Sustainability in Textiles

“Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs “ – United Nations 1987

The problem with waste and using non-renewable resources is increasing. To be a sustainable textile designer can be costly and therefore harder to make changes and be environmentally aware.  Some examples of the changes designers could make are listed below:

  • Using certain fabrics such as cotton is better than polyester, because polyester is made from harsh oil and chemicals bad for the environment 
  • Transportation of materials which increase carbon footprint
  • Factories using energy and utilities is bad since this would affect the environment
  • Dyes which can get into water and streams are not sustainable whilst natural food dyes are because they are not harmful.

Not only is it costly for designers to be sustainable but retailers are increasingly putting pressure on manufacturers and suppliers to be sustainable and to still come out with high quality and fashion forward designs. Within this lecture we looked at new textile innovations for the sustainability of textiles that designers, campaign groups and companies are using to make effective use of materials.

“For the fashion industry to be sustainable economically, it must be sustainable socially and environmentally too. These provocative scenarios challenge all of us to look beyond the short term and use our collective power to work to create the kind of positive world we’d like to see in 2025.” – John Anderson, President and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co.

  • WTO situation has changed, seeing a shift in trade patterns
  •  Sustainable environment performance and CSR
  • Product styles are becoming increasing obsolete.
  • Profit margins reduces harder to find budget


Energy and Effluent: water used extensively throughout textiles’ life cycle, untreated water effluent contaminates and releases toxic pollution, water-less treatments such as digital printing are more efficient.

– If untreated it contaminates further

– Can be prevented more by minimising water

-It creates high energy and causes further pollution


Jucheng Hu, (2008), Pink Sewage [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 03 December 14]

Ethical Production

  • Fair trade programmes, to work against the child labour work in factory
  • Production to pay fair wages and to promote skills within less fortunate countries

A project named “The FELLOWSHIP 500″ was launched by the company “Ethical Fashion Forum” in 2011 with the aim of taking the fashion industry to tipping point- the point at which sustainable practices by fashion businesses become the rule rather than the exception to it- from field to final product.

The Fellowship will do this through:

  • Uniting 500 innovators and leaders in the fashion sector every year
  • Supporting and facilitating collaboration between these leaders towards common sustainability goals
  • Inspiring innovative thinking, enabling positive change and creating an enlightened space to tackle the challenges of the fashion industry
  • Putting the spotlight on the industries leaders, globally, through the Fellowship scheme
  • Encouraging more fashion sector professionals and businesses to engage with sustainability and to become leaders in their fields, in every part of the world

Who are the fellowship 500?

The Fellowship 500 brings together pioneering designers, businesses, entrepreneurs, academics, professionals, and experts , from all over the world and every part of the supply chain.

One of the companys that is part of fellowship 500 is:

Animaná is an Andean garment manufacturer who works with local communities and use natural fibres and dyes. The company aims to facilitate links between suppliers and buyers to help keep ancient skills and craftsmanship alive in Patagonia and the Andes. Their most recent collection by Dominique Peclers is designed to give an alternative to the cosmopolitan consumer, uniting slow fashion and Pantagonian pure fibres.


Animana, (2014), ELLE & LUI [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 03 December 14].

Pioneering in: Reviving and supporting ancient artisanal skills. Expanding the ethical fashion movement in South America.

Fellowship sector: Supply sector – fair trade / cooperative.

New Raw Materials:

Ingeo is a sustainable and natural based polymer. This revolutionary bioplastic is made up of long molecular chains of the polymer polylactide. It is derived from naturally-occurring plant sugar.

  • It has excellent Uv Protection
  • High tenacity
  • Great Elastic Recovery

Cereplast is a bioplastic company that creates a wide range of biobased, compostable and sustainable bioplastic resins from corn, potatoes and algae – to meet surging consumer and industrial demand for alternatives to traditional plastics.

Radici uses beans of the caster oil plant to manufacture an alternative raw material for Nylo.


“The BioLace project is designed to probe the potential of a biological manufacturing future by exploring the cellular programming of morphogenesis in plant systems. For this, Design Researcher Carole Collet imagines the creation reprogrammed plants such as a hybrid strawberry plant which would produce at the same time both strawberry fruits and lace samples from its roots. The future biological control of genetic morphogenesis implies that we could design plants to perform specific functions for us.” – Unknown . (2014). Biolace. Available: Last accessed 3rd Dec 2014.


Unknown , (2000), Strawberry Noir (Fragaria Fusca Tenebris) [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 03 December 14].


Colour/ Dyeing:

  • Undyed fibre: Fox fibre cotton, different wool fleece colours and golden silk, doesn’t answer to seasonal colour flexibility or price
  • In-built colour: Negating the need to dye, colour feedstock into mulberry powder used to feed silkworms, cocoons produce inherent colour that can be used as a luminescent, similar work with cotton plants, suitable for large scale manufacturing of basic stock colours.

Waste Reproduction

Direct Panel Loom (DPL): Weaves made to fit garment sections, saves yarn, dyes, and chemicals, reduced time and processes by 50%


loomstate, (2011), zerowastedesembed [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 03 December 14].



“The winning design, by Crescioni was inspired from a zero waste fashion course at the school and guidance from Timo Rissanen, Parsons Assistant Professor of Fashion Design and Sustainability and an expert in zero waste fashion.”

– Amy DuFault. (2015). LUSTABLES: LOOMSTATE & PARSON’S ZERO WASTE ANORAK. Available: Last accessed 3rd Dec 2014.

“Zero waste fashion is an innovative design process that produces no fabric waste. In effect, patternmaking becomes an integral part of the process, creating a richer, more sustainable design practice,” says Simon Collins, dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons. “Through this collaboration, we have proven that zero waste can be a viable manufacturing process for designers.” –  

Amy DuFault. (2015). LUSTABLES: LOOMSTATE & PARSON’S ZERO WASTE ANORAK. Available: Last accessed 3rd Dec 2014.



  • Centriforce Products: Fishing nets reused into reusable polymers
  • Up cycling and down cycling fabrics either for insulation or new clothing, Trash to Trend database, Reet Aus and Beximoo use post-production scraps on a large scale to make a repeatable line of clothing styles
  • Freitag repurpose haulage tarpaulins from trucks into bags, Hosewear use upcycled fire hoses and tyres, Green Furnitures T-shirt chair is a steel frame and consumer can ‘upholster’ with personal clothes or fabric
  • Refinity’s Fioen van Balgooi: Removable prints, textile inks that can be stripped from a garment before it’s sent for reprinting, doesn’t contain any harmful substances.

Cradle to Cradle

  • Creating closed loops or cycles for both natural and synthetic materials, technical nutrients are non-harmful synthetic substances, biological nutrients can be decomposed
  • Desso: Carpet manufacturer who take back used carpets from consumers and seperate yarn from backing, producing two material streams, yarn returned to yarn manufacturer to be reused.



Amy DuFault. (2015). LUSTABLES: LOOMSTATE & PARSON’S ZERO WASTE ANORAK. Available: Last accessed 3rd Dec 2014.

Animana, (2014), ELLE & LUI [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 03 December 14].

Jucheng Hu, (2008), Pink Sewage [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 03 December 14]

Loomstate, (2011), zerowastedesembed [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 03 December 14].

Unknown . (2014). Biolace. Available: Last accessed 3rd Dec 2014.

Unknown , (2000), Strawberry Noir (Fragaria Fusca Tenebris) [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 03 December 14].