University of Fashion Blog

Category "Sustainability"

Catch UoF at the Upcoming American Library Association Annual Conference

university of Fashion's American Library Association Makerspace announcement

If you find yourself in or near San Diego, California, from June 27th thru July 1st, then please stop by booth #2653 at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference & Exhibition, held at the San Diego Convention Center (111 Harbor Drive).

Librarians, teachers and students from high schools, colleges, public libraries and makerspaces from around the world gather annually at the ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition to participate in discussions on timely and enduring issues related to the ever-evolving role of libraries. They get updates on relevant legislation and policies relating to books and libraries, as well as learn the latest trends in book publishing and online technologies. Approximately 25,ooo people attend the ALA conference, which includes in depth information on educational programming, created and curated by library professionals, and their Library Marketplace where exhibitors share the latest in products, services, titles, authors and technology.

Full Registration rates to attend the 5-day show vary, based on whether you are an ALA Member ($520) or Non-Member ($720), an Other-Member (non-salaried, retired, student, support staff or trustee – $320) or an International Member ($360) or Non-Member ($540). You could also choose to attend one day only (ALA Member $295, Other-Member $195 or Non-Member $395).

As part of the Full Registration package, you have access to educational programming; exhibitors and LIVE stages in the Library Marketplace; Opening and Closing sessions; ALA President’s Program; Featured Speakers; the Job Placement Center; and so much more. Full Registration covers Thursday, June 27 thru Tuesday, July 2, and all sessions except for Preconferences and optional Ticketed Events.

 

poster frame of the ALA - Library Marketplace showing exhibits, stages & resources

The Library Marketplace at the American Library Association Annual Conference with over 550 exhibitors, including University of Fashion. (Image Credit: ALAannual.org).

A less expensive option is to attend ALA’s Library Marketplace (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) which is priced at $159 thru June 21st, or $179 onsite. At the Library Marketplace you’ll gain access to more than 550 exhibitors (of which UoF is one) and you will be able to interact with representatives from book publishing houses, book sellers and online services and technologies. You’ll hear from exciting authors and illustrators on eight live, genre-specific stages. You’ll be able to meet various authors and take photos or have your favorite books autographed. Some of the other attractions are ALA’s new STEAM Pavilion! and The Beach @ALA! In addition, you may be able to pick up ARCs (advanced release copies of books), explore donated original artwork and handmade quilts from the ALA Biblio-quilters at the Christopher J. Hoy Scholarship Silent Auction.

 

MEET THE UOF TEAM – LEARN ABOUT OUR NEWEST FASHION VIDEOS

We are so excited to be exhibiting at the ALA conference this year and welcome the opportunity to not only meet our current schools and public librarians, (many who have been subscribers since 2013), but look forward to showing off our University of Fashion online fashion education video library to everyone else! You’ll get a chance to meet our sales team, Myna Dorfman and Margaret Lester and UoF’s co-founders Francesca Sterlacci and Jeffrey Purvin. You’ll get to hear about our newest lessons, our companion books, our certificate program, our makerspace programs, our school, group and library free trials and discounts, as well as what we have in store for UoF going forward. Oh, and be sure to stop by our booth (#2653) to pick up your free gift!

poster frame of University of Fashion list of lesson disciplines and books.

VIEW OUR COMPANION 3-BOOK BEGINNER TECHNIQUES SERIES: DRAPING, PATTERN MAKING & SEWING

 

LEARN ABOUT OUR MAKERSPACE OPPORTUNITIES

University of Fashion is celebrating its 16th year in business. Over the years, our content and our instructors have been involved in a number of arts & craft workshops, makerspaces, career-based lecture events, after school programs and youth summer camps.

Libraries from around the world, having been using UoF to create makerspaces to attract career-minded patrons who don’t have the time or who can’t afford or gain access to traditional career or trade education. They are also a vehicle for community-building.

A fashion-focused makerspace attracts patrons interested in learning how to design and make clothes, how to repair, upcycle or recycle old clothes and how to create new fashion designs, both on paper and on computer. Other goals for creating makerspaces are: personal skill development, career opportunities and potential entrepreneurship.

See ya at the show!eam of UoF

 

poster frame of University of Fashion Makerspaces

University of Fashion – a great content resource for library makerspaces

Silk Through Time – From Ancient Luxury to Modern Sustainability

19th Century Silk Dress from Present-day Uzbekistan, Bukhara (Photo Credit: The MET, Islamic Art collection, “Robe”)

19th Century Silk Dress from Present-day Uzbekistan, Bukhara (Photo Credit: The MET, Islamic Art collection, “Robe”)

SILK – a fabric steeped in legend, with tales of secrets and smuggling along the ancient Silk Road, now finds itself at the heart of modern controversy. Luckily, as a luxurious, durable, and biodegradable fabric, there are ways that we can prioritize the benefits of this fabric and leave the rest behind.

Early History & Expansion of Silk

Silkworm caterpillars feeding on leaves (Photo credit: Storyteller.com, IOM/Begüm Başaran)

Silkworm caterpillars feeding on leaves (Photo credit: Storyteller.com, IOM/Begüm Başaran)

Legend traces silk’s origins back to the Chinese empress Leizu around 3000 BCE, who, according to myth, discovered the fabric by chance as a silkworm’s cocoon fell into her tea. While the truth of this tale remains shrouded, silk undeniably began its journey in China, flourishing into a prized commodity for its luxurious feel and ability to hold vibrant color.

Silk’s expansion beyond China’s borders was spurred by the Silk Road, transforming it from a closely guarded secret to a global treasure. However, the production of silk remained largely a secret that only China held until around 550 CE, when the emperor of the Byzantine Empire convinced two monks to smuggle silk worms out of China. From those clandestine caterpillars grew the silk production of Europe. As a lightweight, vibrant fabric, it quickly became a status symbol, adorning the elite from Asia to Europe.

Today’s Ethical and Environmental Concerns in Silk Production

Silk Moth Image

Silk Moth (Image by Dan Burchmore from Pixabay)

Contrary to the name silkworm, silk doesn’t originate from worms but from caterpillars, who weave their cocoons out of these long silk fibers before emerging as moths. Where the fibers would naturally be broken as the moth emerges from the cocoon, traditional silk production involves boiling or steaming the cocoons to kill the moth before it has a chance to emerge to preserve the long strands. The most common kind of silk is Mulberry silk, named after the tree the caterpillars feed on, and is typically processed this way.

This process is deemed unsustainable and unethical by some due to its impact on the silkworms. Raising silkworms also has a toll on the environment: silk production demands vast quantities of mulberry leaves, necessitating extensive land use, water consumption, and fertilizer application.

