Fashion brands are choosing alternative materials for a number of reasons, fueled by the fashion industry’s growing awareness of environmental and ethical issues. The use of alternative materials is in line with the wider movement towards sustainable and responsible practices.
First, traditionally used materials such as cotton and synthetic fabrics often have a significant impact on the environment due to water consumption, pesticide use and energy-intensive production processes. Clothing manufacturers and brands are increasingly choosing alternative materials, such as organic cotton, hemp, Tencel and recycled fibers to reduce their environmental impact and promote sustainability.
As consumers’ awareness of environmental and ethical issues increases, the demand for sustainable and environmentally friendly products increases. Fashion brands are responding to consumer preferences by incorporating alternative materials into their collections.
In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about the impact of clothing on the environment, and photos of old, partially degraded jeans have appeared on the Internet and talked about how much plastic they leave in nature. Synthetic fibers derived from fossil fuels take tens or even hundreds of years to decompose.
To address this problem, jeans manufacturers Candiani Denim patented Coreva: a plant-based yarn made from natural rubber, which is then wrapped in organic cotton, creating a fully stretchy, plastic-free denim.
The second major factor behind the invention of alternative materials is concern about animal welfare and the environmental impact of animal husbandry. Brands use alternative materials to traditional animal products such as leather and fur. Plant-based and synthetic alternatives like faux leather and faux fur provide cruelty-free options, but the question is, how bad are they for the environment?
Over the years, more and more fashion houses have committed to banning animal fur from their collections. Also such well-known brands as Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Versace, Coach and Pradawhose collections often used fur, have already decided to use alternatives – only artificial fur in their collections.
Global luxury fashion platform FarFetch In 2019, they announced that it would no longer be possible to buy animal fur products on their website.
So are popular sites YOOX, Net-a-Porter, Selfridges and ASOS have introduced fur bans.
In 2018, London Fashion Week became the first major fashion week to not feature a fur-clad figure on its catwalk.
It turns out that pineapples can not only be eaten. In the Philippines, where there are large pineapple plantations, the locals use the long and stringy pineapple leaves to make long white fibers. These fibers are sorted into those suitable for making strong and durable fabrics and the finer varieties used Piña for making fabric. It can be woven into luxurious garments. Piña is currently experiencing a revival as it is an environmentally friendly alternative and is made from an agricultural by-product.
Another way of using pineapple leaves has also been developed, which turns them into an alternative to animal skin. Pinatex is made by taking pineapple fibers and mixing them with an acid derived from corn. This creates a network of fibers that are processed until they look and function like traditional leather.
Biomaterials company Vegea uses by-products of the wine-making process, vegetable oils and natural fibers from agriculture to obtain the so-called “grape skin”. Such material has already been used by such companies as Marni, H&M and Ganni.
Algae is becoming a cornerstone of many sustainable innovations, from food packaging to fashion. Designer Charlotte McCurdy has created a model of a waterproof jacket made of algae. brand Vollebak used spirulina algae to create a black dye as an alternative to oil-derived carbon. On the other hand, actor Jason Momoa launched a line of sports shoes with algae soles.
Fashion brands are increasingly using the principles of the circular economy, which emphasizes the recycling and reuse of materials. Using recycled fibers and fabrics helps reduce waste, conserve resources and minimize the need for virgin materials.
Circular economy principles can appear at different stages of the “chain”, for example, using biodegradable or reusable packaging materials, motivating consumers to return end products for recycling, and/or reusing old clothes as raw material for the production of new clothes.
For example, a Swedish brand Nudie Jeanspromises always free repairs for every purchase, and offers a clothing return program to recycle them.
The development of technology has made it possible to develop innovative materials with unique properties and parameters. Brands can choose these materials to differentiate their products, improve their performance, and promote more technologically advanced and sustainable industries.
A model of artificial intelligence
Thanks to the latest technologies, the generative artificial intelligence model, using only one image of the garment, can accurately reflect how it will look naturally – how it fits, stretches and creates wrinkles and shadows on different real models in different poses.
Virtual fitting technology
Virtual fitting technology has been created to allow consumers to try on the size, fit and style of clothing without being in a store and physically trying on the product.
From optical brands and cosmetic brands to luxury fashion brands such as Prada and Guccimore and more companies are using this technology, which makes it easier for the buyer online shopping and saves resources.
3D printed materials
3D printed fabrics refer to textiles and clothing created using additive manufacturing technologies commonly known as 3D printing. Unlike traditional fabric manufacturing methods that involve weaving or knitting yarn together, 3D printing allows fabrics to be created layer by layer. This innovative approach allows for complex and customizable designs, not only creating a new level of creativity and functionality in fashion, but also offering more sustainable choices.
One of the most famous designers in the world who use 3D printing in their designs is the Dutch designer Iris van Herpen. The avant-garde fashionista has been an industry pioneer by incorporating 3D printing technology into her designs.
One of her most notable 3D creations is a dress “Magnetic Motion” from the spring/summer 2015 collection. This dress featured intricate 3D printed elements that were manipulated with magnets, creating a dynamic and moving effect as the model walked along the tongue.
The adoption of alternative materials in the fashion industry is a multifaceted response to environmental concerns, ethical concerns, consumer preferences and a commitment to a more sustainable and responsible industry. Brands that embrace alternative materials are driving a positive shift towards the environment and a more socially conscious fashion landscape.
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