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11 September 2020
This month, the UK-based experimental clothing brand Vollebak unveiled a fully biodegradable and compostable hoodie. The Plant and Pomegranate hoodie is made from eucalyptus trees grown in sustainably-managed forests and is dyed with pomegranate peel. It can decompose in a compost heap in around eight weeks. In a post announcing the launch the brand said: ‘The Plant and Pomegranate Hoodie feels like a normal hoodie, looks like a normal hoodie, and lasts as long as a normal hoodie. The thing that makes it different is simply the way it starts and ends its life.’
The fashion industry has a sustainability problem. It’s hard to quantify just how big the issue is, but there are many visible signs, from Indonesia’s polluted Citarum River, which soaks up wastewater from local textile factories, to the unworn items that languish at the back of your wardrobe. Brands, including H&M-owned COS, are experimenting with reselling platforms and consumer interest in this approach is growing, but that’s only part of the solution: if COS doesn’t also reduce the volume of new products, resale is little more than a token gesture.
If you work in the fashion industry, take a look in the mirror. Are your sustainability initiatives truly doing good? Or are you jumping on the bandwagon and doing the minimum to meet customer expectations? For brands outside the sector, what’s your equivalent ‘waste’ issue? Yes, these are big issues to solve. But they are only going to get worse. Perhaps you could partner with competitors to make some headway – remember how MacDonald’s and Starbucks teamed up to eliminate single-use cups?
Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that Vollebak’s clothing experiments are expensive, accessible only to the few (the brand is yet to release prices for the Plant and Pomegranate hoodie, the Plant & Algae t-shirt retails at GBP 85). Here’s the thing: consumers will hear about these concepts, and they will hold your brand to the same standards. Concepts that are once niche can quickly crossover to the mainstream: the growing demand for vegan products is just one example of that. What ‘far out’ innovations should be on your radar? And how will you adapt to meet the expectations they will set over the coming months and years?
The TrendWatching content team