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  The Herman Trend Alert

May 22, 2019

Upcycling in Fashion

In November 2017, a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that each second, one garbage truck's worth of textiles is wasted. Moreover, less than one percent of clothing is currently recycled. The researchers estimated that by 2050 the fashion industry will contribute a whopping 25 percent to the world's annual carbon footprint. By addressing the environmental and societal downsides of its current practices, the Boston Consulting Group estimates the fashion industry could save the global economy $160 billion annually. To put that number in perspective, the amount is more than the gross domestic product of most of the countries of the world.

Sustainable fashion is already here
In fact, in 2017, the explosion of sustainable fashion in Asia, the Pacific, and Australia prompted the first Eco Fashion Week Australia. In 2018, 170 designers participated in the United Kingdom MAMOQ, an online marketplace dedicated to sustainable fashion.

Fashion designers have developed a conscience.
Being proactive in their response to such statistics and events, designers, particularly those that appeal to younger audiences have embraced the trends of upcycling and local sourcing by repurposing wasted fabric and old clothes.

One designer's story
In 2017, the London-born, Nigeria-raised, and New York-based designer, Lola Faturoti launched "Lola Loves Cargo," a leading-edge collection of sustainable cargo pants. Not only do they preserve traditional African designs, but they also minimize "dumping" of wasted textiles in developing countries. Reusing old T-shirts and army jackets, she incorporates African designs.

Upcycling defined
Faturoti is among a growing set of designers across Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas who are turning zero-waste and sustainable fabrics into high-end fashion that is garnering attention from many. This approach is called "upcycling."

Other designers are upcycling, too!
Actress Alysia Reiner, Estonian designer Reet Aus, and Madeline Petrow have all adopted zero waste methods of production. In addition, in 2013, designer Abrima Erwiah and actress Rosario Dawson partnered to launch Studio 189, a manufacturer of sustainable clothing in West Africa. In 2018, the partnership won an $80,000 grant from the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the Lexus Fashion Initiative, which supports ethical fashion.

What young consumers want
Surveys by Global Fashion Agenda, an international platform of professionals trying to encourage the industry to turn sustainable, and the Boston Consulting Group show that the percentage of fashion companies for whom sustainability targets are a "guiding principle" in most decisions has gone up from 34 percent in 2017 to 52 percent in 2018. According to Bloomberg, in 2019 Gen Z now eclipses the Millennial generation (Gen Y) at 32 percent of the population. Additionally, the younger generations are dedicated to supporting social responsibility. We have already seen consumers voting for sustainability in other product areas. Thus, we expect consumer demand for sustainable fashion to grow and grow quickly.

Special thanks to for raising our consciousness to this leading edge topic.

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