With the fashion world’s untouchable facade beginning to crumble, can designers take the reigns and steer it into a new era?
In the last few months, the trusty mask of glamour and luxury is slowing being pulled back from the face of the fashion industry. A sector so integral to society, arts and design, the industry has been placed upon a pedestal for decades, however one certain group are attempting to change this.
Extinction Rebellion recently used London Fashion Week to make their statement, with protestors covering themselves in blood in a staged ‘die-in’, referencing the damage caused by fast fashion. Aswell as a mock funeral for the current way fashion is carried out, there was a far more somber mood surrounding this year’s event.
And somber mood there should be!
As climate change continues to dominate our global conversation, slowly different sectors are coming to the realisation that the current ethos of consume to the nth extent is one that is going to destroy our planet. And there are few industries so reckless as the fashion industry.
With the textile industry a bigger contributer to greenhouse gases than international flights and overseas shipping combined, the toll it is taking on the planet’s resources is starting to be truly realised. Whether it’s buying a dress for one event, never to wear again, or changing entire wardrobes each season, the issue of fast consumption and inevitable expense is one that sooner or later, the big fashion houses and high street brands alike are going to have to recognise.
But how do you go about restructuring an entire industry, built primarily on the desire for the ‘new’ thing?
The answer is not easily. And certainly not without the cooperation of the big fashion houses that steer the rhetoric. The first port of call from many is to change their consumer behaviour, something which Extinction Rebellion show their support of.
“There is an abundance of clothing and textiles already in circulation which we can creatively repair, re-use, alter, upcycle, recycle and much more, minimising our use of new resources. We encourage rebels to share through swapping or renting, or buying and selling second-hand. Through a variety of media resources, ideas and actions, the XR #Boycott Fashion team will inspire and educate.” – Extinction Rebellion.
But as many scientists have indicated, the bottom up approach of a consumer rebellion would take too long, and frankly, be largely unsuccessful in achieving any real change.
So in order to really change the face of fashion and help to turn the tide on the issue, it’s the fashion companies that need to step up. As with any significant cultural changes, this represents an opportunity to the creatives and the designers; map the course for the new way of practicing fashion.
So we have scoured the internet for some of our favourite new companies and designs dedicated to changing the way we consume fashion.
Attempting to complete restructure the buying and selling of clothes, For Days is a closed-loop subscription service, using constantly recycled garments. To buy a t-shirt from the company would cost you £32, which is definitely a lot, but if you ever need to replace it, they will send you a replacement for £6.
The used garment is then recycled and re-made into a new product that For Days can redistribute to another member.
A.BCH by Courtney Holm
Coming at sustainability from a slightly different angle, Australian fashion designer Courtney Holm has opted for the compostable route. Everything that goes into her products can be decomposed by either burning, or simply putting on a compost heap. You can also return old clothes to be re-used or recycled into new garments.
Just in case her clothing line was not eco-friendly enough, all items are shipped via a carbon-neutral courier.
OCEAN by Leticia Credidio
Another clever way that Italian-Japanese-Brazilian designer Leticia Credidio is getting people interested in sustainable fashion is by creating an external draw to her product.
She has come up with a range of sleepwear made out of, essentially, seaweed. The new product is called SeaCell, a material from Smart Fiber that embeds crushed up seaweed into cellulose fibres made from trees. But this magic product has an external feature.
The antioxidants and amino acids present in the seaweed react with the skin’s natural moisture whilst sleeping in it, and it is said to promote skin regeneration.
Aswell as being carbon neutral and biodegradable.
Whilst textiles and clothing is a huge contributer to the issue, it is in fact trainers and sneakers that are the worst in terms of carbon footprint. They require a lot of energy to produce and are almost always made out of non-biodegradable materials.
What’s worse, new reports predict the apparel and footwear industry will grow by a further 81 per cent by 2030.
So you could say that the leaps made by footwear companies, at this stage, is of huge importance.
But fear not, some of the sectors’ biggest brands are making headway.
FUTURECRAFT LOOP by Adidas
If we’re talking big brands then we might aswell start with the biggest out there. The Futurecraft Loop shoe was released in April of this year, out of virgin plastic that can be ground up and remade again as part of a closed-loop system. They became popular pretty quickly, not just for their sustainability but also their design.
You’ve probably seen these shoes around and not known they were ‘eco-shoes’, so I suppose that’s job well done?
COTTON + CORN by Reebok
Trainer giant Reebok have also got in on the fun, releasing a shoe made from cotton and corn! Instead of the petroleum-based rubber and foam soles normally used, Reebok have created a shoe sole made from corn, and insole generated from castor bean oil and the top of the shoe made entirely from woven cotton.
So if you like to look like IKEA garden furniture, these are the pair for you!
PLANT SHOE by Native Shoes
Leading the charge for shoes made of the most bizarre materials must go to the Plant Shoe by Native Shoes. Managing to cram in eucalyptus, pineapple husk, organic kenaf and dried hevea milk, these vegan shoes are made from 100 per cent plant-based materials.
Serving to clean up the oceans, the Shao sneaker uses five plastic bottles from the Mediterranean.
Plastic is processed into a yarn, which is used to create the black knitted upper sole that fits the wearer like a sock. The outer sole is made from a type of algae that grows in excess in lakes and rivers, which Ecoalf transforms into a flexible foam that permits easy movement.
Kind of ugly, but you have to admire the creativity in the process of making the shoe.