The Future of Fashion: Sustainability, Upcycling and Beyond
Clothing, as common or special as it may sound, it has been an important component of the human race ever since. As far as the prehistoric times to decades of ever-changing style and statement is considered part of the basic needs or simply an essential. One can not just go out without basic clothing. For others, it can be protective gear, a uniform which connotes that you are part of an organization or to some, an expression or art through putting pieces together cohesively or just being part of a certain movement of a certain era. For others, it is a treatment for consumer behaviour or being shopaholic.
We have been in the cycle of repetition and continuous innovation. For some, “Why fix it if its not broken” line of thinking has been normalized or fixated. Technology played an important role in the advancement of how we make our clothes. But to what extent are we willing to go and how far would it take us without the stakes being taken for granted. Millions of wasted and unwanted garments yearly are ending up in the landfill. Fashion is the second polluter in the world has tremendously given long term effects on the earth. Thus, fast fashion has taken their numbers with an estimated 80 million of pieces being produced yearly at an unprecedented rate of trends continuously changing and people attached to this shopping habit and wardrobe upgrade contributes a lot. Carbon footprint, microplastic emissions or other small synthetic materials are the tiny-size particles known as microfibres or microplastics ending up in the ocean and other bodies of water. Since this is not natural, and could not decompose, it highly impacts the animal and human life.
Sustainable Fashion as intimidating and hipster as it could be, it is more than that. The core of sustainability evolves in 3 Ps. People, Pet and Product. For People, that these companies ensure that there is no practice of child labour or paying below minimum wage. For Pet, that in the process, no testing chemicals on animals or using their skins/furs to produce something. For
Product, that the material is less harmful and instead helps the process to make things better. We got to stand in these pillars ensuring the safety and welfare of the factors that make the products ending up on our shelves.
Thus, we have sighted brands that are doing their part in being environmentally responsible or better yet sustainable and ethical.
Most known for its outerwear and jackets, the brand has been active in promoting eco-friendly pieces and making repairing old pieces of their brand cool again. The goal is to make the most out of the pieces. They even feature a man with worn out and repaired pair of board shorts being utilized for the purpose of an active lifestyle. As they stated, Buying a used garment extends its life on average by 2.2 years, which reduces its carbon, waste and water footprint by 73%.
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They are also part of the movement and dedicated to activism that mainly concerns earth. Repair, Reuse and Recycle is a cause they want you to hear. With the ad, Don’t Buy This Jacket on a Black Friday Sale, simply shocked the consumerist market telling them not to buy things you don’t need. Thus, after this, it tripled the sales they have.
A brand that blends style with sustainability. They have mastered bio-materials, recycled materials/plastic/fibres and used natural from sources like plants and botanical dyes for their quality and aesthetically pleasing garments. They aim to produce pieces that would help solve environmental problems through innovation that would be easily available to everyone and every day. They are also notable in producing a collection that helps the corals, reefs and built shields from excessive heat and bleaching. Not to mention, that purchasing an item would help them plant more mangrove trees. They have partnered with Sea Trees, a Non-Profit Organization protecting and helping our seas.
Before we forget, they surely got their artistic inclination as they worked with the creative Takahashi Murakami. Cariuma, founded by Brazilain friends in an effort to bring an alternative offer to sneaker lovers offering classic and old school sneaker designs highlighting natural materials carefully sourced out. With the leaf logo placed on their sneakers, comfortability is also a plus they are using memory form in their soles. With the earth being always in their mind, the brand ensures that they are partnered with top tier suppliers taking care of their people, sourcing natural materials that are not harmful to the environment.
As a testament to this, they ship using the box directly and avoid wasteful packaging to lessen the carbon emission it could bring from excessive packaging. They are also involved in tree planting in the rainforest of Brazil and immersed in the Community. Recently, the brand also collaborated with artist, Jaden Smith released “JUST Water” capsule collection. With blue silhouette representing supposedly as water, is dedicated for a global fundraising campaign that supports racial justice work and global COVID-19 relief work. The collection includes the iconic hoodie of PANGAIA in the blue colourway, seaweed fibre t-shirt, seaweed cropped tee, shorts. It comes with a kids collection as well.
With their ethos, raemade, raecycled, raeduced (yes, it’s branding right there as well), the brand has been consistently using surplus product and materials to be developed and turned into something new. They have been doing this process to help the earth.
It’s basically not letting other pieces go into the wasteland. Thus, incorporating green technology and creating in small batches make the brand even more exclusive. With military and utilitarian being the inspiration, the brand ensures to produce pieces in style.
Christopher Raeburn, the honcho behind the namesake brand has truly been impacting all of this from his studio-workshop impacting not only his city but the entire world.
Though not proclaimed as a sustainable brand, Noah has truly been committed to being consciously caring about the environment and the plea of the people. They take stand on the many appalling practices of the fashion industry for years. Been very vocal lately with their support and cause of the black lives matter movement and speak on issues that needed to be voiced out using their medium and stressing the cause. They are also active in donating a portion of their profit to the organization they hugely support. They have a segment of a 100% recycled tees that are at par with their current line-up of quality goods they got.
Recently, Noah worked with giant sports company, Adidas featuring a seashell logo. According to Noah, it is an effort to develop a material that would help to remove plastic waste from the ocean and turn it into something useful.
It is an initiative to protect the natural resources that sustain the environment. The collection features, shirt, sweatshirts, hats, flannels and running shoes.
Spearheaded by Australian-London based designer, Alexandra Hackket, is one of the promising and emerging upcycle designers making waves in the fashion industry.
Beaming the element of reconstruction, deconstruction and making a holistic new approach for newly tailored pieces, helps in extending the life of worn-out garments.
Studio ALCH has worked with streetwear household, PATTA along with known icons such as Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean and Young Thug.
An interior firm in Toronto, Canada started to experiment on reworking vintage pieces and putting craftsmanship on old pieces and creating something fresh.
A collaborative work of Gable duo and Angelo Nitsopoulos being the one who sourced the items from the vintage and thrift shops. Thus, with the unique and experience of these creative forces produce something artsy-flowery yet fresh pieces of bespoke items. This has caught the eye of Canadian Rapper– Drake. Recently, they have recently worked on heritage workwear brand, Carharrt.
In essence, different points of view may always clash on how we will do our part on saving mother earth. Thus, the best move is to spread awareness and consciousness to participate in doing our parts in the very simplest way. The message is always the medium and we have to convey it across the board. Greenwashing or scepticism may always be an issue but how do we really question lifting a finger on certain issues or do we just leave things the way it is right now. Sustainability, Ethical Practices and Upcycling are not just a trend or just marketing material but a lifetime campaign and a calling we all want to attend to. It is not only a duty of one end but a collective effort to do so to make a better world for tomorrow. After all, we create our own future.
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Jastin Andrew Nilad is a Contributor to the magazine website vibeant.com. Based in Metro Manila, Jastin covers stories from the creative scene of the Philippines to global streetwear and high fashion scene.