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The future of fashion is in sustainability

Words by Nathan Irvine

There's more than meets the eye with the latest fashion collection.

Although a number of fashion brands have been making changes behind the scenes for years, 2019 was the year that sustainability was given a huge push.

It became more than a buzzword. More than a thing for fashion houses heads to trot out in an interview without much evidence to back it up. Instead, sustainability was being talked about as the future of these companies. In 2020 we're going to see a whole lot more of it. And rightly so.

Material waste from creating garments has always been a huge problem. For example, hundreds of litres of water are used to finish a suit and make it flexible. Not multiple suits, just one. The water used is then contaminated with material and plastics, which renders the liquid unusable.

The amount of waste this creates is terrible. And a majority is unceremoniously dumped into the sea. But thanks to the likes of Adidas and Ralph Lauren this ocean waste is being turned into sportswear and polo shirts.

"Sustainability is a big deal for us, and has been for many years" Jonathan Cheung, SVP of Levi's Design told us recently.

"Our Waterless program started in 2011, and we have led the industry in reducing water use. We recognise that sustainability is the biggest challenge that our industry faces. In 2020 you’ll see much more Levi’s denim made from hemp. So keep your eyes on us."

It's an admirable stance and it's one that isn't just confined to the big players.

Adidas The Parley range is an example of how stylish and practical recycling waste can be.

Waste management

The contribution to sustainable fashion is sweeping across the industry  - from global businesses to boutique fashion houses. Take Dubai-based tailors Benjamin Siggers for example.

The bespoke menswear specialists are conscious about reducing waste. From the bags they use to the wooden hangers and the materials used in the suits and shirts, everything is recyclable. Even the organic cotton is ethically sourced.

That last thing is something Tommy Hilfiger has got onboard with. The spring 2020 TommyXLewis collab, with F1 champ Lewis Hamilton, is made with organic cotton, recycled materials and vegan leather options.

Luxury menswear brand Ermenegildo Zegna is involved too. Under the umbrella of "Use The Existing", Zegna has created outfits using its old products. So rather than sending last season's gear to a landfill, it will take a pair of old suits and turn them into a jacket fit for a catwalk.

Zegna The fashion that the Use The Existing campaign is capable of.

Action pact

Obviously, there will be increased scrutiny on the fashion industry following 2019's landmark moment.

The Fashion Pact which Kering Chairman and CEO, François-Henri Pinault was tasked with by French President Emmanuel Macron required companies to sign up to a plan to stop global warming, restore biodiversity and protect the oceans.

Signatories of the pact include the aforementioned Adidas, Zegna and Tommy Hilfiger. It also includes Nike, Chanel, Bally and many more.

So while colours, styles and accessories will change with the seasons, sustainability is more than a trend and thankfully here to stay.

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