Vegan leather? Greta Thunberg? The CEO of Boohoo says clothes aren’t made to be thrown away? Let’s have a look into what has been going on recently within the industry. The sustainable fashion industry is constantly evolving and changing, so we have taken three important stories that we have come across recently, and that we feel everyone should know about. Let’s see how the fashion industry is helping create a circular economy.
When you look at a mango do you see a fruit or an item of clothing? Friends Koen and Hugo saw an item of clothing and since 2015, have been building FruitLeather, their company, to make this a reality. Vegan leather is an up and coming material which can be used as a replacement for real leather. Vegan leather is not just a good alternative because it means no animals were harmed in the making of it, but it also requires lower carbon emissions to grow the mangos and stops the mangos going to waste. The mangoes used by FruitLeather are older and not able to be consumed, so instead they are blended to a pulp, mixed with some additives and spread on thin baking sheets. These are then dried and cooked, turning into sheets of material. To make the vegan leather sheets ready for production, they are taken to a leather finisher where they are primed and embossed, giving it a more realistic leather finish. The negatives of vegan leather like this currently, is that they can only be made in small sheets which limits the products that can be made, and that it does not last as long as real leather. There is also the argument that animals used for the meat industry should also be used for the leather industry to reduce waste but that is another discussion.
CEO of Boohoo, John Lyttle, stated that the brand is making changes to become more sustainable. Can a brand as big as his, which thrives on consumerism and fast fashion, become a sustainable company others should look up to? They are trying though, some efforts that have been made including pledging that 20% of their autumn range will be sustainable. Time will tell to see if this happens, or if it is a greenwashing tactic. The CEO also said that the brand’s data suggest that the average consumer wears a Boohoo item of clothing more than once, but we should ask ourselves, is “more than one” enough?
Greta Thunberg tweeted about the impact the fashion industry has on the planet last week. Words like “sustainable”, “green” and “fair” are being tossed around by brands within the industry, but in most cases they do not even know what this means. Greenwashing has become more of an issue as people start to understand the importance of brands needing to reduce their negative impact on the environment. Companies are exploiting our want and need to help the planet by tugging at our heart strings with empty and meaningless advertisements and words. Always dig deeper into brands and always question if they are being sustainable, or if it is a greenwashing front.
New ideas, concepts and actions are constantly happening within the sustainable fashion industry. Each small step will slowly bring our society closer to a greener and more circular future.