Sustainable Fashion

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6 Materials That Could Change the Fashion Industry

In recent decades we have been seeing rapid changes in areas such as our diet, our approach to shopping as well as ways of communication. Clothing industry is also no exception, as its survival is dependent on adjusting to everchanging shopping behavior of consumers, as well as on reducing its footprint on nature.

Innovations in textile materials will become a key factor in helping the clothing industry survive. Photo / Pexels – Theona Swift

More and more people are beginning to realize that the way we perceive the fashion industry is simply not sustainable in the long run. With this growing pressure and demand for innovative, green products, the fast fashion business model will be forced to change, drastically.

The time of innovation, invention, digital fashion and creation of new materials is soon here. These new materials that could spark a revolution inside the clothing industry. One of many ways to spark that revolution is to create materials and textiles that lessen the impact on natural resources that are also of high quality and durability. In this article, we will be mentioning 6 materials that are not something purely hypothetical, but have already become actively used in the manufacturing processes of clothes and accessories.

Bananatex

One of the first durable and waterproof biodegradable textiles, 100% made of banana plant (Abacà). Abacà is grown in the Philippines and is a part of the natural ecosystem of a sustainable economy, requiring no chemical treatment nor extra water to grow. Thanks to its beneficial properties, such as flexibility and durability, it can fully replace synthetic materials that are popularly used in clothing

During the process of creating Bananatex, fibers of the Abacà plant are being transformed into yarn, which is then used in manufacturing handbags, backpacks, shoes and even furniture. Bananatex is sold in three colors: All-Black, Natural White and Gray with the use of beeswax.

 
 
 
 
 
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Príspevok, ktorý zdieľa QWSTION (@qwstion_official)

Mycelium Leather: Vegan Leather Made From Fungi

Leather is famous for its durability and protective properties, but like any clothing material, it is subject to ethical as well as environmental issues. Mycelium leather is an ecological and ethical answer, as the fabric is made from the roots of fungi.

During the manufacturing process, extracted cells from fungi roots are placed in dishes inside a laboratory where they are being nourished. Within one month, the resulting material is then treated and colored to have properties matching those of animal leather.

This technology has produced new textiles such as MycoTEX and Mylea, made from mycelia – the vegetative part of the fungus. Seamless technology is utilized during the manufacturing process, shaping the fabric into a perfect fit, not requiring cutting nor sewing. This approach is the most ecological one, as no extra waste is produced. The end material is then used to manufacture wallets, handbags and even clothes.

 
 
 
 
 
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Príspevok, ktorý zdieľa MycoTEX (@mycotex_nl)

Piñatex

This material is made from pineapple leaves, the by-product after harvesting pineapple fruits. This innovative approach therefore utilizes material that would normally be thrown away as an organic waste into landfills, therefore helping to reduce methane that is produced by organic waste (methane is 80x more potent greenhouse gas compared to CO2), lessening its impact on climate change.

Pineapple leaves Piňatex uses are dried in the sun and are then subjected to purification, after which the material becomes a puffy fiber. This material is afterwards colored, using certified pigments, and then processed for use.

Fashion designers love using the end-product thanks to its properties, such as high durability and long lifespan. Since it is considered an alternative to animal leather, as well as thanks to its properties, Piñatex is used in the production of footwear, bags and clothing.

 
 
 
 
 
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Príspevok, ktorý zdieľa Piñatex® by Ananas Anam (@pinatex)

SeaCell: Textile From the Ocean

Textile fabric no longer needs to be grown in dry conditions. SeaCell is an ecological fiber made from brown seaweed. During the production process of this material, seaweed is mixed with cellulose, placing the material in the same family as lyocell (semi-synthetic viscous fiber).

The advantage of SeaCell material is its calcium content, as well as vitamin E and vitamin A contained within, which are proven to have anti-inflammatory properties. This material is therefore used in manufacturing children’s clothing as well as sportswear. As an example, Lululemon and Orca are brands utilizing SeaCell in their sportswear

During the manufacturing process of SeaCell, cellulose from wood is combined with brown seaweed. Photo: Unsplash – Ben Wicks

Tencel

The tradename Tencel is used for a group of fibers called lyocell. It is a type of viscose (ecological alternative to silk) that is made from crushed wood fibers or recycled textile. Lyocell is one of ecological materials made of beech or oak cellulose. The whole process is environmentally friendly, as zero harmful chemicals are used in the process.

Lyocell has numerous advantages over conventional viscose, such as increased durability, strength and absorbency. In the summer days, the material pleasantly cools the body while in the cold days of winter, it retains the body heat. The only difference between conventional lyocell and tencel is that Tencel uses exclusively eucalyptus wood. The resulting fibers thus carry with them the beneficial effects of eucalyptus.

Both materials are however created in the same manner. First, the trunk of a tree is stripped of its bark and is then chipped into smaller pieces. These pieces are then dissolved and boiled using a non-toxic solvent to create cellulose. This cellulose is then filtered and the resulting fibers are mechanically stretched as needed. The end product is a pleasant and soft fabric used in sportswear, bedding, sleeping bags or windbreakers.

 
 
 
 
 
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Príspevok, ktorý zdieľa TENCEL™ Europe (@tencel_europe)

Vegea: Grape leather

A type of a 100% recyclable vegan leather made from grapes. Grape leather is a waste product in wine production. These skins are dried and pressed. In combination with oil and substances contained within, a material with similar properties to animal leather is created. The properties of this vegan leather are softness and smoothness. As for the benefit of this innovative manufacturing process, no additional water is required to manufacture the leather, significantly reducing the already extremely high usage of natural resources.

This material was developed by Vegea, an Italian startup that attracted a lot of attention in the sustainable fashion industry. The startup project is still under development. However, starting in 2022, the company plans to industrialize grape leather across the globe. We can expect clothes made from this material to appear on our shelves in the near future.

 
 
 
 
 
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Príspevok, ktorý zdieľa VEGEA (@vegeacompany)

In the end, it should be noted that the future of fashion will not depend solely on the availability of natural resources, but also on preferences of customers. Even today we can already see high increase in interest in more sustainable and ecological products harmless to our health and nature. Would you also prioritize natural materials over synthetic ones?

Zuzana Sidorová

author

Student and founder of the Zerowaste Girls initiative, under which she organizes workshops and lectures aimed at sustainability and zero waste.

Junior innovation manager at the innovation and digital services department of the Slovak capital city Bratislava. She is responsible for research and formation of digital services for the inhabitants of the capital city Bratislava.

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