Written by Aoife Parker
Since the beginning of the pandemic, and the subsequent global stillness brought about by worldwide lockdowns, sustainability has become the buzz word of the moment. But long before the pandemic’s slowness gave rise to mainstream eco consciousness, a certain strand of impassioned gen-Zers have been taking sustainability into their own hands in the best way they know how: clothing.
In a time when global climate summits and ecological experts have been calling for a rise in sustainability innovation, this cohort is laying an important foundation for changing how young people consume fashion. And not only this; they are making it even more desirable to gen-Z consumers than not-so-sustainable competitor products.
Repurposing-oriented innovation is on the rise among Britain’s young generation, who are reimagining conventional materials in nonconformist ways, creating something of a fashion paradox in the best possible way. Innovators such as Lois Saunders, who is transforming British football culture into pop culture with her brand 1xblue, are rethinking the parameters of fashion. What was once conventionally wrapped around the necks of screaming football fans has been transformed into unique statement pieces, and in doing this the brand is flipping the concept of exclusivity on its head. Reframing what we value as desirable is crucial in moving towards sustainability, and with repurposing comes an influx of individual innovation that cannot be provided by a plain black polyester dress manufactured following a uniform template provided by fast fashion brands.
Photo for 1xblue by Joseph Clarkson
Other brands, such as Fruity Booty Underwear, are lacing sustainability into their DNA by sourcing deadstock fabrics and using them as timelines for production. Whenever the question of a possible restock appears, consumers are met with the explanation that, once their supply of deadstock fabric runs out, that is it. A response that modern consumers – who are able to access 90-minute delivery on some ecommerce sites these days – are not used to. The idea of being unable to demand for supply puts the modern-day consumer-driven structure of retail on its head. But it is a shift that we desperately need to transfer to a more sustainable fashion cycle. Realising that resources are not unlimited, and therefore using what is already out there is a radical innovation to the way we shop and how we demand, and is quite possibly the future of fashion innovation.
Photo for Fruity Booty Underwear by Claire Frances
Brands who follow a small business structure, such as Suits You London and French brand Maison Cleo, are changing the production cycle too, with a made-to-order strategy. The latter brand has enshrined this philosophy into the core of its business, opening its e-shop once weekly with limited stock – no more and no less. Here, long lead times are replacing over-production in order to whittle down the possibility of garment waste. This new cycle of production might interfere with the instantaneous nature with which we can make three clicks and purchase a new item, but it instead might return us to a more purposeful way of shopping.
Photo 1 for Suits You London; Photo 2 for Maison Cléo by Chloe Bruhat
The reality of climate change can feel overwhelmingly real at times, and sometimes, to make it all more manageable, all we need is an ability to translate it into a medium we feel comfortable with – which is exactly what these amazing innovators are doing.