We’re seeing an increase in the demand for sustainability across many industries. But this year, expect big players in the fashion industry to make a splash. With fresh research and technological innovation, a new wave of materials is being used to produce wardrobe staples with the planet in mind.
According to a 2021 report from the World Wildlife Fund, there has been a 71% increase in the popularity of searches for sustainable merchandise over the previous five years. Because more consumers want sustainable products, fashion brands are getting on board: As the demand for more sustainable textiles increases, so will new innovations. And that’s great news for our closets and the planet.
Clothing alone is responsible for 3% to 6.7% of global human-caused carbon emissions. Synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon may be inexpensive to produce, but they’re mostly non-biodegradable and release harmful microplastics into the environment. In addition, while conventional cotton is a natural resource, it pollutes waterways and requires large quantities of water to produce.
Fortunately, new technologies are on the horizon, posing a bright future for the fashion industry. One innovation we’re seeing is Piñatex. Piñatex is made of ﬁber from the waste leaves of the pineapple plant. These leaves are a by-product of the existing pineapple harvest, so the raw material requires no additional resources to produce. As a leather alternative, it can be used across the fashion industry and has been adopted by over 1,000 brands worldwide including Hugo Boss and H&M.
TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers are also making their way into our clothing and our bedsheets, even though the process isn’t new. Derived from sustainably-sourced renewable raw material wood, TENCEL Lyocell fibers have gained a great reputation for being a closed-loop process. This means the by-products in the manufacturing process can be reused. And they’re not released into the environment once the process is finished. TENCEL Lyocell can be used to produce several products including shirts, bedding, towels, and more, making it extremely versatile.
Mylo, created by Bolt Threads, is also making headlines. To make Mylo, Bolt Threads created a process to grow mycelium in a vertical farming facility powered by 100% renewable energy and transformed it into a material that looks and feels like animal leather. Wondering what mycelium is? It’s the root-like structure of a fungus where mushrooms can grow.
Brands like Lululemon, Stella McCartney, and Adidas are coming out with products made with Mylo, using it as a leather alternative. You can already buy Lululemon’s first-ever mushroom leather duffle bag and yoga mat, as well as Adidas’ mushroom leather Stan Smiths. There are even backpacks made of paper.
With other brands like Athleta, Allbirds, and Levi’s jumping on the bandwagon, sustainable materials are bound to become more mainstream this year. And the new wave of eco-friendly materials is leading up to a revolution at the intersection of fashion and sustainability. Soon, sustainable materials like plant-based fibers and TENCEL Lyocell will be dominating the market.
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