FASHION’S LONG ROAD TO INCLUSIVITY

China Machado – first Asian supermodel photographed by Richard Avedon in 1961 (Photo credit: arogundade.com)

Since this is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we thought we’d discuss the fashion industry’s long battle with inclusivity. Historically, fair-skinned, ultra-thin white models dominated the runways, ad campaigns, and magazine editorials. It would take decades for models representing racial diversity, body inclusivity, sexual inclusivity and the disabled community to be accepted.

Contrary to popular belief, the first non-white model to make it in mainstream fashion was not Black but East Asian. Her name, China Machado, a mix of Indian and Portuguese ancestry who, in 1956, became the first non-white beauty to break through fashion’s apartheid system when she secured a job as a fitting model at Givenchy. Ten years later, Machado would grace the cover of Harper’s Bazaar in 1971 and the cover of New York magazine in 2011.

China Machado – Harper’s Bazaar cover 1971  (Photo credit: arogundade.com)

According to L’Officiel’s 21 top Asian Models – Kimora Lee Simmons at age 13 signed a contract with Chanel. Canadian supermodel Yasmeen Ghauri of Pakistani-German descent was the first South Asian woman to get a major luxury beauty contract and become a Victoria’s Secret Angel. Chinese beauty Liu Wen, who is the number five model in the world according to models.com, became the face of Estée Lauder in 2011, while Taiwanese male model Godfrey Gau secured a campaign for Louis Vuitton. At the same time, China’s Sui He has fronted campaigns for H&M and Karl Lagerfeld.

                                       Asian model – Kimora Lee Simmons (Photo credit: L’Official)
                                         Asian model – Yasmeen Ghauri (Photo credit: L’Official)
The first successful black model was Dorothea Towles Church (1922-2006) who broke the color barrier in the 1950s by modeling on the runways of Elsa Schiaparelli and Christian Dior in Paris. At the time however, U.S. modeling agencies, designers, and editors traditionally favored one body type and skin color; thin and white. Church enjoyed modeling in Paris so much she decided not to return to the United States, but her success and acceptance there was widely publicized in black magazines and periodicals in the U.S., including earning her a place on the cover of the African-American weekly Jet in April 1953. When she did return to the U.S. she was mostly ignored by the fashion industry.
 

Dorothea T. Church (1922-2006) – considered the first Black fashion model (Image credit: Brown Girl Collective Facebook)

 

Naomi Sims started modeling in the 1960s and was the first African American model to sign to Willhelmina Models. (Photo credit: L’OFFICIAL)

While Church received notoriety in Europe, it was not until the ‘60s that the U.S. fashion industry embraced its first Black model, Naomi Sims. In 1968, Sims was the first African American model to grace the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal. And in 1969 Sims landed the cover of LIFE Magazine–making her the first Black model to do so. Sims was also the first Black model to be signed by a renowned modeling agency, Wilhelmina Models, thus paving the way for other Black models such as Pat Cleveland, Toukie Smith, Naomi Campbell, Iman, Beverly Johnson, Tyra Banks, plus the new generation of Black models, Joan Smalls and Winnie Harlow.

Supermodels Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks. (Photo credit: The Sun)

Considered the fashion industry’s first fashion publicist, Eleanor Lambert was the first to use 12 Black models on the runway at the 1973 Franco-American fashion show held at the Palace of Versailles. This show became a defining moment in the acceptance of American fashion on the global stage.

In 2008, famed photographer Steven Meisel made news when he took on racism in the fashion industry by choosing only black models for a Vogue Italia spread.

Today, inclusivity is becoming the defining word in the fashion industry. Within the past few years, industry beauty standards have changed rapidly, with Generation Z voices and sociopolitical movements taking center stage across all forms of social media. The fashion industry has faced a broad array of criticisms involving diversity, inclusivity, ethicality, and sustainability and while fashion brands have made some progress, there is still a long way to go. Today, fashion houses are pushing for more diversity and inclusiveness in their shows and ad campaigns. It makes good business sense too.

Inclusivity and diversity have become vital components of retail for fashion consumers. Brands that have recognized the need for racial diversity, body inclusivity, sexual representation and representation of the disabled community are realizing that it is not only necessary but is the future of fashion.

Emily Barker in Collina Strada’s spring 2021 Lookbook. (Photo credit: Collina Strada)

Size inclusion was one of the first culprits of fashion inclusivity. For decades, only one body type was seen on runways, advertising campaigns, and fashion editorials – the ultra-thin, long-legged model with fair skin and sharp features; thankfully, the fashion industry has begun to embrace the body positivity movement, where women and men of all body types and sizes are represented.

The impractical beauty standards of U.S. sizes 0-4 are no longer tolerated by the public and the body positivity movement is the “largest push-back against a lack of diversity and positive self-images in the fashion industry,” according to Luxiders magazine. According to the magazine, body positivity was one of the first aspects of fashion inclusivity to be highlighted in the public eye, largely because traditional modeling agencies wanted “white, skinny, young and female.”

For decades young women suffered from low self-esteem due to constant fashion images of super thin, extremely tall, and primarily fair skin models, a mostly unattainable standard of beauty. According to Park Nicollet Melrose Center, a well-known eating disorder treatment facility, nearly 70% of perfectly healthy women desire to be thinner and 80% simply “don’t like how they look.”

Ashley Graham – the first body-inclusive model to star on the cover of  Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue 2016. (Photo credit: Sports Illustrated)

Ashley Graham has been a pioneer in the plus size modeling industry. In 2001, Ashley Graham began modeling as a young teenager, but in 2016 she became a breakout supermodel and graced the cover of the infamous Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. The model was initially criticized for her size, but today she has become a well-known name in the industry and tells her story through her Instagram and Twitter posts. She’s even written a book, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Looks Like. Graham constantly works to inspire confidence in people of all sizes.

Of course, size inclusivity is only one part of the problem. Consumers are demanding diversity in the fashion industry, particularly racial and ethnic diversity. According to the Business of Fashion, the practice of “occasionally putting a non-white face on a magazine cover” is no longer enough (nor has it ever been). Fashion should reflect the consumer it serves, which means representing all types of people.

Racial and ethnic diversity is not just confined to models; true diversity requires hiring non-white stylists, designers, art-directors, and producers. It requires building fashion agencies with both diverse staff and diverse models, because doing so brings diversity into perspective.

Edward Enninful after receiving his Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and Naomi Campbell in London on Oct. 27, 2016. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Edward Enninful, the editor-in-chief of British Vogue since 2017, is the most powerful Black man in his fashion industry. He sits at the intersection of fashion and media, two fields that are undergoing long-overdue change and clambering to make up for years of negligence and malpractice. Since becoming the only Black editor in history to head any of the 26 Vogue magazines—the most influential publications in the multibillion-dollar global fashion trade—Enninful has morphed British Vogue from a white-run glossy of the bourgeois oblivious, into a diverse and inclusive on-point fashion platform and shaking up the imagery, according to a Time Magazine profile piece on Enninful.

However, inclusivity doesn’t end there. Representation of the   LGBTQ+community is also vital to the future of fashion and given that this community’s cumulative spending power would represent the fourth-largest economy in the world, the fashion industry better start representing this disregarded demographic. Consumers are forced to decide between two genders (male or female) regardless of whether they identify with either one and, for young individuals who are still figuring out both their sexual and personal identity, this is extremely limiting.

April Ashley –  one of the first transgender fashion models in the 1960s. (Photo credit: Out magazine)

Modeling has also failed the LGBTQ+ community, with many transgender and non-binary models feeling “forced to conceal their identities” in order to achieve success in the fashion industry, according to Women’s Wear Daily. Members of the LGBTQ+ community should not have to hide their sexuality or gender to succeed.

When unrepresented individuals begin to see their community represented and succeed in a world as cut-throat as high fashion, it opens the door to a whole new market of consumers who wish to support the brands they see themselves represented in.

One of the most unrepresented groups are people with disabilities. According to Glamour magazine, individuals with disabilities are “often ignored in the world of fashion” despite having an estimated population of 1 billion. Vogue Business claims that, “in the U.S. alone, the collective spending power of people with disabilities is $490 billion.

Seeing models in wheelchairs, with canes or wearing colostomy bags, among other types of physical disabilities, are images that disabled individuals are only now just barely seeing in the fashion industry. In 2017, London-based performing arts school founder Zoe Proctor  and her sister-in-law, Laura Johnson, created Zebedee, the first-ever modeling and acting agency to focus exclusively on talent with disabilities.

Sofía Jirau Makes History As the First-Ever Victoria’s Secret Model With Down Syndrome. (Photo credit: Left: Victoria’s Secret, Right: Sofia Jirau Instagram)

Recently, American lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret introduced its first model with Down’s Syndrome, and the world took note. For one, it was hailed as a big step towards inclusivity and diversity. The Puerto Rican model told Victoria’s Secret “It is a dream come true. I am happy to be able to show everyone that Sofia Jirau is going to shine around the world. I feel confident because fear is not in my vocabulary.”  Jirau modeled for the brand’s latest collection, The Love Cloud.

Ellie Goldstein, a British model with Down syndrome. (Photo credit: Gucci x Vogue Italia)

In 2020, 20-year-old Ellie Goldstein became the first model with a disability to land a Gucci Beauty campaign, and earlier, in 2017, personal care brand Dove featured a blind YouTube star Molly Burke for its campaign.

Winnie Harlow modeling for Vogue Magazine. (Photo credit: Vogue)

Jamaican-Canadian supermodel Winnie Harlow rose to fame in 2014 and has embraced her skin condition, vitiligo, with confidence while walking the runway with grace. To set an example and to inspire children with vitiligo, Harlow-inspired dolls with vitiligo are now available.

As the first black, transgender and physically disabled model to be signed to a major modeling agency, Aaron Rose Philip is making fashion history. (Photo credit: Moschino)

Aaron Rose Philip is the first black, transgender and physically disabled model to be signed to a major modeling agency, Elite Model Management.  The Antiguan-American model was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a baby and began modeling at age 16 for brands Collina Strada and Marc Jacobs. At Moschino’s spring/summer 2022 runway show during New York Fashion Week, Aaron became the first model to use a wheelchair on a runway show for a major luxury fashion brand.

Nina Marker, the model changing the way we think about Aspergers walking the Versace show, left, and the Fendi show, right. (Photo credit: Vogue)

Also, Danish model Nina Marker, who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, didn’t let it affect her career path as she walked the ramp for brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Chanel, Fendi and Stella McCartney.

Inclusivity and diversity are allegiances that must be committed to in every aspect of the fashion industry, from employees to models to vendors and producers. It can no longer be a “side project.” The good news is that committing to increased inclusivity and diversity will enable long-lasting social change and benefit both the brand and the consumer. At last…the fashion industry is committing to inclusivity and doing right by its consumers.

Be sure to check out UoF’s Plus Size and Gender Inclusive lessons:

Ink Drawing Plus Size Female Figure

 

Drawing Androgynous Men’s and Women’s Figures

 

Plus Size: Statistics & Body Types 

 

Plus Size: Models, Illustrators, Designers and More

 

Plus Size: Social Media Influencers

 

Plus Size: Social Media Influencers 

So tell us, what fashion brands do you want to give a shout to for being inclusive?

