Here's a list of technologies that Charlotte Dunn Designs can really get behind and aspire to. We'd like to say a big well-done to all the people involved with the funding projects, inquiries and research efforts that go into making these sustainable visions a reality. We find ourselves in a market full of consumers controlled by their phones; they see objects, trends and lifestyles lived out and rapidly developed in their hands. To keep up, these consumers are buying more clothes and keeping them for less time.
How is fashion keeping an eye on all that demand while looking after the planet?
There are many companies who’ve realised the potential of bamboo, milk and a load of other things that can be spun into fibres without being treated by chemicals. As a result, these fabrics often have wicking and nourishing properties as well. These are all so interesting but we’ve covered that. What’s also fascinating is the research going into new fabrics…
So this is a hagfish, yeah. They live on the ocean floor.
It’s the only animal to have a skull but not a spinal column. Take it or leave it.
So basically it’s got a slime out of which you can make clothes. Kurt Geiger’s Hagfish Slime Collection coming to a store near you, haha. The Slimeline Suit Range.
Now this one is mad.
Researchers at SINTEF once added microcapsules containing a glue-like substance to polyurethane. Polyurethane is used in stuff like raincoats. They managed to design an ‘intelligent’ fabric that only goes and heals itself. Add warm water and apply a bit of pressure to the rip and it’ll put itself back together thanks to the sealant within its makeup.
Wait for it...vegan leather
Mulberry leaves, pineapple leaves, apple peel, assorted fruit waste, yeast, recycled plastic – these can all be fermented and magicked into leather. Save an ostrich, a kangaroo, an alligator and hundreds of cows by choosing a vegan leather jacket next time you have to go to a Marilyn Manson fancy dress party. Using vegan leather cuts out all the nasties that the cattle industry kindly provides us with and means that the fabric can be made to measure rather than resulting in discarded patches of animal that don’t fit or aren’t the perfect pattern. The dyeing process is also a bit yucky in a way that the vegan one just isn’t. Stella McC is leading the way on this one. This leather’s also good enough for BMW, Tesla and Mercedes to make their seats out of it, so it should be good enough to sit on your shoulders.
We ask again...how is fashion keeping an eye on all that demand while looking after the planet?
Production processes are a massive part of fashion’s footprint and yet there seems to be a focus on the source of the fabrics themselves.
In California, Colorep have developed a dyeing method that essentially heats paper to transfer the desired colour onto a garment. They’re still using heat but far less of it than usual (around an 85% reduction) because they’ve removed 90% of the water from the process – that way, the need to rapidly dry is nearly eliminated. Furthermore, in a state like California that’s a really big deal. The dye is inert and the paper’s recycled so all good on that front too – the company are making inroads into revolutionising other aspects of the fabric and fashion industry such as supplying hotels with sustainably dyed fabrics and supplying shops with displays and price tag housing made of recycled plastic. This lot seem like good eggs...
This is an odd one because 3D printing’s been talked about for years. Only now are we actually getting somewhere meaningful. When this really takes off, the fashion industry can begin to solve a whole host of problems. Obviously it reduces human error and uses only the necessary amount of material – no offcuts. Because it’s so quick, the garments can be made to suit demand rather than being produced in estimated quantities that often result in leftover stock. More significantly, however, 3D printing negates the need for people to travel around the world to see samples and the need for overseas couriers would be greatly reduced as well. These printers mostly use polymers, but hopefully research will get us beyond that and natural materials will soon be used as the inputs.
Don’t wrap your clothes in plastic, don’t be a tool. That’s a sure-fire way to kill a turtle. Use recycled cardboard. Use recycled tissue paper. Be like Charlotte Dunn Designs.
My dad sometimes looks at me and says, ‘amazing’ in this really annoying way. ‘What’s amazing, Dad?’ ‘I just love how what goes around comes back around. I used to wear jeans with my shirt tucked in too.’ ‘Cheers, Dad.’
Like my Dad, the world of fashion clearly understands that trends return. What it needs to do is incentivise the actual clothes being returned and monetise that process to encourage both themselves and their customers to engage. Stella's your woman here; she offers $100 credit to any customer who posts a Stella McCartney item on TheRealReal for them to then spend in any Stella McCartney store – you can see how that engages the customer into a loop whereby demand is satiated in both directions; the seller satisfies a buyer through TheRealReal and the seller is satisfied with their $100 – Stella McCartney, meanwhile, gets some brand brownie points for being sustainable and looks set to shift another product having dished out some credit.
Go to a charity shop as well; Burberry says so. After the reports that they burned £28.6m worth of stock in 2017, Burberry have been really responsive to UK Government enquiries and denied the reports entirely. They’re committed to ending incineration of old and wasted stock, instead citing charity shops, rebranding garments and retailing through discount stores as the way forward.
Feel indifferent towards or hate her, but Theresa May’s ambitious plan for the UK to be net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is the kind of thing we like to see. It’s easy for companies to sign up to initiatives or spout clichéd statements from compliance pages in the groves of their websites; we like targets. Now, they might not be in Milan or Paris this month, but Tesco have committed to using 100% sustainable cotton by the end of 2019 and 100% recycled polyester by 2030 – that’s a good bit of ambition. Fashion experts often call for top-down solutions to these problems – top-down referring to government regulation coercing brands into acting in a certain way.
Sadly, there aren’t enough brands like Charlotte Dunn Designs in the world and goodwill isn’t enough to make a global difference on its own. Once that legislation does come though, the responsibility should definitely flip to down-top; if the low ends of fashion – your Tesco, your ASOS, your Primark – can be really engaged with these initiatives then that will solve the largest part of the problems the fashion industry is facing regarding its sustainability. It’s really encouraging to see these brands being the ones responding so well to UK Government enquiries, the reports of which are all available online.
How can we broaden fashion’s importance from the level of trends, who’s who and ‘the moment’ to an echelon concerned with legacy, endurance and community?
Going forward, we feel that fashion is more than just what’s being worn at a single moment in time.
Today’s fashion needs to be about conceiving and designing pieces with means as sustainable as their ends; it needs to be about looking after employees, paying special attention to their rights, to their pay, to their conditions and to the balance between their lives and their jobs; today’s fashion needs to continue to savour those instances that change the world – when a model steps out of the dark, when the head turns, when the jaw drops – but it needs to achieve those reactions by looking further into the distance. Only then will those moments of brilliance truly hold up under scrutiny; only then will our pursuit of style and beauty develop a core of strength to support its awe-inspiring appearance of graceful fragility.
a mother figure