More and more fashion players realize that their industry is one of the most polluting in the world. Leading figures like Miroslava Duma and François Pinault promote the development of new technologies to envision an ecoresponsible future.
T he love at first sight between fashion and technology has not yet taken place. Several missed appointments in the media (remember the Google Glass Diane Von Furstenberg show or the partnership between Intel and Opening Ceremony which gave birth to the smart bracelet Mica) have created on both sides a certain mutual mistrust. But in this somewhat uncomfortable climate, an unexpected element has come into play: sustainability. It could well be the missing link that will finally bring together these two creative worlds for the benefit of the entire planet.
THE EMERGENCE OF INNOVATIVE START-UPS
It is well known that the fashion industry is one of the most important sources of pollution in the world. A truism that has led several major organizations, such as the Kering Group and the Italian National Chamber of Fashion, to take, with the help of technology, significant measures to reduce sector’s carbon footprint. Meanwhile, Russian Fashion Entrepreneur Miroslava Duma’s recent launch of the Fashion Tech Lab (FTL), which aims to fund technological and sustainable innovations, has highlighted the growing interest in this type of initiative. and gave a face to the movement in the person of Duma. “What motivated me to create the Fashion Tech Lab is to realize that the fashion industry and the $ 2.4 trillion it’s brewing is one of the world’s biggest sources of pollution, just behind oil. Almost 10% of carbon emissions can be attributed to fashion”, says Duma. Her new project comes as a result of the tremendous success of her digital fashion and lifestyle platform, Büro 24/7 (which currently has eleven international editions) and its American online store, The Tot, for mothers. and children. “This realization was a real shock, I launched FTL to help transform the fashion ecosystem into a technologically advanced,
renewable, environmentally friendly and socially responsible industry,” she added. she. FTL already has a seed capital of more than $ 50 million to subsidize brands developing sustainable technologies in the fashion industry. Among the start-ups that appealed to Duma is Diamond Foundry, a company that makes diamonds using a technological process that reproduces the natural conditions of gemstone formation while eliminating the ethical problems inherent in the chain supply of the diamond market at the moment. Duma also sees tremendous potential in a San Francisco-based company looking for solutions to grow leather and fur in the lab, and in a company called Orange Fiber, which has developed a system to make tissue from orange peels. The factory has already created a sample collection of clothing and accessories, in collaboration with Salvatore Ferragamo, using this anti-waste material recovered from Italian fruit juice companies.
LEADING GROUPS ARE ADOPTING IT
“It’s a great chance to have a CEO,” explains MarieClaire Daveu, head of sustainable development and head of international institutional affairs at Kering Group. She talks about François Pinault, who has always encouraged initiatives of this type. On the sustainability front in the world of fashion, the Kering Group has been at the forefront for years. In 2015, it commissioned a report entitled “Environmental Losses and Profits” and distributed it to the entire profession. With its own internal Materials Innovation Lab, it is also responsible for sustainable leather and eco-friendly wool, and supports several eco-friendly fashion start-ups. in partnership with the Plug and Play-fashion for Good program, which aims to encourage the emergence of sustainable innovations and maximize the impact of their cutting-edge ideas. We also saw a change from the top in Italy where, as soon as he was appointed president of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion in 2015, Carlo Capasa decreed that sustainability would be one of the three pillars of the transformation that he proposes to implement during his term of office: “When I took this position, I wanted to look to the future, and ask myself how we want to see fashion evolve. It meant helping young talent and focusing on sustainability and the digital world, which implies that we also have to bet on new technologies.” In line with this eco-friendly roadmap, Capasa has teamed up with Livia Firth, founder of Eco-age and the Green Carpet Challenge, to create the GCC Fashion Awards, which distinguish emerging designers who incorporate sustainability into their design process. The panel of judges, including Duma, announced the first winners at Milan’s latest fashion week.
“We intend to help shape the future of the luxury industry. Our winners combine a deep understanding of tradition, craftsmanship and culture with the new demands of sustainability and a holistic design, reflecting the realities of the biosphere”, commented Frith.
TO CHANGE THE MENTALITIES
Another prestigious award, the Andam Prize in France, also has a new category this year to support fashion technology. “This year we created an award for innovative technology projects. The challenge is to enable our young brands to benefit from these new platforms of innovation, financing and distribution “, explains the founder of Andam, Nathalie Dufour. The first Innovation Award was awarded to Euveka, a company that produces “smart mannequins”, which can, through an integrated digital platform, physically take several sizes (from 34 to 48). This new generation transformable model could revolutionize the way garments are manufactured and make possible the emergence of custom-made mass production, while reducing tissue loss in production.
But if many industry leaders are deploying considerable energy to make this merge between fashion and technology a reality, through sustainability, changing the mentality of different fashion actors continues to be a hard battle. And there is much more to be done to transform all aspects of the supply chain to make it both environmentally sound and technologically sharp.
“It is for this reason that we primarily consider the Fashion Tech Lab as a movement, aimed at empowering the fashion industry and accelerating its transition to a more innovative and sustainable future,” explains Miroslava Duma. “The changes are not going to happen overnight, but I’m hopeful and I’m very optimistic.”
“I LAUNCHED FTL TO CONTRIBUTE TO TRANSFORMING THE FASHION ECOSYSTEM TO A HIGH-TECH, RENEWABLE, ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE AND SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY.” Miroslava Duma