Aesthetics + Ethics = Sustainable Fashion

Sustainable Fabrics and Manufacturing Techniques Commonly Used in Eco-Fashion Design

Designers are combining a variety of techniques to reduce their environmental impact. Through this combination of material choice and manufacturing processes, fashion and textile products are being created more responsibly and efficiently. There is an immense opportunity for waste reduction in fashion and techniques sure as 'zero waste' advocates for this exact cause. The fashion industry is adopting to smarter ways of manufacturing and production, and in turn, the designers are designers in smarter, eco-conscious ways. There are both plant and animal based fabrics used for sustainable fashion designs. Animal textiles are commonly made from hair, fur, skin, or silk (in the silkworms case). Commonly used plant textiles are cotton, linen (flax), and hemp. Here are the sustainable fabrics and manufacturing techniques commonly used in eco-fashion design.


Organic Cotton:  This fabric, commonly used in sustainable fashion, is grown from non genetically modified plants and without the use of any synthetic agricultural materials like pesticides or fertilizers. Approximately 1/3 of agricultural chemicals are typically used in the production of just one single cotton T-shirt. On the other hand, organic farmers have many options to control weeds including: hoes, flame weeders, crop rotations, intercropping (planting several plants together), more efficient use of irrigation water, the use of mulches and by even edjusting the planting dates and densities of their crops. If you see 100% Organic Cotton on the label, know that you've made a purchase that further sustainable textile manufacturing!


Hemp: This particular textile has been around for years and is a returning trend in the eco-friendly fashion industry. The popularity of this textile is directly related to its fast growing time and its versatility. Back in 2008, well known designers like Calvin Klein had hemp designs at their fashion shows, and the textile remains a prominent, frequently used material with many designers today. The manufacturing process of hemp requires a great deal of technology to be softened, spun, etc., and thus, this type of fabric could really support advancements in textile technology.


Recycling:  Taking textiles, breaking them down, and reprocessing them into new fabrics. This is a strategy used in the sustainble fashion industry and it proves to be highly effective in reducing energy costs as well as environmental harm. In fact, it takes about 20 plastic bottles to produce one athletic bike shirt so recycling can have a huge impact on the environment. 

'Zero Waste' Pattern Making:  Creating a paper pattern of a design in such a way that creates the least or zero leftover fabric. This technique is unique because it is focused on in the early stages of creating and actual design of the garment. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of textiles are wasted during the manufacturing process and zero waste pattern making is a positive push forward in eco-fashion design.