Smart Creation Forum, Premiere Vision and Texworld Paris AW 18/19

Sustainability in fashion and textiles was a growing focus this season, and at Premiere Vision (PV) Paris there was a quarter dedicated to the ‘Smart Creation Forum’, which focuses on unlocking the potential of sustainable fashion. On display was a static range of garments from collections by several companies that are driving sustainability and the circular economy concept through into their ranges and ways of looking at their business model.

The Smart Forum also ran a series of talks on the circular economy over the three days of the fair. Waste from other production industries, as well as avoiding or preventing garments going to landfill at the end of life were the first steps towards creating a full circular economy and achieving the first of several ‘circles’, the ultimate aim being designing and creating from inception, cradle to cradle products and production.

It was fantastic to see Orange Fiber had been used in the first production, the world’s first Citrus based fibre in a garment, and to see this in the flesh in a printed Shift dress by Salvatore Ferragamo. At¬†Texworld¬†too, one of the Founders of Orange Fiber, Enrica Arena talked about how a desire in 2013 to use the Citrus wasted from the Orange juice industry in Sicily where both founders grew up, built a vision of the company they have now created through innovation and perseverance. A four-year journey from idea and concept to first production and now the next step of plans to achieve this at scale.

In the PV Awards, where the jury is headed up by John Malkovich, Nova Kaera from Brazil won the ‘PV Fashion prize for the most creative responsible leather’ with fabric made from fish skins that was previously waste from the fish industry and dumped into the sea. This waste is now used to make the leather fabric, re-using what was previously waste and also reducing the amount of pollution in the sea.

At the PV Smart Forum talk on ‘Circular Economy – what is it? Challenges and objectives for the fashion industry’ there was an emphasis on starting to move in a direction and not expect perfection at the start of this journey. Sven Herrmann from The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said that his foundation have calculated that moving to a cradle to cradle concept in a circular economy represents a 1 Trillion US dollar opportunity for business per year. In India alone, there is a 624 Billion US Dollar opportunity if the country starts to follow a circular economy path.

Disrupting traditional supply chains and building an eventual cradle to cradle cycle into products from concept and design stage clearly has a compelling financial advantage, therefore a strong business case emerges, so why would businesses not start to look at products differently than before?

As most people are now aware, globally, we are currently using 1.6 times the value of our planet’s natural resources, and at an ever-increasing rate. Sustainable solutions must be found to replace virgin resources, as these diminish and will no longer be available in the quantities we have developed growing consumption for. Therefore, cradle to cradle products in future will be the new normal.

Andreas Rohnich from Wolford Lingerie, talked candidly about the challenges of creating what started as an innovation project at Wolford, which is essentially an oil based textiles business, and how they started to ask themselves four years ago ‘How can we make our lingerie and tights products more sustainable’?

They then researched, explored several avenues to find a solution, had several failures and continue to work on development, but they now have a fully certified cradle to cradle capsule collection for AW 18/19. These products have been developed to decompose more rapidly and which eliminates waste after the useful life of the product.

They have developed a new way of composting without using oxygen, and have used smart technology and fabrics to achieve this vision. Partnering and collaboration with others was essential to the success of this project. Wolford are also a small company, using only 100 tonnes of fibre a year, so inspiring to hear that small companies as well as larger ones with perhaps larger innovation budgets, can see the business benefits of disrupting their traditional supply chains and production.

In another smart talk on ‘Circular Economy, which are the new business models supporting this approach’?,
Hannes Parth, CEO and Founder of ‘Frumat’, introduced his company, which 8 years ago, started out as a kitchen paper manufacturer and then a notebook business. His business is creating products from materials made of apple waste pulp, again from the juice industry, where over 100,000 tonnes of apples would just wither away, in his local area alone.

‘Appleskin’ then evolved to become a synthetic leather for notebook covers, then expanded and evolved again, and now also used in furniture and seating. The latest evolution of this fibre is that they have created a synthetic leather for apparel, and this fibre will feature in the Green Carpet Challenge in Milan Fashion week.

Other brands featured in the Smart Forum quarter with innovations were Gucci, Pepe jeans, Marimekko and Nini Vemeth, as well as Filippa K, who are focussing on ‘Mindful Consumption’. This includes a vision to lease garments in stores as an alternative option to purchasing, collecting garments from their customers at end of life for renewal and reuse rather than consumer disposal that goes into landfill, doing a life cycle assessment of every phase of design and production, using fully recycled fibres, using pattern cutting techniques to produce zero waste so no offcuts, and offering 10 years of care of these products as a kind of warranty system for creating longevity of use.

Looking at creating new business models and disrupting the status quo offers incredible opportunities to brands , retailers, yarn, fabric and product suppliers who seize them, and also to create a more secure business model for the future that is not reliant on the availability of finite resources.

During the Texworld talk, Kristine Dorosko, EU Policy Officer, Eco innovation and Circular Economy was talking about the EU ECO Label, and her desire that a sustainability virus will start to make us all ask ‘how green can we shop’?

If you would like to brainstorm any ideas you may have in your own business, in textiles or any other areas & sectors, please get in touch and let’s explore and brainstorm for you. Our aim is to help create a bright future for people, planet and profit. There are no crazy ideas and no limits – imagination and desire are the only starting requirements.

As Sven Hermann for Ellen MacArthur Foundation put it, ‘we are all better off, when we are all better off’.

Get in touch and lets start!