Here’s a roundup of some of the finest sustainable fashion stories that hit the news in February…
Solid growth expected for ethical fashion in 2023
If you’re in the business of ethical fashion, you’ll be glad to hear that it is expected to grow by 8% to $8.13billion in 2023 from $7.57 billion in 2022. That’s according to researchers, ReportLinker. They go on to say that the industry is forecast to grow by 8% on average to $11.12 billion by 2027. That’s a decent level of growth and while it’s still probably not enough to meet the Paris Agreement targets, we can but hope that there is some hockey-stick like growth as people realise that ethical fashion is actually pretty good. It can be accredited, affordable and look great. What’s not to like?
Interestingly, the report indicates that the Asia-Pacific region was the largest region for the ethical fashion industry in 2022, followed by Western Europe. The report mentions a number of brands and sadly we didn’t make it. There’s always next year, we suppose.
Stella McCartney awarded an honour for services to sustainability
Charles the Third by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and of Northern Ireland, and of His other Realms and Territories, King, Defender of the Faith (to give him a name that Game of Thrones fans may appreciate) awarded Stella McCartney with a CBE. This was in honour of her services to fashion and sustainability. A CBE is the highest rank, aside from damehood and knighthood (which her father, Sir Paul McCartney, has).
Sustainability has widely been reported to be a passion for King Charles. Even we have previously written about the Prince’s Foundation, a sustainability-focused charity led by King Charles that started out when he was Prince of Wales. Takes one to know one? Either way, more recognition for those working for the cause of sustainability can hopefully inspire the next generation. The sustainable fashion industry won’t grow by 8% by itself after all…
Turning clothes into clean energy
Now to news on one of the most promising strategic partnerships we’ve heard about in a while. Ethical Fashion Group (EFG) will join up with Hydrogen Utopia International (HUI). EFG matches fashion businesses with sustainable suppliers. HUI specialises in turning non-recyclable mixed-waste plastic into hydrogen and other carbon-free fuels.
The clothing industry produces about 92 million tonnes of textile waste daily. Location: Chilean desert. (Photo credit: Martin Bernetti)
Together, they plan to “make it easier for clothing manufacturers, suppliers and retailers to access textile recycling options… with a route to addressing the environmental impact of products made from materials such as polyester and polyamides”.
In other words, they plan to extract carbon-free fuel from plastic-based fashion waste, using HUI’s technology. EFG will then bring this technology to the attention of the 60,000 fashion businesses that it works with. The impact is that the fashion industry could become part of the solution to plastic waste instead of one of the main protagonists.
The future of fashion is circular - Lucy & Yak shows us the way
Lucy & Yak is not only opening a new shop in Cambridge but they’re making it a “Re:Yak hub”. The new store will be transformed into an industrious upcycling workshop where items can be brought in to be upcycled, repaired, or traded in for discounts on new purchases. All of this to keep Lucy & Yak’s products in circulation longer.
The future of fashion is circular and it’s coming sooner than we think - led by brands like Lucy & Yak who swerve away from the greenwashing zone and instead make meaningful changes. Circularity is also becoming an expectation of buyers, who understandably want to wear their favourite items for longer.
What’s more, if products can stay valuable for as long as possible, we’ll see far less textile waste around - which is still a massive problem.
Lucy & Yak’s store in Brighton.
How secondhand fashion is becoming the UK’s main attraction
Speaking of the future of fashion looking more sustainable, the secondhand clothing market in the UK is booming. And it’s predicted to continue. In the UK alone, the clothing resale market grew by 149% between 2016 and 2022, according to GlobalData. And it’s forecast to rise by 67.5% from 2022 to 2026. Charity shops also had an 11% rise in sales from June to September 2022, with Oxfam’s sales up by 40% before Christmas.
We can thank Gen Z for this rise in interest in secondhand fashion. Apparently, 90% of Depop’s active users are under 26. And TikTok, 60% of which is used by Gen Zers, has many trending hashtags like #vintage and #secondhand. But influencers like Venetia La Manna and celebrity stylists like Harry Lambert also play a role in the increasing interest in secondhand shopping. Preloved fashion is becoming mainstream, whether we like it or not.
This new clothing can block facial recognition software
With artificial intelligence becoming ubiquitous, it’s not surprising that someone would develop something to prevent its controversial use. For instance, facial recognition software has benefits but many people feel like it’s a privacy breach for their faces to be captured without consent. And that’s just skimming the surface of the topic.
Anyway - if you’re someone who just wants to make sure your face is not going to be zapped and recognised, this new clothing designed by Italian start-up Cap_able is for you. It’s a collection of knitted clothing with lots of patterns that have been tested to deceive facial recognition software. It’ll identify humans as animals instead. Yes, wear one of these garments and you may be identified as a giraffe.
The collection’s ironically been made using AI itself! It includes jumpers, t-shirts, trousers, and dresses made from cotton. The aim of the collection is, to no surprise, to raise awareness of the right to biometric data privacy and to start a discussion. Cap_able are not the only ones creating products to protect people. Sara Sallam designed facial recognition-proof jewellery and Ewa Nowak developed a facial recognition-proof brass mask, or “face jewellery” as she describes it.
Ewa Nowak’s face mask/face jewellery.
And that’s all for this month. Stay tuned for March’s roundup!