Promoting the increased use of fabrics, such as organically produced cotton, with a lower environmental impact amongst fashion experts was the primary goal of the Future Fabrics Expo hosted last week by the London College of Fashion. The Expo showcased innovative and commercially viable fibres and fabrics that embody a range of sustainable principles and new technologies and demonstrate that there are more sustainable alternatives to the widely available conventional fabrics that currently dominate the market. “The aim of this event was to show that it is possible today to make high fashion clothes with fabrics that have a lower environmental impact. The Expo has demonstrated that the old and wrongly held image of sustainable fabrics not being suitable for high fashion is simply not true” says Nina Marenzi, Director of The Sustainable Angle, the non-profit organisation responsible for putting this event together.
With over 400 visitors from small brands, house hold names in the luxury sector, high street and online fashion retailers and universities, the event organisers have surely advanced this agenda amongst fashion experts. We were also pleased to see some Textile Exchange members amongst the 50 suppliers and mills represented at the event. Their fibres and fabrics were selected according to quality, innovation and ongoing commitment to improved performance across the supply chains. This includes fibre cultivation and processing, spinning, weaving, knitting, bleaching, dyeing and finishing, addressing key environmental principles such as the reduction of water, energy and chemical consumption, the elimination of wasteful practices and the preservation of biodiversity.
The sourcing and curation of the fabrics that made up the Expo was approached with an emphasis on a high quality luxurious offering. Larger fabric samples (e.g. organic cotton lace, recycled polyester suede, bi-product fish leather and post-consumer coffee ground fabrics (SCafe©)provided attendees with a more tactile experience allowing them to truly feel the fabrics and see how they fall and drape. The intention was to inspire designers and fashion brands, change the outdated image that sustainable fabrics compromise quality and ultimately enable them to begin diversifying their fabric base with more environment-friendly options.
In addition to the benefits that these sustainable fibres and fabrics have for the environment, human welfare and animals, Nina Marenzi thinks that they have a positive effect on the balance sheet in the long-term through reduced input costs and are a vital aspect when it comes to future-proofing business models and practices. “We wanted to show sustainable alternatives to conventional cotton and polyester. Especially for companies with a long planning horizon, this is important as they are facing a future with limited resources such as water, energy and arable land.” Another advantage for brands and retailers that “have sustainability at their core [is that they] often foster innovation, attract a talented young workforce and have a loyal customer base.”
We agree and hope to see more of these events in the near future!
For more information, visit The Sustainable Angle website.