The fashion industry around the world generates more than a trillion dollars annually. It is a well-known fact that textile industry is one of the most polluted industries in the world. Therefore, by making the right choice in the methods of production and sales and what one prefers to wear, we can enormously impact the society and the environment in a favorable way. The future of fashion calls for sustainability.
Currently, one can see a depressing situation in the textile industry as far as textile pollution is concerned. However, the future of fashion is not as bleak as it may seem. Today, big clothing and footwear brands are showing the world, how fashion can be made sustainable and successful.
With increasing number of consumers becoming eco-friendly; fashion designers and clothing brands taking responsibility of saving the environment and advancement on the technology front, all together is contributing towards making fashion sustainable.
Style has always remained the most important factor in the fashion industry. Hence, ethical designers and clothing manufacturers must keep this in mind while coming up with their new collection, to make sustainability a stylish trend. If the fashion industry wants to become economically sustainable, then it first needs to become socially and environmentally sustainable.
The fashion industry depends heavily on natural resources. Its requirement of natural resources for fibre production is around 132 million tons of coal and around 6-9 trillion litres of water every year. Besides, textile waste continues to grow at an alarming rate. This will have a severe environmental impact that calls for urgent and comprehensive global action plan. In this action plan, fashion designers and clothing manufacturers have a crucial role to play.
The design and fabric decisions are responsible for 80-90% of environmental and economical impact. These scenarios push everyone in the fashion and textile industry to look beyond the short term goals and collectively work to build a sustainable future. Companies need to discover new ideas to sustain in a situation with lesser availability of natural resources. Thoughtful research is required to attain the right solutions to the most important issue- sustainability.
To create sustainable fashion, the designers are creating clothing with minimal textile waste. There are organizations that aim to provide knowledge about new developed sustainable fabrics, how they are useful, act as marketing platform for suppliers of fabrics and displaying products to members of textile and fashion industry by organizing fairs and exhibition.
The Future fabrics Expo is one such effort of an organization that concentrates on the fashion industry and ways to minimize its environmental impact through novel ideas, and bring change in the working of the fashion industry. It also promotes new and saleable fibres, fabrics and products that adhere to the principles of sustainability.
The Expo of 2013 showcased new technologies that can lower the environmental impact throughout the textile supply chain. The motive was to educate and inspire the designers and the fashion brands, about the latest developments in sustainable fabrics and parting with outdated formulas of fashion. Innovations in the last few years have produced eco-friendly textiles and best quality fashionable fabrics, most suitable for high end fashion.
These fabrics are brought to the attention of the fashion designers and clothing brands to wipe out the general notion and prove that it is possible to produce eco-friendly fabrics without compromising on style or quality. The expo showed many sustainable alternatives to the widely used conventional fabrics that currently rules the market. Moreover, it provides complete production information of the fabric and gives sample lengths of the fabrics.
Today, the textile and the fashion industry understand the urgent need to change the ways clothes are manufactured. At present, there is a strong dominance of cotton and polyester fibres in the market. Together they contribute towards 80% of the total clothing production in the world. On the other hand, innovative alternatives to these fibres have been developed, which are the part of sustainable future.
These fibres use less of the resources and also are cost effective. Hence, by choosing the fabrics and clothing intelligently, one can considerably reduce the negative impacts on the environment, animals and human. Furthermore, reduction in electricity, water and chemical consumption, plus avoiding wasteful processes will also have a positive impact. The current innovations in the textile and fashion industry assure a bright future for sustainable fashion.
Air dyeing developed in California has become an outstanding feature in designing for the designers. This is a one step process which saves 7-75 gallons of water in dyeing a pound of fabric. It uses 85% less energy compared to the traditional dyeing methods and most importantly does not release harmful waste. Similarly, in digital printing, the prints are directly applied to the fabric.
This reduces water consumption by 95% and energy by 75%, with minimal textile waste. Many designers around the world have already adopted digital method of printing. Also, recycled synthetics are giving new dimensions to the fashion industry. It can be made from almost everything; from plastic bags to beer bottles. Fibers are made from these materials just like bamboo is transformed into thread.
In addition, introduction of water-less jeans has revolutionized jeans finishing process. Such innovations conserve a large amount of water. An advantageous technology has been developed which is known as 'Bio-filtering wastewater'. This process helps to remove the most toxic dye elements through ozone treatment before applying the wastewater bio-filtering technique. Unlike the traditional biological systems, this process is very efficient.
Another technology known as Direct Panel on Loom (DPOL) has increased the fabric efficiency by 15% and reduced lead-time time by 50% while making high-end clothing. With a help of a computer attached to a loom, every requirement for the garment is to be entered and then the loom completes the tasks like weaving, cutting and patterning all at one go.
This technology helps to save energy and water up to 80% and reduces fabric waste. There is no doubt that utilizing all these innovations and developments, the future of fashion will certainly turn out to be more sustainable.
The future of fashion lies in a holistic approach wherein sustainable fashion must be the most important aspect of the fashion industry. It will protect the environment and provide a better living to workers, customers and suppliers in all the sectors of the fashion industry around the world, which requires continuous development to attain long term sustainability.