 

UoF Instructor Spotlight: Meet Robyn Smith

UoF Instructor Robyn Smith (Photo credit: Robyn Smith)

Join us in welcoming our newest instructor, Robyn Smith. Robyn is a talented fashion designer, illustrator, and visual artist that hails from Baltimore Maryland. Her love for designing was inspired by her older sister who would design prom gowns for her classmates. From the early age of nine, Robyn developed an eye for fashion and knew that she wanted to pursue a career in design.

After high school graduation Robyn moved to New York City and attended Parsons School of Design. While at Parsons she achieved several accomplishments: winning the Zack Carr fashion designer award, winning the Jasco Fabrics design competition, an internship competition with the Gap and interning with fashion designer Peter Som.

From college, Robyn went on to design for the House of Deréon in 2005 and traveled to Hong Kong and Mainland China where she participated in sample fittings, sourced fabrics, and developed new designs to incorporate into the line.  After designing for House of Deréon, Robyn transitioned to a fourteen-year career as a menswear ‘cut and sew’ knit designer for American Rag, Macy’s private label young men’s brand and later became CAD Director for Macy’s, Inc.

Menswear illustration (Image courtesy Robyn Smith)

Robyn’s positions as a designer and design director not only provided her with an opportunity to travel the world for production purposes, but also to conduct trend analysis and market research in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, and L.A.

Fashion illustration (Image courtesy Robyn Smith)

In addition to Robyn’s design career, she is also a famous fashion illustrator and visual artist.  Her fashion Illustrations were featured in the book entitled ‘Fashion Illustration’ by Chai Xiuming and Lu Haoyan, and in 2021, Robyn designed a beautiful plus size collection called ‘Robyn Nichole’ in collaboration with the fast fashion brand Shein.

Plus size fashion illustration (Image courtesy Robyn Smith)

In addition to designing fashion, Robyn participated in the Ace Hotel’s 2021 group art show entitled ‘Ours’, where her work was featured in their hotel gallery space with proceeds used to benefit the Teen Art Salon (TAS), a 501c3 non-profit organization in Long Island City that supports, develops, and promotes adolescent artists, and demystifies the process of starting a career as an artist.

Illustrations courtesy Robyn Smith

As every seasoned designer knows, pulling inspiration from the Visual Arts helps you to develop a new thinking process when approaching your fashion illustrations, thus creating a more distinctive portfolio. In Robyn’s first lesson for UoF, Creating a Menswear Fashion Illustration inspired by Visual Arts, she will teach you how to find inspiration from an art museum resource and, by focusing on the details, shapes, and colors found in the image, create a unique fashion design and illustration.

This advanced lesson will teach you how to create an illustration using a pencil, gouache, brushes, and markers.  And, you’ll learn how to draw and paint eyewear, create hair textures­­­, and how to use your inspirational images to make a design within your illustration.

(Preview of Robyn Smith’s first UoF lesson: Creating a Menswear Illustration Inspired by Visual Arts)

Stay tuned for more lessons by Robyn for UoF. In the meantime, follow Robyn and her work at:

Website: www.robynnichole.com

IG: Robyn_the_Creator  https://www.instagram.com/robyn_the_creator/

TikTok: @Robyn_the_Creator  https://www.tiktok.com/@robyn_the_creator

Youtube: Robyn_the_Creator https://www.youtube.com/c/RobynTheCreator

The Influential Textile Designs of Jacqueline Groag

Jacqueline Groag

        Jacqueline Groag 1959 (Photo credit: John Garner/ University of Brighton Design Archives)

Czech-born Jacqueline Groag (1903-1985) was an influential textile designer in Great Britain following World War II. She studied textile design during the 1920s with Franz Cisek and Josef Hoffmann at Wiener Werkstätte, a workshop of applied arts in Vienna. Groag produced and designed fabrics for leading Parisian fashion houses including Chanel, Lanvin, House of Worth, Schiaparelli and Paul Poiret, as well as London textile houses David Whitehead, Grafton, John Lewis and Liberty.

Born as Hilde Pick to Jewish parents on April 6, 1903, she later changed her name to Jacqueline Groag when she married modernist architect and interior designer Jacques Groag in 1937. In 1938, Jacqueline and Jacques fled to Prague due to the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany and then to London following the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia. Once in London, the design duo were invited into the famed British Design Factory, where design greats of the Arts & Crafts and Modernist movements were members, such as Sir Gordon RussellSir Charles Reilly and Jack Pritchard.

For over 20 years Groag worked as a freelance designer creating designs for carpets, greetings cards, laminates, plastics, textiles, wallpapers and wrapping paper. In 1984 she became a Fellow of the Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry and is considered a central figure in textile design during the 1950s, along with textile designers Lucienne Day and Marian Mahler.

Palm Springs Art Museum: Pattern Play-The Contemporary Designs of Jacqueline Groag

In 2008, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center launched an exhibition entitled, Designing Women: Art and the Modern Interior from Postwar Britain, featuring the work of Jacqueline Groag, Lucienne Day and Marian Mahler.

And on Wednesday May 11, 2022, in my newly adopted hometown of Palm Springs, California, I was invited to the opening of the Jacqueline Groag exhibition at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Living in Palm Springs is beyond inspirational. Not only is it a great place to live (even if the summers do go up to 120 degrees), it’s the home of some of the greatest Mid-Century Modern architecture created by the likes of Richard Neutra, John Lautner, Albert Frey, A.Quincy Jones, Donald Wexler, Richard Harrison, E. Stewart Williams, William Krisel and William Cody. So in keeping with this love of Modernism, I’d like to share some highlights from the Jacqueline Groag show:

Jacqueline Groag show

 Jacqueline Groag 1946 Printed nylon dress manufactured by Fabricado for F.W. Grafton & Co. Manchester, England

Jacqueline Grog designed a wide range of dress fabrics for F.W. Grafton during the 1940s. One of Groag’s Grafton patterns, a classic tulip motif, was chosen by the British fashion couturier Edward Molyneux for a dress he designed for HRH Princess Elizabeth. The photo below shows the future queen wearing the tulip print dress in September 1946.

Princess Elizabeth

                              Jacqueline Groag’s ‘Tulip Print’ dress worn by HRH Princess Elizabeth 1946

Toy Parade print

             Jacqueline Groag ‘Toy Parade’ dress print on cotton 1955 -Manufactured by Fabricado for Associated American Artists

 

Jacqueline Groag- Furnishing fabric roller-printed spun rayon Haworth Fabrics England

    Jacqueline Groag- Furnishing fabric roller-printed spun rayon Haworth Fabrics England

Puppet PrintJacqueline Groag’s ‘Puppet Ballet’ dress fabric 1953 – printed cotton manufactured by Fabricado for Associated American Artists

Groag dressesJacqueline Groag textile printed dresses 1953

First night print     Jacqueline Groag’s ‘First Night’ dress print 1947 – manufactured by Fabricado for Associated American Artists, New York

Jacqueline Groag originally conceived her “First Night’ dress print in 1938 for Elsa Schiaparelli, who, together with Coco Chanel, dominated fashion between the two World Wars. First Night was based on Groag’s drawing of the audience during opening night at the Paris Opera. The fabric was sold in the United States under the name Gala Night.

For More Info on the Groags & the Viennese Modern Movement

Groag book

Read more about Jacques and Jacqueline Groag and the Viennese Modernist movement: Groag: Architect and Designer

Groag textile book

For more on Groag’s textile designs read: Jacqueline Groag: Textile & Pattern Design: Wiener Werkstatte to American Modern

 

Lucienne Day book

To learn more about Lucienne Day read Lucienne Day: In the Spirit of the Age

Be sure to check out UoF’s textile design lessons:

Introduction To Textile Print Design

Introduction To Textile Print Design

Researching & Designing A Graphic Printed Textile

Researching & Designing A Graphic Printed Textile

Recoloring Textile Artwork

 

 

 

JEANOLOGY: SUSTAINABLE DENIM WE CAN ALL FEEL GOOD ABOUT

Prada’s sustainable denim. (Photo Credit: Prada)

Can denim ever truly be sustainable? It is a question that we all ponder, whether you are a fashion lover or an environmentalist. Denim truly is the fabric of our lives, but through the years, denim has earned an ugly reputation when it comes to the environment. Jeans are known as one of the most environmentally damaging items we buy, and the reason is simple: Denim is primarily made from cotton, and most cotton is grown using harmful fertilizers and pesticides. Denim also requires huge amounts of water to produce. One pair of jeans can use approximately 1,800 gallons of water to create. The global demand for cotton (which is used in nearly half of all textiles, according to the World Wildlife Fund) has also led to over-farmed, barren land and soil erosion, which impacts the health of the entire planet. But today, there are many jean companies that are trying to evolve into sustainable denim brands.

DENIM MADE THE OLD FASHIONED WAY

Traditionally, when a pair of blue jeans is created, the cotton denim fabric will be dipped up to eight times in a giant vat of indigo. For the most part, the indigo is in a powder form, subjecting factory workers to dangerous amounts of aniline as they breath-it in. In older factories with dated technology, jeans are placed in belly washers, which can waste up to 1,800 liters of water per pair of jeans. Not only are tons of water wasted, but if the wastewater is not treated properly before getting dumped in local waterway, it can lead to hazardous levels of lead, copper, cadmium, and water with such a high pH, it’s equivalent to ammonia. This has happened in Xintang, China where they manufacture denim.

Also note, that if denim is bleached or distressed, the process can be dangerous and toxic for factory workers. The practice of sandblasting may lead to silicosis and lung cancer. Bleaching and fading jeans using hypochlorite and potassium permanganate generates toxic fumes.  Even hand-distressing jeans using power tools will produce dust containing all the dyes and chemicals applied to the garment.

DENIM MADE THE NEW WAY

For those of us who live in denim, there is good news. The denim industry is one of the most innovative sectors of the fashion industry, and they are working hard to create sustainable denim that will not harm its workers or the environment.

For starters, many brands are now using ‘real denim’. Real denim is close-to 100% cotton fabric that is blue on the front (where the indigo-dyed warp yarns show) and white on the back (where the undyed weft yarns show). Real denim is dyed by means of non-toxic synthetic indigo (which is chemically identical to natural indigo) or sulfur black, which is considered a dye of minimum concern to human health. Faux-denim pants that are meant to look like jeans but are made of synthetic fabrics are usually dyed with toxic or reactive dyes. Faux denim does not last as long as real denim, the items usually fall apart rather than breaking in.

Sustainable denim brands generally source their garments from technologically advanced denim mills. A few popular mills that create sustainable jeans are:  Candiani in Italy, Saitex in Vietnam, or Denim Expert in Bangladesh. These factories use front-loading washers from Tonello or Jeanologia, which reduces water use by 70 to 80%. When other efficient technologies are added such as water recycling, a pair of jeans can be made with just 11 liters of water (as opposed to 1,800 liters). A highly regarded mill will carefully treat this water to make it completely clean before releasing it.

