How Sustainable Materials Are Weaving a New Fabric of Luxury Fashion | Savoir Flair

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Sustainability
How Sustainable Materials Are Weaving a New Fabric of Luxury Fashion
article @COPERNI
by Mimi Droeshout 4-minute read May 22, 2024

What if the future of luxury fashion lies in the threads of nature?

The very fabric of luxury fashion is undergoing a remarkable transformation. Today, true luxury is no longer defined by the use of rare, exotic (and cruel) materials, but is instead found in the thoughtful sourcing of eco-friendly alternatives, the artisanal craftsmanship behind each garment, and the innovative spirit that drives brands to push the envelope. This evolution highlights a new commitment to sustainability and innovation at the core of the fashion industry.

The future of fashion lies in innovative, sustainable materials that push the boundaries of what's possible. By embracing eco-friendly alternatives to conventional fabrics and pioneering entirely new materials, brands are not only reducing their environmental impact but they're igniting a much larger conversation about fashion's role in creating a more sustainable world. Stella McCartney's presence at COP28 exemplifies this shift, as she advocates for the fashion industry to be recognized as a crucial player in the fight against climate change. By supporting brands leading this charge, we, as consumers, can play a role in shaping a more responsible, ethical, and environmentally conscious fashion landscape. With the future of our planet at stake, the choices we make – from the clothes we wear to the brands we endorse – have never been more crucial.

From Coperni's spray-on dress to Orange Fiber's citrus-based silk, these groundbreaking materials offer a glimpse into a future where style and sustainability are inextricably intertwined. Let us celebrate the labels daring to dream of a greener, more sustainable future, let us embrace the innovative materials redefining the very fabric of fashion, and let us, as conscious consumers, play our part in weaving a more responsible, ethically-minded fashion industry.

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Coperni

Leading the charge in material innovation is Parisian label Coperni, whose internet-breaking 'Bella Hadid spray dress' took the fashion world by storm. During their Spring/Summer 2023 show, designers Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant unveiled a truly groundbreaking creation – a dress that materialized before the audience's eyes as a liquid polymer was sprayed directly onto the one and only Bella Hadid's body. The moment became the most talked about event during Paris Fashion Week, causing a viral uproar not only because of Hadid's presence but also due to the sheer shock and excitement of the attendees and viewers online. Finally, something new, something mindblowing, and something that defined innovation in fashion graced the runways. 

This remarkable achievement was realized through a collaboration with Fabrican, a London-based company specializing in sprayable, biodegradable textiles. The spray-on fabric, composed of natural fibers like cotton and cellulose, can be easily removed, recycled, and re-worn, offering a glimpse into a future where clothing is created on demand, minimizing waste and overproduction.

Coperni's spray-on dress was just the beginning of its exploration into sustainable, cutting-edge materials. The brand has also experimented with eco-friendly fabrics like apple leather, made from discarded peels and cores, and recycled nylon, giving new life to post-consumer waste. Most recently, during its Fall/Winter 2024 show, Coperni revealed the Airswipe bag, crafted from a mind-boggling mix of 99 percent air and one percent glass. Using NASA's Silica Aerogel, the lightest solid known to humanity, Coperni has pushed the boundaries of innovation, quite literally creating a marvel out of almost nothing.

article @BOLTTHREADS

Bolt Threads

At the intersection of biotech and fashion lies Bolt Threads, a California-based startup that’s turning scientific discovery into style. The company is renowned for its groundbreaking work in developing sustainable, bio-engineered materials that mimic nature's best offerings.

One of Bolt Threads' most impressive innovations is Microsilk, a lab-grown silk alternative that replicates the strength and softness of natural spider silk. By studying spider silk proteins and recreating them through a fermentation process, the company has created a cruelty-free, sustainable alternative to conventional silk (which often involves boiling silkworms).

But Bolt Threads' material magic doesn't end there. Alongside Mylo, the mushroom-based leather alternative used by Stella McCartney, the company has developed a yeast-based leather called Mycelium, which can be grown in a lab in just a few weeks. These bio-engineered materials offer a glimpse into a future where fashion and nature work in harmony.

article STELLA MCCARTNEY

Stella McCartney

A pioneer in sustainable luxury, Stella McCartney has long been at the forefront of eco-conscious fashion, seamlessly blending innovative design with environmental ethics. Her eponymous label is the world’s first luxury house to never use animal leather, feathers, fur, or skins and adopt extensive sustainability principles. One of McCartney's most notable achievements is her use of Mylo, a revolutionary mushroom-based leather alternative developed by Bolt Threads. Crafted from the root structure of mushrooms, Mylo provides a sustainable and animal-free substitute for traditional leather. Its soft, supple texture and versatility have enabled McCartney to create sleek handbags and chic outerwear from this groundbreaking fabric. 

Her unwavering commitment to sustainability was most recently showcased at COP28, where she spotlighted over 15 pioneering materials and processes that are set to revolutionize the fashion industry. Through her Sustainable Market exhibit, Innovating Tomorrow's Solutions, she provided a platform for the scientists behind them to present their innovations on a global stage. Among the standout innovations were BioSequins, a biodegradable and non-toxic alternative to traditional sequins made from plant-based cellulose; Savian, the world’s first entirely plant-based, vegan, and plastic-free alternative to animal fur, fleece, shearling, and plush products; and a grape-based leather alternative developed in collaboration with Veuve Clicquot, using by-products from their wine harvest. Through her efforts at COP28, McCartney is not only advancing material innovation but also advocating for policy changes and industry-wide adoption of sustainable practices. Her leadership at the event underscores her commitment to a more sustainable future for fashion, proving that luxury and environmental responsibility can indeed coexist.

article FERRAGAMO

Orange Fiber

Italian startup Orange Fiber is spinning waste into wearable gold. Founded by Adriana Santanocito and Enrica Arena, the company has developed a process that transforms discarded orange peels into luxurious, silk-like fabric. The journey from citrus to couture begins in Sicily, where the island's thriving orange juice industry generates a staggering 700,000 tons of citrus waste each year. Orange Fiber collects these discarded peels and extracts cellulose from the fibers through a patented process. This cellulose is then spun into a soft, lustrous yarn that can be woven into a breathable, lightweight fabric.

The resulting material not only diverts waste from landfills but also offers a sustainable alternative to water- and resource-intensive fibers like cotton and silk. Salvatore Ferragamo was the first fashion house to employ Orange Fiber fabrics, debuting them in the Ferragamo Orange Fiber Collection in 2017.

article ALLBIRDS

Allbirds

When it comes to sustainable footwear, Allbirds is leading the pack with its innovative use of natural materials. The San Francisco-based brand, founded by Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger, has built its reputation on crafting comfortable, eco-friendly shoes that don't compromise on style.

Allbirds' signature material is merino wool, a renewable and biodegradable fiber that's breathable, temperature-regulating, and moisture-wicking. This natural wonder allows Allbirds to create sneakers that are not only incredibly comfortable but also minimize the use of synthetic materials, significantly reducing the brand's carbon footprint.

But Allbirds' material innovation doesn't stop at wool. The brand has also developed a range of sustainable materials, including SweetFoam, a sugarcane-based EVA foam for shoe soles, castor bean oil-based insole foam, and recycled polyester made from discarded plastic bottles. By continually exploring new eco-friendly materials, Allbirds is setting a new standard for sustainable footwear.

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