The topic of air was the main focus of the fair and Fashionsustain, the conference that was organized by NEONYT team. The Sustainable Development Goals were also a main focus in many panels and workshops and it seems like many companies and organizations know them and uses them as a framework but these goals should push the industry to take bolder steps and set higher targets and strategies. Even according to Pulse report of 2019 by the Global Fashion Agenda the efforts towards sustainable fashion in 2019 were smaller than the year before but actually the percentages and outreach of sustainable fashion should increase every year pushing the boundaries of sustainability further to an unbelievable extent.
Alongside these conversations, there were innovative and new approaches towards sustainable fashion. Renewcell is a new Swedish company that is focused on chemically recycling natural-based fibers into new biodegradable pulp, new fibers, new yarn, new fabrics and new garments that can be produced and worn with a clear conscience. This company closes the loop around the super challenging gap of recycling garment with mixed textiles into new textile material that could transform into new garments- recycling clothes finally works. When garments are worn out or no longer wanted some are sold second-hand but the vast majority end up in landfills or are incinerated. Much too few are recycled due to many technical challenges that are mainly focused on the textile blends that most of our garments are made of. Renewcell technology can turn these blends into the textile fiber, be fed into the textile production cycle and meet industry specifications. This is the link that has been missing from the cycle and closes it. The way fashion is produced and consumed can finally be transformed into a never-ending loop.
The Dutch circular denim brand Mud Jeans presented in NEONYT two new interesting products that are based on the same patterns and shapes of the regular denim but the only difference was the color. One collection was The Undyed Denim- while denim normally gets its color through the indigo dyeing and washing processes, in this new disruptive collection the jeans get their color from the recycled blue denim they are made of. The end color is from the mix colors of the recycled jeans they are made of. The second interesting collection was a colorful one that is dyed using different minerals to achieve these colors, definitely an unconventional production method so far. The pigments are extracted from rocks and then applied to their light blue, undyed, recycled denim fabric. All the colors have a bit rusty shades like dusty pink, yellow and brownish- really unique color shades, especially in denim.
Another disruptive and hopeful example came from Armedangels, the German brand that is based in Cologne and was founded 13 years ago. As usual, the brand presented many items for women and men in different styles from more casual up to more festive items in a big range of shapes, patterns, colors, and sizes. Alongside the more conventional Armedangels items the brand presented a collection of tops that could be customized according to each customer's wish and style. The product comes with an instruction guide on how and where to cut and adjust the top to fit each client's personal style. From the inside of the top, there are many small marks that guide consumers were to cut their top and what would be the end result of this cutting so they could choose different styles and lengths. Besides the fact that when we as consumers are involved in the process of making our clothes we take better care for them and for a longer time, this product allows the brand to create less different styles but still offer the same range of products to their clients using this customization process. The other surprising collection was a sportswear collection that was dyed completely based on natural dyes in 4 different shades, sandstone, rusty pink, light green and brown. Each color was made using a different plant/ tree/ fruit to reach this unique shade and as part of the unique natural dyes experience, these colors would change and fade a bit during the time since in the natural dyes process there is no use of chemical fixating material. If you would be one of the happy owners of this collection item you would gain a product that evolves and changes constantly during the time that it would be used.
During September 2019 the German department for Society and International Cooperation published a new program that is translated to English as "The Green Button" and it marks out sustainable textile products that are marketed and sold all around Germany. The green button is a German seal to help consumers who want to buy sustainably social and ecological manufactured clothing to look for the green button as a guideline before purchasing. This seal is attached directly to each certified product, so it is easy to find when shopping and can be a reliable and consumer-friendly system. Nobody would like to wear a t-shirt that was sewn in 16-hour shifts for a starvation wage or dyed with toxic chemicals. The green button makes binding requirements to protect people and the environment, it includes 46 demanding social and environmental standards that must be observed and pass - from wastewater limit values to a ban on forced labor.
In the past year, many discussions around sustainable fashion were focused on transforming from talking to acting as soon as possible since we are running out of time. In many panel discussions during Fashionsustain 2020 (the conference that goes along NEONYT about sustainable fashion), the focus was on what should be done in order to reach a summit of sustainable fashion in the future and not on what we all should do now or tomorrow. Ecoalf the Spanish sustainable fashion and accessories brand decided since the ongoing fires in Australia are not decreasing to start doing something about it. From 17 January to 15 February 5% of its online sales will be donated for reforestation, rehabilitation and rebuilding projects in Australia. This action is done to help Australia heal its 10 million acres that are burned, give medical support to injured animals and maybe even help to revive extinct unique species in the continent as a result of the massive fires.
Events like this should push all of us, consumers, brands, NGOs, journalists, investors, suppliers and more to do something, take bold steps towards a more regenerative future that we could secure health, wealth, equality, diversity and longevity for ourselves and future generations.
+ Words: Danielle Keller Aviram
Danielle Keller Aviram is a sustainable jewelry and fashion researcher, consultant and designer. She graduated an M.A focusing on sustainability in fashion at AMD Berlin after doing her B.A in jewelry and accessories design in "Shenkar" Tel Aviv. After her B.A she had her own international fine jewelry brand operating for 5 years.