09 May, 2013

Sustainable fashion: textile innovation – live chat

Posted by: admin In: Guardian

Join the experts for a live online chat exploring how textile innovation is driving sustainable fashion forward, Friday 10 May, 1-2pm (BST)

WRAP’s Valuing Our Clothes report, published in 2012, states 58% of 16-24 year olds in the UK said they own unworn items that are ‘no longer my style/taste’. It also estimates just under a third of clothing bought in the UK ends up in landfill.

These are some depressing numbers, but elsewhere the environmental and social impacts of fast fashion are being challenged. Innovation in textiles is beginning to drive the sustainable fashion agenda forward and exciting things are happening.

Auria London sells luxury swimwear using recycled polyamide made from products such as discarded carpets and fishing nets, while PhD researcher Dawn Ellams has developed no-cotton jeans made with eucalyptus-tree pulp. The closed-loop production process uses a fifth of the water, energy, and chemicals required to make conventional jeans.

Pushing the status quo further, researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada have suggested hagfish slime has the potential to become a fabric. The eel-like creature produces a protective slime to ward off predators that becomes a silky, stretchy substance once dry.

Of course, innovation in fashion textiles isn’t confined to the realm of entrepreneurs and academics.

The world’s fashion giants are also under increasing pressure to work sustainability into their business model and rethink the materials they use. Nike has announced it will partner with Swiss-based Bluesign Technologies to improve its use of sustainable textiles. In its 2012 sustainability report, H&M claims to be on track with its target to source only organic and recycled cotton by 2020, and Levi’s has launched its Waste line incorporating post-consumer plastic bottles and food trays.

Is the conversation around sustainable textiles really going mainstream then, or does it remain a unique selling point? Critics have accused the large clothing corporates of greenwash, but vice-president of global men’s design for Levi’s, Jonathan Kirby, argues that you have to begin somewhere.

Join the experts for a live chat

On Friday 10 May, 1-2pm (BST) Guardian Sustainable Business will be joined by a host of experts working in different ways with sustainable textiles.

What are the action points and opportunities for textile innovation? How can you assess the environmental and social impact of textiles across the value chain? How do we engage consumers in sustainable textiles? Our panel will be here for a live chat taking your questions.

You can tweet your questions for the panel in advance with #GSB or leave them in the form below.


Abi Rushton, UK director of Aid by Trade Foundation, Abi is associate director of the Aid by Trade Foundation which manages the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) sustainable cotton initiative.

Margot Bowman, creative director of Estethica Review.

Kate Black, founder and editor in chief of Magnifeco.com.

Atsuko Negishi, research associate at the University of Guelph, research focus on the production of high performance protein-based fibers using hagfish slime threads as a biomimetic model.

Dawn Ellams, PhD student, Heriot-Watt’s School of Textiles, focusing on environmentally conscious fashion through sustainable textile manufacture and responsible coloration techniques.

Tamsin Lejeune, founder and managing director of the Ethical Fashion Forum and SOURCE, supporting fashion entrepreneurs and businesses to work sustainably with help including a database, tools and resources on textile innovation.

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