The 2019 Redress Design Awards showcased the very best of emerging eco-designers

September 17, 2019 by  
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Eco-fashion has come leaps and bounds in recent decades, but one environmental clothing organization has spent years addressing the global textile waste crisis through an annual fashion event showcasing emerging eco-friendly designers. Known for its work in reducing textile waste in the fashion industry, Redress has just hosted its 2019 Design Awards — the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition. Let’s take a look at the winners! Launched in 2011 by founder Christina Dean, the Redress Design Awards aims to support emerging fashion designers who are striving to drive a sustainable, circular fashion system . Much more than just a fashion show, the months-long event includes an educational curriculum that aims to educate up-and-coming designers about the negative impacts of fashion’s manufacturing ways. At the end of the program, after learning about the principles of zero-waste design, upcycling techniques and reconstruction, the participants have the opportunity to show off their eco-collections at the swanky Redress fashion show. Related: Hannah Franco and Nancy Taylor celebrate sustainable fashion with époque évolution Held in Hong Kong this year, the 2019 Redress Design Awards, which drew more than 1,000 fashion industry experts, saw an inspiring collection of avant garde designs. The event was filled with various collections that showed a new wave of eco-designers might just be successful in changing the course of fashion by driving it into a more sustainable future. This year’s winner was British designer Maddie Williams, who will also have the opportunity to design a collection for the sustainable fashion brand REVERB . The runner-up of the 2019 event was Spanish designer Orsola de Castro. The People’s Choice winner was Moriah Ardila from Israel, and the Best Prize winner was Keith Chan from Hong Kong. Williams’ collection displayed vibrant, zero-waste pieces that were made out of reclaimed textiles, yarns and secondhand clothing. Williams said that she will use the Redress experience to further her part in making fashion a circular system. “Taking my catwalk competition collection into a commercial, upcycled collection will be a steep learning curve, and I’ll be trying my best to keep sustainable, circular principles at the core of what I do,” Williams said. “This is our time to tackle the environmental problems that we have inherited — we won’t get another chance!” + Redress Images via Redress

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The 2019 Redress Design Awards showcased the very best of emerging eco-designers

thredUP partnerships open the door to secondhand shopping at major retailers

September 2, 2019 by  
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Whether it is a handbag from the 1970s or a leather motorcycle jacket circa 1999, what’s old is new again, and online retailer thredUP sees the circular economy movement as a thriving opportunity. The consignment retailer and secondhand shop recently kicked off RAAS, or Resale-As-A-Service, a project to attract traditional department stores to get on board with more sustainable fashion . “The closet of the future … is going to look very different than the closet of today,” said James Reinhart, CEO and co-founder of thredUP. “If you think back 10 years ago when we started, you had none of these direct-to-consumer brands. There was no such thing as rental. There were no subscription companies. In just these 10 years, we’ve had a radical shift in how people shop and buy apparel . And I think that shift is going to continue.” Related: G7 summit — Fashion companies make a pact to protect the planet The retailer collects around 100,000 pieces of secondhand items daily and says resale is growing 21 times as fast as the larger retail market; it could be a $51 billion market by 2023. Shoppers propelling the growing circular economy are Millennials and Gen Zers — the 18- to 37-year-old population — who are purchasing about 2.5 times more than any other age group. Big box stores, like JCPenney and Macy’s, have seen their sales yo-yo in recent years and have signed on with thredUP. In doing so, the retailers have three options: store pop-up, online collaboration or a loyalty program. Some experts believe department stores will lean toward pop-ups, because they tend to attract more shoppers. As reported by Forbes , pop-ups offered by thredUP will be between 500 and 1,000 square feet and “feature new items on a weekly basis, offering brands that aren’t already in a typical Macy’s or JCPenney. There will be 100 pop-ups by Labor Day.” According to Reinhart, the loyalty program has been the top option, where shoppers can purchase items from thredUP’s retail partners and also receive a “clean out kit.” Buyers use this kit to send in pre-loved clothing items to thredUP — thredUP retains the markup on resold items, consumers get credits and bonuses with the retailer and the retailer sees improved customer retention. It’s a win-win-win. thredUP has reportedly received more than $300 million in total funding for the project. It’s possible that thredUP’s RAAS initiative may help grow the circular economy and give struggling department stores a brighter future. + thredUP Via TreeHugger , Forbes and FirstResearch Image via Burst