Weaving a Sustainable Future: Innovation and Alternatives

Eucalyptus silk dress from brand Green Cult (Image credit: theGreenCult.com)Eucalyptus silk dress from brand Green Cult (Image credit: theGreenCult.com)

In response to ethical and environmental concerns, alternative solutions are gaining popularity within the silk industry.

Ahimsa silk, or “peace silk,” refers to a process where silkworms are allowed to complete their life cycle naturally, albeit with a slightly rougher texture of the finished silk as the fibers are broken. Unfortunately, not every brand that claims to use peace silk is truly upholding these values, so it’s important to read about the individual brands to ensure. But, when followed, this process can benefit the moths. Additionally, organic silk ensures that the trees where the caterpillars grow are not treated with harmful chemicals that impact the environment and ecosystems around them.

Another alternative to traditional silk is semi-synthetic fabrics with silk-like properties. Made from eucalyptus fibers, these offer a cruelty-free, eco-friendly alternative. Produced through more sustainable processes, these fabrics, like lyocell or Tencel, maintain silk’s luxurious feel while minimizing the environmental impact.

By embracing these traditional silk alternatives and advocating for transparency and ethical practices throughout the supply chain, we can pave the way towards a more sustainable silk industry and ensure that silk can be enjoyed in harmony with our planet.

So, tell us, which future-forward silk are you excited to try out?

HONORING EARTH DAY- The Rise of Fast Fashion: How Did We Get Here, and Where Do We Go?

image of planet and with text Planet vs. Fashion

In honor of Earth Day 2024, on April 22, we thought we might take a look at the rise of fast fashion and what we can do about it. As fashion students, designers, educators, retailers and as citizens of the world, we owe it to our planet!

 

The Rise of Fast Fashion

Neutral-colored clothing hangs on a store rack (Photo Credit: Pexels/Rachel Claire)

Neutral-colored clothing hangs on a store rack (Photo Credit: Pexels/Rachel Claire)

Did you know that over 100 billion new garments are manufactured globally each year?

Unsustainable practices, like overproduction and unethical manufacturing, have become commonplace in the world of fast fashion. Today, fast fashion is a prevalent part of our world, but it wasn’t always this way.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to stay this way, either. In this article, we’ll explore how fast fashion rose to prominence, the issues that came with it, and how we can make change to create a more sustainable future for fashion, where ethical and sustinable practices become the new norm.

The Origins and Expansion of Fast Fashion

Fast fashion companies prioritize rapid production methods to make inexpensive, low-quality clothing. They typically copy popular styles of other designers and make them at lower costs through mass production.

Before the Industrial Revolution, new clothing was mostly handmade by skilled workers, accessible primarily to the wealthy classes. With the rise of new technologies in the early 20th century, fashion production began to see big changes. Manufacturers found ways to lower costs through new machinery and outsourcing to low-paid workers.

Men pull racks of clothing through the Garment District, New York City, in 1955 (Photo credit: World Telegram & Sun photo by Al Ravenna)

Men pull racks of clothing through the Garment District, New York City, in 1955 (Photo credit: World Telegram & Sun photo by Al Ravenna)

In the mid-20th century, fashion companies shifted to global manufacturing, leveraging overseas production to pay workers lower wages. This sparked a new wave of clothing production, where clothes were made faster and at a lower cost.

By the 1990s, this trend was accelerating rapidly. One notable player is Spanish fashion brand Zara. Founder Amancio Ortega began his company by making lower-cost versions of already popular designer looks, which were created in small batches to get them into stores as fast as possible.

Rows of jackets hang in a Zara manufacturing facility (Photo credit: Business Insider/Mary Hanbury)Rows of jackets hang in a Zara manufacturing facility (Photo credit: Business Insider/Mary Hanbury)

In 1989, shortly after Zara expanded to New York, the New York Times referred to the company as “fast fashion,” thereby naming the movement.

In the years that followed, fast fashion would come to drastically change the industry: the clothing itself, the societal view of clothing, as well as the impact on the planet as a whole.

Environmental Issues and Social Impacts of Fast Fashion

As clothing prices changed, so did societal attitudes. The view of clothing changed from something to be cared for to something to be disposed of.

This leads to increased consumption and higher waste, which is especially problematic given the high environmental toll that fast fashion practices take: an estimated 2-8% of annual global carbon emissions come from the fashion industry alone.

Fast fashion also prioritizes the use of cheaper fabrics. While both natural and synthetic fabrics can be used sustainably,fast fashion companies opt for cheap and low-quality options. This often means non-organic cotton, which is referred to as the world’s dirtiest crop due to the high amounts of pesticides used, or cheaply made synthetics like polyester, which rely on high amounts of virgin fossil fuels and cause microplastic pollution.

Fast fashion is also harmful to garment workers. It’s estimated that only 2% of fashion workers worldwide are paid a livable salary, and many work in unsafe or unhealthy environments.

Transitioning Towards a More Sustainable Future

Though the current state of fast fashion may seem grim, as awareness begins to grow around these issues, times begin to change.

Advocacy groups like Fashion Revolution and Good On You bring light to these issues and highlight brands that produce clothing more ethically.

Woman holds a bag made from Econyl, a recycled textile (Photo credit: econyl.com)

Woman holds a bag made from Econyl, a recycled textile (Photo credit: econyl.com)

 

Innovative materials are having an impact as well. For example, Econyl and rPET (recycled polyester) are creating new fabrics from post-consumer waste, like recycled fish nets and water bottles.

Yellow jacket by Danish brand Ganni made in collaboration with Polybion from their bio-based textile, Celium. (Photo credit: Ganni/Polybion)

Yellow jacket by Danish brand Ganni made in collaboration with Polybion from their bio-based textile, Celium. (Photo credit: Ganni/Polybion)

Sustainable alternatives to leather and pleather are also on the rise. One example is Polybion, which is growing a plant-based leather alternative from fermented fruit waste.

As consumers, there are steps we can take to avoid fast fashion as well. From learning how to identify ethical companies to supporting small-scale designers, even a small step is a step in the direction of a more sustainable and ethical fashion future.

So, tell us, how will you choose to embrace sustainable fashion?

 

 

 

Spotlight on Sustainable Designer: Eudora Tucker

image of Eudora Tucker

Eudora Tucker – New York City sustainable fashion designer (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

This week’s blogpost is dedicated to Custom Collaborative’s latest success story, NYC-based sustainable fashion designer, Eudora Tucker. But first, a bit about Custom Collaborative (CC).

Custom Collaborative is a Harlem-based non-profit 501(c)(3) founded in 2015 by Executive Director Ngozi Okaro. The organization provides free training and ongoing support for women from low-income and immigrant communities through their entrepreneurship and workforce-development programs. Their Training Institute teaches the art, craft and techniques used in sustainable garment-making, as well as ethical business practices in the fashion industry.

 CC’s mission is to help women professionalize their sewing and design skills, overcome barriers to employment, and, ultimately, bring greater equity and inclusivity to the business of fashion.

