In a world where sustainability is climbing up social and political agendas, fashion’s huge environmental footprint is very off-trend. If we fail to address environmental damage at a systemic level—starting with fibres—our industry risks going out of fashion.

While regulation is an important factor in driving more sustainable solutions and scaling innovations across fibres, another key consideration is the local context. What makes sense in one market may actually cause harm in another.

Bamboo viscose, for example, could be an exciting development for a country like China, but there’s not enough research to tell us conclusively if it makes sense in a central Asian country where bamboo is harder and more expensive to source. Likewise, leather from pineapple leaves might work in a country like India but what of mushroom leather? In many cases, retaining the green credentials of next-gen fibres will mean keeping production close to the source of raw materials.

Similarly, calls for recycling to become rooted into the textile lifecycle are well meaning, but infrastructure must be in place to make it truly sustainable and cost-effective.

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