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thredUP partnerships open the door to secondhand shopping at major retailers

Designer turns cellulose into plastic-free, biodegradable sequins

August 9, 2019 by  
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In a bid to make the fashion industry more sustainable, designer Elissa Brunato has developed the Bio Iridescent Sequin, a material research and design project that turns cellulose into shimmering biodegradable sequins of varying shapes and sizes. Created in collaboration with Material Scientists Hjalmar Granberg and Tiffany Abitbol from the RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, these environmentally friendly sequins offer a compostable alternative to conventional sequins, which are typically made from petroleum plastic or synthetic resins. This new bio-material is proposed as one of the solutions toward a circular textile economy . Created in a laboratory using “bio-technologies,” the Bio Iridescent Sequin project has produced a wide range of samples of different colors and sizes with iridescent shine. The material samples were all created from cellulose, a naturally abundant resource that is most commonly obtained for large-scale use from wood pulp and cotton. Like plastic, cellulose can be manipulated to create a lightweight and strong material ideal for making sequins but with the added benefit of being compostable. Related: Labo Mono turns plastic water bottles into Urban Jackets for cycling and everyday use The eco-friendly sequins were created by redesigning the shiny decorative discs from the base structure up. The crystalline form of cellulose was extracted to take advantage of the natural light refraction properties. Shimmering iridescent colors were then embedded into the material structure of the cellulose without the added chemicals typically used in sequin production. “It is an entirely new way to approach color and finishes within the Fashion and Textiles Industry,” read the project statement, which noted the impracticality of recycling embroidery and the global challenges of microplastics. “Re-imagining the landscape of available materials that we have on this earth can allow for safer and more environmentally sustainable approaches to shimmering color. These approaches have the potential to outshine the previous options in a way that is more forward-thinking and innovative.” + Elissa Brunato Images via Elissa Brunato

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Designer turns cellulose into plastic-free, biodegradable sequins

Zara pledges 100% sustainable fabrics by 2025

July 19, 2019 by  
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This week, major fashion brand Zara announced a pledge to use 100 percent sustainable fabrics by 2025. The company also upped the ante for large-scale sustainable fashion by promising to use 80 percent renewable energy for its headquarters, factories and stores by the same deadline. “We need to be a force for change, not only in the company but in the whole sector,” said Pablo Isla, CEO of Inditex, the corporation that owns Zara. “We are the ones establishing these targets; the strength and impulse for change is coming from the commercial team, the people who are working with our suppliers, the people working with fabrics.” Related: H&M releases sustainable fashion line from fruit and algae Inditex is the third-largest apparel company in the world and promises that its other brands, including Massimo Dutti, will follow Zara’s example. Zara is by far the corporation’s largest brand, pulling in 70 percent of its sales, which totaled $29 billion USD last year. A major component of the sustainability plan involves increasing the offerings and sales from Zara’s eco-conscious line, Join Life. Zara also partners with the Red Cross to donate leftover stock and has an ongoing project with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to innovate new ways to recycle fabrics. The announcements come after increased pressure from consumers worldwide who seek sustainable fashion choices and critique the waste generated by the fast fashion industry. Zara claims it is not “ fast fashion ,” even though a documentary recently revealed that factory workers are judged by a woman holding a stopwatch and that the time between spotting a trend and having it hit Zara stores is only 2 to 4 weeks . Most fashion brands, by comparison, take 40 weeks. Critics and experts of the fashion industry noted that the new sustainability plan does not address concerns about the conditions for factory workers, despite recent controversies when disgruntled workers stitched S.O.S. notes into Zara clothing. + Zara Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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SAOLA offers sustainable sneakers sourced from algae and recycled plastic

