It is no secret that how fashion does business is profoundly impacting climate change in the world’s environment. The good news is that the industry is finally waking up to emerging technology solutions designed to lay the foundation for a more sustainable outcome that will lead and support the drive towards a brighter future.
2021: The Industry’s Call to Arms
As the pandemic continues to push the industry to leap into the unknown, more and more forward-thinking fashion businesses are entering a bold new sustainability phase, a change that Florian Heubrandner, Vice President Global Textiles Business at Lenzing, has recognised.
TENCELTM is the textile speciality brand under The Lenzing Group, covering textile speciality product fibre offerings for apparel and home. The TENCELTM product brand portfolio defines a new evolutionary step in sustainability, functional benefits, natural comfort, and caters for typical everyday usage or application. Product brands under TENCELTM include TENCELTM Active, TENCELTM Denim, TENCELTM Home, TENCELTM Intimate, TENCELTM Luxe and TENCELTM for Footwear.
The TENCELTM brand remains committed to sustainability-oriented innovation. With the introduction of next-generation, carbon-zero TENCELTM branded lyocell and modal fibres and Lenzing’s ambitious carbon-zero vision for 2050. Offering endless design possibilities, TENCELTM Modal fibres can be blended with other fibres and processed using conventional machinery, significantly improving fabrics’ softness and comfort. This week Heubrandner shares with FashNerd.com the top three sustainability trends impacting the fashion landscape in 2021.
1. Debunking myths and assuming responsibility
Consumers continue to seek ways to become better informed and make eco-conscious purchases. As a result, eco-friendly brands are creating products that consumers can feel comfortable purchasing. Besides, brands are also publishing their environmental credentials and eco-friendly initiatives to help consumers keep them accountable for their sustainability progress. Eco-conscious brands actively drive sustainable changes compared to some fast fashion and luxury brands who are lagging behind or still distancing themselves from the conversation.
The 2021 Fossil Fashion Report revealed many consumers remain unaware that cheap fibres like polyester are found in over half of all textiles and account for 530 million tonnes of carbon emissions, indicating brands must continue raising awareness and decreasing their reliance on cheap synthetics.
2. Recycling initiatives lacking, but slow fashion on the rise
The rise of fast fashion has correlated with the widespread availability of cut-price fossil-fuel-based fibres like polyester. Polyester is incredibly energy-exhaustive to produce – equating to six times the carbon emissions of cotton, according to the 2021 Fossil Fashion Report.
The report also revealed polyester production alone in 2015 was responsible for over 700 million tons of carbon emissions, and efforts to recycle these items remain lacking. Currently, just 1% of clothing is recycled, and even when using recycled polyester, raw materials used are often plastic bottles, not textiles.
These are worrying figures; however, the global health crisis has pressed reset on the world’s appetite for fast fashion. Many conscious consumers are opting out of fast fashion favouring ‘slow fashion’ where fewer clothes are consumed and expected to last far longer.
3. Innovation will drive the industry’s carbon-zero vision
An urgent need to rethink the industry’s carbon output has encouraged brands to double down on efforts to innovate, increasing demand for alternatives to synthetics, like sustainable plant-based fibres, which provide comfort and durability alongside sustainability guarantees.
These innovations also include the development of ground-breaking circularity-minded processes to reuse water and solvents during production. While some emissions remain unavoidable at present, these innovations will also assist with a largescale push away from impactful production practices in the years to come.
By reducing the environmental impact of garments at the production stage, carbon emissions will be drastically reduced throughout its lifestyle, and costly investments in recycling technology can occur in a phased approach that is workable for the entire industry.
To make a carbon-free future a reality, brands must increase awareness about the environmental burden that fibres like polyester place on the environment. Additionally, brands must urgently implement alternatives to cheap synthetics and further promote and support sustainable production processes. The changes brands make now will pave the way for a brighter future.