Where is inspiration found? What textiles are intriguing? How does good design take shape? To find answers to these, and other queries on materials, we went right to the source: the talented individuals profiled here. Their responses are creative, thoughtful and occasionally surprising. In other words, just what we’ve come to expect from our Trendsetter candidates. For this, our 7th Annual Trendsetters feature, we also take a look at Trendsetting Places and report on Trendsetting Product Categories. Combined, our Trendsetter coverage provides a birds-eye view on how the active/outdoor market is evolving in new and exciting ways. For example, you may not be aware, but scoby are coming! Read on to find out why.
A notable change in the way that consumers approach fitness is taking place. A shift to studio class participation (with gyms taking out treadmills to accommodate CrossFit-type program space) is creating a more social experience. Seeing and interacting with fitness friends in this way is fueling a desire for consumers to “up” their wardrobes. “Social fitness is the big trend,” said Matt Powell, senior industry advisor for sports at The NPD Group. “People want to look nice and dress up to work out.” In turn, a proliferation of brands in the boutique fitness space are “helping drive more upscale product to the masses” and “fueling athleisure with apparel you wear every day,” said Powell.
Neil Armstrong made history on July 20, 1969, by becoming the first man to walk on the moon. Now, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of that historic mission, interest in sending humans into space is making headlines again. However, this time around exploring the “final frontier” is less about the astronaut piloting the craft, and more about the crew. Specifically, today’s research is focused on advancing fabrications designed for the every day needs of individuals traveling throughout the solar system.
Plastic pollution in our oceans has become the hot topic in sustainability circles, and the textile industry is just beginning to realize that we own a portion of the blame. The stats are mind-boggling. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, off the coast of California, is estimated to be a 700,000 sq. kilometer mass. But while natural materials decompose, plastics — synthetic materials — break down into smaller and smaller pieces that sink into the ocean depths.
Textile suppliers exhibiting at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market arrive in Denver with a specific story to tell. Having just made the trek to Colorado three months ago for Summer Market, materials vendors have been limited time-wise in creating brand new collections based on the usual seasonal schedule. However, as the industry shifts to a faster development cycle with shorter lead times, suppliers are responding with newness as best they can and in a variety of ways.
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.
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.
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.