May 22, 2019 by  
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Although admittedly late to the game, fashion is working towards cleaning up their act when it comes to corporate responsibility and sustainable sourcing of materials and manufacturing of products. But, consumers have to look for it. Fortunately, the shoe industry in particular is getting downright competitive in their efforts to bring sustainable footwear to the market. Unfortunately, for many manufacturers, the eco-friendly label means little more than incorporating an organic thread here or a renewable resource there. For newcomer SAOLA, though, sustainable fashion is front and center. The french company is not only new to the sustainable fashion realm, but has only been in business a few years. Rather than fighting the trends, they’re setting them with their eco-friendly sneakers, some of which are entirely vegan. The efforts can be seen in every component of the shoes, from top to bottom. Related: These sneakers are painted with cast-off blood from slaughterhouses Starting with the uppers made from 100 percent recycled PET, the company pours 3 to 4 plastic bottles into each shoe. The shoelaces are sourced from 100 percent organic cotton to avoid cotton grown using chemicals. A plant-based foam created from algae biomass makes up the insoles and outsoles that brings a wafer-light feel to the sneaker, skips the petroleum used in traditional shoe production and makes use of the unwanted algae in areas where it blooms. Renewable cork sourced without cutting down any trees makes up a removable liner inside the shoe. SAOLA is dedicated to the environment with a commitment to donate 3 percent of every sale to environmental conservation groups. The current product line offers styles for both men and women with suede-look tops and trendy color options including grey, chocolate, camel, olive and navy. They offer low cut and mid-height designs with styles costing about $100. + SAOLA Images via SAOLA

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SAOLA offers sustainable sneakers sourced from algae and recycled plastic

This backpack is made from locally sourced cork and recycled materials

May 2, 2019 by  
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The world’s landfills are piling up. While we hear a lot about how the fashion industry contributes to this problem, the topic is less focused on accessories. Yet purses, bags and backpacks also contribute to the fast fashion environment with quickly fading styles and manufacturing pollution. One company is bucking this trend with a backpack made from naturally sustainable cork and recycled materials. The Jajamän cork backpack is a completely vegan option for conscientious consumers looking for an alternative to cotton-based fabrics and leather. With a striking cork exterior and recycled post-consumer polyester interior, the backpack was made with the environment in mind throughout the design process. It even uses recycled metal for the buckles. In fact, every component of this backpack is either natural cork or recycled material, including the zippers made from post-consumer plastic. Tags and trims are made from recycled paper, too. Related: Pauline van Dongen unveils backpack made with ‘energy harvesting textile’ Cork is the ultimate choice as a sustainable product for a variety of reasons. Because it is actually bark, harvesting cork doesn’t require cutting down or damaging trees . Plus, it is lightweight yet durable. Cork is also innately waterproof, fire-resistant, dirt repellent, anti-fungal and stain resistant, all of which make it a good choice for bags, shoes, purses and more. Cork requires no harsh chemicals like those produced from leather manufacturing and is biodegradable at the end of its lifecycle. In addition to careful material selection, the company has focused on making sure each step in the process is both earth and human friendly. To achieve this goal, it uses cork from Portugal and manufactures the bags close to that source. Jajamän practices safe working conditions and fair wages in its factory, a standard in Portugal. With longevity in mind, the design is practical, universal for any gender and durable. While this means each bag can last years, it doesn’t sacrifice appeal. Because cork has a natural design, much like cut wood, each backpack has a unique pattern not exactly duplicated in any other bag. “We’re going back to a more sustainable way of consuming and producing,” the company said. “Sustainability is our business, and thanks to your pledges, we will be able to begin producing our planet-friendly cork backpacks. We’ll be able to fund our team to continue to challenge the status quo of fast fashion by creating truly sustainable alternatives.” After being fully funded, the Jajamän cork backpack is now available for purchase through  Indiegogo . + Jajamän Images via Jajamän

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This backpack is made from locally sourced cork and recycled materials

3D-printed jewelry company uses plants, not fossil fuels, to make its beautiful designs

April 10, 2019 by  
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Traditionally, most jewelry has always been made out of some type of metal: silver, gold, bronze or copper. Mining for precious metals and gemstones often causes environmental damage, ranging from water pollution to greenhouse gas emissions to soil erosion. Today, however, those looking to decorate themselves with shiny baubles have a new option —  eco-friendly, 3D-printed jewelry. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Winter Hill Jewelry is an innovative, family-run company that makes beautiful and affordable 3D-printed earrings and necklaces out of plant-based plastic . Winter Hill Jewelry is the brainchild of Vanessa Templeman, a mother of two who started experimenting with her family’s 3D printer at home. The printer had been used to print toys for the kids, but soon Templeman decided to do something a bit more creative. After initially drawing and designing her pieces by hand, she then updated to Tinkercard to help streamline the process, which ends with beautiful 3D models of her designs. Related: Elle turns E-waste into unique and eye-catching jewelry According to Templeman, the 3D printing process not only allows her to create and manufacture her own designs, but has also opened up a niche in the jewelry market for eco-friendly designs. Focused on having minimal environment impact, the company uses a full-cycle system that is set up to reduce waste throughout the manufacturing process. Instead of using regular plastic that is made from fossil fuels, for example, they use PLA, a plant-based plastic that is compostable. While they try to reduce waste as much as possible, any remnants left over from the production process can be easily recycled. Additionally, the Flash Forge Creator Pro 3D printers used by Winter Hill Jewelry are fully powered by solar-generated energy . Once the jewelry is printed, they are displayed on cards made out of 100 percent recycled paper and shipped in biodegradable bubble wrap. As an additional way to use its product for good, the company has a special collection that includes a “Cuterus” line of pins and earrings. Portions from the sale of these items are donated to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center OB. + Winter Hill Jewelry Images via Winter Hill Jewelry