These technological advanced mills also use lasers, robots, and enzymatic processes that can safely and quickly distress and fade jeans. These highly advanced factories use foam dyeing technology, and dying technology, which both utilize electricity to saturate the yarns—both of these technologies avoid using powder indigo and they only use a fraction of the water that traditional dye boxes need. Many eco-friendly labels today are using natural ingredients instead of toxic chemicals to dye their garments, such as natural indigo dyes derived from plants, shrimp shells, orange peels, and nutshells.

Denim companies can also use sustainable cotton to become greener. Fashion companies should know where their cotton is coming from (what’s called ‘traceable’ cotton) whether it’s from the U.S., from smallholder farmers in India, or from big farms in Australia. Brands should use non-GMO cotton that is sprayed with little to no pesticides, and farms that use natural rather than synthetic fertilizers.

Here are a few sustainable and ethical jeans that have quickly become favorites among the fashion set. Keep in mind that jeans were literally invented as workwear back in 1873; they’re meant to last a few years, if not a few decades. So, invest in the pairs you really love, wear them frequently, and think of every rip and frayed edge as a badge of honor. The more years you own your favorite pair of jeans, the more eco-friendly you’ve become.

LEVI’S

Levi’s Waterless Campaign. (Photo Credit: Levi’s)

Levi’s created the first pair of denim pants. In 1873, two visionary immigrants — Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis — turned denim, thread and a little metal into what has become the most popular apparel in the world.

Today, Levi’s is still a pioneer in the denim industry. Thanks to its trademarked Water<Less innovations, Levi’s has saved more than 1.8 billion liters and recycled more than 129 million liters of water. So far, approximately 40% of Levi’s products use this innovation. Water<Less implements a Screened Chemistry standard which eliminates toxic chemicals from its supply chain. To help avoid ending up in a landfill, Levi’s has partnered with Give Back Box, where you pack up your old jeans and print a free shipping label, then drop it in the mail where it is sent to charity.

AG

AG Conscious Hemp Denim Jacket. (Photo Credit: AG)

AG has a denim capsule collection called “The Jean of Tomorrow.” This denim capsule collection has a blend of organic cotton, lyocell, and hemp, the jeans and unisex jacket have no metal rivets—instead, Tencel threads hold the fabric together —and rather than metal buttons, they used corozo nuts. The size and care tags were also replaced by screen-printed, soy-based ink. These jeans are 100% natural and biodegradable, so they can eventually be composted and return to the earth.

AG hopes the project can be a model for the entire denim industry in the future: “There is a responsibility for big companies with large manufacturing programs to step up and adopt more eco-friendly processes,” Samuel Ku, AG’s president and creative director, said in a release. “It takes wide-scale investment and adoption to really move the needle in terms of impact, as well as drive down the costs of sustainability so that we can see it become the new norm for all brands.”

DL1961

DL1961 and Candice Swanepoel, sustainable denim. (Photo Credit: DL 1961)

DL1961 jeans are created with lower-impact cellulose (i.e., wood pulp) fibers as well as certified-organic cotton and clean indigo dyes that reduce water use and create no harmful byproducts. There factories are a vertical integration, which means there’s less shipping and packaging involved in manufacturing each denim item, reducing both DL1961’s carbon emissions.

RE/DONE

Re/Done sustainable jeans. (Photo Credit: Instagram @ haileybieber)

One of the hottest denim labels Re/Done launched in 2014 with a brilliant concept: vintage men’s denim reworked for women’s bodies. Since then, Re/Done has grown to include new jeans, vintage-inspired T-shirts, dresses, suiting, and a full men’s line. The company also introduced a peer-to-peer secondhand marketplace where customers can buy and sell their Re/Done jeans, T-shirts, blazers, and more.

SEZANE

Sustainable denim from Sézane. (Photo Credit: Sézane)

French label Sézane is loved for its affordable, vintage-inspired jeans, but founder Morgane Sezalory is now focused on sustainability as well. She has reorganized her denim production to include 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton, eco-friendly washing, recycled water, and laser detailing instead of chemical treatments. The founder has taken sustainability for her brand one step further, now all of Sézane’s shipping boxes are made from recycled cardboard or are derived from sustainably managed forests.

FRAME

Frame favorite Le Palazzo jean is made with eco-conscious materials. (Photo Credit: Frame)

L.A. denim brand Frame has introduced a ten-piece denim collection called Pure Denim. These garments are created with 100% biodegradable organic cotton that uses 98% less water in its production process compared to traditional denim processes. Frame’s sustainable jeans come in all shapes, from skinny to wide-leg denim.

SLVRLAKE

SLVRLAKE’s sustainable denim pants. (Photo Credit: Net-A-Porter)

Louise Edgley, the founder of Slvrlake, is addressing the challenges of cotton by trying something else: hemp. As one of the fastest-growing plants on earth, it can be easily grown without pesticides or fertilizer, requires a fraction of the water needed to grow cotton, and is 100% biodegradable. Edgley’s signature London and Beatnik jeans now come in a soft and durable cotton and hemp blend with a distinctive baby-blue wash.

Citizens of Humanity

Citizens of Humanity’s sustainable denim. (Photo Credit: Citizens of Humanity)

Citizens of Humanity is known for their fashion-forward silhouettes and soft, high-quality denim. Some of the labels most popular fits, like the Annina trouser, now comes in 100% organic cotton and use water-saving, energy-reducing technology. Citizens of Humanity also owns two other denim labels, Goldsign and AGOLDE, which are making similar strides in organic fabrications, laser treatments, and ozone washes, which reduce energy and water use.

EDWIN

Edwin’s sustainable denim. (Photo Credit: Edwin)

Edwin is a Los Angeles label known for creating some of the best vintage-inspired jeans. Each denim garment is created at Saitex, one of the world’s largest and cleanest denim manufacturers. Saitex now has a factory in Los Angeles, where Edwin is now exclusively producing its collections. Described as “a factory of the future,” the facility comes with everything a fashion label needs to create a lower-impact jean: laser technology, semi-automatic sewing, a water recycling system, and more. The company will also take back your old Edwin jeans and recycle them.

TRIARCHY

Triarchy’s sustainable denim. (Photo Credit: Neiman Marcus)

Most customers like a little stretch in their denim for comfort, but stretch jeans are make with plastic, which is not eco conscious at all. But Triarchy’s Adam Taubenfligel developed a natural alternative for stretch denim with the Italian mill Candiani, the result, rubber fibers. Triarchy’s innovative “plastic-free skinny jean” feels as stretchy and supportive as any you’ve tried, but the denim is woven with ultra-fine strands of rubber, instead of plastic. The label also offers 100% cotton styles which are also made to the highest sustainable standards with organic materials, natural dyes, less water, and less energy.

ON A SIDE NOTE…..

Fashionary’s Denim Manual. (Photo Credit: The Denim Manual)

Want to learn more about denim, well fashion sketchbook producer Fashionary recently released a book titled “The Denim Manual, a Complete Visual Guide for the Denim Industry.” The tome offers a comprehensive look inside the business of denim featuring a cover made of raw denim, and includes over 700 illustrations and photos, as well as a complete collection of denim fabrics, washes and terms that give readers’ an insider’s take on the world of denim.

The book expands from the origin of denim to today’s innovative technology in jeans. There is an illustrated timeline of key events in denim’s history as well as different types of denim fabric. From there, it provides a Denim Design and Details Library of 200 design elements that serves as an encyclopedia of each part of a denim garment.

The book’s Wash Library defines each step for creating various effects such as acid wash and whiskering. It also includes a dyeing guide that covers techniques for achieving a variety of shades and patterns. The final section of the book focuses on maintenance and provides tips for preventing shrinking, fading, and extending the lifecycle of your favorite pair of jeans for as long as possible.

The book is available now for $39.90 on the Fashionary website.

An image from the book The Denim Manual. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Denim Manual)

So tell us, will you be more eco conscious when creating your own collections?

THE MET EXHIBIT – IN AMERICA: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FASHION

Prabal Gurung’s spring 2020 show poses the question, Who Gets to be American? (Photo Credit: Nylon)

After a global pandemic hiatus, the MET Gala celebration is back! On May 2nd, fashion insiders, celebrities, and street style stars will gather for an exclusive fundraiser that benefits the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Better known as fashion’s Red Carpet.

This year’s MET event once again celebrates American fashion in an exhibit entitled, In America: An Anthology of Fashion“. It is the second and final installation of their two-part series, In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, which debuted September 2021. Who will ever forget the image of Kim Kardashian climbing the MET steps in her black fully-covered masked Balenciaga?

HBO’s The Gilded Age. (Photo Credit: Landmark Media)

Those of you who follow MET gala events know that for attendees there is always a ‘dress code’. This year’s code takes inspiration from New York’s Gilded Age (1870 to 1890). The show’s theme and exhibition asks the question “Who gets to be American?” A question posed at Prabal Gurung’s spring/summer 2020 show, and according to Andrew Bolton, Costume Institute’s head curator, the dichotomy of fashion exclusivity vs inclusivity.

(Left to Right) Regina King, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. (Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

This year’s MET Gala will be hosted by Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, Regina King, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Meanwhile, continuing their roles as MET Gala honorary co-chairs are, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour (who has run the MET Gala since 1995), Council of Fashion Designers of America chairman Tom Ford, and Instagram head, Adam Mosseri.

Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri, Billie Eilish, Amanda Gorman, Anna Wintour, Timothée Chalamet, Naomi Osaka and Tom Ford attending the 2021 Met Gala. (Photo Credit: Net-A-Porter)

Aside from the celebrity co-chairs, so far, no other stars have confirmed their attendance for the MET Gala. The event’s guest list has always been closely guarded, with attendees generally kept secret until the event itself. Many fashion fans are speculating that the event’s usual attendees, Kendall Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, and Gigi Hadid will attend fashion’s biggest night. Unfortunately, fashion’s hottest star of the moment, Zendaya, will not be attending the MET Gala for the third year running, due to her busy work schedule.

Zendaya dressed as Cinderella in a light-up Tommy Hilfiger dress at the 2019 Met Gala. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

While celebrities are expected to wear Gilded Age theme looks created by American designers, last year’s September event saw a majority of stars wearing European labels, Balenciaga, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Givenchy and Chanel. What was that about? Where were the Charles James gowns?

The exhibit opens to the public on May 7th and runs until Sept. 5, 2022. Through its curation, it addresses issues of social justice, identity and diversity and is meant to “illustrate the shifting tides of American fashion,” according to the Met’s director Max Hollein.

ABOUT THE EXHIBIT

The Costume Institute’s In America: An Anthology of Fashion is presented in collaboration with The MET’s American Wing. This section of the exhibition will highlight sartorial narratives that relate to the complex and layered histories of 13 of the American Wing period rooms and “provides a historical context for Lexicon, in a way,” Bolton told Vogue. “The stories really reflect the evolution of American style, but they also explore the work of individual tailors, dress-makers, and designers,” he says. “What’s exciting for me is that some of the names will be very familiar to students of fashion, like Charles James, Halston, and Oscar de la Renta, but a lot of the other names really have been forgotten, overlooked or relegated into the footnotes of fashion history. So one of the main intentions of the exhibition is to spotlight the talents and contributions of these individuals, and many of them are women.”

