Six Sustainable Practices for Success in Tomorrow’s Fashion Industry

2017 finished up as the warmest year globally on record, and extreme storms in the forms of hurricanes, nor’easters, droughts, and fires came at a non-stop pace. According to a 2016 Yale study, 69 percent of Americans believe man-made global warming is occurring, causing major environmental impacts that will harm future generations. In response, an increasing number of individuals and companies alike are looking to help mend the climate crisis. The fashion industry is learning to rework some of its most ingrained practices in an effort to make quality clothing sustainable for tomorrow’s consumer and planetary needs.

No longer will we only look to Stella McCartney, Eileen Fisher, Patagonia, and People Tree for responsibility in fashion. 75percent of companies we spoke to last year want to push their brands towards environmental responsibility, less waste, and overall more sustainable collections, with the starting point for many being the addition of organic or recycled-fiber fabrics. True innovation in the fashion industry will require us to rethink the majority of our production practices.

Let’s take a look at the prevailing and ascending techniques fashion designers and manufacturers are embracing to help reverse some of the damage. These are the six most systems-thinking practices companies can implement in their paths forward. The time is now. Your customers and our world will thank you!

1. Biomimicry

Just ten years ago, Janine Benyus introduced us to the biomimicry movement, an approach to fabrics that celebrates the imperfections in weaving, dyeing, and finishing as an emulation of nature. Every blade of grass and patch of bark is unique and different; the culmination of these idiosyncrasies makes nature breathtaking both from a distance and up close. The biomimicry movement urges us not to reject and discard fabrics that fail to meet our incredibly specific demands of coloration and texture. New and innovative biomimetic textiles came to the forefront in 2017 with biofabricated leathers, spider silks, and self-healing textiles. Appreciating nature’s designs and processes will lead us to a fashion industry that puts the planet first.

Innovators to research: Modern Meadow and Stomatex

2. Circular Fashion

The antidote to the classic make-take-waste model, circular fashion abides by the circular-economy model, meaning all waste generated from the production, distribution, and consumption of one product becomes the raw ingredients of a new one. Often seen illustrated as a circle, figure 8, or butterfly, production is visualized as a closed loop—never linear. No more throw-away materials. Everything is considered irreplaceable and matter recycles continually, mindfully designed free of chemicals and engineered for disassembly. Companies should avoid hazardous materials, dyes, or finishes and select fabrics that are not blended with synthetics to facilitate reprocessing at the post-consumer stage. Third-party certifiers such as Cradle to Cradle and Global Organic Textile Standard can guarantee sustainable materials, and brands should consider take-back or repair products to maximize longevity and true circularity.

Innovators to research: Climatex, Fabscrap, and

3. Clean Energy

As engineers make clean energy more suitable for larger industries, fashion designers have no excuse not to hop on the bandwagon. Decreasing costs, technological improvements, and global-government incentives mean solar is as sure as the rising sun.

Solar is projected to be the go-to power source for new projects developed between 2017 and 2022. This past July, Morgan Stanley stated that solar and other renewables are becoming the most inexpensive forms of energy, and coal consumption will continue to decline. Mostly everyone is now aware that burning oil and coal for energy is the greatest contributor to our dangerously high carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Customers are now demanding products that promise not to contribute to this climate crisis.

Metawear’s new solar-powered sewing and printing factory here in the U.S. is a great option for those seeking a solar factory. Google is working to support carbon-neutral brands that are purchasing carbon offsets, like Mighty Good Undies and Earth Positive Apparel.

For those who source globally, pay attention to the rising number of factories in China, India, or Myanmar that are installing solar for their cutting, sewing, and pressing lines. Though a slower rise in the U.S., other countries are setting big goals. India recently announced a goal of establishing 30 times more solar-powered factories by 2020.

Innovators to research: MetaWear and Murugan Textiles

4. Full Transparency

No one wants to feel ashamed for the products they produce or purchase. Full transparency means making customers aware of who made their clothing and what environmental impacts accompany its production. Life-cycle assessments provide truth and clarity for customers rightly wary of producers. Customers are shocked by the numbers: 1,600 gallons of water needed to cultivate the cotton for just one pair of jeans.