University of Fashion partnered with Custom Collaborative in 2020, gifting full access to our fashion education content library. Since then, Custom Collaborative has graduated 10 cohorts of ‘fashion-preneurs’ who are making their mark by starting their own sustainable fashion brand.

Last week, I had the chance to interview Eudora and learned about her studies at CC, her design philosophy and her career aspirations. Here goes:

 Eudora Tucker’s Graffiti dress

Eudora Tucker’s Graffiti dress (Image credit: Camila Falquez)

Francesca: Tell me about your journey into fashion. Are you NYC born and raised?

Eudora: I was born and raised in Brooklyn. As a Native New Yorker, fashion has always been on my radar. I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer early on and attended The High School of Art and Design to study fashion illustration and then went on to study at FIT. Unfortunately, life happened, forcing me to pivot, but fashion has always been a huge interest. I started seriously getting back into fashion when my idol, Prince, died in 2016. As a lifelong fan, I was devastated when he passed away and I started making Prince themed jean jackets and outfits as a tribute to him. I wore them to different Prince related events that I attended. People seemed to love and admire my designs and complimented me on my creativity. That reignited my passion and pushed me to seriously pursue my dreams of being a fashion designer again. I was hand sewing and using adhesives to create my designs, which meant there were constant repairs and maintenance needed. I knew finding sewing classes would be the next step if I wanted to seriously start making custom designs for others.

Eudora Tucker’s Embellished Purple Vineyard Jacket (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: Can you tell me about the program at Custom Collaborative? How rigorous was it and what types of things did you learn?

Eudora: The program is a 15-week course that meets Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm. It was a serious commitment, and it was truly intense. I had never used a sewing machine before so when our instructor, Delia Alleyne, showed us how to thread the needle on the first day, my head nearly exploded. I didn’t think I would ever be able to thread the machine, let alone sew something together. Fear and self-doubt overcame me, and I was questioning why I ever signed up. Delia encouraged and helped us overcome our fears and by the end of the day, I was able to successfully thread my machine. I knew it was going to be a tough road ahead, but I was up for the challenge. During those 15 weeks there were many tears shed out of frustration, but also with happiness when I was able to get through another tough lesson. In the end I completed the course with the ability to design and sew; a portfolio of work including illustrations for two collections, which included inspiration, mood and fabric boards; an awesome business plan that I wrote, and most importantly, the knowledge and confidence to go forward in pursuit of my dream.

Eudora Tucker’s Rocket Man Jacket (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: How were the University of Fashion lessons utilized at CC?

Eudora: We constantly referred to the University of Fashion lessons while studying. We used them to reinforce lessons that Delia taught us and to complete projects on our own. I am a visual learner, so it was a tremendous help and resource for me. The videos that were the biggest help were the lessons on the invisible zipper, pattern making and layout, and draping. These were life saving for me. Due to time constraints, and the amount of projects we covered, it was impossible to learn and complete everything in class. The videos allowed us to review the task, step by step, on our own time to complete the projects correctly.

 

Eudora Tucker’s Incomparable Lady Day Shirt Dress

Eudora Tucker’s Incomparable Lady Day Shirt Dress (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: Can you tell me about your capstone project at CC?

Eudora: My capstone project was a hand painted, full length gown with a train. My design was inspired by the feelings of fear, uncertainty and sense of lawlessness in NYC post Covid-19. With the closing of so many businesses, the graffiti artists had once again transformed our city’s landscape with their artwork, reminiscent of the late 1970s and 80s. Using donated fabric that I treated to create the Ombre effect, the design ascends from darkness to light, reflecting the transitioning of Oppression and Anarchy, rising out of Out Rage and Despair, through Faith and Unity, to ultimately arrive at Love and Peace. My design was chosen as the finale of Cohort 9’s graduation runway show and was also featured in both Vogue Business and Harper’s Bazaar articles. Not only were these very proud moments for me, but they also serve as a testament that my perseverance and hard work are truly paying off.

Eudora Tucker’s Queen Bee Jacket (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: What made you want to focus on upcycling and sustainable design?

Eudora: Custom Collaborative is an organization that is built on the principles of fashion sustainability. I never heard of fashion sustainability and, to be honest, I was a consumer of fast fashion without even knowing it. I had never heard of the term “fast fashion” until I came to Custom Collaborative. Once I found out what it was and how it affects the planet; coupled with the unfair labor practices that affect the seamstresses that work in the factories, I quickly got on board. I started changing my purchasing habits and decided to focus on upcycling and sustainable design. I truly enjoy taking a “pre-loved” garment and repurposing it into something new and creative. It allows me to create one of a kind, statement pieces that make my clientele feel special when they wear it.

Eudora Tucker’s Dear Mum Jacket (Image credit (Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: What is the hardest thing about being a sustainable fashion designer?

Eudora: The most challenging aspect of being a sustainable designer is figuring out how to alter an existing garment. When you are locked into a design it is sometimes hard to come up with creative ways to change the garment to fit your new design. You have to use your imagination and become an out-of-the box thinker and really think about the techniques to use in order to execute your new design with the least amount of complication and in a timely manner.

Eudora Tucker’s Ode to Jean-Michele Jacket (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Francesca: What is your ultimate goal, or goals, as a designer in the fashion industry?

Eurora: I would like to continue creating one-of-a kind statement pieces and growing my fashion sustainability brand, Princess Arabia’s Atelier. I also plan to partner with environmental agencies in NYC to offer fashion sustainability workshops to teach others what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint through more mindful fashion practices. My ultimate goal is to travel around NYC and neighboring states to educate as many people as possible and bring awareness on how the fast fashion industry continues to proliferate the amount of waste in our landfills and how it is fueling the profound negative effects of climate change. This is my small way of giving back to the planet and carrying out my duty as a good global citizen.

 Follow Eudora on Instagram: @princessarabia9

The Rainbow of it All Vest

Eudora Tucker’s  The Rainbow of it All Vest (Image credit: Eudora Tucker)

Are you a woman from a low-income community interested in starting a career in fashion? Apply to our Training Institute.

If you are interested in providing paid internships for their students write to us at: CS@UniversityofFashion.com

Are you a small or start-up clothing business? Apply to their Business Incubator. They provide services including manufacturing, technical assistance, and consulting for those who need it.

Want to volunteer? Sign up here. They’re always looking for folks to help as teacher’s assistants, guest speakers, graphic designers, special event coordinators, or fabric inventory sorters.

Want to donate fabrics, machines, or supplies? Complete this form.

To support their work in supporting striving women. Donate today.

 

UOF INSTRUCTOR UPDATE: RISHABH MANOCHA

University of Fashion is proud and fortunate to have such a wonderful team of creative and entrepreneurial instructors willing to share their knowledge and expertise. In our 14th year as the first and largest online fashion education resource, we have maintained the of highest standards when selecting our teachers.

