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From Musk to Minaj: Sustainable Fashion Becomes Mainstream

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Fashion has for most of history been environmentally unsustainable. While it hasn’t existed in the same category as pollution heavyweights like coal and oil, there are still aspects embedded in the fashion industry that give credence to it being inherently dirty. In fast fashion specifically, consumers shuffle through a wide variety of cheaply produced clothing articles that allow an infinite variety of combinations. While this might keep one on-trend, it has an unfortunate side effect that consumers quickly discard these cheaply purchased items.

At a time when public pressure to reuse anything from water bottles to grocery bags is beginning to intensify, it is crucial for us to turn our sustainability-focused gaze onto what we put on our bodies.

A fashion industry that moves away from selling t-shirts with the structural integrity of a wet napkin would be good for nearly everyone. Clothing built to last should be the norm for anyone who prioritizes a healthy planet.

Image courtesy of Lidya Nada

As it turns out, there are a few forward-thinking up-and-comers looking to be at the forefront of the renewable movement. In a business dominated by the ‘churn’ mentality and enabled by almost impossibly cheap labor, these novel thinkers have decided to reject the idea of passing the buck, trading greenhouse gas emissions for durable-yet-biodegradable textiles that make no concessions in terms of appearances. 

Mats Rombaut is one such voice. As founder and creative director of Rombaut, Mats has made a name through an array of experimental footwear styles made from Apinat Bio, a biodegradable thermoplastic. Although Rombaut designs will likely push the envelope beyond the sensibilities of the average consumer, the brand continues to make waves within the celebrity sphere. After being named the favorite sneaker of model Bella Hadid, Rombaut shoes have appeared on the feet of public figures ranging from Miley Cyrus to Lil Nas X. More recently, the designer made headlines for a miniature version of their 3D-printed FW21 Drone sandal  – commissioned by none other than Elon Musk for his newborn.

Image courtesy of ROMBAUT

The sustainable fashion camp is hardly lacking in experienced figures, either. After proving influential to many recent Adidas successes that include landmark partnerships with Kanye West’s YEEZY and Beyonce’s IVY PARK, Eric Liedtke has decided to end his tenure as an executive for the shoe giant and instead plow his own path. Keeping sustainability in mind, Liedtke is launching Unless, a brand focused on maintaining the creativity of high-end brands like Supreme while committing to a zero-waste, zero-plastic ethos. Unless is taking lessons from H&M in terms of producing items that are cheap and disposable – the distinction being that Unless clothing will fully decompose at the end of its cycle, leaving zero environmental footprints.

Liedtke and Rombaut are just a couple of examples from the fashion industry that are focused on minimizing the impact on the planet. Outerwear developer North Face recently announced a collaboration with textile producer Spinnova to create a clothing line made from polymers requiring minimal water usage and carbon emissions.

While the details of the collaboration have not been released – one can be optimistic – considering the success of Spinnova’s partnership with other outerwear producers like Bergans. 

Finnish shoemaker Rens, in search of the first carbon-neutral sneaker, recently capitalized on a successful Kickstarter campaign and developed a shoe made entirely of used coffee grounds, which are most often discarded rather than recycled. As these brands see more and more success, we could soon see environmentalism in fashion go from the exception to the status quo.


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