5 Innovative fashion materials developed for a sustainable future

For centuries, tailors have made use of the same basic materials to produce clothes – cotton, wool and leather. Although they have proven to be strong and durable materials, the way we consume fashion today has pushed these resources to the limit while exhausting the environment and we now have to re-think the way we source and produce textiles. Luckily, the ongoing scientific research has brought us a big range of innovative alternative materials.

From pineapple leaves to eucalyptus fibers, here are five innovative materials you should look out for when shopping for sustainable clothes!

1 Piñatex

Piñatex is a natural vegan leather made of pineapple leaf fibres. The suppliers of pineapple fibres are predominantly farmers from the Philippines, so Piñatex gives local farmers the opportunity to profit from the waste that would normally end up as part of compost. The result is not only the material as such, but also the patented technology of production, which brings in new streams of income for the farmers in developing countries. Piñatex is a non-woven fabric, it can be produced in large rolls, in various thicknesses and finishes. It is light, soft, breathable, pliable and easy to paint. No additional water, fertilizers or pesticides are needed to produce the fibre so production process and costs are sustainable and low.

BRANDS TO KEEP AN EYE ON:

NAE VEGAN fair and animal-friendly shoe brand based in Portugal.

D-RAÍZ sustainable accessories with a timeless design made in Spain.

2 Tencel

TENCEL is extracted from eucalyptus trees, is 100% of natural origin and is 100% biodegradable in nature. TENCEL is a new name for Lyocell cellulose fibre from Lenzing. Compared to cotton, TENCEL absorbs twice as much moisture and, unlike synthetic fibres, releases it back into the atmosphere, thus significantly improve the skin’s ability to breathe under it. It significantly prevents the growth of bacteria and does not contain any chemicals which can cause the development of allergic reactions.

It is as soft as silk, cool as flax and keeps you warm like wool. It is therefore often used for sportswear, although it is very comfortable to wear normally. This material is also used in Austrian hospitals for doctors’ clothing in surgeries, and as a consumable textile material in operating rooms.

BRANDS TO KEEP AN EYE ON:

Avani Apparel sustainable wardrobe essentials with a feminine touch. Swiss design, made in France.

NOACODE creates pieces that combine elegance and practicality to create a long lasting wardrobe. Made in Turkey.

1People danish luxury fashion. Highest quality and a perfect finish without any compromises.

3 Modal

Modal is a type of viscose fibre – or rather, a fibre obtained from beechwood cellulose. Modal is very soft to the touch, which is why viscose fibres are nicknamed ‘artificial silk’. Do not be fooled, however, by the word ‘artificial’, the source of this material is 100% natural. Other great properties are good absorbency and the ability to quickly wick away sweat from the body, which makes this material ideally adept to produce underwear. Compared to cotton, aside from its more luxurious look, it also has the advantage of being more durable and retaining its colour and shine even after repeated washing. 

Modal is an ideal material in terms of its properties, but especially in terms of sustainability, as it is a 100% biodegradable material and does not require the consumption of large amounts of pesticides or thousands of litres of water for its production, like cotton.  

free by ale – a spanish sustainable brand with funky and colourful designs

WORON a danish lingerie line which is comfortable without sacrificing feminine shaping, fashion & style

4 Cork

Cork is one of the best vegan alternatives to leather. After being harvested and left to dry, it is pressed into blocks before being processed further. All this process is chemical-free, which makes cork a 100% natural, biodegradable material. Cork is composed of suberin, a hydrophobic substance, which makes it water resistant. Despite common misconceptions of it being heavy, because it is coming of bark tissue from a tree, it is actually very light, versatile and durable. It has been used in a variety of products, the most common of which is wine stoppers and kitchen appliances, but now more often companies in the fashion sector are opting for cork as sustainable alternative to leather. Below are three companies that work with cork to create beautiful and long-lasting everyday accessories.

BRANDS TO KEEP AN EYE ON:

Cork Element a sustainable fashion community from Portugal crafting high-quality cork accessories

15:21 a Stockholm-based brand with a love for functional minimalist design in everyday essentials

Ecokorek sourced in Portugal, made in the Czech Republic. Products with a feminine design.

5 Econyl

Nylon, otherwise polluting the Earth, is transformed into ECONYL® regenerated nylon. It is made entirely from ocean and landfill waste, such as industrial plastic, fabric scraps from clothing manufacturing companies,old carpets and lost or abandoned fishing nets. The recycling and the breakdown process is done with only temperature and steam, without the use of chemical agents, in a renewable energy driven way.

Reusing nylon to make Econyl reduces the global warming impact of nylon by 80% compared with the material produced from oil! Further, the material can be continuously recycled without loss of quality in the finished product.

(Source Econyl, Wikipedia)

BRANDS TO KEEP AN EYE ON:

ACE a circular fashion brand designing functional and fashionable bags for eco-conscious women on the go

Vinnia commited to creating superb quality sustainable swimwear with a gorgeous fit and timeless design

Nature Hommage 100% eco-conscious activewear, eco-friendly packaging, made ethically in Bali

Be the change you want to see in the world!

Written by: Adela & Kristyna

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