Why durable and stylish is the new look

Why durable and stylish is the new look

The fashion industry is a 2.8 trillion euro juggernaut which includes everything from clothes to bags, shoes to sportswear. But the big source of income is fast fashion: the rapid production of clothes sold at unbeatable prices.

Fast fashion has a high environmental cost

The market is flooded with thousands of new models daily, making it a lucrative segment. But everything comes at a high environmental cost.

Common fast fashion brands include Zara, H&M, UNIQLO, GAP, Forever 21 and TopShop. A garbage truck’s worth of clothes is dumped in landfills or burned every second in the United States, according to a Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2017 report, a UK-based charity working for a circular economy. According to the report, approximately 475 billion euros are lost each year due to little worn or non-recycled clothing.

In total, the industry dumps 92 million tonnes of textile waste each year. And it consumes 93 billion cubic meters of water – enough to meet the needs of five million people.

Ecological fabrics

One of the most effective ways to create ethical clothing is to source eco-friendly fabrics, and one company that has been in the fiber and textile business for over 50 years is Lenzing Group. You may have noticed when purchasing a garment that it comes with a TENCEL label. It is Lenzing’s leading fabric brand, produced with circularity in mind to minimize environmental impact.

Stephan Sielaff, CEO of Lenzing Group, believes there is a long way to go for the industry to become sustainable.

“I think it’s always good to think in numbers and of course zero is a goal: when we talk about being carbon neutral, zero carbon…” he says. “But think about where we are today. Today we are in an industry that has a recycling rate of one percent one, right? As an industry, we have a long journey ahead of us, and it also starts with you and me as consumers. We have to make the right decisions: buy less, buy good quality, wash less. I mean, the clothes, not us, and go there. And then together we can move this industry to a very small amount of waste.

Reducing waste in the fashion industry therefore requires brands and consumers to make conscious choices.

Turn plastic bottles into clothes

In Qatar, sustainable fashion is gaining momentum in an industry that seeks to put Doha on the map as the region’s fashion capital. There is a growing community of eco-fashionistas looking to responsibly get noticed with comfortable, functional, stylish and durable clothing.

RSPR is Qatar’s first clothing brand with a collection made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.

Founder Rina Saleh first used the antimicrobial fabric to make face masks at the start of the pandemic. Commissions from the Qatari royal family catapulted her brand into popularity.

Thousands of masks later, Rina launched the sportswear line, RSPR, which hit the shelves of Harvey Nichols and Galeries Lafayette in Doha.

“It’s our responsibility to educate consumers about the benefits,” she says. “And let them know that making eco-friendly and ethical fashion choices doesn’t mean you’re not going to be trendy and you’re not going to be cool.”

Finding a cost-effective way to turn bottles into clothes was no easy task, but Rina is already set to release a second collection, pledging the benefits to social causes around the world.

Sustainable fashion in Qatar also takes shape in other forms. High school students launch Project Upcycle: their initiative recently won a Global Impact award from THIMUN Qatar for breathing new life into old clothes. There’s still a long way to go to eliminate fast fashion for good, and they’re showing they’re up to the challenge.

Virtual Clothing in the Metaverse

As we have seen in the world of art and investing, NFTs and the Metaverse are also buzzing in the world of fashion. Brands and large retail companies have jumped on the trend by offering exclusive clothes in the virtual world: the clothes do not exist in the physical sense, but shoppers can for example obtain images of themselves in the outfits virtual. Digital platforms have been identified as key drivers of growth, but can they also help end fast fashion?

Achim Berg is a senior partner at McKinsey and Company and co-editor of McKinsey’s annual report on the state of fashion. He says the test of this new market will be sustainability.

“I think the big elephant in the room, as you know, is growth and sustainability: is it comfortable first,” he says. “I think the metaverse is very clear. It could be very durable because it’s digital. I think there is clearly an opportunity for growth on the digital side, but it has to be sustainable. And sustainability on the other side, you know, has to come in a way that, you know, is valued by customers and remains a viable business opportunity for brands.

Fashion spending returns to pre-pandemic levels

After a tough few years, the fashion industry is on track to return to pre-pandemic spending patterns, which bodes well for overall sales. But the rapid rise of high-speed fashion isn’t just causing alarming levels of environmental damage, it’s also widening wage gaps and worrying shoppers. Clothing brands, then, must start taking ethical practices seriously for the sector to grow sustainably.


#durable #stylish