October 24 2021 – Diana Aldescu
Well, hello, hello. Hope you have enjoyed our blogs because this week we are going to present you with some cool fabrics. Are you ready?
We will not only be focusing on one sustainable fabric, but five. How exciting! We will be discussing the history of sustainable fashion and how far we’ve come with it. Finally, we will discuss new inventions in the sustainable fashion world. Ever wondered what these leftover corks from a Friday night wine bottle can do? Bet you didn’t know!
Sustainable fashion history
You’re probably expecting a crazy year like the 1800s, we wish. Crazy, but sustainable fashion only saw an increase in its industry in 2013. Ok, we are getting ahead of ourselves.
To understand sustainable fashion, we first need to understand fast fashion. Nowadays clothes are produced quickly and inexpensively to fit the latest trends. This is fast fashion. Brands producing fast fashion are associated with waste, overproduction and poor working conditions.
Up until the early 20th century, fashion was used to assert the status and wealth of a person. In the 1950s, this changed when consumer society emerged. Long story short, the adults of the 1950s have grown up during The Great Depression and World War II. Once jobs and goods became available in the post-era war, this took a turn. People finally had the money and the products to spend them on.
Around this time, fashion also became cheaper than ever before. As fashion was becoming more accessible, consumption rates saw a huge increase. This resulted in the birth of fast fashion.
Now, there had been talks of sustainability in fashion back then. For example, in 1987, the UN was looking for development in the fashion industry. They wanted to find a way without having to compromise future generations. But the big era of sustainable and ethical fashion gained momentum after 2013. In 2013 a thousand workers lost their lives in the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh. This incident was a real eye-opener to the poor working conditions. Since then, every year, Fashion Revolution Week happens. The purpose of this event is to educate consumers on the impact of the fast fashion industry.
Luckily, nowadays we see more and more companies focusing on sustainable fabric innovation. Using natural and recycled materials is purely an amazing process. Less to no chemical usage, little water, less energy!
Why sustainable fashion is so cool
5 mind-blowing ethical and sustainable ways your fabrics can be made
Ok, now that we have covered that, let’s purely focus on the positive and cool side of fashion and the crazy innovation of sustainable fabrics. For sure you have heard of how amazing organic cotton, linen and perhaps hemp is, but we have more. Let’s start with number one:
Yes, you heard that right, spider silk. Omonos, also known as spider silk, is a recently developed fibre. It can be a great alternative to commercial silk and nylon.
You might think that Omonos is not an ethical fabric. But don’t worry, no spiders are actually harmed in the process. Weird, but interesting, spiders produce proteins called “spidroins” in their abdomen. These proteins are produced in a liquid solution called “dope”. Only “dope” is extracted from the spider and used in the creation of spider silk.
“Dope” has to go through a fermentation process, similar to making beer. This takes place in the lab where the liquid solution is synthesised. This process creates tiny microbes containing spiders’ proteins. Once the microbes are prepared they are placed in a tank. The microbes are provided with necessities for them to multiply. Some of these include oxygen, the right temperature and nutrients such as sugars. This helps the microbes to harden and become a whole. Once fully hardened, they get spun into fibres. And boom, you’ve got a weird spider fabric.
The properties of spider silk are pretty impressive. Spider silk fibres are reported to be five times stronger than steel. It might even be the strongest natural fibre. But, it is a lightweight and flexible fabric, also 100% biodegradable. It is fair to say garments made from spider silk will not only look fancy but be extremely durable!
There is more to cork than just a few bottles of wine on the weekend. In fact, cork fabric might just become your favourite eco-leather!
Cork fabric comes directly from the bark of cork oak trees. It is sustainability harvested and helps to extend the tree life by shaving away the bark.
Thin cork sheets are cut and laminated into the fabric using special techniques. One of these techniques is called a sealant. Sealant uses special materials to ‘glue’ objects together, making them airtight and watertight.
Cork fabric is 100% biodegradable. It also doesn’t need any chemicals in its production process. No trees are cut down to form this fabric, so it protects the rich forest biodiversity.
As a fabric, it is very durable and can be used as a great alternative to leather. It is hypoallergenic, water-resistant and stain-resistant. We, clumsy people, love a stain-resistant fabric!
Not only a delicious fruit but an amazing fabric, too! A great alternative to leather and with a fascinating process behind it.
The pineapple fruit is harvested and the leaves are separated from the trunk of the fruit. Next, a method called decortication is used. This is where the fibres are manually scraped from the leaves. The leftover strands of fibres are then washed and dried. The final strands get waxed to make sure no entanglements are present. Finally, the leaf strands are knotted one by one to create a continuous yarn.
Pineapple fabric is a softer and vegan alternative to real leather. It is light in weight and generally easy to clean. Its production doesn’t involve any chemicals or waste, oop!
Yep, coffee, how about that? Your morning cup of coffee just got more interesting.
This amazing fabric is made from coffee grounds. Huge quantities of coffee grounds are produced daily, why waste them? To turn coffee grounds into yarn, we need some work. Coffee grounds have to be mixed with polyester yarn under low temperatures. This creates a new, more sustainable fabric, no need for 100% polyester here.
Coffee grounds take polyester fabric to a whole new level. The polyester fabric alone doesn’t absorb sweat. But when mixed with coffee grounds, well that’s a different story. The coffee fabric absorbs odours your body produces daily. So, you don’t need to wash this fabric very often. This makes the fabric last longer.
Another cool element of this fabric is fast drying. Not just normal drying, it offers up to 200% faster drying time than cotton or polyester. This is super convenient, let’s be honest, who wants to wait days for their clothes to dry. As well, no tumble dryer is needed, so you’re saving up on energy, too, yey!
Finally, garments made from coffee grounds will protect you from UV light. Coffee has a natural coating against sunlight. We all know, direct sunlight on your skin is a no, no.
We see a recurring theme of food and drinks. But, believe it or not, yes you can make clothes out of milk, too.
You’re probably wondering how you can get a garment from milk. Well, let us simplify it for you. Casein is extracted from dried milk powder. This then gets heated up with other natural ingredients. This happens in a meat-mincing like machine. The final product is strands of fibre that get spun into yarn on a spinning machine. To give you a perspective, it takes about six bottles of milk to produce one dress. This fibre is still under development, but we are excited about it.
Some of these fabrics’ properties are smooth as silk, soft and compostable. It is a great up-cycled fabric as it is made from milk that is no longer suitable for internal consumption.
Future of sustainable fabrics
The future of sustainable fabrics for sure is exciting! We cannot wait to see what other crazy inventions we will be having in the future, so keep your eyes out. If you see anything intriguing, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, we will want to know!