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How Technology Is Shaping The Future Of Sustainable Fashion
The fashion industry has been much maligned for its fast-moving, throwaway nature, with short-lived trends and clothes that damage not only the poorly-paid people who make them but the planet on which we all have to live. It is no surprise that there is an increasing focus on sustainability and a growing emphasis on the way in which technology can make fashion much more friendly to the world and its inhabitants.
Bio-based fabrics can complement organic cotton, which is already widely used to make everything from t-shirts, like this Soho White Mens Organic Cotton T-Short and hoodies such as this Mercer St Grey Women's Organic Cotton Reversed Hoodie, to underwear and outerwear. These exciting fabrics could really help in the fashion world’s endeavors to go green by reducing the impact on people, animals and the biodiversity of the planet.
Digital 3D samples
These could really reduce the amount of waste created during fashion design processes. 3D samples could offer designers and manufacturers a fast, cheap and sustainable way of testing out various designs without needing to waste any materials, resources or time. Digital samples can be created so much faster than their regular counterparts and yet could still accurately reflect fabrics and designs. They offer a great way of testing out clothing designs on a wide range of different body types without having to create any waste in the process.
Hugo Boss is already pursuing the idea of 3D sampling and is using the brand’s own tech for virtual catwalks. The Tommy Hilfiger brand has also expressed an interest in the technology that could take clothes right through the design process, from initial sketches to sampling and on to showrooms and stores. It is likely that more and more companies are going to start using this technology, and even those that will stick with physical samples toward the end of the design process may well start using computer-generated imaging to save on time and materials during the brainstorming and initial designing phases.
This could be the key to the fashion industry offering more transparency when it comes to the supply chains used. Transparency is essential for sustainability, and blockchain is an immutable and public ledger that could allow information to be shared in a manner that resists tampering. This means that information entered into a database cannot be altered and could offer a truthful and accurate outline of supply chains within the fashion industry. This would allow consumers an easy way of tracing and verifying supply chain claims and giving them the necessary information to choose clothing suppliers with the best sustainable credentials.
It is important to note, however, that blockchain technologies do use up energy themselves, so there will need to be advances in sustainable energy sources to realize the true potential that it has to offer.
Overproduction is a major waste of resources, but AI could offer a solution to this problem. AI is undoubtedly going to play a huge part in a more sustainable fashion industry of the future as data from smartphone feeds, ecommerce and social media is analyzed and used to anticipate purchases and predict buying decisions. This could significantly reduce overproduction, and these sorts of efforts to predict behavior are already featuring in plans by brands such as Nordstrom, Uniqlo, Hugo Boss, Amazon and Zalando.
Mobile body scanning and virtual dressing
Never before has online shopping been more popular, but this has inevitably led to a huge boom in the amount of shipping required. This does not just involve clothing being sent out but also being returned due to items not fitting or not meeting the wearer’s requirements. This can have an anti-sustainability effect due to the extra emissions created and the waste involved. Mobile body scanning and virtual dressing tools could help with this by making it more likely that clothing items are a good fit for buyers - in every sense of the word.
A combined effort
This article gives a brief idea of how new and existing technologies could pave the way for a more sustainable fashion industry. There are already brands forging the way in these areas, but it is also down to consumers and manufacturers to take it upon themselves to act immediately to support and demand more sustainability rather than simply waiting for new technologies to emerge. This could be by taking such simple steps as changing from regular to organic cotton or going further to actively develop technological concepts and ideas to support a more environmentally-friendly clothing arena.