More and more, buyers are voting with their wallets. Sustainable and transparent brands that demonstrate that 1) they measure their impacts, and 2) they are making changes based on those measurements, are winning out. Brands can calculate how much water, energy, and trees have been saved by their sustainable efforts, demonstrate how they are reducing their CO2 emissions through shipping, and create spotlights of the sewers in their fair-trade factories. The details aren’t lost on consumers—in fact, buyers are paying close attention.

Innovators to research: Zady and Reformation

5. Water Awareness

Full transparency is meaningless unless a brand’s practices actually reduce water usage and CO2 emissions. As the world population continues to increase, the amount of available water simply does not. Nor can the waters polluted by mass manufacturing be replaced. There is only one solution as we move forward: reduce or eliminate fashion’s water usage. Zero waste fashion, which does not squander water, is no small feat considering how water-intensive it is to grow cotton and dye fabrics. Luckily, water awareness is increasing, companies are innovating, and solutions are forthcoming. Selecting fabrics, dyeing, and washing techniques that recycle water, using laser technology to create stone and sand-washing effects, digital waterless printing, and recycled-cotton-fiber fabrics are up trending solutions, as are wastewater recycling, rainwater dyeing, and better water management practices—across the entire supply chain.

Earth’s water is irreplaceable and fashion has used and abused quite a bit of it in our history. It’s only becoming easier to implement water-aware practices, so why not start right now?

Innovators to research: Jeanologia and Colorzen.

6. Mindfulness and Storytelling

Short and fast supply chains, digitization, and on-demand clothing bring us instant fashion gratification. Many consumers find themselves needing a break from the constant omnichannel marketing barrage, but on the design side, mindfulness is experiencing a slower rise. The time is now to incorporate mindfulness into your company culture and share this story with your customers.

The companies marketing their mindful and slow approaches to design as well as their loving attention to detail on social media are excelling. Customers want to connect with the process by purchasing from brands that allow them to be part of the journey taken by their sweater and jeans, not just the endpoint.

Being mindful of every design and production decision, and remembering that fashion is an art and a craft are ways to help your customers connect with your brand. Explaining the processes that go into crafting a garment from concept through delivery is a story that is key to customer engagement. Discuss the fabric and trims you select and where they came from. Tell your customer why you chose them and who made them. Describe how you achieved that perfect garment drape and fit and what inspired your design detailing. Shoppers are paying close attention to these details, and are looking for more than the same styles that have nothing to offer other than a marked-down price tag.

Appreciate the craftsmanship of creating clothes for human bodies. Show off the uniqueness of each garment and its story, and customers will take note of the quality, art, ethics, and longevity, all of which our industry desperately needs at the moment.

Innovators to research: Style Saint, Tradlands, and Krochet Kids


These six sustainable fashion movements will transform your line into a top-notch, earth-friendly company. Start assessing, measuring, researching, and implementing sustainable strategies and processes into everything you do from sketching, sourcing, cutting, and shipping. Then, celebrate your initiatives by marketing them on hang tags, labels, and Instagram pages. Let the world know your company is concerned about more than profit. Let everyone know you’re part of the solution—not the problem. In turn, your bottom line will increase. After a cutthroat year of store closings with many more forecasted and already announced for 2018, passion and responsibility may just be the secret ingredients for success: modern, forward-thinking and, fresh. All that fashion should be.

-Andrea Kennedy and Katelyn Marcus, New York, NY 2/28/2018

Thanks to Fashion Manuscripy who first published this article for Fashiondex, at:


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The Brutal Reality…. Climate Reality

What does fashion have to do with the climate? Well, what I used to say was… our Earth is a system of four spheres- atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere. These four are interconnected and when fashion pollutes one sphere (for instance dumping wastewater from this season’s neon pink dye into local waterways) that sphere’s pollutant, in turn, causes damage to the other three spheres. That’s the way a system works; and when we burn fuel to transport tons of fibers, fabrics, buttons and clothing around the globe we release carbon dioxide into the air, which in turn, causes damage to the other three spheres. That’s what I used to say.