This week’s blog post is a continuation of our instructor spotlight series and will focus on the work of Rishabh Manocha, creator of our 13-part menswear series, whose passion and respect for bespoke craftsmanship has made him one of UOF’s most popular instructors.

RISHABH MANOCHA

Rishabh Manocha

Rishabh Manocha wearing his bespoke suit handcrafted in fabric by Dormeuil (Image credit: @kirktruman)

Rishabh Manocha is a New York City based designer and bespoke tailor who established his eponymous label in 2017. An alum of Parsons School of Design and Central Saint Martins, Rishabh credits his education with Savile Row tailors for the technical soundness that complements his conceptual designs.

 

man buttoning suit jacket

Rishabh Manocha (Image credit: @kirktruman)

Artisanal integrity, sartorial heritage and the form-function dialogue, are integral aspects of Rishabh’s work. Expounding norms of bespoke tailoring as a means to understanding the human psyche is a fundamental tenet of the label. Rishabh travels extensively to research Italian French and UK mills and denim from Japan.

A Rishabh Manocha bespoke suit in pre-fitting (Image credit: Rishabh Manocha)

 

As a master of bespoke tailoring techniques, Rishabh carries out these techniques personally for his men’s and women’s bespoke commissions across the United States, UK and the Middle East.

suit basted

Bespoke tailoring techniques by Rishabh Manocha (Image credit: Rishabh Manocha)

men's collarless suit basted

Rishabh Manocha’s basted bespoke suit (Image credit: Rishabh Manocha)

 

Deeply driven by sustainability, ethical sourcing practices and transparent supply chain, Rishabh recently co-founded Lehzaa, (in Urdu means individual style), an e-commerce women’s ready-to-wear label with Omani business partner Mrs. Mrunal Khimji. Watch for their soft launch in May 2023 at www.lehzaa.com

Co-founders of Lehzaa - Mrs. Mrunal Khimji and Rishabh Manocha

Co-founders of Lehzaa – Mrs. Mrunal Khimji and Rishabh Manocha (Image credit: Rishabh Manocha)

In addition to his bespoke business, last year Rishabh branched out into leatherwork, creating wallets and briefcases to compliment his clothing.

wallet and briefcase

Rishabh Manocha leatherwear: wallets & briefcases (Image credit: Rishabh Manocha)

According to Rishabh, the world is changing. He claims that in addition to his clients having an eye for craftmanship, they seek sustainably made clothing that can stand the test of time… and they are willing to pay for it. His design philosophy encompasses:

  1. Using sustainably sourced fabrics from Italy and England
  2. Focusing on silhouettes designed to flatter every body type
  3. Making garments from recycled and upcycled real fur that are made in NYC
  4. Creating a range of bespoke leather goods for the discerning accessory wearer
basted men's jacket

Rishabh Manocha pad-stitched bespoke suit jacket (Image credit: Rishabh Manocha)

When not with his measuring tape, Rishabh devotes time to learning yoga, languages, and gastronomy. His vision is to see a more conscious and empowered consumer, ‘one garment a time’.

View Rishabh’s UOF menswear lessons:

More about Rishabh

Rishabh Manocha frequently teaches one-on-one online lessons in pattern drafting and tailoring. For more info contact him directly at info@rishabhmanocha.com

Follow him @rmanochabespoke

Visit his website rishabhmanocha.com

HOW INDIA IS BECOMING THE NEXT BIG LUXURY MARKET

Looks from Dior’s Pre-Fall 2023 Collection in Mumbai. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

By now, every dedicated follower-of-fashion has seen the extraordinary Dior Pre-Fall show images from Mumbai that flooded social media with the iconic Gateway of India as backdrop. Having spent seven years working/designing in India, the Dior show was of particular interest to our founder Francesca Sterlacci (FYI-the Taj Mahal hotel is across the street from the Gateway). Francesca’s love of Indian handicrafts, the preservation of those crafts, and female empowerment within the fashion industry are all missions she shares with Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri.

The March 23rd Dior show was not only a celebration of Indian culture and craft, but of its women and its commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Created by women for women, the show reinforced India’s long-standing role in manufacturing European high fashion and the growing power of its luxury consumers. The Dior/India collaboration was a showcase for all the ways the French Maison is interlinked with the artisanship of Mumbai, specifically the Chanakya School of Craft.

Behind the scenes of the Dior and Chanakya School of Craft collaboration. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Originally founded in 1986 by their father Vinod Shah, daughters Karishma Swali and Monica Shah established the Chanakya School of Craft (CSC) in 2016; a foundation and non-profit school dedicated to craft, culture and women’s empowerment and whose mission is to preserve and promote the age-old heritage of hand embroidery.

Today, the school has educated over 700 women providing them with employable skills and autonomy over their lives and their future, making embroideries for international labels such as Dior, Fendi, Gucci, Valentino, Lanvin and Prada. An immersive one-year program on master crafts covering over 300 techniques is taught, while also covering modules on business acumen, basic finance and starting new ventures. The benefit is twofold: ancient techniques and skills are revived while also being rejuvenated by the joy and ambition of those who have finally been empowered. Women of all communities in India can now create their art safely, transforming not just their own lives but the lives of those around them.

The highest education is that which does not merely give us information, but makes our life in harmony with all existence.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

Chanakya School of Craft- Mumbai India (Image credit: Chanakya.school)

The show was a testament to Chanakya and Dior’s shared commitment of promoting female empowerment, diversity and inclusivity. In addition to the beautiful embroideries made by women, Dior’s casting of models for the show were a mix of Indian and Western models in a diverse range of body types and skin tones.

Dior’s landmark Pre-Fall 2023 collection was also a celebration of the luxury house’s commitment to sustainability. The brand has been making a concerted effort to reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainable fashion and the show featured pieces made from sustainable materials such as organic cotton. Dior announced its commitment to using only sustainable cotton by 2025.

 

A look from from Dior’s Pre-Fall 2023 Collection in Mumbai. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

The Dior collection was a beautiful tribute to India’s vibrant and colorful culture and its women. It was also a perfect example of how fashion can be a powerful tool for cultural exchange. Models walked down the historic square dressed in sari-inspired drapes, kurta shirts, Nehru jackets, sherwanis and lungi skirts in a color palette of rich reds, blues, greens, and golds, featuring intricate embroidery work created by hand, by female artisans from Mumbai.

Looks from Dior’s Pre-Fall 2023 Collection in Mumbai. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Maria Grazia Chiuri took the final bow in the presence of a bevy of movie stars, influencers, royalty and, of course, the Ambanis (children of Mukesh Ambani, the richest person in India and Asia and the world’s ninth richest person). India has officially secured its place on the luxury fashion map!

