Look around and sustainability is everywhere. From your neighborhood coffee shop to mainstream fast-fashion retailers. From trendy cosmetic brands offering customer “refills” on used beauty containers to traditional grocery chains presenting long aisles stacked with “Nature’s Best” food and beverages, eco abounds. A recent issue of the New York Times urged readers that “it’s time to take responsibility for our mess” with feature articles on how “recycling is hot right now.” The kicker: the special section was written for kids
Soon you will be able to buy all these sustainable products using an eco-correct credit card: American Express has partnered with Parley to create a credit card made from upcycled marine plastic debris collected from oceans to raise awareness of the marine plastic problem. The first American Express ocean plastic card is slated for availability within the year.
By Suzanne Blecher. Eco-conscious consumption is leading the way, especially in the Millennial mindset and notably, in apparel. One in three women shopped secondhand last year, according to thredUP, the largest thrift store online. Buying a secondhand item extends its life by an average of 2.2 years, as noted in thredUP’s 2018 Resale Report, thus reducing carbon, waste and water footprints by a whopping 73 percent.
ThredUP spokesperson Samantha Blumenthal attributes some of this change for good to the rise in our world’s “sharing economy.” While “a few years ago you would never get into a stranger’s car or stay in someone else’s home, now these practices have been normalized by Uber and Airbnb. Companies like Rent the Runway and thredUP are doing the same for secondhand clothing,” explains the exec.
ThredUP, as well as recycling firm TerraCycle and textile studio Oliver Yaphe, are all on missions to help make buying sustainable goods easier for consumers and rid them of their eco-anxiety. Here’s how.
By Suzanne Blecher. With consumers becoming more socially aware of the materials in their footwear, companies are presenting new options for brands to accommodate. At OluKai, “we work exclusively with ISO-certified tanneries who ensure their leather is sustainably sourced and dispose of all tanning by-product by treating the water to ensure no chemicals enter the groundwater,” says Kerry Konrady, VP of marketing for OluKai.
Believing that quality and sustainability go hand-in-hand, OluKai’s team chooses leathers that have high character, durability and tactile qualities, regardless of where they are sourced. “Warm tones, organic textures and smooth finishes- carefully chosen to be soft against your skin,” the exec says. Laser-etched Polynesian tattoo artwork in leathers help tell stories, as do stitched leathers that mimic lashing details of an outrigger canoe, symbolizing details from the brand’s Hawaiian culture, she explained.
By Emily Walzer. Whether discussing water savings in manufacturing, protecting the waterways in public land disputes or rescuing the oceans from plastics pollution, water is an escalating topic of discussion within the industry and with consumers. Textile suppliers are in the deep end of the water conservation issue, as conventional production methods are dependent on large quantities of water to achieve results. Recently, however, significant tech advances have ushered in new environmentally aware processes for textile dyeing and finishing.
With regard to synthetics, solution dyeing has gotten a new life in the past few years as start-ups and established firms alike are investing in machinery and marketing to meet contemporary demands. But innovation in dyeing natural fibers has proved elusive; considering the water-use associated with dyeing cotton, for instance, the need for resource reduction is definitely there. An often cited statistic, for example, is that one plain cotton t-shirt requires 2700 liters of water.
By Suzanne Blecher. When Elizabeth L. Cline’s book “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” hit the shelves in 2012 it revealed the dark side of a world of quickly-made cheap garments at a time when few wanted to delve into that topic. The author stated that Americans purchased 64 items of clothing a year, or slightly more than one item every week (according to the American Apparel & Footwear Association). Cline admitted to owning 354 pieces of clothing, many of which she has since purged.
Fast-forward six years and the constitution of Cline’s closet has changed dramatically. “I’ve gone back to buying a lot second hand. Sites like thredUP, TheRealReal and Swap, along with peer-to-peer apps like Poshmark, make it so easy to shop second hand and there’s nothing really more sustainable,” she said.
In her new book, “The Conscious Closet: A Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good,” to be released next year, Cline digs deeper into consciously uncoupling from nonsense goods and instead shopping for quality and meaning.
By Emily Walzer. The very idea of travel is being redefined. With the development of “wilderness/wellness” travel, the launch of Airbnb Trips and the surge in award points programs such as the hugely successful Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card that offered a 100,000-point sign-up bonus in its 2016 debut, people are now on the move like never before. Leading the charge are “Active Explorers,” individuals who prioritize outdoor adventures in travel experiences.
Whether it’s kayaking in Mexico or hiking the Badlands in South Dakota, travel is considered a “must have” among Active Explorers, a lifestyle attribute right up there with food, security and shelter.
Marketers have jumped on this active outdoor travel trend. “We’re past the point where active explorers are limited to pioneers or geographic areas,” explains Marc Williams, founder of Williams Helde, who has conducted years of research on the active traveler/explorer. “What used to be the domain of shoemakers and camping supply companies now includes insurance agencies, airlines, detergents, beverages – anything that we see feel, taste or touch.”
By Emily Walzer. Interest in performance tech and sustainability measures has been brewing in the denim business in recent years, but now with suppliers advancing customization and the fashion world keen on workwear, not to mention the universal scope of the jean business, denim brings a lot to the innovation party.
All of these elements were apparent at the Kingpins Show held in New York City earlier this summer. Messaging at exhibitor booths highlighted forward thinking approaches toward environmental and social responsibility along with material enhancements in color-fastness, stretch and durability and trend forecasting with global relevance.
Cordura showed SuperCharged Noir denim. A dense, dark black denim, the new offering is a blend of five key performance features, referred to as “5S technology” that includes: Stay True Color, Strength, Softness, Sustainability and Stretch. Stay True Color, a color-fastness process that doesn’t sacrifice durability, is achieved via Solution Dyed Nylon (SDN), a process with considerable water-savings and an area where Cordura has made significant investment.
By Emily Walzer. Adapting to a changing marketplace is nothing new for the textile community. Fabric producers have been dealing with market turbulence for years, from trade and workforce issues to increasing intensity surrounding environmental and social responsibility. Now comes another wave of disruption as consumers put new demands on the textile supply chain. As a result, suppliers are focusing on capital investment for long-term competitiveness, hunting for higher margins and exploring new business models that better align with speed to market product differentiation.
Lisa Hardy of Chemours offers a big picture outlook based on corporate research. “We see across the board the trend of connectivity. Whether that is you on social media, or your phone talking to your refrigerator, or the energy company connected to your town. From personal, to home, to community the trend is a connected network. It used to just be data collection, but more and more it’s about using data to make intelligent decisions. All around us connections are happening between yourself, your home, your town, your environment.”
By Debra Cobb. Despite terrorist attacks, political upheavals, and natural disasters, travel in the last decade has continued to grow, according to the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), with annual global trips growing from some 22 million in the 1960s to 1.3 billion in 2017.
Today’s travelers are more adventurous—and more demanding. “Demographics have shifted to the point where the biggest group of Western travelers, aged 25–45, who have grown up traveling, often see it as a right, and are demanding authentic, unique experiences,” the ATTA reports.
With an emphasis on customization, textiles for the travel industry are rising to the challenge.