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Editor's pick product sustainability

9 brands rethinking textiles for the circular economy

Fashion's Impact on Water
Fashion’s Impact on Water

From sustainability guru Stella McCartney to German premium label Hugo Boss, brands across the spectrum have been experimenting with textile innovations that aim to push the industry towards a greener future.

This mission comes with a sense of urgency, with several reports predicting the uncomfortable reality of resource scarcity. A statistic from The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that humans were using the equivalent of 1.7 planets’ worth of natural resources in 2017.

Such resources, and water specifically, are central to the fashion industry’s supply chain. From planting and irrigating cotton fields, to dyeing and washing fabric – a world without enough water and raw materials spells out an uncertain future.

Infographic of The Circular Economy - Ellen MacArthur
Infographic of The Circular Economy – Ellen MacArthur

“In the worst case, the fashion industry will face distinct restrictions on one or more of its key input factors, leaving it unable to grow at the projected rate and in the long run unable to continue under its current operating model,” said the Global Fashion Agenda in its The Pulse of The Fashion Industry report.

It’s for that reason, the industry is exploring the circular economy, which takes the traditional, make-use-dispose model in fashion, and rather promotes a closed-loop where items are reused, recycled and reduced.

We’ve seen numerous startups playing in this space for years, experimenting with different natural ingredients and formulas to create textiles ready for market. Today, a number of brands are jumping on board and partnering with such teams in order to replace traditional materials.

Here are nine of the strongest examples…

STELLA MCCARTNEY

Stella McCartney has been championing sustainable fashion since the formation of her namesake label, pushing the envelope of what circular textile innovation means for the industry at large.

One stand-out circular textile from the brand is Re.Verso™, a regenerated cashmere made from post-factory cashmere waste in Italy. According to the brand’s self-implemented Environmental P&L account, using this alternative material reduced its impact by 92%.

EVERLANE 
Everlane's ReNew Line
Everlane’s ReNew Line

Direct-to-consumer brand Everlane, which pioneered the concept of a transparent supply chain through its “radical transparency” approach, announced its newest sustainable material just this month – a fleece called ReNew, which is made from recycled plastic bottles.

The brand also pledged to replace all materials made of virgin plastic (including polyester and nylon) with material made of plastic water bottles and renewed materials by 2021. It expects to be recycling 100 million water bottles through its supply chain.

ADIDAS X PARLEY FOR THE OCEANS
Adidas x Parley
Adidas x Parley

Adidas’ partnership with Parley for the Oceans, a non-profit organization set to remove and recycle waste from the ocean, has been an elemental part of the brand’s sustainability strategy.

In 2015, the two companies teamed up to make a sneaker that was made entirely of yarn recycled from ocean waste and illegal deep-sea gill nets. While the shoe was impressive in both design and sustainability, the partnership really started to come to fruition last year when sneakers like the Parley x Adidas Ultra Boost became more widely available to the public.  Eric Liedtke, head of global brands at the company, said each pair of shoes uses the equivalent of 11 plastic bottles, which means that Adidas has recycled some 55 million plastic bottles this year.

ALLBIRDS
Allbirds' SweetFoam flip-flops
Allbirds’ Sugar Zeffer flip-flops

In August 2018, direct-to-consumer footwear brand Allbirds announced the launch of “SweetFoam”,  a biodegradable and environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum-based materials traditionally used in the manufacturing process of shoe-soles. The first product the brand created with SweetFoam was a range of sustainable flip-flops called Sugar Zeffers.

The new material, which is made up of a sugarcane base, marks an important achievement in the industry, as it is the first ever carbon-neutral green alternative to the traditional EVA foam. To inspire industry-wide change, Allbirds also made this technology open-source and therefore available to everyone.

REEBOK

As part of its Cotton + Corn initiative, sportswear brand Reebok released its first-ever biodegradable sneaker range in August of this year. The product launch was part of the brand’s larger aim to reduce the brand’s environmental footprint with biodegradable products.

The shoe, which is also called the Cotton + Corn sneaker, is made with a cotton top and a bioplastic sole created from a corn-derived alternative material. It is also the first in its category to be certified by the United States Department of Agriculture to consist of 75% bio-based content.

REFORMATION
Reformation Intimates
Reformation Intimates

Los Angeles-based sustainable fashion brand, Reformation, has been making fashion using end-of-roll fabrics for years, but through its newest category, underwear, it’s taking things a step further.

The intimates collection is made using a mixture of sustainable fabrics such as recycled lace, eco mesh (a recycled type of yarn) and Lenzing TENCEL, a patented fabric derived from a wood cellulose material.

ADAY
Fashion's Impact on Water
Fashion’s Impact on Water

For its new Plant Bae collection, direct-to-consumer fashion brand, Aday, wanted to trial a new fabric composition using SeaCell, a fiber created from seaweed from the Icelandic coast.

Every four years, the seaweed is harvested and spun into fiber together with lyocell to stabilize. For the Plant Bae collection, it was also enhanced with cellulose and modal to create an additionally soft fabric composition. The innovative material has seen previous incarnations in Falke socks and Lululemon sportswear in its VitaSea collection.

SALVATORE FERRAGAMO
Salvatore Ferragamo
Salvatore Ferragamo

Salvatore Ferragamo created a capsule collection in 2017 made from an innovative new material derived from leftover orange peel. The brand partnered with Italian company, Orange Fiber, to product the silk-feel line, which included apparel such as t-shirts and delicate scarves.

This material is, for now, aplenty: a recent figure from the Italian Agricultural Department revealed that waste from the juice industry resulted in 700,000 tonnes of discarded orange peel on a yearly basis in Italy alone.