 

OTHER LUXURY BRANDS THAT HAVE SHOWN IN INDIA

YSL 1989 show in India. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

While in the past other luxury brands have held shows in India (Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Pierre Cardin, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino and Prada), Dior was the first European luxury brand that held an official calendar show in India with their Pre-Fall 2023 collection.

WHAT DOES THE DIOR SHOW MEAN FOR INDIA’S LUXURY MARKET?

Looks from Dior’s Pre-Fall 2023 Collection in Mumbai. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

Dior’s Pre-Fall 2023 show in Mumbai was quite a success. The turnout of boldface names across industries was high, including India’s leading celebrity Virat Kohli and Bollywood stars such as Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra Jonas.  The event was significant as it signaled India’s growing luxury status.

The Gateway to Mumbai. (Photo Credit: The National)

As luxury brands tap new markets in a hunt for their next billions, Dior became the first fashion house to unveil their latest collection in India.  The strategic and symbolic value of Dior’s staging their show at Mumbai’s Gateway of India monument is akin to when Fendi staged a fashion show on the Great Wall of China in 2007, a move that foreshadowed the importance of Chinese consumers to the luxury industry over the next decade.

The event was significant as it marked Dior’s entry into India’s luxury market which has been growing rapidly over the past few years. According to a report by Deloitte, India’s luxury market is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 10 – 15% over the next five years. This growth is being driven by an increase in disposable income among India’s middle class and a growing appetite for luxury goods among younger consumers.

To learn more about the types of handicrafts used in the Dior collection, view our Tambour beading and hand embroidery lessons taught by Hand & Lock Award winner Silvia Perramon:

DO YOU BELIEVE INDIA WILL BE THE NEXT LUXURY MARKET HOT SPOT?

 

 

WHY NOT HAVE YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION BE ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY?

- - Sustainability

Climate activists. (Photo Credit:Prakati India.in)

Happy New Year! As we kick off 2023 in style, let your New Year’s Resolution count. Why not look to become more sustainable this new year, both personally, as well as in your work as a fashion professional or as an aspiring one?

The start of a new year is often a time of reflection. A time to learn from past mistakes. Were you as eco-minded as you would have liked last year? Did you compost? Did you make fashion purchases with landfills in mind? Was sustainability top of mind when you chose fabrics for your designs? Well then, maybe it’s time you do.

Climate change has been one of the biggest topics of conversation this decade, with activists like Greta Thunberg emphasizing the damning scientific facts about the future of Mother Earth. It’s the voices of our younger generation that are crying for help, and they are within their rights. If we all don’t get onboard and make changes, they will inherit a very unlivable earth.

Unfortunately, the fashion industry is known as one of the biggest and most damaging pollutants to our planet and although some strides have been made over the years, we have a long way to go in becoming carbon-neutral. It’s almost ironic that the fashion industry, who is extremely vital in implementing trends and can influence the buying habits of a majority of consumers, is not doing more.

Regulation, circularity, greenwashing and climate resilience will be hot topics in the year ahead. (Photo Credit: Getty Images, Renewcell, and Shutterstock. Collage by BoF)

Consumers buy what they are offered. And if fashion brands don’t offer sustainable products, then consumers don’t get to buy them. Simple. In a survey conducted by McKinsey during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, “67 percent [of respondents] consider the use of sustainable materials to be an important purchasing factor, and 63 percent consider a brand’s promotion of sustainability in the same way.”

Therefore, consumers could BE the solution if only they were being offered sustainably-made products. The pressure for sustainability high. Data provided by Launchmetrics’ proprietary algorithm that measures Media Impact Value (MIV is a monetary representation my company uses for brand performance), reveals that the MIV for sustainability grew by 54% during the first semester of 2022 compared to the first semester of 2021, accounting for $2 billion and $1.3 billion in value, respectively.  The data revealed just how much discussion ‘sustainability’ generated in the media, as well as how many placements the word generated across sectors. When comparing the growing MIV to the placements that the industry generates, it is clear that consumers are beginning to make changes towards going green. This shift indicates that brands need to reevaluate their operations to project the right brand image. In order to achieve this, fashion companies need to take more concrete steps to incorporate sustainability, a process which goes further than just brand images and campaigns.

True sustainability should guarantee that the creation of each garment is environmentally and socially sound, from textiles to manufacturing all the way to fair pay and workers’ conditions. This is a massive change for an industry that has struggled with wasteful operations and negative environmental consequences for years. The fashion industry is responsible for the production of up to 10% of the global carbon dioxide output and accounts for one-fifth of the 300 million tons of plastic produced globally each year, according to the United Nations Environment Program (via Bloomberg). So obviously, incorporating sustainable practices is a challenge for the fashion industry. Nevertheless, many designers, brands, and manufacturers are open to embracing climate change.

The need for fashion to go green. (Photo Credit Getty Images)

There is some hope. In fact, fashion accounted for $618 million in MIV when it came to sustainability during the first semester of 2022, according to Launchmetrics’ sustainability report, “Making Sense of Sustainability,” which was produced in partnership with the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana. The report analyzed data from multiple platforms between January 2021 and October 2022. The fashion industry accounted for one-third of the overall sustainability conversations, indicating how open it is to committing to a greener future. Very encouraging.

Vivienne Westwood in February, 2018 in London. (Photo By Getty Images)

Dame Vivienne Westwood, known as the Queen of Punk was a true climate activist. Sadly, the groundbreaking designer passed away on December 29, 2022 at the age of 81. As one of the last independent brands in the UK, Westwood used her voice to educate the industry on climate change and sustainability. She was as notorious for her Kings Road Sex shop, as she was for her activism and ecological crusading. For the past 20 years Westwood supported hundreds of causes, NGOs, grass root charities and campaigns including Amnesty International, War Child and Liberty, as well as launching her own campaigning movement – Climate Revolution. She is was an ambassador for Greenpeace and in 2013 designed their official ‘Save the Arctic’ logo. In 2015, Westwood launched a global campaign to stop drilling and industrial fishing in the Arctic region.

Stella McCartney, pictured here with Vivienne Westwood in Paris in 2019, said: ‘fur is immoral, cruel and barbaric’. (Photo Credit: Getty Images_

Following in Westwood’s activism footsteps is Stella McCartney. She has been a true pioneer in the climate change movement for decades and always works with innovative sustainable textiles. The fashion industry grapples with the pressure of continuous growth, while still publicly pledging to slash greenhouse gas emissions. According to an interview with Vogue magazine, McCartney believes a balance can be struck between the two. “I do believe if we can continue to progress, and if we truly want it, then we can replace bad business with clean business,” she says.

