Fashion can also be circular
The fashion industry could use a sustainable update. Cotton cultivation, for example, is eco-unfriendly and generates very little recyclable waste. Students and researchers at Wageningen University & Research are therefore collaborating with companies and textile designers to create new materials with a lower environmental impact that can be resold in thrift stores.
This is known as circular fashion, whereby the original materials are reused to create new products. The counterpart is linear fashion, whereby textiles go through a fixed process of make, use, and throw away.
Waste to circular fashion
The latter happens far too often. People are buying more clothes and wearing them for shorter periods In the EU alone, more than six million tonnes of textiles are thrown away each year. As many of these textiles are made from mixed materials, recycling them is difficult and most of it is either burned or landfilled.
Wageningen is contributing to circularity in two ways: by developing new biodegradable materials that minimise the environmental impact of the production process and by improving the recycling of existing fabrics.
Shoes made from mushrooms
One example of a new sustainable material is vegan leather, which is made from fruit waste or veins of mould (in Dutch). The latter feels a bit like cork or suede and is soft and comfortable. The Wageningen-based start-up Mylium is experimenting with these new materials. Their results could be seen for the first time this summer at State of Fashion 2018 (StoF), the successor of the Arnhem Fashion Biennial.
At StoF, visitors could also admire designs created by Wageningen students in collaboration with ArtEZ University of Arts, fashion designers and WUR researchers. Examples include new, more sustainable materials, new business models and a fairer fashion system. Wageningen University & Research created an exhibition about it, titled Fashioning the Future, which can be seen from 4 September to 12 October in Wageningen.