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3D-printed jewelry company uses plants, not fossil fuels, to make its beautiful designs

Bananatex launches a sustainable material revolution at Milan Design Week

April 9, 2019 by  
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A party of three has collaborated to create a multi-purpose material sourced entirely from banana leaves. Swiss bag brand QWSTION, a yarn specialist from Taiwan, and a Taiwanese weaving partner spent four years developing the new material, which is being revealed at the 2019 Milan Design Week. The strong, flexible material, called Banantex, offers a new universal option in the search for sustainable materials . Beginning at the source, the banana leaves come from a natural ecosystem of sustainable forestry in the Philippines. The banana trees grow naturally without the use of pesticides or other chemicals. Plus, they do not require any additional water. The banana plants are a boon to an area previously eroded by palm plantations, bringing back vegetation and a livelihood for local farmers. Related: See how banana trees are recycled into vegan “leather” wallets in Micronesia With a long history of creating materials from sustainable resources, QWSTION saw the strength and durability of the banana leaves that were used in the Philippines for more than a century as boat ropes. Following three years of research and development, the bag company finalized the plant-based material. As a bag company, the first products they put together are backpacks and hip pouches, made completely with the plastic-free material. The larger goal, however, is for other companies to use Banantex in their own production, spreading the application to any number of industries that could eliminate many of the synthetic materials on the market today. United with the common goal of inspiring responsible product development, the team conceived the idea as an open source project with this in mind. The characteristics of the material makes this idea easy to imagine since it is durable, pliable and waterproof. Plus, it is biodegradable at the end of the life cycle, significantly reducing post-consumer waste rampant in the clothing and accessories industries in particular. The display will be open to the public at Milan Design Week on April 9-14, 2019. + QWSTION Images via QWSTION

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Bananatex launches a sustainable material revolution at Milan Design Week