This is just one of the reasons McCartney continues to team up with innovators that are developing more sustainable materials such as Econyl, a regenerated nylon created from discarded fishing nets and other plastic waste. In early 2023, the brand will launch its first commercially available, fully circular garment: a parka made from Econyl that is 100 percent recycled and recyclable. McCartney previously launched an Infinite Hoodie in collaboration with Adidas in 2019, made using NuCyl, a fiber designed to be broken down and reused into endless future garments. Only 50 were available at the time.

Stella McCartney is launching a new fully circular parka made from Econyl that is 100 percent recycled and recyclable. (Photo Credit: Stella McCartney)

“The parka fully closes the loop—it’s taking 100 percent waste and then [when you’re finished with it] you can either bring it back to a Stella McCartney store or you can use the QR code on there and post it, and we can then recycle it back into fiber and make it into another garment,” McCartney explains. “It’s really cool—for me it’s cooler than just going, ‘Oh, I really love neon green fuzzy boots this season.’ It’s the most fashionable thing you can do if you’re working in the world of fashion right now.”

Along with Econyl, McCartney has partnered with Bolt Threads on its Mylo “un-leather,” made from mushroom roots (the designer was part of an early “consortium” of brands backing the company) and a “wine leather” made by the Italian company Vegea made from grape waste. Meanwhile, McCartney has also helped set up a new $200 million fund called Collab SOS, which invests in companies including Bolt Threads. Other projects the fund has supported are: Natural Fiber Welding, which has created a plastic-free leather alternative called Mirum, and Protein Evolution, a start-up that has developed a process designed to allow plastic waste (including nylon and polyester) to be infinitely recycled.

“It’s important for me personally to put investment into those new start-ups and into the future of fashion because I’m in fashion,” McCartney says of her involvement in the fund in an interview with Vogue. “I’m working every day alongside so many incredible tech brands. We’re working on developing materials together and solutions, and then I’m bringing them into a business model. For me to use my partners [and] my contacts to upscale everything [via the fund]—then you can truly see a meaningful change.”

McCartney has been advocating for these textile changes within the designer community for several years now, however, she states that legislation is what is really needed for significant progress to be made. This is why she attended the G7 Summit in Cornwall in 2020 and is among a number of designers to have backed The Fashion Act in New York—a proposed bill that would require any fashion brand that does business in New York and has an annual global revenue of over $100 million to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, as well as their energy, water, material and plastic usage, and chemical management.

McCartney makes it clear that government policies need to change around the issues of climate change. “I just thought I’d go to [Central] Saint Martins and be a fashion designer,” McCartney jokes in a Vogue interview. “But there’s a lot of work to be done. I have my political hat on or my fashion hat on; I’m a bit confused as to which one to wear half the time.”

Stella McCartney is not the only fashion designer to tirelessly work as a climate advocate. There are countless others ranging from young designers to more established brands such as, Gabriela Hearst, Mara Hoffman, Eileen Fisher, Katie Jones, Alejandra Alonso Rojas, Morgane Sézalory of Sézane, Alexandra Sipa, Emma Hill of Damson Madder, Teodora And Pavel Lozanov of Bogdar, Kevin Germanier of Germanier, Roopa Pemmaraju, Conner Ives, Misha Nonoo, Christy Dawn, Jonathan Cohen, Zero + Maria Cornejo, Katharine Hamnett, Christopher Raeburn, and Sandra Sandor to name a few.

MATERIAL EXCHANGE

If you are looking for ways to become more sustainable in your designs, you can join the Material Exchange organization. They are offering a workshop on Thursday, January 12th from 9 AM to 3 PM EST. It will be a remote impact-reduction workshop and will offer insights into sustainable sourcing solutions, as well as the know-how to adopt these solutions into your brand’s sourcing workflows. Topics covered will include: implementing sustainable design strategies; calculating transportation, material, and product impacts; assessing hotspots; shifting to responsible sourcing methods; adopting a circular business model; and creating engaging take-back plans. Participants will receive a Certificate of Completion at the end of the course!

Workshop details

What: Fashion Assessment and Impact-Reduction Workshop co-hosted by the USFIA and Material Exchange

Where: online

When: Thursday, January 12th from 9 AM to 3 PM EST

Who: any and all fashion professionals trying to reduce the environmental impacts of their products and work toward circularity at their companies

Fee: $165

Here is the link to register:

https://www.usfashionindustry.com/index.php?option=com_civicrm&task=civicrm/event/register&id=413&reset=1

UOF LESSONS ON SUSTAINABILITY

Be sure to catch UoF’s lessons on sustainable design and sourcing:

Introduction to Sustainable Fashion Design

 

Meet Sustainable Designer Parron Allen

 

 

Sustainable Materials For Fashion Design

 

Designing, Producing & Marketing a Sustainable Collection

So tell us, what will you do to create or purchase more sustainable fashion?

GOT THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT? LOOKING FOR THAT LAST MINUTE GIFT?

Five days until Christmas, the clock is ticking and suddenly you remember that you forgot someone on your Christmas gift list. OMG!

It’s too late now to order from Amazon, so what are you going to do? Solution…give a unique gift certificate to the world’s largest fashion education video library!

Our once-yearly sale expires 1/1/23 and so there’s still time to get in on our discount.

Get a yearly subscription for $40 off (was $189/now$149) or $5 off the first month of a monthly subscription (was $19.95/now$14.95). Click here to made it happen: https://www.universityoffashion.com/holiday-offer/

If you are already a University of Fashion monthly subscriber or free member, just log in as usual and look on your left for one or more “Upgrade” offers equivalent to the above! Remember, all subscriptions gives unlimited access to every lesson on our entire website, that’s 500+ lessons!

 

WHY UNIVERSITY OF FASHION?

University of Fashion Home Page

University of Fashion has over 500 fashion education video tutorials, taught by fashion profs and industry pros, that both educate and entertain. We have 13 different disciplines to learn from: draping, pattern making, sewing, fashion art, CAD fashion art, CAD pattern making, menswear, knits, childrenswear, accessories, product development, and a fashion business section that encompasses retailing, merchandising, visual merchandising, branding & licensing,  as well as a lecture series that encompasses textiles, color theory, trend forecasting and lots more. Whether you’re interested in a fashion career, or perfecting your existing skills, or just ‘fashion curious’ – a gift certificate to UoF is THE most unique gift you can give.