According to a press release from the MET, both men’s and women’s fashion dating from the eighteenth century to the present, will be featured in vignettes installed in select period rooms spanning from 1805 to 1915: a Shaker Retiring Room from the 1830s; a nineteenth-century parlor from Richmond, Virginia; a panoramic 1819 mural of Versailles; and a twentieth-century living room designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, among others. Viewing fashion in the context of their actual surroundings, rather than in a display line-up, is so much more interesting. Don’t you agree?

Ball gown, Marguery Bolhagen (American, 1920–2021), ca. 1961. (Photo Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

These interiors display a survey of more than two hundred years of American domestic life and tell a variety of stories—from the personal to the political, the stylistic to the cultural, and the aesthetic to the ideological. The exhibition will reflect on these narratives through a series of three-dimensional cinematic “freeze frames” produced in collaboration with notable American film directors. These mise-en-scènes will explore the role of dress in shaping American identity and address the complex and layered histories of the rooms.

A wedding dress by Ann Lowe is on display and will be part of The Costume Institute’s 2022 spring exhibition. (Photo Credit: Sarah Yenesel)

HOW CAN YOU WATCH THE MET GALA COVERAGE?

Yes, we can all watch the MET gala coverage on May 2nd. Vogue is exclusively streaming coverage from the event and red carpet on its website and social media platforms. Red carpet coverage will be hosted by Vanessa Hudgens and La La Anthony.

SO TELL US, WILL YOU BE WATCHING THE MET GALA COVERAGE ON MAY 2nd ?

WHO REALLY INVENTED THE MINI? AND THE Y2K BREAKOUT TREND: THE MICRO MINI

A look from Miu Miu’s Spring 2022. (Photo Credit: iMaxTree)

In August of 2021, the UoF blogged about Y2K fashion making a major comeback, and almost nine months later the trend is still going strong. The breakout Y2K trend is no doubt the micro mini skirt, according to online search engine retailer Lyst. Demand for mini skirts is at a three-year high, with over 900 searches a day for the now-infamous, Miu Miu-sanctioned bottom (reported on March 7, 2022, in Vogue Business).

Left to Right Zendaya, Yoona, and Hunter Schafer, a;; in the Miu Miu mini. (Photo Credit: Elle Singapore)

Miu Miu’s ultra-short, low-rise, pleated skirt has taken the fashion world by storm — with celebrities ranging from Nicole Kidman to Zendaya, all sporting it on their social media pages and magazine covers. The hottest item of the season has barely enough fabric peaking out from under its belted waistband; for those of us who were teens or young adults in the early aughts, the itty-bitty skirt reminds us of Britney Spears’ iconic, sexy schoolgirl outfit in her 1998 Baby One More Time music video.

Britney Spears music video Baby One More Time. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

While the micro mini is not a trend for everyone, some have even called the look trashy, nevertheless, demand for the mini is skyrocketing. The Miu Miu skirt is so popular it even has its own Instagram account, @miumiuset. Miu Miu has been sold out of the coveted item for weeks and has a long list of fashionistas eager to get their hands on the coveted skirt, despite its hefty price tag. Are you ready? Are you sitting down? The skimpiest version of the khaki miniskirt costs $950, with a slightly longer version available for $1,150. Those of us who can calculate garment fabric consumption, that’s about a quarter of a yard or 9 inches worth of fabric!!

Miuccia Prada presented the infamous micro-mini skirt during Miu Miu’s spring 2022 fashion show last October. It was an immediate hit as the skirt was seen on nearly every red carpet. After so much buzz and success of the barely-there skirt, the designer revamped the bold style for her fall 2022 Prada collection.  And of course, plenty of designers followed in her footsteps, creating their own versions, like Balmain and Valentino.

A look from Prada’s Spring 2022. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Now that we know the leggy silhouette will continue to reign supreme for fall, let’s dig into the history of the controversial piece.

HISTORY OF THE MINI

The Mini has always been on of society’s most controversial fashion items. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

It is common knowledge that the mini skirt craze began in the sixties as an empowering fashion choice during the birth of the woman’s liberation movement. But hold on, let’s discuss.

British-designer Mary Quant has often been credited for ‘inventing’ the miniskirt, that started the mod fashion movement. In a 2014 interview with the New York Daily News, Quant stated: “A miniskirt was a way of rebelling.” The Quant definition of a mini required the bottom edge of the skirt to hit roughly halfway up the thigh and fall no more than four inches below the butt. In today’s terms, a ‘modest mini’.

Designer Mary Quant, pictured with models in 1967. (Photo Credit: PA Prints)

But perhaps the real truth about the birth of the ‘mini’ should be traced back to the 1950s when ‘above the knee’ skirts appeared in couture alongside rock & roll and the youth dance craze. In reality, the most era-defining look of the 1960s, the mini, was a gradual process. According to England’s Victor & Albert Museum, (which held an exhibit on Mary Quant’s fashion movement from April 6, 2019 – Feb. 16, 2020) very early signs of the mini were detected in late-1950s couture. Case in point, Balenciaga’s ‘sack’ dress, which introduced a simple, semi-fitted shape that took the emphasis away from the wearer’s waist and Yves Saint Laurent’s 1959 ‘trapeze’ line for Dior, that promised to show more leg, or even some knee. Paris couturier André Courrèges achieved international publicity for a couture collection featuring short skirts and space-age dresses in April 1964.

Contemporary photographs and surviving dresses show that it wasn’t until 1966 that skirts became really short. Quant herself has acknowledged how the trend for rising hemlines was influenced by an emerging London street-style, and a wider cultural shift towards informality and the break-down of social codes. Away from the rarified world of Parisian couture houses however, it took a young women like Quant and schoolgirls on the streets, who were improvising short skirts.

André Courrèges, 1969. (Photo Credit: AP Photo)

For decades fashion historians have debated who actually invented the miniskirt, André Courrèges or Mary Quant. Although Quant has famously said, “It wasn’t me or Courrèges who invented the miniskirt anyway—it was the girls in the street who did it.”

Quant was an early ambassador of the ‘above the knee’ look, rocking a knee-skimming skirt during a visit to New York as early as 1960. As a designer she enjoyed adapting minimal styles that disrupted traditional social and gender roles – short hemlines suited her simple shift dresses. With a growing presence in the media, Quant played a significant role in the adoption of the miniskirt by contemporary women in England, Europe, and the USA.

Mary Quant At Work Around 1967. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In 1965 the term ‘miniskirt’ was used to reference above-the-knee hemlines by newspapers and magazines (Quant named her iconic skirt the mini after her favorite car). In 1966, Quant’s contribution to fashion was recognized by the Queen, with an OBE (Order of the British Empire) medal. Quant was photographed at Buckingham Palace wearing one of her own trademark jersey minidresses, which promoted her distinctive look around the world.

Twiggy and Justine De Villeneuve. (Photo Credit: AP Photo)

In the mid-sixties, supermodel Twiggy became the unofficial poster child for the miniskirt look. In 1965, model Jean Shrimpton caused a stir when she wore a miniskirt with no stockings, hat, or gloves to the Melbourne Cup Carnival in Australia. That year the mini also got a boost when Yves Saint Laurent debuted his famous and very short ‘Mondrian’ dresses.

Paco Rabanne introduced his iconic, plastic, chainmail miniskirt in 1966, followed by the throw-away minidress. The mini was officially a high fashion statement.

Goldie Hawn on Laugh In in the Sixties. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

By the mid to late sixties the television show “Laugh In” debuted American actress Goldie Hawn in her mini, inspiring American girls to copy the actress’s signature mod style. By 1968, former First-Lady Jackie Kennedy cemented the trend with her Valentino short white pleated Valentino dress when she married Aristotle Onassis.

The historic Valentino wedding dress worn by Jackie Onassis in 1968. (Photo Credit: The Corbis)

When the Vietnam War began and political tensions began to rise, mini skirts fell out of fashion and the maxi skirt was the sartorial choice among young women.

Mini-skirts became fashionable again in the mid-seventies when singers like Blondie regularly wore mini skirts on stage. The mini also became a staple for the Punk crowd as it was reinvented in black leather and PVC.

By the early eighties, the mini-skirt was once again reinvented and became known as the rah-rah (or ra-ra) skirt, originating from cheerleading uniforms. The Oxford Dictionary noted this as the first successful miniskirt revival. And in 1982, the rah-rah skirt even appeared on the cover of Time magazine. In 1984, Madonna performed at the MTV Video Music Awards, wowing the crowd in a white tulle minidress resembling a wedding dress as she sang “Like A Virgin”.

Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell in the ’90s. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In the early nineties miniskirts were all the rage with icons like Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and the Spice Girls keeping the powerful item, hip, trendy and in the public sphere. Once again, the controversial sartorial choice suggested both empowerment & vulnerability, liberation & exploitation, and shifted the dynamics, allowing women to take charge of their own sexualities.

Paris Hilton in the early 2000s wore mini skirts from day to night. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

In the early aughts, miniskirts made a major comeback thanks to fashion icon Paris Hilton, who raised her hemline even further to “macro mini” length. And let’s not forget Tom Ford, who proclaimed the ‘mini-est’ of micro skirts to be the ‘it’ item of his spring/summer 2003 collection.

A look from Gucci’s spring 2003 collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Fast-forward to 2022. After living through a global pandemic and social and political unrest around the world, designers are raising hemlines once again to micro-mini status. And just as the miniskirt was provocative back in the ’50s & ’60s when the trend made its way into the wardrobes of fashionable girls everywhere, the micro-mini today offers the same kind of sartorial edge. Although today’s micro version may be harder to pull off, there’s no denying that it is becoming one of the most popular trends of the moment. As the saying goes, “what comes around goes around”.

A street style star in Prada during Milan Fashion Week, Feb. 2022. (Photo Credit: Phil Oh)

So tell us, who do you think invented the mini?

 

EARTH DAY & HOW SUSTAINABLE, BIODEGRADABLE & COMPOSTABLE TEXTILES ARE CHANGING THE FACE OF FASHION

- - Sustainability

Chloé’s eco-chic spring 2022 show on the bank of the Seine in Paris. (Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

Earth Day is right around the corner (Friday, April 22nd) and while many think that the fashion industry is not doing enough to reduce its carbon footprint, we’re here to say, we’re making progress. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day! If you are a faithful reader of UoF’s weekly blog then you know how dedicated we are, not only in keeping our readers up to date on the latest in sustainable fashion and textiles, but in teaching our students how to become ‘sustainable’ designers.

In fact, UoF has a whole series of lessons covering the topic: Introduction to Sustainable Design, Sustainable Materials for Fashion Design, Designing, Producing & Marketing a Sustainable Collection, Eco-Textiles, Creative Draping-Zero Waste Dress, Creative Draping-2D Draping, Creative Draping-Zero Puzzle Dress, Creative Draping-Silk Taffeta Dress, Creative Draping-Organza Blouse, Creative Draping-Cocoon Jacket, Eco Fashion Global Initiative, Sustainable Fashion Designer-Monisha Raja and Sustainable Fashion Designer-Kristen Luong. And we continue to add more!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 60 years since Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring (published September 27, 1962), warned us of the adverse environmental effects caused by the indiscriminate use of pesticides. James Hansen (considered the ‘father of global warming’), forty-three years ago created one of the world’s first climate models, nicknamed Model Zero that predicted what was to come. Earth Day, which began fifty-two years ago (April 22, 1970), is now an annual event in support of  environmental protection that today includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by EarthDay.org and reaches one billion people in more than 193 countries. The official Earth Day theme for 2022 is Invest In Our Planet.  As a scientist once told Rachel Carson, “We are walking in nature like an elephant in a china cabinet“.

