The worldwide fashion industry and broader ideas about sustainability and environmentalism have been at odds for decades. But recently, in part due to people in the fashion industry itself and outsiders, the fashion industry has been moving towards more sustainable practices to conserve materials and energy. As the world demands more transparency and sustainability of the fashion industry, the industry has been building tools focused on conservation and more sustainable production practices. What changes have occurred, and what can we expect to see from the fashion industry in the future?
TECHNOLOGY THE KEY TO BETTER SUSTAINABILITY
Often the common criticism of relying on technology to improve sustainability is that many examples of technology are actually more wasteful than their analog counterparts. However, in the fashion industry, more sustainable practices across the industry require technological advancement, and many men and women in the industry are working on developing new ways to conserve garment materials, recycle waste materials, and overall reduce the environmental impact the production and transportation of clothes and accessories has.
One clear example of how technology is making fashion more sustainable is the production of natural clothing materials. The fashion industry has long relied on synthetic materials such as polyester, which has to be made using fossil fuels and environmentally toxic chemicals, or natural fibers such as cotton, to produce its garments. But even natural fibers can be bad for the environment because of the natural resources such as land and water that goes into growing them.
Scientists have now been able to create materials with the benefits of both synthetic materials and natural ones without using inordinate amounts of energy using biotechnology.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Fashion companies are already using lab-grown biomaterial for use in their garments. Improvements to production times and supply chain issues will lower the cost of these materials while creating more sustainable practices.