Need some convincing? Read some of our testimonials:

“The University of Fashion Online is the most valuable tool that I found in relation to Fashion. It is a complement to my education. It is well structured and very complete. I am grateful to Francesa Sterlacci for having created it. I am also grateful to her Team for their contributions and great effort to put it all together. I love it! it is fascinating. I highly recommend it.” Espie Egger – UoF Subscriber – Switzerland

I was lagging behind in class and didn’t remember all the lessons my professor taught, so I went to the demos on University of Fashion for help. Thanks to the great demos I received a really good grade on the project! ” Chanica Pitaksakorn – Fashion Institute of Technology, Student

Everyone in the fashion industry, whether a student, a hobby aficionado or a professional should have a great resource for reference and support. University of Fashion provides the “how to” at every level for the first timers or just a refresher for the experts. A must have asset.”  Saul Kapilivsky Miami International University of Art & Design, Professor

“I have been teaching middle and high school for over 30 years and today I stand in awe of this amazing fashion tool. The University of Fashion video series is simply too good to be true. Every video is factual and correct. As I watch each video, I say; this is exactly how I teach this. The plus for me is that I do not need to do a demo over and over again before students get it. They can just watch these videos and also broaden their skills even beyond my knowledge. I am so grateful to be introduced to the University of Fashion.”  Callie Melton – Fashion Design Services Instructor/A.P.P.S Chair/FCCLA Advisor/Fort Lauderdale High School

 

DID YOU KNOW THAT WE ALSO HAVE COMPANION BOOKS AVAILABLE?

University of Fashion Book Series: Techniques for Beginners: Draping, Pattern Making & Sewing (Available everywhere)

Our book series was designed to complement our beginner draping, pattern making and sewing video lessons. Each book contains additional information to help with the learning process and they are another a great gift idea! Read some of our Amazon ratings:

DRAPING BOOK TESTIMONIALS 

 

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PATTERN MAKING BOOK TESTIMONIALS 

Patternmaking book testimonial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEWING BOOK TESTIMONIALS 

 

 

And for that fashion history buff on your Christmas list, why not get them our founder’s book, Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry?

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry book

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry Second Edition

OTHER UOF PERKS

In addition to our 500+ video lesson library you will also be able to access our Resources library consisting of a fashion terminology A-Z, design tools, a marketplace, fashion books, magazines & blog info and a list of fashion schools and fashion museums. You will also gain access to our free croquis templates:

So treat yourself to a UoF subscription or give it as a gift OR why not do both?

MEET PARRON ALLEN

- - Sustainability

THE BROOKLYN-BASED SUSTAINABLE DESIGNER WHO IS

SAVING THE WORLD – ONE GARMENT AT A TIME

Parron Allen (Image courtesy: Parron Allen)

From Mississippi to Brooklyn…you’ve come a long way baby!!

Parron Allen Edwards-Stimola is a Brooklyn-based apparel designer and founder of the eponymous brand, Parron Allen. Parron’s design vision is inspired by his childhood in Lexington, Mississippi. His grandmother, Momma Ruth, expressed her spirit, love, and faith by sewing dresses for the women in her family. Parron witnessed these women shed some of Jim Crow’s burden in the simple yet thoughtful dresses that Momma Ruth made for them – smiling, twirling, and bantering about good things on days of rest. Momma Ruth made dresses as so many Black women did—with whatever materials were available—creating beauty from remnants long before upcycling began its march toward the mainstream.

Upcycled vest/shirt by Parron Allen (Image courtesy: Parron Allen)

Parron’s designs echo this joyous harmony of whimsy and practicality in a voice for the present moment, reclaiming the art of upcycling for his ancestors and creating inventive collections using fabric remnants, discarded textiles, and thrifted garments. Prior to founding his brand in 2021, Parron Allen studied design in the US and UK and honed his skills at Vera Wang, Ellen Tracy, and Rebecca Taylor.

Here’s a preview of the interview, but to watch the full 30-minute version, subscribe to University of Fashion (unless you are already a subscriber). Parron shares his journey: his design process; inspirational and rag resources; his connections and mentors; and the ups and downs of working for himself. You are going to absolutely fall in love with this guy!!!

If you are thinking of creating your own sustainable design brand, then you MUST watch this video interview. The interview is conducted by Noor Bchara of Upcycle Design School, a sustainable designer and former FIT student of UoF’s founder, Francesca Sterlacci. Noor has also contributed three lessons on sustainable design for University of Fashion.

Upcycled trench by Parron Allen (image courtesy Parron Allen)

Parron and one of his mentors – designer Rebecca Taylor (Image courtesy: Parron Allen)

In the interview, Parron answers the questions that all upstart sustainable designers want to know:

  • What inspired you to become a sustainable designer?
  • How did you get started?
  • Do you have a mentor?
  • Where do you get your materials?
  • Do you have funding?
  • What are your production resources?
  • How do you cost your designs?
  • How do you market your work?
  • Where do you sell your collection?
  • What are the challenges of being a sustainable designer?

Parron Allen in his design studio (Image courtesy: Parron Allen)

When asked about his production capabilities, Parron responded that he loves his ‘little sewing machine’, which he uses to do a lot of upcycling with garments that already exist. But when it comes to production, especially his newest pieces, he uses his friend Anita and her small-scale production facility. Parron’s knowledge of draping, pattern making and sewing, is one of his most important assets.

Parron Allen at his famous ‘little sewing machine’ (Image courtesy: Parron Allen)

Parron credits his sharp Instagram marketing skills, @parron.allen, and his sales acumen for the success he’s had in getting his collection into stores such as Art to Ware and Granru. He will also be announcing his own pop-up shop soon.

Art to Ware – one of Parron Allen’s retailers (Image courtesy: Parron Allen)

Granru – one of Parron Allen’s retailers (Image courtesy: Parron Allen)

Once you watch our interview with Parron Allen, you will see how not only is he a very talented designer but that his personality, passion and drive are the key to his success.

For more about Parron Allen:

Instagram: @parron.allen

Website: www.parronallen.com

SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS PART 3: FUR – WOOL – DOWN ALTERNATIVES

 

Stella McCartney champions ethical fashion with fur-free collection. (Photo Credit: Stella McCartney)

Design is not just about product. Design is about responsibility.”

If you haven’t already seen this quote by Dr. Carmen Hijosa of Piñatex, you will, it is ubiquitous on the web. Every eco-friendly brand uses it as its mantra. And, every fashion student in every school on the planet is making sure that they incorporate it into every single one of their classes. After all, if the design process starts at desk of the designer, well then, it’s up to us to be on top of alternative textile and material choices when designing a collection.

In 2021, Google launched a fashion supply chain platform called called Global Fibre Impact Explorer (GFIE) in partnership with Stella McCartney, The Textile Exchange and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), to help fashion brands understand the environmental risk of their raw material sourcing. The tool, which is built on Google Earth Engine and uses Google Cloud computing, assesses the environmental risk of different fibers across regions in terms of environmental factors such as air pollution, biodiversity, climate and greenhouse gases, forestry and water use. In 2022, Google and WWF transitioned GFIE to Textile Exchange, a global non-profit focused on positively impacting climate through accelerating the use of preferred fibers across the global textile industry. Their Friend Level Membership is reserved for small to medium-sized enterprises that generate under $5million in annual revenue, as well as universities, non-profits and NGOs.