 

Some Fashion Industry Facts & Solutions 

Here are some frightening numbers: Since the 2000s, fashion production has doubled and it will likely triple by 2050, according to the American Chemical Society. The production of polyester, which is a popular fabric used in fast fashion, as well as athleisurewear, has increased nine times the amount in the last 50 years. Fast fashion has made clothing so inexpensive that items are easily discarded after being worn only a few times. According to State Of The Planet, a journal published by Columbia Climate School, a survey found that 20 percent of clothing in the U.S. is never worn; in the UK, it is 50 percent. Online shopping, available day and night, has also made impulse buying and returning items easier.

According to McKinsey, the average consumer buys 60 percent more than they did in 2000 and keep it half as long. And in 2017, it was estimated that 41 percent of young women felt the need to wear something different whenever they left the house. In response, there are companies that send consumers a box of new clothes every month.

So, as we look to the future generation of fashion designers, keep in mind that being a sustainable brand may be the key to your success.

One of the most effective ways a designer can go green is to work with sustainable textiles. Did you know that the world produces over 50 million tons of textile waste per year? So, we’d like to share some of the most innovative textiles that will help you create beautiful clothes while reducing your carbon footprint, water, and chemical use.

As you read about these new textiles, you should know the difference between biodegradable and compostable. All compostable items are biodegradable, but not all biodegradable products are compostable. A notable difference between the two is that biodegradable products break down into a few natural elements, while compostable products leave behind a single organic material called humus.

So, is biodegradable more eco-friendly than compostable, you ask? No, a biodegradable product is not necessarily better for the environment than a compostable product. That’s because biodegradable products can still be made of chemical plastics whereas compostable products are typically made from plants.

Here’s a list of some of the latest materials that are prioritizing sustainability.

AIRCARBON

Nike is trying to incorporate more sustainable materials like Aircarbon into its collection. (Photo Credit: Nike)

AirCarbon is made by Huntington Beach-based, Newlight Technologies. They collaborated with Nike on a material that sucks carbon from the air. The secret to AirCarbon, a material that took 10 years into develop, is found in nature: methane-loving micro-organisms. AirCarbon is certified carbon-negative by SCS Global Services, resulting in a net reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere through production.

AIRMYCELIUM

AirMycelium is a mushroom root (mycelium) material from a New York-based innovation firm, Ecovative. The material has a production capacity of 100,000 pounds a year and over time is biodegradable — with its raw mycelium materials being at-home compostable in soil.

BIOFIBER

BioFiber is created solely from food crop residues and was developed by Agraloop Bio-Refinery. It is meant to replace high-quality knits and woven fabrics. Agraloop processes waste from various food and medicine crops including oilseed hemp/flax, CBD hemp, banana, and pineapple, while incentivizing the waste among communities in need. BioFiber is mixed with other natural staple fibers to produce a variety of ring-spun and open-end yarns.

BIOSTEEL

BioSteel is a biotechnologically produced high-performance version of spider silk, which made its debut in 2015. It is produced by German biotech company AMSilk and has been used especially in shoe upper material for Adidas’ Futurecraft Biofabric sneakers. Properties include being 15 percent lighter than conventional synthetics, as well as being completely biodegradable. BioSteel has been certified by the Hohenstein Institute and the SGS Institut Fresenius.

CIRCULOSE

H&M became the first brand to use Circulose – made from textile waste.  (Photo Credit: H&M)

Circulose is a patented fiber created by chemically processing 100 percent cotton fabric waste or other cellulosic textiles (like viscose). It is produced by Renewcell, a technology company founded in January 2012 by a group of cellulose researchers from KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Circulose significantly reduces the use of water and carbon footprint and is closed loop. H&M was the first to debut the Circulose material to consumers. As one of the biggest ‘fast fashion’ retailers, they are trying to do their part in reducing their carbon footprint.

In 2013, H&M launched a global garment collecting program and has a goal of having all products in stores made from recycled or sustainably sourced materials by 2030. H&M has tripled the amount of recycled materials used in its products from 5.8 percent to 17.9 percent with a goal of 30 percent by 2025.

H&M is launching a new line of sustainable tops, bottoms with adjustable waistbands and cuff, jackets, hats and blankets that can be composted once they are old and worn out. The 12-piece collection for newborns is made from organic cotton and launches in May 2022.

 

H&M launches a compostable 12-piece collection for newborns made from organic cotton in May 2022. (Photo credit: H&M)

DESSERTO

Karl Lagerfeld Collabs with Amber Valletta on a sustainable accessory collection using the material Desserto. (Photo Credit: Karl Lagerfeld)

Desserto is made of 40 percent organic cactus fiber, protein, pigments and 60 percent polyurethane. Backings are made with different fiber blends. Desserto, created by Adriano di Marti , is a leather replacement in handbags, footwear and apparel. Brands like Karl Lagerfeld, Fossil and H&M have used the material.

EVRNU

NuCycl™ a  regenerated fiber composed of  100% post-consumer waste using technology by Evernu® (Photo credit: Evernu.com)

Seattle-based Evrnu® is the firm behind NuCycl™, a regenerated fiber made from post-consumer clothing waste via its proprietary NuCycl technology. Garment waste is collected, sorted, and separated. The waste is then purified, shredded, and turned into a pulp. Extruded cellulose is made into a fiber that is finer than silk and stronger than cotton. The fiber is then spun into yarn, dyed and woven into fabric to be used to create recyclable textiles. Their mission is to create a circular economy for fashion. The fiber has been used by brands like Levi’s, Adidas and Stella McCartney.

FLOCUS

Flocus kapok fibers used for Frank and Oak’s outerwear. (Photo Credit: Frank and Oak)

Flocus is 100 percent biodegradable and 100 percent recyclable. The material is made from a yarn blend of fibers from the kapok tree. It is used for a wide range of fabrics and insulation materials being that it is lightweight, hypoallergenic and soft to the touch. Moisture management, temperature regulation and insect repellence are other qualities. The brand Frank and Oak uses Flocus for their outerwear.

PLNT  & FRUT

PLNT and FRUT – bio-based fibers made from agricultural waste using Pangaia technology (Photo credit: Pangaia.com)

Another alternative to cotton is a bio-based technology developed from agricultural waste by Pangaia Material Science Ltd. Their Plnt fiber, is a blend of 60% bamboo lyocell, 20% Himalaya nettle and 20% SeaCell lyocell. Their Frut fiber is a cocktail of 60% bamboo lyocell, 20% pineapple leaf fiber, and 20% banana leaf fiber. Pangaia also has their own direct-to-consumer line of clothing.

HEIQ

HeiQ innovative textile technologies include fabric offerings such as Eco Dry, Real Silk and Clean Tech, aiding the performance and sustainability of fabric manufacturing by substituting less eco-friendly chemicals. The Eco Dry process, for example, eliminates the need for fluorine and makes a water-repellant layer for footwear and clothing applications. It complies with EU REACH and ZDHC chemical protocols, as well as Oeko-Tex.

INNER METTLE MILK

Inner Mettle Milk is a 100-percent natural fabric produced by apparel company Inner Mettle. The IM Milk fabric is a biodegradable fabric made from a blend of surplus milk from the Italian agricultural-sector and 60 percent Lenzing-produced Tencel Micromodal. The fabric is manufactured in Italy and employed in Inner Mettle’s innerwear collection.

KOBA

Koba is a partially bio-based faux fur developed by DuPont and Ecopel of which Stella McCartney and Maison Atia are devoted fans. Because it is also recycled polyester, it is not biodegradable, but the companies tout recycling options at the material’s end of life.

MALAI

Malai is a bio-based material grown atop coconut water through fermentation, a leftover from the coconut industry in South India. The jelly is harvested and enhanced with natural fibers, gums and resins to create a more durable and flexible material. Although Malai is in its early stages, the leather alternative is biodegradable and compostable.

MIRUM

Patches made with Natural Fiber Welding’s Mirum leather substitute are included on Ralph Lauren’s Team USA parade apparel at the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo Credit: Ralph Lauren)

Mirum is a welded 100 percent natural, biodegradable plant-based leather alternative made by Natural Fiber Welding. The material comes from raw materials like cork, coconut, vegetable oil and natural rubber. With certification from the U.S. Department of Agriculture BioPreferred program, the company also counts investments from brands like Allbirds and Ralph Lauren Corp. The material is never coated in polyurethane or PVC, and is fully biodegradable with 40 percent lower carbon impact, per the company’s assessments. In addition to having a low carbon footprint, Mirum requires no water during manufacturing and dyeing.

NATIVA

Nativa wool is a 100 percent traceable wool fiber launched by Chargeurs Luxury Materials, a leader in luxury combed wool. The firm’s blockchain technology records transactions in a digital tamper-proof and decentralized database. Finnish outdoor brand UphillSport switched to all Nativa wool in 2020.

ORANGE FIBER

A look from the Orange Fiber capsule collection by Salvatore Ferragamo. (Photo Credit: Salvatore Ferragamo)

Orange Fiber is a luxurious fabric made out of waste citrus juice byproducts. It makes use of the otherwise more than 700,000 tons of citrus juice byproducts that would normally end up as waste. The Italian company (which collaborated with Lenzing) was the winner of the H&M Global Change Award in 2015. Also, Salvatore Ferragamo launched a capsule collection with the Orange Fiber in 2017.

REISHI

Sylvania is a mycelium material developed by MycoWorks and Hermès. (Photo Credit: Hermès)

Reishi is a non-plastic, non-animal leather alternative from biotech startup MycoWorks. The material is grown rapidly from mycelium and agricultural byproducts in a carbon-negative process. Luxury house Hermès has partnered with the Reishi to work on its own material dubbed “Sylvania.”

REPREVE

Repreve is a yarn made from recycled plastic bottles by maker Unifi. Repreve, was confirmed to reduce global warming potential related to greenhouse gases by 21 percent compared to generic, mechanically recycled polyester and 42 percent compared to virgin polyester, according to technology firm Higg (a partner to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition).

SORONA

Sorona, created by DuPont, was created to be a corn-based alternative to spandex (with about 37 percent of the polymeric fibers being made of renewable plant-based ingredients). The material is known for comfort, stretch and recovery properties, but is entirely free of spandex. The North Face, Club Monaco, and Stella McCartney have released products with Sorona.

SPINNOVA

Apparel made form Spinnova’s new wood-based fiber. (Photo Credit: Spinnova)

Spinnova is a 100 percent natural, biodegradable and recyclable alternative to cotton made of wood and waste without the use of harmful chemicals. It is free of microplastics and harmful chemicals and uses 99 percent less water than cotton. The North Face and H&M are already partners, as is the world’s largest wood pulp producer Suzano.