Now I say something different, because back in May I decided to apply for the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, an organization founded by former Vice-President Al Gore. My thoughts were, if accepted, I’d learn a few scientific facts on climate-change, which I’d then weave into my four spheres recitation and other fashion sustainability work. I thought in having those hard facts I would further translate the urgency of changing a company’s current fashion production and supply chain model. I would be more successful I thought and basically applied to help myself professionally.

In July I was accepted. I excitedly freed up my schedule for four days in October and, when the date came, flew merrily to Pittsburgh. From the moment I found my seat on the plane- the trip was exciting. My seat mate looked at me and said, “I’m en route to Pittsburgh to be trained by Al Gore.” “Me too!” said I. We chatted the whole flight. His dad, a few rows up…. also being trained. Those two across the aisle…. being trained, too. In line for the restroom…. also being trained! Giddy, and now part of a movement, we flew into Pittsburgh to learn the “Inconvenient Truth”.

Arriving at the hotel, I popped in the hotel bar and… climate reality trainees. At breakfast… climate reality galore! I was surrounded by strangers, all eager-eyed, pumped and ready to go! I hadn’t felt that energized with a bunch of people I didn’t know since…. well since wearing a pussy hat last January in DC!

With enthusiasm and smiles, we all shuttled to the city’s LEED-certified convention center. 1,300 of us were in attendance and the training did not disappoint. Nor did Al Gore, who kicked us off with a two-hour Climate Reality slide show that was visual, impactful, unsettling, eye-opening, alarming.

First off, this was much better than my explanation of the four spheres….. I sat there realizing even more urgently how fashion must change and how we must change now. Our earth and it’s atmosphere is so fragile.

Source: Nasa

Did you know that if you painted a layer of shellac on a classroom globe, you would create the same proportion of thickness of that of our atmosphere’s troposphere and the stratosphere to the Earth? It’s true. It is that thin. And if you drove a car perpendicularly up from any point on earth- you’d reach the end of the atmosphere in just six miles. Here’s another fact we trainees learned: Between all the global mass production, air freight, ocean shipping, land transport, agriculture, landfills, and oil production…. we are putting 110 million tons of manmade global warming pollution into our atmosphere every single day. Every 24 hours we release millions of tons of CO2 and other gases- onto our ceiling! Our beloved fashion industry is responsible for a great deal of these emissions. How much no one can calculate exactly, but as per Stella McCartney and Ellen MacArthur’s new report published this month, fashion emits 1.2 billion tons of greenhouses gases each year- which is more than all the international flights and ocean container ships combined. McCartney and MacArthur’s findings reminded me of Al Gore’s video clip of the Hiroshima bomb going off. He equates what we humans put into the air each day as the equivalent of the emissions of 400,000 Hiroshima bombs per day. Kaboom!

We’ve got to change faster than planned and we need new changes. This is bigger than just neon pink dye running off into the village’s water supply while making velour sweatsuits. We must change now. Al Gore presents his visuals with passioned, yet matter-of-fact, explanations and goes through slide after slide of extreme worldwide weather events, such as the numerous hurricanes we’ve had recently, the plethora of extremely hot days, and the increase in flooding. He explains evaporation from the oceans is the same process that pulls water from the soil and causes droughts and the longer more harmful fire seasons we are experiencing. Gore then presents in detail how these and other climate changes affect our global food and water supplies, as well as all the health impacts, such as the sharp increase in allergens, ticks, and infectious diseases. Gore deeply discusses the melting ice caps in Antartica and Greenland and the rising sea levels. Then we see a most-startling slide with a large graph titled Top 10 Cities at Risk from Sea Level Rise in 2070… and youza…..New York is third- in the world. These aren’t musings or fake-news type facts Mr. Gore is presenting, these are science and the sources are up there in front of us with each slide. Gore started the day with a question, “Must We Change?” After these grueling images, we all know the answer is, “Yes.”

But Mr. Gore is optimistic… he announces we have solutions at hand and clicks through multiple slides showing solar panel and wind turbine installation and explains how prices are dropping for both. We see many buildings, homes, huts, and cities with gleaming alternative-energy panels and mills. We’re shown that we can do this without fossil fuels, yes- without coal and oil extraction. We learn that wind alone can supply our worldwide electrical consumption 40 times over! Another uplifting fact we see on screen is US solar energy jobs are growing 17 times faster than the overall economy, and there’ll be over 2.6 million new jobs in solar, wind and energy-efficiency sectors in the next few years here in the US.