Last week we educated our viewers on earth-friendly leather and silk alternatives, that are being created using a variety of materials made from pineapples to coffee grounds, sea shells, cactus, bamboo, mushrooms and spiders, just to name a few. This week we’d like to focus on fur and wool alternatives.

Cruelty-free Fur Alternatives

Last Chance for Animals – Global Ban on Fur (Image credit: lcanimals.com) 

The wearing of fur, just like leather and silk, has long been associated with luxury and wealth. However, beginning in the 1980s and after decades of massive pressure from PETA & activists, many designers and retailers announced that they would stop selling fur due to the cruel methods used in killing the animals. In 2019, California became the first state to make it illegal to sell, donate or manufacture new fur products and in 2021, Israel became the first country to ban the sale of fur clothing, although their are several carve-outs, including one for educational reasons and another that permits residents to buy skins and pelts for religious purposes.

Enter…Tencel® and Koba® faux fur

Faux fur was first introduced in 1929 but didn’t become popular until the 1950s. Due to fur’s growing unpopularity since the 1980s and the fact that many countries are now banning fur farms, the use of faux fur increased. Two reports issued by eco experts at Ce Delft, an independent research and consultancy company, found that five faux fur coats have significantly less impact on climate change than that of one mink fur coat.

Since most faux fur is manufactured with non-renewable petroleum-based products and synthetic fabrics it can be toxic to the environment unless it is recycled properly. Today, technologies and innovations offer new ways to design amazing and ethical alternatives to fur and fake fur as well. Popular kinds of faux fur include faux rabbit, faux fox, shearling, sheepskin, and sherpa and luxury faux fur fabrics include chinchilla, sable, beaver, ermine, marten, lynx, and leopard.

KOBA®  the first vegan faux fur (Image credit: Ecopel.com)

Ecopel, a leader in the development of high end faux fur, supplies more than 300 top fashion brands that have stopped using real fur. In partnership with Dupont, they launched KOBA® faux fur, integrating DuPont™ Sorona® fibers, creating the first faux fur made with vegetal ingredients.

UGG’s new faux fur shoe brand using Tencel®  fiber (Image credit: Tencel.com)  

Lenzing, a leader in the field of botanic cellulose fibers and famous for its flagship brand Tencel®, is providing solutions to faux fur production. Their fibers are derived from certified renewable wood sources using an eco-responsible production process that generates up to 50% lower emissions and water impact compared to generic viscose. In 2021, the company partnered with UGG and debuted Plant Power, a collection of shoes made with carbon-neutral, plant-based materials.

Wool Alternatives

Spinnova partners with the outdoor brand The North Face. (Photo Credit: The North Face)

As we have previously reported, controversies surrounding leather and fur are well-known, however there is a common misconception that wool is a ‘gentle’ fabric that simply implies a ‘haircut’ for sheep. Wrong. According to Plant Based News, “One little-known fact about wool production is its environmental impact: sheep, just like cows, emit large quantities of methane gas, which has several times the global warming potential of CO2. The 2017 Pulse of Fashion Industry Report put wool in the fourth place on its list of the fashion materials that had the highest cradle-to-gate environmental impact per kg of material.” And that doesn’t even touch on the undercover reports of the systemic cruelty involved and the abuse the animals suffer.

Enter…hemp, organic cotton, Tencel®, Spinnova®,  soybean fiber, linen, bamboo, woocoa and nullarbor

Wool had its peak in the 1990s and then continued to be replaced by synthetics and cotton blends. Today’s eco-conscious consumers are shunning animal-derived or petroleum-based fabrics and are searching for alternatives. Luckily, there are options. From cotton to wood to coconuts and soybeans, technology is helping drive the movement. As we have already discussed, Tencel is a great replacement and we covered the benefits of organic hemp, cotton, linen and bamboo in a previous blog. 

But did you know about Woocoa? This is a material created by a group of university students in Colombia made from a coconut and hemp fiber ‘wool’, treated with enzymes from the oyster mushroom. Keep you eye on this space. Another bio-tech creation is Nullarbor, developed by Australian material innovation company Nanolloose. This fabric is created by using bacteria to ferment liquid coconut waste from the food industry into cellulose. Spinnova

Spinnova® is a fiber made by Spinnova, a Finnish sustainable materials company. They are the only company in the world able to create textile fiber out of cellulose without involving any harmful chemicals, minimal water use and emissions, and zero waste.  The company has worked with a number of recognized brands, such as Bestseller, The North Face and Marimekko, in fact, Adidas is one of their investors.

A Pangaia fitted short puffer. (Photo Credit: Pangaia)

Down Alternatives

A little known fact about the use of down feathers in the production of down jackets, handbags, pillows and comforters is the level of cruelty involved in the extraction of the feathers. According to Gentle World, “while most down and other feathers are removed from ducks and geese during slaughter, birds in breeding flocks and those raised for meat may be plucked repeatedly while they are still alive. This process is repeated every 6-7 weeks before the bird’s eventual slaughter (or death from the trauma of the plucking process itself). For birds that have been killed for their flesh and/or internal organs (foie gras) the process usually involves scalding the birds’ bodies in hot water for one to three minutes so the feathers are easier to pull out. The body feathers can then be plucked (often by hand), after which the down is removed by hand or machine.”

Where using polyester microfiber was once considered a cruelty-free alternative to down comforters and clothing they use a mass-produced petroleum-based polyester, a nonrenewable resource. They are also known to contain chlorinated phenols, formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carcinogenic dyes, allergens and irritants. The production of these materials require a lot of energy, are impossible to break down and eventually end up in landfills.

Enter…next-gen down

Rather than using a polyester microfiber, try a next-gen down, which uses plants, recycled PET, or other sustainable materials to create the pillowy feeling many brands and customers crave. While many, like H&M and Jack Wolfskin, have incorporated next-gen down into some of their products, Pangaia, a materials science company and Save the Duck are two companies that have set up a ‘business-to-business’ line selling their eco-friendly down alternatives to other brands.

Pangaia’s FLWRDWN™ is a bio-based down-fill material made using a combination of wildflowers, a biopolymer (made from maize (corn) and is fully compostable) and a patented biodegradable aerogel. This warm, breathable and animal-friendly innovation is the first of its kind and is used in their outerwear jackets, vests and accessories.

Save the Duck’s RECYCLED PLUMTECH® is a padding made by polyester fiber entirely coming from recycled materials, including plastic bottles. All the jackets from the RECYCLED collection are distinguished by the green and white logo.

A large part of unsustainable fashion is the result of poor fabric choice. Many materials that make it into our clothes harm humans, animals, and the environment. Not to mention, they release harmful chemicals and microplastics into our environment for hundreds of years. So, all of you designers out there, get onboard the eco-textile train. It starts with YOU!

Are you as excited as we are about material innovation and the exciting developments that are still to come?