12 sustainable materials that could change the future of the fashion industry
The production of materials generates most of the fashion industry's carbon footprint, so it is not surprising that interest in textile innovation has been reinvigorated.
That's why companies like Zara and Gucci are already getting down to work on this fashion sector, as well as designers like Stella McCartney.
Below, we would like to show you 12 materials that are already transforming the fashion and textile sector.
1. Alternatives to leather
Much of the technological innovation in recent years has focused on finding an alternative to traditional leather, as the livestock industry is responsible for around 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Backed by Stella McCartney, Adidas, Kering (the Gucci group) and Lululemon, Mylo is a leather simile made from mycelium (mushroom roots).
Like mylo, the Reishi material, manufactured by MycoWorks, is based on mycelium sheets grown from engineered cells fed with agricultural waste. These sheets are tanned without chrome or synthetic materials.
Created by Natural Fiber Welding, Mirum is an alternative to leather produced from plants and minerals, and without plastic. According to the company, this material can be infinitely recycled and is completely circular.
Piñatex, one of the first alternative leathers on the market and made from pineapple waste, is already present in a wide range of brands, such as H&M or Hugo Boss. This vegan leather also contains a bio-based plastic.
Another plant-based leather is Vegea, made from grape waste from the wine industry. Since winning the H&M Foundation's Global Change Award in 2017, this material has been used by brands such as Ganni, Pangaia and Calvin Klein.
With investors including Kering, this lab raised $46m in funding earlier this year, and the leather it grows in its VitroLabs lab replicates the look and feel of traditional leather using a small amount of animal cells.
2. Recycled textiles
Renewcell's Circulose material is 100% made from discarded clothing, using renewable energy. H&M was the first brand to launch a product made from this material, two years ago now, and Levi's used it in its iconic 501 jeans earlier this year.
Evrnu's NuCycl material is also made from 100% recycled clothing, particularly cotton. Fully recyclable, this textile has already been used by companies such as Stella McCartney in the Infinite Hoodie, the sweatshirt she launched with Adidas in 2019.
3. Bio-based fabrics
Finding a 100% bio-based alternative to synthetics like polyester and nylon is crucial for the industry moving forward, and Kintra's bid aims to fill that gap.
Natural Fiber Welding's Clarus technology converts natural fibres into high-performance fabrics with the same properties as synthetics. Ralph Lauren launched its first polo shirts with this innovative fibre earlier this year.
4. Materials that reduce carbon emissions
Newlight Technologies' AirCarbon is a carbon negative material: it absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere. The company partnered with Nike last year, so expect the use of this material to grow considerably in the coming years.
Another material that captures carbon is LanzaTech. The company converts CO2 emissions. This year Zara used this material in 20 % of its garments and this company partnered with Lululemon last year.