I am getting excited… how can I help fashion with this training? I have been discussing more responsible and sustainable sourcing and design development for years… but this is energy. This can make a big change, this is not one company switching away from viscose. This involves our industry designing energy-efficient machines, factories and processes. I start imaging solar-powered sewing machines, ironing boards and buttonhole machines. Wind-powered digital printers, laser cutters, and circular knitting machines dance in my head. We can do this. We can convert our existing machinery. We can work together to cease putting chemicals and greenhouse gases in our air. Fashion sets the trends and if we work hard and collboratively we can embrace the high-tech, renewable, clean energy movement and make our clothing in new-energy trend-setting factories and mills! If you are interested, I can share with your company Gore’s slide show, we can discuss designing with energy-efficiency and producing with clean energy. The time is now.

Al Gore was up on that stage for three days moderating panels of scientists, research professors, and speakers that included a director at Tesla and a coal miner’s daughter! The training was inspirational and motivational. Our air is heating up, so too are our oceans, we have more intense and powerful storms, and our around-the-clock global manufacturing and fossil-burinng lifestyle has created this situation. This will continue – unless we make some dramatic changes. Well, one thing I know is that fashion loves drama. So here’s the dramatic reality: The climate will soon make areas of the planet uninhabitable. Those of us alive today must deal with this crisis. It’s a crisis each of us didn’t directly create directly, and although we would certainly prefer to go on dealing the way we have been dealing, we cannot. The current reality is real. It is happening, we are in the midst of a crisis and it is urgent. So let’s get going fellow fashion people- this is real- let’s switch our production and distribution to clean energy together, educate each other, and make this happen…. our world depends on it!

– Andrea Kennedy, November 30, 2017, New York






Just Love the C&A Foundation!

by Circular Fibres on May 11, 2017

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation launches today a new initiative that brings together key industry stakeholders to build a circular economy for textiles, starting with clothing. The initiative is supported by a core philanthropic funder, C&A Foundation, core corporate partners H&M and NIKE, and a consortium of organisations including the Danish Fashion Institute, Fashion for Good, Cradle to Cradle and MISTRA Future Fashion. The announcement was made by Dame Ellen MacArthur at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

Participants in the Circular Fibres Initiative will work together to define a vision for a new global fibres system, which will address the significant drawbacks of the ‘take-make-dispose’ model currently dominating the industry. The new system for textiles will be based on the principles of a circular economy, generating growth that benefits citizens and businesses, while phasing out negative impacts such as waste and pollution – an economy fit for the 21st Century.

Textiles is the second global materials flow that the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has focussed on. In 2016, the Foundation launched the New Plastics Economy initiative, bringing together key stakeholders including leading businesses across the value chain, city authorities, intergovernmental organisations, scientists, designers and other innovators, to build a plastics system that works. The success of this first initiative, which includes two major reports presented at the Word Economic Forum in Davos, stakeholder workshops and significant media attention, has highlighted the importance of a pre-competitive, collaborative mindset amongst participants.

“At c, we support the production, uptake, and reuse of sustainable fibres. The Circular Fibres Initiative is important because it will establish the shared agenda and deep collaboration needed to shift the apparel industry to regenerative and sustaining business models.”

Executive Director, C&A Foundation Leslie Johnston

Fibres are an important part of today’s global economy: clothing production has doubled in the last 15 years, with sales of footwear and apparel reaching $1.67 trillion in 2016[1]. Meanwhile consumers keep their clothing for half the time that they did 15 years ago[2]. After use, only around 15% of apparel waste is collected in the US, while the remaining 85% ends up in landfill[3]. This characteristically linear economy, based on extractive and consumptive patterns, puts high demand on land, energy and other resources. The production and use of clothing accounts for around 3% of global CO2 emissions[4], and cotton production is now responsible for a quarter of worldwide insecticide use[5].

