Fashion Evolution to Save the World

Monday, 28th of February, in addition to it being the shortest month of the year, there was also the closure of Milan Fashion Week 2022. The event saw the bustling return on the international fashion scene. The numbers speak of post-pandemic success. The clear and main elements of fashion 2022 are inclusion, diversity, and an ethical and increasingly sustainable fashion.


n.d. freestocks.

The enormous impact of fashion on the environment

The fashion industry plays a decisive role in global warming. According to numerous studies, the fashion sector is today the second most polluting in the world, after oil and gas. For this reason, the evolution of fashion and related sectors will be decisive in contributing to saving our planet. Many ideas and innovations have moved in this direction in the last period, a real revolution in the evolution of world fashion.


According to the World Economic Forum, the fashion industry accounts for 20% of global industrial water pollution and second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Textile factories use thousands of chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic, to make clothes. To this, it should be added that the vast majority of clothes are made of plastic which ends up in the ocean as microplastic, creating catastrophes for the marine environment.


The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) verbalized that fashion production makes up 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams. What’s more, 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year, and washing some types of clothes sends a significant amount of microplastics into the ocean.


The evolution of fashion has brought the market for cheap items to a very high level of profit. According to an estimate, in 2014, people bought 60% more garments than in 2000. Fast fashion is an area that has more than doubled in the last twenty years. Unfortunately, it is also the one that has the most significant impact on our planet. In the Atacama desert, in Chile, there are over 39,000 tons of clothes from Western markets that were worn for a short time - the result of unbridled consumerism and too high disposal or recycling costs. People throw away their clothes after wearing them on average between seven and ten times. According to a further UK study, as many as one in three respondents says they consider clothing to be old after one or two times it has been worn.


The evolution of sustainable fashion

There is a growing movement that aims to make clothes sustainable for the environment. Eco-friendly materials that do not harm anyone during the construction process and the use of natural resources. It is high cost and low profits for producers, but it will largely offset the gains in environmental cost, fabric quality, clothing health, and longevity. The latter is special fashion and is rediscovered very much in vogue thanks to technological innovation.


Grimelli, S. (2021) verbalized that 30-40% of the clothes produced will never be purchased, and 35-45% of those we buy, we do not wear. This is why alternative ways to purchase are becoming more and more popular, often also to free up space from the wardrobe. Exchanges with friends or family, organize flea markets, try others online (for example, Depop), or use intuitive applications directly from your smartphones, such as Vinted or Wallapop. Extending the life of an item of clothing means doing the same with our planet.


Luna, the siberian tiger. Lannerstöm, F. 2017.

Save animals to save ourselves

The indirect impact on the environment should also not be forgotten, namely hunting animals for their furs. Practically all the major fashion brands are deciding to give up natural furs. Since the beginning of 2022, Dolce&Gabbana has also decided to discontinue the use of animal fur in all its collections. An announcement in the Italian law, which has just entered into force, prohibits the breeding and the killing of any animal for fur. Norway and other European countries will follow by 2025, while California will ban the sale of fur by 2023.


A significant turning point in the evolution of fashion towards a more sustainable and cruelty-free model. Also confirmed by the decline of the annexed market. The $40 billion in furs in 2015 became just $33 in 2018. "Items that were once a status symbol are fast becoming a sign of shame," says Yvonne Taylor, senior manager PETA UK (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals). The brands, therefore, decide to switch to synthetic furs without forgetting to use recycled, recyclable, and in any case sustainable materials.



n.d. Mossholder, T.

An unusual idea for an evolution of ecological fashion

As we have seen, there are many ways we can make fashion more sustainable. But, among the new trends, the most unusual is undoubtedly that of Zsofia Kollar. The designer who lives in Amsterdam makes clothes with human hair, and to support her business, Mrs. Kollar goes around hairdressers to collect her "fabric". Zsofia Kollar explains that "72 million kg of human hair waste is generated in Europe. This is waste that ends up in landfills and accumulates in large quantities, choking the drainage systems".


The designer thus founded Human Material Loop, a practical solution to the problem. There are other aspects that the company highlights as advantageous in this practice. Anywhere in the world, clothes can be produced locally, since anyone would have the raw material available, avoiding CO2 pollution for transport. Unlike animal hair that needs chemicals, hair is already "clean" and ready for use. Surely an innovative frontier reached by the evolution of fashion to cope with the environmental crisis, of which "Dutch Blonde" is the prototype in the world.


Undoubtedly an innovative idea that seems to transform 2022 fashion in the Netherlands, but perhaps sooner than we can imagine in the rest of Europe also. Who knows, perhaps in a few years at Milan Fashion Week we will see hair-dresses parading ...


Picture references


  1. freestocks. (n.d.). [Shopping]. https://unsplash.com/@freestocks?utm_source=wix-media-manager&utm_medium=referral

  2. Lannerstöm, F. (2017, July 19). Luna, the siberian tiger [Photo]. Luna, the Siberian Tiger. https://unsplash.com/photos/LNSIGPuZXIg

  3. Mossholder, T. (n.d.). [Blonde Hair]. https://unsplash.com/@timmossholder?utm_source=wix-media-manager&utm_medium=referral

References


  • Fletcher, K. (Ed.). (2010). Slow Fashion: An Invitation for Systems Change. In Fashion Practice, Volume 2 (Vol. 2, pp. 252–256).

  • International Conference Center Geneva. (2018, March). Fashion and the SDGs: what role for the UN? UNECE. https://unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/RCM_Website/RFSD_2018_Side_event_sustainable_fashion.pdf

  • SHERMAN, L. A. U. R. E. N. (2016). How PETA Won the Angora Debate and What It Means for Fashion. Businessoffashion.

  • Grimelli, S. (2021). Zen habitat: Consigli e strategie per una casa sana e felice (Italian Edition). Demetra.

Author Photo

Riccardo Pallotta

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