TEXLOOP

Texloop RCOT is made with up of 50 percent Global Recycle Standard-certified recycled cotton, blended with other natural fibers, including Global Organic Textile Standard-certified organic cotton and Tencel Lyocell. Brands ranging from H&M to Lee have used the material to create more sustainable denim.

ZOA

Modern Meadow uses biotechnology in its Zoa Biofabricated Material. (Photo Credit: Modern Meadow)

Zoa is a bioengineered leather-like innovation from biotech firm Modern Meadow. Zoa is made from protein collagen produced through fermentation from yeast in a lab and can be easily combined with other materials to accommodate any shape or texture. Zoa is already partnering with luxury and consumer goods brands.

As every student and teacher of fashion design knows, it’s up to us to chose the materials that we will use for our designs and therefore, unless we all make a concerted effort to source these eco-friendly materials we are only contributing to the earth’s pollution. Sustainable and ethical fashion starts with the fabric!

Here’s a few links where you can find sustainable fabrics and yarns – Happy Eco-Designing

30 Sustainable Fabrics For The Most Eco Friendly Fashion

Birds of a Thread

My Green Closet

So tell us, what will you do to reduce your carbon footprint?

 

 

 

WEDDING BELLS ARE RINGING: SPRING 2023 BRIDAL TRENDS

- - Fashion Shows

A look from Elie Saab’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit; Elie Saab)

After 2 years of postponed weddings, thanks to Covid, here come the brides! An estimated 2.5 million weddings—the most since 1984—are expected to take place in the U.S. in 2022, according to market-research firm, The Wedding Report. The wedding boom follows a record number of cancellations, postponements, elopements–and lots of Zoom nuptials (yes, it’s true) during the past two years.

“Weddings are, without a doubt, back to pre-pandemic levels,” says Hannah Nowack, Real Weddings editor at The Knot, in an interview with Forbes.

A look from Mira Zwillinger’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection . (Photo Credit: Mira Zwillinger)

Certainly, some couples will continue to hold intimate micro-weddings, but wedding vendors, venues and planners note a return to traditional ceremonies with larger guest lists. In the second half of 2021, The Knot reported the average guest count to be 110, compared with the pre-pandemic average of 131. And in 2022 the average number of guests is projected to be 129, which is in line with pre-pandemic figures.  “After so many months of planning, and time spent away from loved ones, these couples are eager to reunite and celebrate with a blowout bash,” says Nowack.

Even the White House will host a wedding celebration this year as President Joe Biden’s granddaughter Naomi Biden will marry her longtime love, Peter Neal.

Joe Biden’s Granddaughter Naomi Biden Will Have a White House Wedding Celebration. Here she is with her fiance Peter Neal. (Photo Credit: Yahoo Finance)

“The President and First Lady will host the wedding reception for their granddaughter Naomi Biden and her fiancée Peter Neal at the White House on November 19, 2022,” Elizabeth Alexander, the communications director for Dr. Jill Biden, tells PEOPLE in a statement. “The First Family, the couple, and their parents are still in the planning stages of all of the wedding festivities and look forward to announcing further details in the coming months.” 

Although Naomi Biden’s upcoming wedding may still be in the planning stages, one thing is for sure, she will have plenty of bridal dresses to chose from as New York Luxury Bridal Fashion Week (NYLBFW) just wrapped up its spring 2023 season (debuting from April 6-8, 2022). The show has finally returned to in-person runway shows and market appointments. A good sign.

NYLBFW, an industry event where bridal designers and brands unveil their latest collections, happens twice a year, October and April, and draws retail buyers, press, and of course, future brides to be. Pre-covid, many bridal labels would host theatrical runway shows, presentations, and intimate events, to fashion insiders; but today, thanks to CFDA’s RUNWAY360, everyone has access to the latest bridal spring 2023 collections.

In an interview with WWD,  The Bridal Council’s executive director Michelle Iacovelli stated, “The wonderful thing is over 13 countries will be represented by designers traveling to New York City, the capital of bridal.What’s interesting is that even though collections will be presented digitally, the brands will still be in New York doing market appointments, it’s a real hybrid.” She further explained, “The demand is there from the brides. This year is set to be the biggest number of weddings since 1984.

For all of you brides and bridal designers out there, who are either planning your wedding or interested in bridal’s latest trends, this is for you:

For the fourth season, The Bridal Council is continuing its partnership with Pullquest to feature the 2023 collections on The Bridal Council x Pullquest’s digital showroom platform. The site will display the online presentation schedule and continue to act as a digital marketing tool and sales platform with collection imagery and videos, downloadable press kits and more for six months following Luxury Bridal Fashion Week,” according to WWD.

Established bridal designers like Monique Lhullier, Marchesa, Amsale, and Anne Barge (to name a few) have all presented, alongside smaller and up-and-coming brands, during a jam-packed three-day virtual and in-person affair. During these shows, brides become inspired by the fashion, accessories, and trends before making their wedding dress plans. Although it is important to keep in mind that a bride should chose a look that they feel comfortable, confident, and beautiful in, they should also be looking for a dress that speaks to their personal style.

A look from Anne Barge’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Anne Barge)

This season there were plenty of gorgeous gowns to chose from that ran the gamut – from princess and minimalist to frilly and daring.

Here are a few breakout trends for the spring 2023 bridal season.

SINGULAR SENSATION

One shoulder gowns are making a splash this season!  Designers are opting for asymmetrical dresses, offering their brides a modern and fresh twist for their fairy-tale event.

A look from Elie Saab’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Elie Saab)

A look from LEGENDS Romona Keveza’s Spring 2023. (Photo Credit: Romona Keveza)

A look from Kim Kassas Couture Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Kim Kassas Couture)

A look from Mira Zwillinger’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Mira Zwillinger)

A look from Nadia Manjarrez Studio Bridal’s Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Nadia Manjarrez Studio)

A look from Amsale’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Amsale)

BARE CONDITIONING

Following in the footsteps of the last ready-to-wear fashion week, the Cut-It-Out trend lives on. Sexy and strategic cut outs have replaced the transparent trend as the new, must have, racy bridal dress of the season.

A look from Costarellos’ Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Costarellos)

A look from Lihi Hod’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Lihi Hod)

A look from Sachin & Babi’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Sachin & Babi)

A look from Theia’s Spring 2023 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Theia)

TAKE A BOW

Bows are back! From exaggerated oversized bows to demure little ties, these romantic ties are a refreshing take on traditional dresses.

A look from Honor NYC Bridal’s Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Honor)

A look from LEGENDS Romona Keveza’s Spring 2023 . (Photo Credit: Romona Keveza)

A look from ALYNE by Rita Vinieris’ Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Rita Vinieris)

A look from Mira Zwillinger’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Mira Zwillinger)

A look from Peter Langner’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Peter Langer)

A look from Nadia Manjarrez’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Nadia Manjarrez)

AND THE BRIDE WORE…..PANTS

Not every bride dreams of wearing a dramatic gown, so for spring 2023 designers are offering plenty of trouser options.

A look from Amsale’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Amsale)

A look from Rami Al Ali’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Rami Al Ali)

A look from Sachin & Babi’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Sachin & Babi)

A look from Costarellos’ Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Costarellos)

THE RETURN OF THE MINI

The mini was one of the biggest runway trends this season and the bridal market has jumped on the bandwagon. They offer plenty of mini-dress bridal numbers that are sweet and sassy.

A look from Elie Saab’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Elie Saab)

A look from Rami Al Ali’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Rami Al Ali)

A look from Peter Langner’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Peter Langer)

A look from Odylyne The Ceremony Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Odylyne)

A look from Honor NYC Bridal’s Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Honor)

CORSET IT IS

The corset trend is stronger than ever as bridal designers offer some of the most romantic lingerie-inspired bodices for spring.

A look from Dana Harel’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Dana Harel)

A look from Theia’s Spring 2023 Bridal Collection. (Photo Credit: Theia)

A look from RIVINI by Rita Vinieris’ Bridal Spring 2023 Collection . (Photo Credit: Rita Vinieris)

A look from Lihi Hod’s Bridal Spring 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Lihi Hod)

A look from Romona Keveza’s Bridal Collection Spring 2023. (Photo Credit: Romona Keveza)

SO TELL US, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BRIDAL TREND?

ONSHORE, RESHORE & OFFSHORE – BRINGING MANUFACTURING BACK HOME

Made in USA Vintage Shield. (Photo Credit: Apparel Business Systems)

How  It Took a Global Pandemic & a War to Make it Happen

For years U.S. politicians have been promising to bring manufacturing back home, in an attempt to help strengthen our economy and bring jobs back to our shore; but they were always empty promises.

In the 1960s, the U.S. was responsible for 50% of the world’s manufacturing output (hard to believe, right?), but today the number is a pitiful 17% . In 1979, there were approximately 20 million manufacturing jobs in the U. S. and today, sadly, there are less than 12 million. So, what went wrong? Why did we lose our manufacturing capabilities across the board?

The manufacturing industry once generated a number of steady, higher paying jobs, creating a healthy middle class, as well as labor unions. It also widened the gap between rich and poor. Many immigrants came to the U.S. because there were so many jobs available. Where once industrialized cities such as New York City, Buffalo, Cincinnati, and Cleveland were among the top ten in population, today, they are only shadows of their former manufacturing selves.

“The inner cities and the rural towns were really basically decimated,” said Sandy Montalbano, a consultant with the Reshoring Initiative, an organization that was formed in 2010 to help bring back manufacturing jobs to the United States. In an interview with 60 Days USA she claimed, “These were really good-paying jobs with benefits and these wage earners were able to provide for their families.” 

The United States dominated the manufacturing market worldwide until the 1970s. So, if the U.S. was such an industrial powerhouse, why did American manufacturing go offshore? What happened?

Sadly, there were a number of factors that contributed to the decline in manufacturing in the United States.

Beginning in the mid-Eighties, and throughout the early 2000s, many manufacturing jobs went “offshore” as companies took advantage of lower wages and fewer regulations.

According to Montalbano, these companies were focusing on short-term gains for shareholders instead of investing in capital equipment, innovation, and workforce training. Another factor was the federal government, it allowed the U.S. dollar to appreciate 300 percent vs. our trading partners over the past 40 years, which caused the U.S. dollar to become overvalued.

These factors were all compounded, Montalbano adds, when the country began to promote a “college for all” education system, putting less emphasis on ‘skills-based’ training, credentialing, and apprenticeship. UoF has been actively trying to help re-educate people with their digital and on-the-table video library of 500+ lessons.

Consumers also had a hand in manufacturing jobs going offshore, by demanding and buying the cheapest products available. This caused a trade deficit, which means the amount by which the cost of a country’s imports exceeds the value of its exports, which continues to impact the manufacturing industry in the U.S.

Obviously, bringing manufacturing back to life in the United States will stimulate the economy and create plenty of job opportunities. In recent years, some promising numbers indicate that certain industries are willing to bring manufacturing back to the U.S., a hopeful and encouraging sign, but it will take more time, money and lots of effort.

According to a 2020 Reshoring Initiative report, approximately 1 million manufacturing jobs returned to the United States from 2010-2020.