As a first step, the Circular Fibres Initiative will produce, with McKinsey & Co. as Knowledge Partner, an analysis of the textiles industry, mapping how textiles flow around the global economy, and the externalities that arise from the current system. It will explore what a new, circular economy for textiles – one that is restorative and regenerative – could look like, and lay out the steps needed to build it. The Initiative’s first report is due for publication in autumn 2017.

“The way we produce, use, and reprocess clothing today is inherently wasteful, and current rising demand increases the negative impacts. The Circular Fibres Initiative aims to catalyse change across the industry by creating an ambitious, fact-based vision for a new global textiles system, underpinned by circular economy principles, that has economic, environmental, and social benefits, and can operate successfully in the long term.”

– Dame Ellen MacArthur, Founder, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

“At C&A Foundation, we support the production, uptake, and reuse of sustainable fibres. The Circular Fibres Initiative is important because it will establish the shared agenda and deep collaboration needed to shift the apparel industry to regenerative and sustaining business models.”

– Leslie Johnston, Executive Director, C&A Foundation

“Our 100% circular vision and our goal to only use recycled or other sustainably sourced materials by 2030 plays a key role in our sustainability agenda. We are aware that our vision means a big change on how fashion is made and enjoyed today and if we want to take the lead in this challenge, collaboration and accelerating innovation and circular systems together with the industry is crucial. The Circular Fibers Initiative will define a shared vision for a new global textile system and it will be an important foundation for collaboration to accelerate the journey towards a circular textile industry.”

– Anna Gedda, Head of Sustainability, H&M Group





[4] Energy-related CO2 emissions, The Carbon Trust, International Carbon Flows – Clothing (2011)

[5] Yale Environment 360 (2016)

Notes to Editors

For enquiries please contact: 

Clare Mucklow,

About the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was created in 2010 to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. The Foundation works across five areas: insight and analysis, business and government, education and training, systemic initiatives, and communication. With its Knowledge Partners (Arup, IDEO, McKinsey & Co., and SYSTEMIQ), and supported by Core Philanthropic Funder (SUN), the Foundation works to quantify the economic opportunity of a circular model and to develop approaches for capturing its value. The Foundation collaborates with its Global Partners (Danone, Google, H&M, Intesa Sanpaolo, NIKE, Inc., Philips, Renault, Unilever), and its CE100 network (businesses, universities, emerging innovators, governments, cities and affiliate organisations), to build capacity, explore collaboration opportunities and to develop circular business initiatives. By establishing platforms such as the New Plastics Economy initiative, the Foundation works to transform key material flows, applying a global, cross-sectoral, cross value chain approach that aims to effect systems change. Learn more at

Trends for Tomorrow’s Fashion Industry- Part 3

We are up to trend 3!

Trend 3- Biometrics and Bluetooth.

As our world becomes more populated, our world, too, grows more high-tech. Now is the time for companies to invest in technology and join forces with science to develop products with a technical competitive advantage.

Just as the medical field introduces more self-monitoring services, we need our product managers and designers to
put their focus on more biometric apparel. Garments can and will more-so measure heart rate, pulse, temperature, oxygen and hydration levels and more. Textiles and wearables will have reactive properties that are enabled with flexible fibers that are knitted or woven into the fabric to heat us, cool us, keep us alert, and even give us directions through their GPS and Web-enabled components. When polled last month almost 50% of males stated they would purchase apparel that monitors heart rate and hydration and charges their mobile devices. This is up 25% from the previous year. Therefore, as more customers seek these garments for fitness, work, and leisure,
the companies who enter this market early will have a competitive advantage like no other.

Chart: Thanks to www.lifestylemonitor.cottoninc

Trends for Tomorrow’s Fashion Industry- Part 1

Trends to Succeed in Tomorrow’s Fashion Industry- Part 1

photo-1457972703743-4a6585c42ed8      The fashion industry is ever-changing. Nothing stands still. Not the trends, fabrics, colors, silhouettes, nor styles. Not the technology, production operations, nor our marketing strategies. Everything is changing…. just as our world is changing. All of these changes have great impacts on our businesses. Therefore, we must analyze the direction of our industry and consider our planning, development, sourcing, production, marketing and distribution for the future. With our fingers crossed for no dollars lost we shall march forward hoping we are reacting fast enough, smart enough and just the perfect distance ahead of the trends with each delivery.
So where will our ever-changing fashion industry lead us next?

