What Experts Say About Swapping Animal Leather for Vegan Versions

Luke Haverhals, founder and CEO of Natural Fiber Welding, a materials-innovation company in Illinois, sees himself as equal parts scientist and chef. ”We look at different inputs similar to how a chef uses eggs, milk, sugar and butter to make exactly what he wants, whether it’s a souffle that is light and airy or something…

Circular Packaging

The world is drowning in plastic, and single-use packaging is a big part of the reason why. Throwaway wrappers and containers are practically impossible to avoid in our convenience-obsessed times. From pasta to orange juice, nearly every item of food and drink we purchase today comes encased in some form of plastic designed to be…

The Story of Your T-shirt

A basic T-shirt, one of the simplest garments in the world, is the last step in a convoluted chain of events spanning several countries. Cotton might be grown, farmed, and processed in Turkey; carded, combed, stretched, and twisted into yarn in China; and woven into cloth, dyed, cut, and sewn in Bangladesh. The finished T-shirt…

Roscomar’s Sneakers Take ‘iPhone-Like’ Approach to Sustainability

Johan Olsson didn’t set out to sell sneakers, let alone so-called “sustainable” ones. “I was a private-equity guy who invested in brands,” he told Sourcing Journal. Somewhere along the way, however, Olsson became enamored with the idea of launching a direct-to-consumer company. He had some friends in the business, it seemed like fun and he…

‘Exploitative’ Brands Are Crushing Garment Workers and Suppliers

The first wave of Covid-19 dealt garment manufacturers a devastating blow. Now, with the pandemic resurging across North America and Europe, triggering further lockdowns and sending whole economies crashing into existential despair, the odds of their survival—let alone recovery—remain dim. Brands and retailers in the global north are generally taking a wait-and-see approach to the…

The Industry’s Complex Uyghur Cotton Problem

As China continues its brutal crackdown on the Muslim-majority Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, apparel sourcing in China is becoming increasingly fraught. In early December, the Trump administration unveiled its tightest restrictions on the country’s cotton and textiles yet, citing a desire to prevent U.S. complicity in human-rights abuses in Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has…

Why Pangaia Doesn’t Believe in Hogging Breakthrough Materials

For Pangaia, a London-based startup that combines street-style elan with tree-hugging sensibilities, materials play a starring rather than supporting role. It’s part of its philosophy of “high-tech naturalism,” taking materials abundantly found in nature and augmenting them with science and technology to solve the apparel industry’s most pressing social and environmental problems, such as animal…

Fashion Can’t Solve the Ocean Plastic Problem

A decade ago, most discourse around marine litter involved turtles ensnared by six-pack rings and dead seabirds with plastic spilling from their bellies. Now, “ocean plastic” is the fashionable term. You can find bits of old soda bottles and fishing nets in sneakers from Sperry, handbags from Rothy’s, bikinis from Reformation, sunglasses from Norton Point,…

Fake Meat Has Gone Mainstream. Can Biofabricated Fashion Follow Suit?

What’s in a name? When it comes to biomaterials—think yeast-engineered silk or mushroom-root leather—quite a lot. And like the trend itself, confusion about how they differ, how they’re made and what they offer is growing. Buoyed by burgeoning ethical concerns from consumers, fashion brands are seeing the promise of lab-developed materials as functional alternatives to…

How Fashion is Taking on the Plastic Crisis, One Polybag at a Time

There’s no getting around it: the fashion industry is drowning in plastic, and the single-use polybag is a big part of the reason. Thin, lightweight and derived from low-density polyethylene, roughly 180 billion of these bags, both large and small, are employed by the apparel supply chain every year to protect stock in warehouses and…