Made in the USA image. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

These are all promising signs, but while manufacturing nationwide increased 20 percent from 2009 to 2017, employment in the fashion industry only increased by 5 percent. Montalbano says there are a number of things that need to be done to rev up the nation’s manufacturing sector. “The government needs to level the playing field,” Montalbano said. This can also be achieved by fine tuning the American manufacturing industry with automation and other new technologies, as well as investing in properly training the workforce through processes such as apprenticeships and vocational education. According to Montalbano, “Workers are going to need more than a high school education. There needs to be lifelong learning because technology is moving so quickly.”

The Reshoring Initiative sees an encouraging trend as U.S. companies are gradually turning away from offshoring and returning to U.S. manufacturing. American companies are beginning to weigh the pros and cons of manufacturing offshore: quality control issues, increased transportation costs, fair trade and labor issues in other countries and concern over a company’s carbon footprint and public image when it comes to sustainability.

In an article published in Industry Week, Harry Moser, the founder and president of the Reshoring Initiative, said the push to bring back jobs initially got off to a good start under Trump, due to tax cuts and reductions in regulations, however, his tariff policies and other uncertainties put a damper on that progress.

Ironically, the COVID-19 pandemic actually helped U.S. manufacturing. Moser stated that the pandemic encouraged local production with shorter supply chains and fewer people handling merchandise.

Moser is more optimistic about the administration of President Biden, as Biden has promised 5 million new manufacturing jobs. Moser said the nation will need to reduce manufacturing costs, improve worker skills, and strengthen the U.S. dollar to get there.

One of the easiest manufacturing categories to bring back “onshore” would be fashion. While the fashion industry in the U.S. is still recovering from the losses suffered during the pandemic, brands and retailers could benefit from manufacturing at least some of their clothes in America.

“American-made goods are overwhelmingly popular”, says Christie Grymes Thompson, chair of advertising, marketing, and consumer product safety for Kelley Drye & Warren, an international law firm, in an interview with Sourcing Journal.

“Consumer surveys consistently show over 90 percent of consumers [expressed] a favorable or somewhat favorable view of ‘Made in USA’ products,” Grymes Thompson says in a webinar regarding “Made in USA” claims. “A lot of people think it’s to help the economy, or to otherwise support their local community. Some people also think they would get better quality while recognizing they might pay a premium for that better quality or, at least, perceived better quality.”

Post-Covid, McKinsey & Company says it benefits retailers and manufacturers to move at least some production closer to home.

“Part of being resilient is building an agile network of suppliers and partners,” McKinsey states. “Certain major nondiscretionary retailers are diversifying their supply chains to mitigate dependencies on geographically concentrated suppliers. Retailers dependent on offshore production might explore alternative sources and locations, perhaps developing manufacturing capacity closer to core markets. Rethinking production footprints could help drive down risk while providing new value propositions for product that are sourced or made locally.”

Fashion brands that already manufacture their clothes in the United States, as well as those who are considering doing so, should consider that consumers value American-made apparel, and 90 percent say they would feel good about wearing clothes made with cotton that’s grown in the U.S., according to Monitor™ research. Nearly 86 percent say U.S. cotton is something to be proud of, and 74 percent agree cotton grown in the U.S. is more sustainable than cotton grown in other countries. Furthermore, 62 percent of shoppers say they would pay extra for clothes made of cotton grown in the U.S.

When the pandemic spread in 2020, roughly half of the world’s disposable masks were made in China, but as COVID-19 became a global crisis, face masks became essential and countries started imposing restrictions on exports –unfortunately, this led to shortages of masks and raw materials. The pandemic educated the U.S. that we cannot just rely on China and once again, ‘Made in America’ and reshoring gained in popularity, especially for protective gear which grew about 60 percent.

Reshoring Means Reskilling

For U.S. manufacturing to become competitive, automation and robotics, are the key to offsetting higher U.S. labor costs. Manufacture workers need to learn how to use advanced technology, 3D design software, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, 3D printing and supply chain management – these are all instrumental in the continual efforts to reshore manufacturing.

Only automated manufacturing technologies will help US apparel sector successfully work out ‘local to local’ production more efficiently. (Photo Credit: Apparel Resource)

Substantiating on the same, Harry Moser says manufacturing costs in the U.S. are often 20 per cent higher than those in Europe and 40 per cent higher than in China and other low labor cost countries. “If we don’t invest in automation, we don’t increase our competitiveness,” he added. The fashion industry will have to think and talk technology, as only automated manufacturing technologies will help them successfully work out ‘local to local’ production more efficiently and successfully. “Some people are afraid of automation because they’ll lose their jobs,” Harry adds, but workers need to get over that frame of mind, “The U.S. will lose more jobs to Chinese automation if we don’t automate than we will to U.S. automation if we do. Since we are competing, you have to automate the best you can just to stay even.” Just like when Barthélemy Thimmonier’s sewing machine, created in the early 1800s, was destroyed by journeymen tailors who felt that the machine threatened their livelihood, we can’t allow luddites to keep us from moving our domestic manufacturing industry into the future.

Automated manufacturing technologies will surely and effectively help the U.S. apparel sector successfully work out ‘local to local’ production; while technology is integral to  reshoring jobs back to the U.S.. And will provide higher paying jobs.

Reshoring Pioneers  

As the reshoring movement gains in popularity, with many more to follow, one such fashion company that is leading the pack is American Knits in Swainsboro, GA. Companies like America Knits are testing the waters to see if the U.S. can regain some of the manufacturing output it relinquished in recent decades to China and other countries.

At America Knits in Swainsboro, Ga., workers earn up to twice as much per hour as they would in a service job. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

American Knits was founded in 2019 by Steven Hawkins, with 65 workers producing premium T-shirts from locally grown cotton. He expects the company’s work force to increase to 100 in the coming months. If the area is to have an industrial renaissance, he is a visionary. “I’m the only one, the only crazy one,” Mr. Hawkins said to the New York Times. But as he sees it, bringing manufacturing back from overseas has found its moment. “America Knits shows it can be done and has been done,” he said.

Some corporate giant brands are eager to test that premise, if not for finished goods, then certainly for essential parts.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, efforts to relocate manufacturing have accelerated, said Claudio Knizek, global leader for advanced manufacturing and mobility at EY-Parthenon, a strategy consulting firm, in an interview with the New York Times. “It may have reached a tipping point,” he added.

Decades of dependence on overseas factories, especially in China, has been upended by delays and increasing freight rates — when shipping capacity can even be found.

Onshoring has never been more essential, not only because of the delays of much needed essentials due to the pandemic, but also for sustainability. Many companies have committed to sustainability, and therefore by manufacturing in the United States, companies will attempt to reduce pollution and fossil fuel consumption in transportation across oceans, which is a major selling point.

Julie Land is the owner of the Canadian company Winnipeg Stitch Factory, and its clothing brand, Pine Falls. The 12-year-old business is opening a plant in Port Gibson, Miss., in 2022. While fabrics will be cut in Winnipeg, Canada, they will then be shipped to Port Gibson to be sewn into garments like jackets and sweaters. The new factory will be heavily automated, which will keep her costs manageable, and the company will be able to compete with overseas workshops.

“Reshoring is not going to happen overnight, but it is happening, and it’s exciting,” Julie Land said to the New York Times. “If you place an order offshore, there is so much uncertainty with a longer lead time. All of that adds up.”

Another fashion company that is building facilities in the U.S. is Resonance, which is a collection of companies focused on transforming the fashion industry. The company opened its first sew production facility in New York City. The 300 square-foot facility is located in Pier 59 in Chelsea Piers, adjacent to the company’s headquarters. This is the first creation-to-customer-closet platform for sustainable fashion.

Resonance uses digital printing on organic and environmentally certified fabrics as part of a fully automated process to design, sell, and make garments in real time, on demand, sustainably anywhere in the world.

A Photo from Resonance’s New York City Factory. (Photo Credit: Shutterstock.)

“The new facility is comprised of 12 sewing stations with the ability to make hundreds of garments per week supported by Resonance’s proprietary technology. The team plans to hire additional team members to run the NYC facility as well as several others that are planned in the coming months,” according to the company’s statement.

Lawrence Lenihan, Resonance chairman and co-founder, said in a press release, “Resonance is deeply committed to bringing components of garment manufacturing back to NYC, a city whose thriving textile manufacturing industry was driven overseas in search of lower production costs,” the statement further said. “Resonance believes that this network can birth a new fashion value chain and new entrepreneurs can build job-creating manufacturing businesses in their communities powered by orders for clothing from brands on the Resonance platform. These next generation manufacturers will compete on cost and by being closer to the end customer, adding value to the last-mile process, and producing garments that create social and environmental value transparently.”

Resonance’s goal is to open hundreds of these sew production facilities around the country and internationally while also connecting existing ones, helping to reimagine the textile manufacturing experience for designers, consumers, and the planet.

Another onshore pioneer is New York Embroidery Studio, which is opening a new space in NYC’s Brooklyn Army Terminal. The new three-year lease is one of the largest in the Sunset Park location. The company has been manufacturing in the garment center for over 30 years and is known for collaborating with fashion luxury houses such as Caroline Herrera, Ralph Lauren, and Oscar de la Renta.

This luxury fashion company, known for their exquisite embellishments, pivoted at the height of the pandemic to create personal protective equipment like masks and hospital gowns. New York Embroidery Studio’s founder, Michelle Feinberg and her team made over 590,000 hospital gowns in just nine weeks and also kept hundreds of New Yorkers employed even as the city’s economy sharply declined.

New York Embroidery Studio Founder Michelle Feinberg at the new Brooklyn Army Terminal space. (Photo Credit: NYES)

New York Embroidery Studio’s new 80,000-square-foot lease will bring more than 500 on-site jobs, generating an estimated $73 million in economic output for New York City. The studio will use automated machines and advanced manufacturing techniques to produce PPE full-time as part of an ongoing effort to restore the country’s national stockpile.

“The local production of PPE is essential to our health care workers and our city, so we are always prepared,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Andrew Kimball. “We must be forward-thinking as we address our city’s future pandemic preparedness.”

Russia’s War & Its Impact on Fashion Manufacturing

Since Putin’s war against Ukraine began in February 2022, the global fashion industry has come down heavy on Russia with brands refusing to ship merchandise and closing their retail stores there. Sanctions imposed on Russia are resulting in major supply chain issues for the global textile and apparel industry as the rising cost of essential materials such as crude oil and the rising cost of food is resulting in higher labor costs. According to Fibre2Fashion.com, “Several of the Asian economies are dependent heavily on coal and oil from Russia, and food supplies from Ukraine. UNCTAD [The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development] update on the Russian-Ukraine crisis shows that Turkey, China, Egypt, and India are the countries that are most dependent on food supplies from Russia and Ukraine.  These are incidentally also major textile and apparel suppliers globally. Inflation in Turkey has skyrocketed to almost 54.44 per cent in February 2022, which is expected to significantly impact sourcing from the country. Consumer prices inflation in Bangladesh has also risen rapidly to 6.17 per cent, predominantly due to increase in food prices.”

