(Re)defining sustainability – Does Technology Hold the Key?
Once seen as a niche part of the fashion industry, being eco-conscious has rapidly become one of the hottest ‘topics’ of our time. From luxury fashion houses to fast-fashion retailers, and everything in between – more and more fashion companies are responding to mounting consumer interest and ‘going green.’ However, in spite of all the efforts being made the fact remains that the global fashion and textile industry is the second most polluting and damaging industry in the world after oil. “The fashion business model is broken and we urgently need to find alternatives,” proclaimed Safia Minney MBE, founder and CEO of eco-fashion brand People Tree in the documentary ‘The True Cost’. So we ask, what does it mean to be sustainable within the fashion industry? In the fifth episode of a new series looking at sustainability and the fashion industry, FashionUnited looks new technologies and innovations currently available and asks if they hold the key to safeguarding the future of the fashion industry.
The potential of 3D ‘Printing’
One of the most mentioned, and often rapidly dismissed, technological tools which holds the potential the radically transform the fashion industry and how consumers consumer fashion is 3D printing. Although the technology itself has been around since the 1980s and designers have long had access to 2D and 3D computer design tools, 3D printing or manufacturing was rarely seen as part of the future of the fashion industry due to the limitations in 3D printing tools as well as soft materials. However, in recent years there has been significant innovation regarding the types of materials used by 3D printers, making it possible to print flexible shapes like dresses.
…So why is 3D printing seen as such a radical game charge? “3D and digital printing is huge opportunity because product can be printed with less fabric waste,” explains Edward Gribbin, industry veteran and President of global apparel business expert Alvanon to FashionUnited. Imagine a world where everyone has a 3D printer at home, where consumers can just download the garment design of their choice and have a new outfit within hours, made with virtually no waste, and minimum use of energy and carbon emissions, made in the comfort of their own home (no more shipping from factories to warehouses and stores is another added bonus!). Or one where giant machines in factories print the each design directly onto fabric, making sure every single millimeter is accounted for. Although this technological is still some years away from becoming a reality in the fashion industry, (think about things like zippers and buttons for example,) other advancements have also help cut down on material and fabric waste in factories.
Read the full article at FashionUnited.