HUGO BOSS
Hugo Boss "Boss"
Hugo Boss “Boss”

German brand Hugo Boss released limited collection footwear in April 2018 using discarded pineapple leaves that imitate the texture of leather. The material, called Piñatex, has been used by smaller footwear brands such as Bourgeois Boheme, although Hugo Boss is one of the first mainstream brands to adopt it.

Piñatex is derived from the leaves of the pineapple plant, a byproduct of the pineapple harvest that has no other use for farmers. The creation of the textile therefore provides local farmers with an additional income.

How are you thinking about sustainable innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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International Women’s Day: the brands celebrating and empowering females

Barbie Sheroes
Barbie Sheroes

Brands and retailers are celebrating and empowering women in multiple ways, from product to advertising, this International Women’s Day.

As the #MeToo movement shifts its focus beyond Hollywood to multiple other industries and fields, 2018 is a particularly pertinent time for this conversation. Here, we highlight some of the best brand activations that tap into topics of female empowerment and gender equality.

Celebrating Females

Celebration is a big focus this year, with the likes of Mattel leading the way. It continues to push both its product lines and messaging as tools of empowerment to little girls with the launch of its Sheroes Barbie range, which celebrates pioneering women in history. Dolls include British boxer Nicola Adams, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and American pilot Amelia Earhart.

In a more literal way, Johnny Walker has introduced a female figure – called Jane Walker – to its famous bottles, while beer marker BrewDog has launched a satirically pink beer bottle.

Net-a-Porter
Net-a-Porter

Charitable Collaborations

The need to align with consumer causes such as empowerment is reflected in the multitude of exclusive collaborations whose launches coincide with this year’s IWD too.

Soap & Glory, as well as the designer Rebecca Taylor, have chosen to show their support for the campaign “She Should Run”, encouraging females to run for political offices. While the beauty brand is raising money through social media, Taylor is taking the more direct step of pledging 10% of all online store proceeds on Thursday March 8 to the charity.

Female education on the other hand has taken priority for a range of companies, including Lancôme, who has partnered with CARE, a non-profit organisation to launch the campaign #WriteHerFuture, to end female illiteracy. Likewise online retailer Gilt wants to “close the gender gap in technology” and aims to give 100% of net profits to the “Girls Who Code” initiative.

Meanwhile Net-a-Porter has collaborated with a series of designers such as Ganni, Zadig & Voltaire and Temperley, to launch capsule collections to support charities that ensure women in need of better health and safety are protected.

Empowering Messages

Empowerment is otherwise front and center. To celebrate the accomplishments of female athletes and to support the company’s belief “in the inspirational power of sport to break down barriers”, for instance, Nike Women has launched a new campaign starring Serena Williams.

Meanwhile, direct-to-consumer label ADAY has taken to Instagram to share a range of exclusive postcards showcasing its feelings on female empowerment. Users are able to purchase the postcards, with the option to pre-address them to their local senator.

The iconic suffragettes are also receiving a nod, as previously referenced at this season’s NYFW with designer Jonathan Simkhai’s collection. This time, British department store Liberty is paying homage to the historical movement by showcasing photographs by Mary McCartney, who captured eight inspirational women to celebrate.

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business data digital snippets e-commerce social media sustainability technology

What you missed: A new textiles economy, competing with Amazon, Patagonia vs Trump

Stella McCartney and Dame Ellen Macarthur
Stella McCartney and Dame Ellen Macarthur

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech industry news over the past fortnight.


TOP STORIES
  • Stella McCartney and Ellen Macarthur team up to tackle waste in fashion [The Industry]
  • A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future [Ellen Macarthur Foundation]
  • The future of retail in the age of Amazon [Fast Company]
  • Patagonia is suing the Trump administration [GQ]
  • 2017: the year of Gucci (and logos, slogans & sleeves), according to Lyst data [The Industry]

BUSINESS
  • Europe’s biggest mall owner buys Westfield for $25bn [Guardian]
  • Victoria Beckham raises $40 million in private equity investment [NY Times]
  • Amidst new optimism, emerging markets to overtake west in 2018 [BoF]
  • With Aday investment, H&M hopes to ‘leave stigma of fast fashion behind’ [Glossy]
  • Eileen Fisher makes strides towards circularity with ‘tiny factory’ [BoF]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Unwrapping Barneys’ holiday social media strategy [Glossy]
  • These retailers are #crushingit on social this holiday season [RetailDive]
  • Facebook is testing a way for brands to send mass messages via Messenger [AdWeek]

MARKETING
  • Luxury brands embrace experiential marketing to stay relevant [Skift]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • eBay now lets you start shopping with a Google Assistant smart speaker and finish on your phone [VentureBeat]
  • Death of retail? 2017 was all about the empire of luxury e-tail [NY Times]
  • Céline enters e-commerce with release of French site [WWD]
  • Everlane is opening its first stores, after years of swearing it wouldn’t [Washington Post]
  • Fruit of the Loom tries on subscription underwear [Bloomberg]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Online e-commerce giants get personal [BoF]
  • Rebecca Minkoff uses VR for planning stores [Glossy]
  • The new Reformation store is a real-life Clueless closet [TheCut]
  • BoF and Google partner on artificial intelligence experiment [BoF]
  • Facial recognition is tracking customers as they shop in stores, tech company says [CNBC]

PRODUCT
  • These were 2017’s wildest innovations in clothing technology [HighSnobiety]
  • Trending: algae, ocean plastics pave the way for more sustainable consumer products [Sustainable Brands]
  • This natural liquid silk is starting to replace oil-based plastic [Fast Company]