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‘Sustainable Apparel’ Apparently Continues to Gain Momentum; Supply Chain Cited

In yet another announcement about “sustainable apparel,” Levi Strauss & Co. has said that it is funding $350,000 toward new approaches and innovations in the apparel supply chain. Projects will include expanding a natural indigo dyeing facility, creating products that are less water-intensive, and making wastewater treatment solutions more accessible to small artisan workshops, the company says.

The fund goes toward a new organization created by Levi  Strauss that it is calling LS&Co Collaboratory, an annual fellowship program for “entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs” who are working to create a more sustainable apparel industry.

Sustainable Fashion Flourishing

Other recent announcements in the sustainable apparel and fashion industry include:

–The Circular Fibres Initiative: this group will attempt to create a new system for textiles based on the principles of a circular economy while phasing out waste and pollution. Clothing retailers H&M and Nike, philanthropic funder the C&A Foundation, and a consortium of organizations including the Danish Fashion Institute, Fashion for Good, Cradle to Cradle and MISTRA Future Fashion are part of the group.

–Cotton 2040: Also funded by the C&A Foundation, this initiative brings together international brands and retailers, existing industry initiatives and other stakeholders across the supply chain to work toward making sustainable cotton more of a mainstream commodity.

–C2C Certified T-shirts from C&A: in June, the European fashion retailer will debut its line of “C2C Certified” T-shirts, which the company says are made of 100% organic cotton, produced using only chemicals that are designed for safe cycling as biological nutrients, and manufactured in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

–Sustainable Sourcing guidelines from Ralph Lauren Corporation: in January, the company said it has developed sustainable sourcing guidelines, planning to now trace the source of wood-based fabrics, like viscose and rayon, used in its products, and will eliminate sources connected with rainforest destruction and human rights violations.

Why Now? Supply Chain, Consumer Demand, Availability of New Materials…

The apparel industry has been making recent strides in sustainability in part because companies see it as a necessity to ensure the reliability of their own supply chains. “There is also consumer demand for more conscious apparel,” Deborah Drew, a research analyst with the World Resources Institute, told Environmental Leader. For example, she says, “the Sustainable Apparel Coalition was created to help address inefficiencies in the apparel industry in a collaborative way because consumers are demanding more transparency and accountability.”

A new development by Eastman Chemical – fabric crafted from cellulosic yarn – may also indicate that major businesses are willing to invest in sustainability and apparel. Eastman Chemical is working with O’More College of Design in Franklin, Tennessee, to test the fabric and make sure that the materials support sustainability and the “future needs of the market,” Jamie Atlas, O’More College of Design Chair of Fashion Programs told us. Eastman challenged O’More’s students to design evening wear using the fabric, called Naia. The gowns designed by the students debuted at the 2017 O’More Fashion Show on May 12, 2017.

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