There are seven directional shifts in which our world, consumers, technology, and the fashion industry are moving. We must consider each for our own businesses and ready ourselves to consider which trends we should address, embrace, strategize and execute in order to stay relevant, profitable, and successful in tomorrow’s global fashion market.           The seven trends will be posted in 7 posts on the Fashiondex blog.

Here is trend one::

1- Peer Groups and Purchasing.      

Generational marketing will be more important than ever with three key cohort groups.
First, one-quarter of our consumers, the baby boomers, shall prepare to retire, take on a hobby, and vacation more. What they purchase for the last third of their lives will A photo by Foto Sushi. be on impulse and must be of value. They have money to spend, but do not require more
belongings. They are streamlining what they own and downsizing their homes. We must work hard to capture what they buy.
Second, the next quarter of our consumers, the millennials, are all grown up and will be becoming homeowners, and more set in their ways. We must be innovative to capture their entrepreneurial and technical spirits. As they grow, they will begin to take less risks, and they too will seek value as thephoto-1446421053596-b6801571b8bcy realize it is time to start saving for their future families. To attract their business, we must offer value plus personalization, and service their entitled images. If we do that, we can keep them as loyal clientele.
Thirdly, and another quarter, is our youth culture who inspires us. Generation Z
(or as demographers refer to them as the i-Gen). Generation Z is entering college and shall continue to Instagram, snapchat, and uber first, while shopping as a pastime last. Tgen-z-girl-2hey are about showing the world where they’re at, not what they have. They’ve seen their millennial siblings in debt, and prefer to keep their dollars close. We must offer them stimulation and value to get them to our channel, and once in- they want something unique that they can showoff in a selfie.
These generational cohorts all will buy, but not much, and to capture their purchases our products must be of value and be customize to them. As manufacturers we must design, develop and manufacture products that have personalization, value and quality built in from conception through every step of the supply chain. We will need to implement lean manufacturing techniques for smaller and higher-quality batches. Our customers will no longer shop for the short-term, they will insist on value and longevity, or they will not purchase.

Next post- is Trend two! Hope you all had a good holiday!

The research for the 7 trends were part of a presentation and assignment for S’s Global Business Management class at LIM College Global Fashion Supply Chain Management MPS program! SO FUN!

All photos from!


Learn Along with…. LOGISTICS 101


The question….What is an integrated service provider? How does the concept of an integrated service provider differ from traditional service providers, such as for-hire transportation and warehousing?

An integrated service provider (known in the industry as simply: ISP) is a multi-functional, value-added service which provides- at the minimum- warehousing, distribution, and warehousing services. More often than not, an ISP also performs other essential services, including but not limited to: order processing, receipt of payments, inspection, packing and product delivery.

ISPs are classified in two ways. Either as third-party or fourth-party. Third-party providers are asset-based. They own and operate their own warehouses, truck brigades and equipment. Fourth-party providers are non-asset-based. They specialize in information technology services and provide facilitation between all the functions of the third-party services. Together they provide one valuable supply-chain link that integrates many operations into one service.

No longer do you need to either hire individual transportation and warehousing services or need to invest in your own company trucks or warehouse space, as you did traditionally. In the past, customers had to independently book, oversee and pay for those services separately. That led to lengthy turn-around times and, more importantly, there was no mindset existing of “we are all in this together”. Traditionally the service providers were disjointed, and not interconnected. But this all changed with the deregulation of transportation. It was revolutionary for the industry. Suddenly for-rent warehouses could provide transportation, and for-hire transportation services were providing warehousing…. And they continued to add and add more value-added services, to help the customer and collectively work together to deliver one excellent, timely, and extremely efficient service, now known an as ISP!


References: Bowersox, Closs, Cooper, and Bowersox (2013). “Supply Chain Logistics Mgmt-Fourth Edition.”

Learn Along with…. LOGISTICS 101… actually the class is Logistics Managment at LIM College, in their MPS Program, taught by Dr. Ayata!