This is going to take a ton of scientific research and I’m hopeful we’ll see some progress in these fields.
I’m sort of positively projecting that they’ll change their positions and start getting behind this.
ANNA GRIFFIN (EDITOR-IN-CHIEF/PUBLISHER, COCO ECO)
2015 is about individuality. It’s about standing out from the crowd, and is a perfect time to make a statement.
As women, a great place to do so is in our wardrobes. By choosing with our dollars, we create necessary change and get to be a part of something bigger. When embracing this New Year and looking to our personal style, we celebrate the continued growth of the smart fashion movement.
As Greenpeace continues to strive for toxic-free fashion, enrolling global companies such as Adidas, Mango, Nike, H&M, Uniqlo, and Puma to commit to cleaning up their supply chains, and brands such as Levi’s shift attention to global water issues, the high street starts to clean up its act.
Slow fashion, made to order, made in the U.S.A., smaller artisanal companies, and fashion houses that give back, all continue to gain ground, while a growth in the availability of eco-friendly materials creates innovation.
From cork purses and denim manufactured using recycled ocean plastic, to jewelry constructed from used bullet casings and yoga pants made from recycled plastic bottles, eco-aware fashion continues to break boundaries, offering a myriad of choices for the ultimate fashionista.
And if that were not enough, there’s always vintage and an opportunity to wear something unique whilst keeping it out of the landfill.
Now what could be more individual or stylish than that?
AMY DUFAULT (WRITER; CONSULTANT; SOCIAL MEDIA AND CONTENT COORDINATOR, BROOKLYN FASHION AND DESIGN ACCELERATOR)
Storytelling will save the world.
Tell me your story and I’ll tell you mine.
Tell me why you care about things and I will listen. Hopefully you will listen to me, too.
I think we care more about people when we can sit still and listen. Be present. Look in their eyes.
I’m not saying go into 2015 with a New Age-based sense of wonderment and ability to be omnipresent but, if we channel our good intentions and focus one one thing, say, a conversation, can’t all that new knowledge then make some sort of positive life ripple?
Just imagine if we looked at ourselves as traveling educators because we know something so well. Oh, and that doesn’t have to be that we’re just good at sourcing or designing, it’s that we are good at getting people to sit around a campfire to listen and be inspired.
Consider that for as long as humans have been on this planet, we have found ways to pass on our stories and make life experience part of our human evolution.
Ironically, completely like Neanderthals, we still gravitate more towards effective imagery (hieroglyphics) to invite us into the deeper story. Luckily in 2015, we have the ability animate those images and to fuse story with sound and narrated clips from all over the world to give us a more intimate sense of people and place.
As a journalist for roughly 20 years, I was so happy that the Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator let me put together a Winter Fashion Film series so I could kick the year off right sharing what inspires me.
Film becomes the new journalism and I say bring it.
In these documentaries, personal stories do come to life and in them, we hear the footsteps of our own failings as well as the crescendo and ripple effects of our fashion and environmental superheroes.
Will this new way of reporting change the way we see each other and the true work that needs to be done within the fashion industry? I think it can.
Again, fingers crossed.
GRETA EAGAN (FOUNDER, STYLE SOCIETY; PUBLISHER, FASHION ME GREEN; AUTHOR)
And why not? We all have items in our closets that don’t get a lot of wear, but we aren’t yet ready to permanently part with them.
What if you could rent those items out to other fashion lovers and make some cash from your closet? That is the space I am currently working in, and have started a peer-to-peer fashion rental marketplace called Style Society (visit www.joinstylesociety.com to request an invite to this exclusive community).
In 2015, renting (and sharing) is the new buying!
ELIZABETH CLINE (AUTHOR)
The global fashion industry has made an incredible amount of progress toward sustainability in recent years. Just a year or two ago, I couldn’t have imagined “closing the loop” being a part of everyday discussions within the apparel industry—and yet we are.
Social change is a slow process; sometimes it moves so slowly it’s hard to discern. But at the beginning of each year, as I reflect, that’s when it hits me that my fashion revolution wish-list is getting more fine-tuned and optimistic. And I’m excited to see what we all accomplish together next.
Here’s my prediction for 2015: This will be the year that fashion fully commits to knocking out textile waste.
Brands, cities, and citizens will work together to ensure that no piece of clothing or textile ever goes to waste or into a landfill. This is what we refer to as closing the loop in fashion, and not only do we already have the tools and technology to make this goal a reality, we finally have the right brands and organizations working together to make it a mainstream practice.
For example, hot L.A. fashion house Reformation creates on-trend looks from repurposed vintage clothing and rescued deadstock fabric from fashion houses and the company has helped to make closed-loop fashion a household name.
And international pop star Pharrell Williams has gotten into the close-loop game with his G-Star “Raw for the Oceans” denim line made from recycled ocean plastic—taking fashion sustainability to a whole new global audience.
To close the loop, we must do work on the technology tip, developing new ways to engineer new fibers from old ones.
Just last August, scientists at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology announced a groundbreaking cotton-recycling method that distills worn fibers down into a porridge-like substance that can be reformed into thread. A fabric-recycling factory that will implement this bold new technology is slated to open its doors in 2015.
Closing the loop also means educating the public and dispelling myths about textile recycling! An astonishing number of Americans and Europeans do not know that textiles are 95 percent recyclable and reusable—that extends to stained tees, worn-out jeans, and old sheets and towels. Only wet or toxic fibers aren’t recyclable.
And far too many people are still wary of for-profit textile recycling, when in reality, accredited for-profit textile recyclers provide a service by collected our waste and finding useful new purposes for it.
To help close the loop and clear up some of this confusion, municipalities are stepping up to to the plate.
New York State’s Recycling Association has launched a statewide textile recovery campaign to educate people on the importance of textile recycling and provide information on convenient donation locations. Likewise, San Francisco has launched a Zero Waste Textile Initiative and partnered with local businesses and charities to provide over 160 drop-off locations for used textiles around the city, with the lofty but achievable goal to reduce textile waste to zero by 2020!
Lastly, the Internet and the sharing economy are closing the loop on fashion in truly incredible ways–trading and swapping clothes has never been easier.
San Fransisco startup ThredUp, for example, is now the world’s largest online consignment website, and they’ve made consigning and trading in gently worn, brand name clothing almost effortless.
Members receive a large, prepaid, polka-dot-festooned clothing bag to their doorstep–simply fill the bag with clothes and then drop it off at the nearest shipping center.
With this type of talent, innovation and organization, I feel confidant that this is the year for closing the loop in fashion.
KESTREL JENKINS (FOUNDER, AWEAR)
When we think of our basic necessities, we need food, shelter, and clothing.
Looking back at our modern history, the building and food industry’s have already had their conscious moments in the sun with LEED certification, the organic and local food movement, etc.
Now, it’s clothing’s turn to be placed in the mainstream’s spotlight when it comes to thinking more sustainably, and the global energy feels present to influence this on a consumer level.
Designers, manufacturers, farmers, and others within the clothing supply chain are shifting their ways and inspiring a change for better options in the fashion world.
What I find consistently motivating within the younger generation is their recent craving for more answers, and their search to learn more about the stories and journey behind the products they buy.
This intuitive nature, along with individuals’ pride in retelling the history of their garments is going to feed a new larger wave of conscious consumers whose style reflects their lifestyle values.