The U.S. fashion industry (and Europe’s as well) is now having to take a long, hard look at what the repercussions are of their heavy reliance on foreign textiles and on shoe and garment manufacturing.  Our once booming textile, shoe and garment manufacturing industries were reduced to rubble in the 80s and to bring them back will take time and lots of money. Watch this space as American ingenuity explores how to make it happen. It’ll take a village though: government money, fashion pioneers and entrepreneurs, patriotic consumers willing to pay more for Made in America products and an army of influencers to promote it.

Between the War in Ukraine and the global pandemic, these two events alone have educated Americans that reshoring is sure to become the biggest growth driver for its manufacturing industry – in particular the apparel and textile sector. As more and more companies explore onshore opportunities and align their marketing and selling strategies into the digital space, they just may be surprised at how profitable bringing manufacturing back home can be. Jobs, jobs, jobs.

 

So, tell us, how motivated are you on manufacturing your collection in the United States?

 

 

WELCOME TO THE FIRST METAVERSE FASHION WEEK – DIGITAL FASHION HAS ARRIVED

An Imitation of Christ look for Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Spring 2022 Fashion Month may have ended last month, but runway shows continued. Where you ask? Welcome to Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW)!

For the past three years UoF has been reporting on the importance of the 3D design software and the concept of the Metaverse and its potential within the fashion industry. And so, at last, we finally got to watch the first major fashion industry-backed Metaverse fashion week, Thursday, March 24th to Sunday, March 27th. And just like that, fashion history was made.

Where was Metaverse Fashion Week Held?

Decentraland, a 3D virtual world browser-based platform, hosted the first Metaverse Fashion Week, with more than 60 luxury and digital brands presenting. (I wonder if the CFDA be adding  MVFW to the fashion calendar?).

Several innovative, early adopter fashion brands, and even some established brands, virtually presented their Spring 2022 collections in different “neighborhoods” or “districts” on Decentraland’s platform within their newly created ‘Fashion District’. The four-day event was packed with fun events that included digital fashion shows (which took place on three virtual runways), after parties, and even shopping events. Some merch was offered for sale as ‘wearables’, while others were offered as collectibles that were later uploaded to NFT marketplaces like OpenSea.

Before the event launched, Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro, head of Metaverse Fashion Week, told WWD, “I think people will be amazed, because our team has been working so much to really achieve unique spaces in 3D and unique shops for the stores.” The team created a broad range of activities, with multiple simultaneous events. Casimiro added, “But they will be planned in a way that people have a chance to see all of them.” There will be plenty of after parties. The idea is that we bring people to see the events, but they can stay inside the platform and see a great performer and DJs. It’s going to be really fun.”

Inside the Metaverse Fashion Week runway arena. (Photo Credit: WWD)

The MVFW team anticipated a large number of new visitors joining the metaverse for the first time, so Decentraland offered instructions on their website to help first time visitors enter as guests. They also helped newcomers set up their digital wallets to shop, but visiting and touring the venues was free and open to all.

The opening installment began with Selfridges’ Decentraland venue on Wednesday, March 23rd, which was followed by four days of runway shows, brand activations, interactive experiences and countless shopping experiences across multiple digital storefronts which showcased wearable looks on avatars, NFTs, artworks and more.

Brands participating included Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce & Gabbana, Elie Saab, Nicholas Kirkwood, Perry Ellis, Imitation of Christ, Estée Lauder, Etro and many more, with several setting up shop in digital stores where guests could teleport, browse, and of course, shop.

In the Luxury Fashion District, Decentraland’s newest district, visitors were able to attend fashion shows and shop for luxury items in the metaverse. The Luxury Fashion District, which was sponsored by UNXD, a curated marketplace for the best of digital culture, and Vogue Arabia, was where many brands made their Web3 debut, such as Dolce & Gabbana, Etro, Elie Saab, Imitation of Christ, Dundas, Nicholas Kirkwood x White Rabbit, Faith Tribe, and Guo Pei.

Tommy Hilfiger remarked, “When I founded my namesake brand in 1985, I never imagined I’d see a time when fashion weeks would be held in a 3D, fully virtual world. As we further explore the Metaverse and all it has to offer, I’m inspired by the power of digital technology and the opportunities it presents to engage with communities in fascinating, relevant ways.”

The Rarible District hosted a temporary space with pop-up shops that included Placebo Digital Fashion House, The Fabricant, Fred Segal, Perry Ellis, Artisant in collaboration with Puma, Miss J Collection by Crypto Couture, NFT artist Marcomatic and more.

According to sourcingjournal.com, “Mango’s development in the metaverse environment is yet another example of the company’s innovative character and its strategy based on constant innovation,” said Jordi Álex, Mango’s director of technology, data, privacy and security. “We have created a specific team dedicated to the development of digital content, where new professionals will be joining in the coming months, in order to develop new projects in the future that will allow us to add the virtual environment to the digital and physical environments in our channel ecosystem.”

Oh, and if you are interested in owning property in the metaverse, (yes, you CAN buy property there and will need a realtor) you could go to the virtual real estate marketplace Parcel x Metaparty Community Precinct.  The Community Precinct offered a multilevel experience with mini-games, chill-out floor, and fashion show experience that highlighted Decentraland’s wearables designer community. Meanwhile, the MetaTokyo community launched a museum, Space by MetaTokyo, plus its own wearable collection through the Decentraland marketplace. DRESSX, was virtual store inside Metajuku, another shopping district.

Boson Protocol’s metaverse marketplace hosted more than a dozen brands that were selling NFTs tied to exclusive, real-world luxury products. Modeled after Paris’ Avenue Montaigne, this boulevard of metaverse stores featured brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Hogan tomWeb3-first brands like Cider, IKKS, Deadfellaz, 8sian, The Rebels by House of Kalinkin, Christine Massarany, Anrealage, Wildfangz by Fang Gang, Wonder and more.

At Threedium Plaza, brands ranging from DKNY to Phygicode by Wyldflwr showcased their 3D creations in the plaza. Here, shops featured 3D wearable pieces, but also went beyond fashion with fun experiences including General Motors’ latest electric vehicles.

Interior view of Cash Labs’s mixed media art gallery. (Photo Credit: WWD)

The Meta Funaverse

Metaverse Fashion Week also hosted plenty of fun parties, such as #FashionFridays a pre-party show that got fashion week off to a festive start on TwitterSpaces. Luxury fashion house Dolce & Gabbana held the first after-show party, while Hogan + Exclusible held a soiree on Saturday. And the parties and festivities kept going on and on.

A few other captivating projects took place, such as The Vogu x Hype and Sophia the Robot’s look at the future of A.I. fashion, Imitation of Christ’s installation and performance, and a luxury eyewear store by Garrett Leight, with exclusive frames and wearables for your avatar.

The Philipp Plein show at Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week. (Photo Credit: Martino Carrera)

Metaverse’s Early Adopters

German fashion designer Philipp Plein took the metaverse by storm. Viewers attending his event were provided the full fashion show experience with a runway show held in his own $1.4 million Decentraland estate, an afterparty with real-life DJs, and a see-now- buy-now collection, which was available as limited-run NFTs on Decentraland’s marketplace. His show took place on Thursday night at the Plein Plaza central square surrounded by Plein-branded skyscrapers. The runway was a metallic skull-shaped animatronic that opened its mouth revealing avatar models in the designer’s latest creations. The collection was named Pleinverse $eason 1 and was developed by Crypto King$, the nickname behind Plein and digital artist Antoni Tudisco, who spearheaded the label’s metaverse activities. The label also hosted an afterparty, with the Australian DJ duo Miriam and Olivia Nervo who were pumping up the music.

Italian luxury house Dolce & Gabbana held one of the most realistic metaverse fashion shows. Guests had to “teleport” to the location, and that’s only if they managed to understand how to do it. The experience was not unlike finding the right show address down the winding streets of Milan, Paris, London, or New York, with the exception of being stuck in traffic. As for the show, the label featured cat-faced avatar models emerge from two giant lotus-like structures dominating the two sides of the runway. Just like a IRL show, there was strobe lighting, upbeat music and charming digital clothing. Case in point, a LED-lit broad-shouldered mini frock. As for showgoers, attendance was disappointing, and they were not your typical fashion insiders. Some avatars jumped onto the runway while the show was going on, while other attendees typed in the chat box so they really did not pay attention to the models. While it was a fun experience, Dolce & Gabbana’s regular clients were missing from the scene.

Imitation of Christ. (Photo Credit: WWD)

The Imitation of Christ store was an ode to punk-rock fashion, as well as an antiwar statement. There were signs aimed at Putin to stop his war, as well as support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian flag. On the first floor, mannequins were dressed in streetwear looks, such as hoodies, catsuits, kilts, and fashionable combat boots. Meanwhile, on the second floor, you could find the label’s signature couture-like designs.

Scenes from Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Guo Pei, the Asian designer best known for her luxurious, couture-like pieces, had a boutique on Luxury Street. There you could find a digital version of the designers exquisite creations, but unfortunately, the digital version did not compare to the magnificent embroidery of the real-life version.

Meanwhile, for Selfridges, the goal was to offer a “fusion of fashion and art,” Jeannie Lee, head of buying for Selfridges, told WWD.“We currently have launched a project called ‘Universe,’ based on a collaboration with Paco Rabanne and [Victor] Vasarely,” she said. “He used the prints of it from the artwork, and we were so inspired that we decided to build a physical installation featuring artwork from the Fondation, then also wearable pieces from Paco Rabanne’s archives, from the 1966 collection called the ’12 Unwearable Dresses,’ and everything is on display like a museum-grade, temperature-controlled [exhibit] in Selfridges.”

Selfridges’ Decentraland venue, which opened Wednesday, evokes its real-world Birmingham, England, location. (Photo Credit: WWD)

In the future, Selfridges does plan to release NFTs, but at this point the store was used to create a visual experience and to celebrate fashion and art.

The Etro “Liquid Paisley” fashion show at Metaverse Fashion Week. (Photo Credit: Martino Carrera)

Etro also held a virtual runway show and pop-up shop in the Luxury Fashion District. The brand’s digital collection launched the Liquid Paisley pattern, “a contemporary take on one of the house’s most iconic codes, in a vibrant palette of fresh and joyful shades, with a gender-fluid approach driven by Etro’s open and inclusive vision. A collection without gender boundaries in a fashion show that will be accessible to everyone,” Veronica Etro, creative director of the women’s collection, said in a statement to WWD. Customers will be able to buy Etro’s ready-to-wear and accessories, as well as customize their avatars with collection items.

In a recent interview with Luis Fernandez of @LUISFERN5 Creative Design Agency, published on the CFDA website, Fernandez was quite bullish on the future of the metaverse for fashion, especially the experiential ‘Store of the Future”.

As we enter this new digital universe, the opportunities are endless. It will take the creative and entrepreneurial minds of those of us in the fashion industry to push the boundaries and to be on the cutting edge of how to marry the ‘real’ world with the ‘tech’ world. Let’s face it, no one ever thought that online fashion education would ever be a ‘thing’ when University of Fashion burst onto to scene in 2008, right? Meanwhile…. We are now madly working on lessons for our subscribers on how to design in 3D. So stay tuned!

Tell us, are you as exited about the metaverse as we are? Will you use the Metaverse to build your brand?