Futuristic Sustainable Fashion Tech of 2021


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The pandemic has changed the way many of us shop. Buying clothes online isn’t new, but the tech behind it, making the shopping experience individualistic is changing the fashion industry and simultaneously contributing to sustainability efforts. Fashion tech holds promising solutions for sustainability. Whether it’s evolving technology that produces innovative textiles, to enhancing consumer experience, sustainable technologies promise to have an enormous positive impact on ecosystem protection and sustainable apparel business models within the next decade. There are four main areas where technological advancements are having significant impacts: production support, recycling, preventative waste reduction, and sustainable textiles.

There are four main areas where technological advancements are having significant impacts: production support, recycling, preventative waste reduction, and sustainable textiles.

Sustainable Fashion Technology

Let’s talk about clothing production! With fast fashion still rearing its ugly head, unchecked consumerism continues to create enormous amounts of waste. But thanks to the internet of things (IoT) which encompasses everything connected to the internet, various production steps within the supply chain are able to talk with each other.
fashion tech
Blockchain technology is an increasingly utilized tool in fashion for traceability and efficiency in the supply chain, creating physical-digital links between products and their digital identities. Companies using blockchain tech for transparency are able to guarantee their ‘green’ credentials. TextileGenesis is paving the way for this. Having launched two years ago, the organization won a €150,000 ($180,000) Global Change Award for innovations in support of a greener fashion industry. It has created a “traceability platform custom built for the apparel ecosystem.” This trend of transparency allows customers to be more a part of the decision-making process through fashion on-demand. Though this is not a new concept, its re-emergence has changed the production process reversing it from producing and selling, to customized buying then producing.
You might be asking yourself, how will I know if this will fit? Or will I miss the experience of trying clothes on? One way tech is combating this is through 3D Virtual Sampling using virtual reality. It combines the physical and online world of retail creating a truly exciting experience. Customers are able to virtually try on outfits, which allows for greater accuracy in sizing and customized measurements. Though currently this process can be slow, the sustainability element is that it results in less waste and is proven to be much less labor intensive than alternative types of clothing manufacturing. In fact, on-demand clothing reduces fabric waste by 35%. This very technocentric technique could provide valuable insight to clothing production and how to align production with social and environmental considerations. 3D body scanning is another technology finding solutions to produce clothes for different body types and sizes, rather than on a proportional scale. This results in fewer returns, less clothing waste, and overall improvements in manufacturing efficiency.
virtual reality shopping

Innovative Sustainable Textiles

When it comes to sustainable textiles, brands have been making a name for themselves with many of the innovative textiles we see today. This ranges from alternative leather sources made from mushrooms and pineapple leaves, to clothes made from algae to digital knitwear. Here are a few examples:
  1. Bio-based fur is first on the list which is quickly joining the luxury market while supporting animal welfare. Stella McCartney has been a pioneer in creating a closed-loop sustainable business using innovative material such as her bio-based faux fur called KOBA. McCartney teamed with Ecopel and Dupont Biomaterial to create this 37% plant-based fabric which consumes 30% less energy than most fabrics and produces 63% less greenhouse gas than conventional synthetic material.
  2. Second on the list is digital knitting. This has made huge strides in the 3D printing world, offering a myriad of possibilities for customisation. It is an incredibly fast process producing highly functional clothing items with minimal waste. Haworth is a leader in this technology offering new and unexpected textile possibilities. A company that works alongside this producing yarn is Ecotec. This Italian based company is exclusive to Marchi & Fildi and launched in 2015 at Première Vision in Paris. Ecotec has been the first to manufacture a process able to turn 100% pre-consumer and pre-dyed scraps from various textiles into yarn. This yarn is suitable for woven textiles, knits, hosiery, and upholstery. This process reduces landfill waste and the production cycle is shorter! There are now several companies who are  Ecotec accredited partners, including: COMATEX, Euromaglia S.r.l, HATA, Lana Reale, Manifattura CBM, and Tessuti & Tessuti srl.
  3. A third innovation textile is made from orange fiber! Sustainable luxury fans will love this 100% sustainable fabric, made from citrus fruit by-products. The Italian brand creates high-quality fabrics while reducing the amount of citrus waste. Salvatore Ferragamo produced a line of beautiful orange fiber scarves.
  4. Algae Apparel is next. This innovative company creates biodegradable fibers that can be turned into eco-friendly dye. They were even finalists for the 2018 Global Innovation Awards. This sustainable material prevents water pollution from dye, reduces carbon footprints and reduces the use of chemical fertilizers.
  5. Unspun is a jean brand applying tech to produce customized, made-to-order jeans! By using 3D body scanners, the style, fabric, stitch color, waist rise, and leg length can be chosen by the customer. The process of body scanning is even possible straight from your iphone to create a hyper-accurate body model. Their goal is to produce jeans that their consumers can love and appreciate knowing they were made just for you.

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