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Sustainable FashionTech: Pioneering the Future of Style

Main image for a BOLD Awards blog on sustainable fashiontech #bebold

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The fashion industry, known for its constant evolution, has embarked on a new and revolutionary journey by integrating technology and sustainability. This fusion, at times boosted by crowd power, is redefining the way we produce, consume, and perceive fashion. This BOLD Awards blog delves into the innovative world of sustainable fashiontech, exploring how these twin forces are pioneering the future of style.

Fashion technology, aka fashiontech, refers to the use of technology to enhance and innovate various aspects of the fashion industry, from design and production to marketing and retail. On the other hand, sustainability in fashion focuses on responsible practices, ensuring that fashion production and consumption have minimal environmental and social impact. We look at how the two combine, with examples.

Advantages of FashionTech and Sustainability

Eco-Friendly Materials, Digital Design and Prototyping

Sustainable fashion promotes the use of eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton, recycled fibers, and innovative fabrics made from agricultural waste, mushroom mycelium, or even ocean plastic.

Ocean plastic waste has become a focus of the fashion industry. The International Union for Conservation of Nature reports that at least 14 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year, accounting for 80% of all marine debris. Using some of this plastic in clothing is a way to raise awareness of the issue that is too easily “out of sight, out of mind.”

Sea Threads is a sustainable apparel brand that transforms discarded ocean plastic into high-quality materials, which are then used to create sustainable and stylish clothing. Plastic is repurposed into performance material that is breathable, moisture wicking, and 50 SPF UV proof. The brand was launched in 2021 through the rewards-based crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.

Transforming agricultural waste in to clothing. Image source: Rethread Africa

Sustainable materials startup Rethread Africa works with small-holder farmers to produce a biodegradable textile fabric made from agricultural waste, particularly from sugarcane and corn. Their fibres are spun into yarn and eventually woven to create an eco-conscious biodegradable textile fabric capable of replacing polyester.

Fashion tech introduces 3D modeling and virtual prototyping, reducing the need for physical samples and minimizing waste in the design process.

Sustainable Home Delivery

With the rise of online shopping and home deliveries, the use of eco-friendly materials can address wider issues than specifically what clothing and fashion accessories are made of. 

Loop is a platform that partners with leading brands to create durable, reusable packaging for everyday items. It promotes the shift from single-use to circular packaging models.

Flexi-Hex, launched by two UK surfers, is another sustainable packaging startup and it has recently used crowdfunding to accelerate company growth. They launched the business after a surfboard they had bought arrived encased in a jaw-dropping mass of plastic bubblewrap.

Efficient Production

Automation and robotics streamline production, reducing errors and waste. Sustainable practices include using local, ethical manufacturing and small-batch production. Though they also tend to increase costs and can cause supply chain difficulties for the largest manufacturers and retailers.

Using AI-based technology to analyse sales patterns and predict future demand can lower stock levels that retailers have to maintain, and reduce the number of surplus items that require eventual disposal.

Smart Textiles

Smart fabrics and wearables merge technology with fashion, creating garments that can monitor health, adapt to environmental conditions, or interact with mobile apps. From remote health monitoring to enhancing patient comfort, smart textiles are transforming healthcare in remarkable ways. Smart clothing can track vital signs such as heart rate and respiratory rate, and encourage patients to take an active role in their health. They can also provide feedback and reminders, promoting adherence to treatment plans.

Supply Chain Transparency

People are demanding more transparency from fashion brands. New technologies and tools—like the Good On You app and directory—are helping people know more about how their clothes were made and which brands are responsible or not. Blockchain technology enhances transparency in the fashion supply chain, enabling sustainable fashiontech that allows consumers to trace the origins of their clothing and verify ethical production.

Circular Fashion

Sustainable fashiontech can reduce landill clothing
The fashion industry is infamously known for the amount of resources it wastes and the millions of clothes ending up in landfills every day.

Up to 100 billion garments are produced by the fashion industry every year. Each year, as much as 92 million tons of clothing ends up in landfills, as only 20% of textiles are collected for reuse or recycling globally. Sustainable fashion encourages a circular model, where clothing is designed to be recycled, upcycled, or repurposed, reducing the environmental impact of waste.

Incorporating the concept of the circular economy into sustainable fashiontech is essential for achieving a more responsible and environment-friendly fashion industry.

Platforms and initiatives that promote the circular economy in fashion

The RealReal is an online luxury consignment store that extends the life of high-end fashion items by facilitating their resale. It promotes sustainable fashion by encouraging consumers to buy and sell pre-owned luxury goods.

Bundlee is an award-winning clothes rental service that allows parents to rent quality baby and toddler clothes (from 0 to 3 year olds) and sustainably swap them as they grow. This UK platform offers top brands including Stella McCartney, and has recently closed a round of equity crowdfunding that raised money to accelerate company growth.

ThredUP is one of the world’s largest online thrift stores. It enables consumers to buy and sell secondhand clothing and accessories, contributing to the circular economy by extending the lifecycle of fashion items.

Fashion Revolution is a global movement that advocates for greater transparency and sustainability in the fashion industry. They encourage consumers to ask “Who made my clothes?” and promote a more circular and ethical approach to fashion.

Rent the Runway offers clothing and accessory rental services, promoting a sharing economy model. Users can rent high-quality fashion items for special occasions, reducing the need for constant consumption.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, established by the global single-handed sailor, is a world leader in advancing the circular economy concept. The Foundation works with businesses and governments to drive the circular economy’s adoption across various industries, including fashion.

Resale platforms (such as eBay, Poshmark, and Depop) facilitate the resale of pre-owned clothing, shoes, and accessories, allowing consumers to participate in the circular fashion economy.

Patagonia Clothing‘s Worn Wear program promotes the repair and resale of used Patagonia garments. The company encourages customers to buy used Patagonia gear and extend the lifespan of its products.

Conclusion

By embracing the dynamic synergy of sustainable fashiontech, often boosted by crowd power, the fashion industry is pioneering a future where style is not just about looking good but also about feeling good about what we wear and its impact on the planet. This revolutionary movement signifies a brighter, more responsible future for the world of fashion.

Be at the BOLD Awards Gala Dinner Ceremony

Bold Awards gala dinner for digital industry and tech awards #beBOLDEntries have closed and the finalists have been shortlisted for the 2024 BOLD Awards. Applications are open for you to request an invitation to attend the award ceremony on March 22nd, 2024, in Venice, Italy. It is a truly unique networking opportunity to meet international award winners and finalists in 33 categories of digital industries and the technology that powers them. Further details and how to apply are at https://bold-awards.com/request-an-invitation-for-bold-v/  #beBOLD

Picture of Clive Reffell

Clive Reffell

Clive has worked with Crowdsourcing Week to source, create and publish content since May 2016. With knowledge and experience gained in a 30+ year marketing career based in London, UK, he helps SMEs and startups to run successful crowdfunding projects, and provides support across wider marketing issues.

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