The sustainable wardrobe: its more accessible than you think

January 29, 2019 by  
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When it comes to making sure our homes are eco-friendly, it is easy to neglect the closet. Your clothes, however, might just be the biggest culprit. All those synthetic fabrics will take over 200 years to fully decompose, and the microfibers often end up in the ocean and in the bellies of sea creatures. The fashion industry produces 20 percent of all wastewater, and the amount of pollutants it emits is the second largest in the world (the first is oil). This is all while generating 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined total from all international flights and maritime shipping. So what can you do to build a more sustainable wardrobe? First and foremost, educate yourself. Before you do anything, learn why you’re doing it. Start out by doing some research to figure out what your biggest priority is. Vegan and cruelty-free? Non-toxic materials? Organic materials? Do you care more about what the clothes are made out of, or who made the clothes? Arming yourself with information makes it easier to make better decisions for yourself and the environment. Support ethical businesses The rise of fast fashion has brought about high demand for cheap, trendy clothing items. The cost of manufacturing these inexpensive clothes has led many factories to turn toward cheap labor and sweatshops in developing countries — often with dangerous work conditions on unlivable wages. When you do purchase clothes, read the label and see where it was made. If you’re not sure about the country, opt for the U.S. and the U.K. where the labor laws are more strict and regulated. Invest in higher quality, eco-friendly fabrics Growing materials for certain fabrics take a heavier toll on the planet, so buying clothes made from natural materials like organic cotton, linen or hemp can help offset the environmental impacts. Not only do certain fabric materials take huge amounts of water to grow, but the chemicals used to rid these crops of pests also seep down into the soil and natural water supply. The upside is that not all crops are grown this way. Organic cotton is grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Hemp is versatile, strong and requires much fewer pesticides or fertilizers to grow. Linen, made from flax, demands less water and energy sources, and it is naturally biodegradable. Related: Faux fur or real fur, which one is better for the planet? Don’t throw clothes away This seems simple enough, but it’s surprising just how many pieces of clothing end up in the trash every year. In 2015, there were 10.5 million tons of textiles in landfills, and many of those were synthetic fibers that don’t decompose. When a favorite piece of clothing gets torn, mend it up rather than tossing it in the trash — you’ll save more money, too! Not a master sewer? Take it to a tailor. If you really want to get rid of something, take it to a donation center or thrift store. Or, try a clothing swap with a friend — you’ll both get new pieces for your wardrobes without anything ending up in the trash can. Related: Eco-friendly options for decluttering waste Shop vintage and thrift When it comes to fashion, choose timeless over trendy. Buy clothes that will work year-round rather than just for a season. Think multi-purposefully. Most importantly, don’t think that being on a budget means limiting yourself to cheap clothes or fast fashion trends. Shop mindfully Stop to ask yourself: do I need this, or do I just want it? There’s a big difference there. If you really need something new for a wedding or special event, buy with purpose. Don’t just go into a store to shop for nothing in particular, or you’ll most definitely end up with something you don’t need. Also, if you buy items that are more versatile, it will actually help you in the long run. You’ll have more outfit choices and less clutter to worry about in your closet. Take good care of the clothes you have Using a lower temperature in your washing is not only less damaging to fabrics, but it’s a win for the environment, too. Heating accounts for 90 percent of the energy used from doing a load of laundry. If you can swing it, skip the dryer altogether and hang-dry your clothes (of course, this works better in a dry, warm climate). You can also try washing your clothes in larger batches, because this will waste less water and electricity. Consider switching to an eco-friendly brand of detergent as well. Keep an eye out for ones that are biodegradable , phosphate-free and made from plant-derived ingredients. The better shape your clothes are in, the longer they will last. Related: How to decode confusing labels on common household cleaners DIY Here’s the good news: there are more ways to express your personal style than buying clothes. Learn to make your own accessories or bags; it might turn into a fun new hobby or a skill you never knew you had! Rather than throwing old clothes away, repurpose them into something new. Old T-shirts make great dusting rags, and soft materials like cotton can be made into pillowcases or quilts. Check out these great ideas for recycling old clothes from DIY for Life. Images via Charles Etoroma , MNZ , Prudence Earl , Raw Pixel , Peggy and Marco Lachmann-Anke , Egle and Shutterstock

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The sustainable wardrobe: its more accessible than you think

This 3D-printed device could help its users breathe underwater

August 6, 2018 by  
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Japanese designer and material scientist  Jun Kamei has invented an underwater breathing device constructed with 3D printing . Kamei foresees complications arising from higher sea levels, which he believes will affect up to three billion people globally. Thus, he has designed Amphibio , a 3D-printed garment that he hopes will help those people affected by rising seas to work with nature in submerged portions of the Earth. “By 2100, a temperature rise of 3.2 degrees Celsius is predicted to happen, causing a sea-level rise affecting between 500 million and three billion people, and submerging the mega-cities situated in the coastal areas,” Kamei explained. He believes Amphibio will become essential to our next generations, who will be forced to spend much more time in water as a result of a “flooded world.” Amphibio replicates the method that aquatic insects use to trap air, forming a gas-exchanging gill. The breathing apparatus’s microporous, hydrophobic material thus enables oxygen extraction from surrounding water while also removing carbon dioxide . Kamei, a graduate of the Royal College of Art , returned to his alma mater with a team from the RCA-IIS Tokyo Design Lab to construct the two-part accessory, which features a respiratory mask attached to the gill assembly. Related: MIT’s mind-reading AlterEgo headset can hear what you’re thinking The working prototype of Amphibio does not yet produce enough oxygen to sustain a human being. However, Kamei is optimistic. He developed the 3D-printable material filament himself, and, in the future, he hopes people can buy it themselves. As 3D printing becomes more common and readily available in society, he envisions a future in which people can print garments tailored to their own body shape – and in which Amphibio is one of their options. + Amphibio Via Design Milk and Dezeen Photography by Mikito Tateisi

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This 3D-printed device could help its users breathe underwater

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