30 April 2022
30 April 2022
In fashion, the debate about the most sustainable fibre seems endless. The most commonly used materials in garment manufacture all have their drawbacks, yet new innovations are always around the corner, offering feasible alternatives to mainstream textiles. By harnessing the power of nature, lots of new materials are being developed with more than profit in mind. Combining fair wages and good working conditions with environmental sustainability, circularity and durability, the materials of the future have a lot of potential to turn the industry around.
The current debate
Polyester is said to have a lower environmental impact than natural fibres production in terms of water and land, yet it’s an oil based fabric, it requires a lot of energy to be manufactured and isn’t biodegradable, shedding microplastics over the course of its life. Synthetic fibres now account for 60% of global fibre production and are often disguised as vegan leather alternatives.
Natural fibres, on the other hand, despite losing market share amid the growth of synthetics, are often touted as the most sustainable alternative. Nonetheless, they still have significant impacts. Taking cotton, the most commonly used natural fibre, with its substantial water consumption and pesticide use, it definitely leaves room for improvements.
Alongside a reduction in the volume of new garments produced, new materials are definitely needed for the fashion industry to lower its impacts and move towards circularity. When fashion and science come together, the potential for innovation is limitless.
What makes a fabric sustainable?
All new materials require resources to be produced and have an impact, but some are better than others. Sustainable fabrics are usually made from natural or recycled materials, aiming to reduce harm through the production process, looking at both social and environmental standpoints. Such materials usually produce lower emissions, use less water, improve the soil and usually create less waste. Sustainable fabrics should also be strong and durable as that will eventually determine the lifespan of the garment. Sustainable fibers are increasing in popularity, from waste materials to discarded produce, they have the power to bring enormous improvements to fashion.
A prime example of this shift towards new, better textiles is Bananatex®. The development of this material began with the team behind QWSTION, a sustainable brand focused on developing versatile bags for everyday use. “We chose to develop our own materials and use natural fibres wherever possible to achieve the highest sustainability,” says QWSTION.