The Circular Shoe: An Impossible Challenge?

For a growing number of footwear brands, embracing recycled materials is no longer enough. To be truly circular, they say, a shoe must be recyclable into a new one. But the concept has proven elusive — perhaps more so than with clothing. Much of this has to do with the way shoes are typically designed….

Trump Mob Merchandise Doesn’t End With ‘Camp Auschwitz’

“They’ve gone from dressing like beds to dressing like billboards,” New York illustrator and comics artist Mirko Ilić said, a hint of glee in his voice. It’s an old joke of his about how you differentiate the racists of old from the racists of today, he told me. Your grandfather’s Klu Klux Klansmen might have…

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…

Online Shopping Has Boomed in the Pandemic. But What About All the Packaging?

At a Cost Plus World Market in Oakland, California, masked shoppers are filing in with their holiday near-misses. They’re not just bringing back Ikat dinnerware and burlap wall art that didn’t quite hit the gifting mark, however. The Happy Returns “bar” within accepts unwanted items from digitally native brands like Eloquii, Everlane, and Rothy’s, which…

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…

H&M’s Green Machine: A Recycling Solution?

H&M calls it the Green Machine: a piece of technology it says is the first to separate and recycle polyester and cotton-blended clothing at scale. Later this month, Monki, the Gen Z targeting womenswear brand owned by H&M, will drop the first commercial products made using its recycled fibres. The collection — a £40 hooded…

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…