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…

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…

Why Less Might Be More When it Comes to Factory Audits

In a globalized supply chain where clothing production is typically outsourced to developing nations with low-wage labor and shaky social and environmental protections, audits have become a non-negotiable means of managing risks and protecting brands from potential scandal. With multiple, often disparate standards for assessing compliance, however, it isn’t unusual for one supplier to field…

Leather Lowdown: Fruit, Fungi and a Focus on Planet-Friendly Processing

News of traditional leather’s demise has been greatly exaggerated. Despite spiking demand for vegan and other eco-friendly alternatives—a trend that tracks with the growing consumer predilection for plant-based diets—cowhides, a byproduct of beef and dairy consumption, have continued to conduct brisk trade. This is especially true of the luxury sector, where high-quality leather remains synonymous…

Can a Pair of Jeans Kill the Coronavirus?

Are we asking too much from our jeans? Maybe. They’re expected to wick sweat, sculpt our behinds, and provide full-body motion for squats and lunges, all while exuding a cool-but-not-trying-too-hard vibe. And now, in these After Times, they’re also supposed to keep the coronavirus — the same one that has killed more than 1 million…

Now or Never: Sustainability is Denim Industry’s Covid-19 Lifeline

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown fashion retailers in a state of frenzy, and the denim industry is no different. Shoppers, largely battening down at home, aren’t as eager to crack open their wallets for non-essentials, let alone splurge on bottoms that aren’t visible on Zoom calls. The coronavirus doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon,…

Xinjiang Confidential: What Auditor Exodus Means for Apparel Sourcing

A number of supply-chain auditing firms say they will no longer conduct inspections in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of northwestern China, where state-sponsored efforts to coerce and assimilate predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities have rekindled questions about the limits of corporate self-regulation and business-driven social compliance initiatives, particularly in hostile environments ruled by fear….

Are Exotic Skins Out of Fashion?

Something was clearly missing from Stockholm Fashion Week’s virtual catwalk on Aug. 25, and it wasn’t just a physical audience. Five days before, the show’s organizers said that fur and exotic skins had been banned from the lineup. Fur wasn’t surprising; among younger Western consumers, at least, fur has been steadily slipping down the rungs…