The sustainable apparel industry has grown in size, and has a highly connected network of supporters. There are so many resources and programs that help established brands and newcomers alike explore exciting ways to integrate the latest sustainable practices into their businesses. One such example is The Renewal Workshop, which serves brands as a circularity resource and supports efforts around renewed clothing.
As we embark on a new year at Ramblers Way, we remain committed to offering responsibly sourced, premium quality clothing made in America. We love being a part of an industry that is continually working to reduce its environmental impact and align brand values with those of its conscious consumers, who are demanding more from the apparel brands they choose.
Here are some examples of innovations and trends in our industry:
A Growing Network of Partners and Resources
Startups and Established Players Coming Together
As a sustainable fashion pioneer, Stella McCartney was among the first designers to incorporate sustainable fabrics into her designs. She recently began collaborating with Bolt Threads, a startup that has created a unique product called Microsilk, a material that is bioengineered to mimic the chemistry and strength of real silk created by spiders in nature, that can be used to create apparel. How cool is that?
Greater Focus on a Circular Economy
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is an independent nonprofit focused on the circular economy, a model that aims to maximize the lifecycle of products, including clothing, so they’re more sustainable throughout their full lifecycle. According to the EPA, textiles is one of the most polluting industries and has generated 16.2 million tons of textile waste as of 2014 – that’s a lot! As Ramblers Way grows as a company, we have a responsibility to contribute to the circular economy through the clothing we create, from our supply chain to how our products are shipped to our customers.
For example, we’re starting to work with The Renewal Workshop, a funding recipient of The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and a new kind of apparel company. They work with brands to recover the value in clothing that has already been loved, or maybe never even left the store shelf, so it can be worn again. More to come on our new partnership with The Renewal Workshop.
More Alternative Sources for Natural Fibers
With synthetic fibers like polyester having large environmental impacts, we expect to see more emphasis on alternative natural fibers that you may not have thought of as anything but compost in the past, like fibers made from coffee grounds, banana tree roots and pineapple leaves. Surprisingly, these sources have proven to be quite versatile and durable, and they have a lower impact on the environment.
Recycled Cotton, and More Emphasis on Cellulosic Fibers
At last year’s Textile Sustainability Conference, we had the opportunity to learn about recycled cotton from a company called Recover, which has a process of taking post-consumer plastic bottles, salvaging cotton from discarded bottle scraps, and producing a yarn that is spun and knit into fabric for clothing. Pretty cool, right? We expect to see the use of recycled cotton on a much larger scale.
We also expect to see more regenerated cellulosic fibers -- including rayon, modal and lyocell -- some of which you may recognize and already have in your closet. They are called “regenerated” due to the way they’re manufactured. Rayon, modal and lyocell are made up of cellulose, a component of all plants, but they are not produced directly from plants or animals. However, they have similar characteristics as natural cellulosic fibers such as cotton, flax, and hemp, making them more environmentally friendly fibers than nylon or polyester.
At Ramblers Way, we’re always excited to see ongoing innovations in more traditionally known land-based fibers, such as wool (our favorite!) cotton and linen, as we continue investing in natural fibers and only using natural fibers for our clothing. For us, wool in particular has been a game changer because of all its great benefits. Wool is naturally moisture-wicking, breathable and odor-resistant. It can even alleviate irritable skin conditions. The way our wool fibers are spun produces a long-lasting fabric that you can keep in your wardrobe for years to come. Check out our previous blog post for some of our favorite wool fashions for winter.
What sustainable apparel trends have you been noticing? Reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter; we’d love to hear about them!