The fashion textile market goes green – WWD
From raw material and fiber to fabric, then fashion clothing brands and the consumer, there is only one word to describe the ongoing transformation of the textile value chain: green.
Just two months after 2021, several major sustainability announcements have been made by brands such as VF Corp., Prada and Kering, among others, as fiber producers and fabric manufacturers redouble their commitment to deliver more durable products.
For the consumer, the global pandemic has highlighted the importance of supporting greener brands while turning to clothing made from high quality fabrics. And this trend is bringing end users closer to material suppliers.
“Demand, as always, is driven by the end consumer,” explained Silvio Botto Poala, CEO of Botto Giuseppe, who said the drive to create more sustainable products is also driven by the “increased responsible behavior” of the producer. . “It’s a strong trend that brings producers and consumers together. Sustainability is a big trend, and it’s not a choice, it’s a must.
Whether natural or man-made, the fiber segment of the supply chain responds to this trend by continuing to innovate, working with fabric suppliers to provide more environmentally friendly and efficient products.
With natural fibers, the brands themselves are supporting greener, cleaner processes that also tackle climate change. For example, The North Face recently announced a regenerative cotton project. Regenerative agricultural practices reduce carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and restore soil health and biodiversity. The process includes using cover crops, reducing tillage, and rolling out a holistic livestock management program.
The North Face, which is owned by VF Corp., follows Timberland’s leather regeneration initiative. As part of the partnership, The North Face will team up with nature-based solutions company Indigo Ag, a company that is modernizing “old practices” with the advent of microbiology and digital technology. The North Face’s regenerative cotton collection will launch in fall 2022.
Meanwhile, Kering kicked off its biodiversity program with a call for applications for the company fund that aims to convert land use to regenerative farming methods. Kering recently hosted an online chat with Conservation International, a partner in the program, which includes executives from the nonprofit Textile Exchange.
Focusing on biodiversity is only part of the picture. Businesses continue to seek more circular practices. On that front, Eastman Chemical Co. Chairman and CEO Mark Costa and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee recently announced the company’s plans “to build one of the world’s largest facilities. plastic-to-plastic molecular recycling at its Kingsport, Tennessee site. “
The company said in a statement that through methanolysis, “this global facility will convert polyester waste that often ends up in landfills and waterways into sustainable products, creating an optimized circular economy. Over the next two years, the company will invest approximately $ 250 million in the facility, which will support Eastman’s commitment to address the global waste crisis and mitigate the challenges created by climate change, while by creating value for its stakeholders.
Eastman said the facility will use more than 100,000 metric tonnes of plastic waste “that cannot be recycled by current mechanical methods to produce premium, high-quality specialty plastics made from recycled content.” The company said the process of using plastic waste as the main raw material “is a real material-to-material solution and will not only reduce the company’s use of fossil raw materials, but will also reduce its gas emissions. greenhouse effect of 20 to 30% compared to fossil materials. raw materials.
The announcements follow major political changes to tackle climate change – most notably in the United States, with President Biden signing a series of executive orders that shut down the Keystone pipeline and bring the country to the Paris Agreement.
From the consumer’s point of view, the fight against climate change is a priority. And, according to a research report and consumer survey from CGS, which is a global provider of business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services, “more than two-thirds of respondents consider sustainability when ‘they make a purchase and are willing to pay more for sustainable products.
The company also noted that despite being a relatively new buying group, “Gen Z shoppers are among the most mindful shoppers, with 68% making an eco-friendly purchase in the past. the last year”.
Andrea Crespi, Managing Director of Eurojersey, said that consumers today are increasingly “aware of what they are buying and recognize the value of a product. This choice concerns brands and, moreover, the end consumer.
“Quality and durability are the main drivers of Eurojersey,” said Crespi. “As a company with a vertical process, we are able to follow every step of our production cycle, which allows us to be very precise in what we are doing in terms of higher quality products with less environmental impact in terms of resource savings.
Crespi said that Italian company Sensitive Fabrics’ brand is well positioned in the market, especially in the United States. Crespi added.
Regarding the company’s vision for sustainability, it is integrated into the day-to-day operations of the company, noting that “it all starts with the process and the investments in production. In addition, we believe it is crucial to declare our impact on the environment. This is why Eurojersey adopted the PEF [product environmental footprint]: a set of very precise and well-defined criteria that measure the environmental footprint over the entire life cycle of a product.
When it comes to the company’s footprint and heritage, Eurojersey is a local business with global customers. Crespi said all production is done from a single facility in Caronno Pertusella, which is a small town 20 kilometers from Milan. “Since 1960, we have never moved or considered allocating any part of our production elsewhere,” Crespi said. “Our Italian culture in terms of research, high quality and style gives us the chance to work with leading brands across the world. In these difficult times, it is strategic to keep the value of our products high.
For his part, Botto Giuseppe, also located in Italy, sees the demand for greener products as the key to his success. Botto Poala, CEO, said the aim is to offer transparency and traceability “in all production processes, from raw materials to the final product. The company’s priority is to do better each year and to contribute to a more user-friendly environment.
Asked about the company’s vision for sustainability, Botto Poala said the goal is to achieve “total sustainability,” and noted that producing renewable, natural and biodegradable materials is only the first step. , and that the company seeks “to improve the entire complete production cycle which includes the use of renewable energies, low impact dyes and finishes”, as well as the deployment of CO2 reduction methods and Water Management.
“Our aim will be to achieve a kind of circular economy with the principle that our luxury products are biodegradable and reduce waste to almost zero,” said the CEO, adding that Botto Giuseppe was one of the first companies to develop a sustainable collection. in 2016, called “Naturalis Fibra”, which was “certified cradle to cradle with a concept of circular economy which did not only take into account animal welfare but also the energy used in production”, including management water and chemicals used during the dyeing process.
Botto Poala has since said: “We have increased this collection by making it more sustainable and adding new partner farms to it. Today, 50% of our collection is sustainable. And when asked what were the attributes of “Made in Italy” and how it fits into a philosophy of sustainability, Botto Poala said that Made in Italy is still a strong benchmark “for the luxury market, but today it must be supported by a sustainable philosophy which we can explain to the customer with a narrative that explains the transparency and traceability of the product.
The CEO said the textile market has experienced “unprecedented consumer demand for sustainable products” and said one of the main concerns “is the complex network of the supply chain”. Botto Poala said this is a supply chain that requires the creation of an efficiently traceable system that monitors all aspects of sustainability.
“Botto Giuseppe, with its vertical production of pickling, spinning, weaving, dyeing and finishing, can satisfy [consumer demands for greater sustainability], so that we can create a sustainable supply chain, ”said Botto Poala, acknowledging that the costs to do so are higher. But noted that “sustainability is the new luxury”.