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FUTURE FABRICS EXPO 2020

I visited the ninth Future Fabrics Expo this week and spent hours wandering about the cleanly laid out space, exploring what the fabrics of the future would look like. The event was hosted by The Sustainable Angle, a not-for-profit organisation that initiates and supports projects with a focus on sustainability in Fashion and Textiles, and related industries such as food and agriculture. 

The event offered designers and key industry stakeholders the opportunity to explore solutions and tools to support them in creating fashion that has a positive impact on people and planet…

“Sustainable development is now a critical imperative as global scientific consensus emphasises the need to start urgently operating within our planet’s boundaries and work NOW to stop the environmental damage and avert a climate crisis… ‘fashion business as usual’ is over. 

The Expo had divided their sustainability criteria into the four areas of biodiversity, energy, water and waste – and each supplier was branded with these symbols, identifying good practice and low environmental impact. Conversely, fabrics being exhibited that had a significant conventional fibre content were stickered for the guests’ attention – although there was always a reason why these fabrics were able to be shown, eg. if the plastics content was due to the use of recycled polyester. 

As I wondered between stalls and ran different fabrics between my fingers, I couldn’t help but feel both excited and overwhelmed. There are so many solutions in our hands for low-impact fibres, produced by companies that, at heart, hold the wellbeing of their workers as an essential component of their production… but the level at which innovative new fabrics and organic fibres need to be adopted to even start the dramatic shift the fashion industry needs towards sustainability is daunting.

We’ve heard of Bananatex and Pinatex – durable fibres drawn from the rough and tough skins of bananas and pineapples, but I knew little of Mycotex – using mushroom mycelium (I think mycelium is amazing, and so my interest was really tweaked!). I love how we’re looking to innovate innovate innovate – creating circular modes of operating and rethinking the take-make-waste model of fast fashion. But my heart also looks back to historic fabric production – pre over-consumption, pre synthetics and pre intensive agriculture – and thinks we need to look back as much as we look forward to really connect with our fibres again.

Overall – this event was fantastic. My highlight was the seminar: How Fashion Can Have a Positive Impact – Save the Oceans, Restore Biodiversity & Soil Health. Phoebe English said (this isn’t verbatim!) “we only have time for solutions”.

See you there next year.

 

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