Here is how to win through sustainable fashion production.

Written by the Circular Fashion Detective

Not so fast. Rome was not built in one day, and the fashion industry will also not change for good overnight. Today, sustainable fashion is an oxymoron. Producing more than is consumed, using materials from depleted resources, overshooting planetary boundaries and shortfalling society as a whole, is the harsh reality of this industry and does not marry well with the meaning of the construct “Sustainability”. 

Sustainable Fashion is an empty term, a sexy buzz word that generates revenue, but not for long. Consumers, like you and I, are becoming ever more informed and clever on the topic. Sustainability is indispensable in all corners of society, and thanks to solid reports as the ones by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, there is open access to hard facts. From the report, The New Textiles Economy comes the following claim:

“The industry’s current take-make-dispose model is the root cause of many environmental impacts and substantial economic value loss.” (…) “If nothing changes, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget.”

From an industrial point of view, I have good and bad news. Unfortunately, if you are trained as a designer and have been working in the traditional way as you have been taught – this is becoming obsolete. For fashion to be sustainable, one key principle is to produce zero waste. Overall, if you cut fabric by hand, you leave waste. If you make physical prototypes, you create waste. Scraps and prototypes do not end up with a user for long and often get thrown away.

The good news is that technology is here to help us to reinforce the joy fashion can bring. Digital prototyping is the way to work not with fibers, but with pixels, to create a concept quickly and make adjustments just as fast. Time-saving, resource preservation, and better meeting customer demand. I think I have just started to hear music play joyfully. If this has sparked your interest and wants to get started, I recommend you check out the software program CLO3D. Digital fashion house The Fabricant is an avid user and their creations are mind-blowing. 

Then, if you want to take digital fashion one step further, you can check out the first digital model agency The Digitals, and imagine how their models parade down the virtual catwalk in your creations. The amount of CO2-emissions saved by digital production is significant. Beware, however, that your computer’s output involves high CO2-emissions, but the difference is dramatically better for the environment and society as a whole. 

No one is perfect. Sustainability in fashion is super complex, yet I am optimistic it is possible, but it requires a paradigm shift from all of us, the stakeholders. Do you have what it takes to be the world’s game-changer in fashion?