What fashion appeared in 2021

From huge gains for garment workers to ushering in wild new sustainable materials, here’s how the industry has made headway in another area. exceptional year

Clearly, a lot has gone wrong this year. We’re in season nine of what we thought was a one-season pandemic for a start, and the Earth is literally losing its luster. However, among the torrent of bad news, we’ve seen progress, and fashion in particular has seen some significant victories this year in terms of the environment and human rights. Here we gather some reasons to celebrate.

Ready-made garment workers win

In the face of COVID wage theft, union busting activities, and dangerous working conditions, garment workers, unions and labor organizations have been preoccupied with organizing, gaining some serious ground in the fight for garment workers rights in the process.

The Bangladesh agreement, drawn up in the wake of the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse, helped identify 87,000 safety problems in Bangladesh’s garment factories, thereby eliminating 90 percent of them. At risk of expiring earlier this year as brands searched for easier options meaning they weren’t in legal and financial trouble due to safety issues, a coordinated campaign has added public pressure. As a result, the legally binding agreement was not only extended, but expanded. Now known as the International Agreement on Health and Safety in the Textile and Clothing Industry, the agreement promises to extend the program to other countries, helping to protect more garment workers, and has the option of expanding the scope to include more human rights issues.

“Although the garment workers are often painted in another way, they are energetic and efficient in their progress – and the heroes in the global north have not saved them – and regulation in this sector is more evident than ever.”

California saw another big win for garment workers when SB 62 (commonly known as the Garment Worker Protection Act) was passed. The state now requires that garment workers be paid a minimum hourly wage and prohibits piecework, a practice in which workers are paid through garments that often results in a criminally equivalent hourly rate of less than $3. The law also punishes manufacturers and brands for illegal practices such as wage theft.

Although often painted otherwise, the garment workers were energetic and efficient in their progress – and the heroes in the North of the world did not save them – and the organization in this sector became more evident than ever. Members of the Tamil Nadu Textile and Combined Labor Union (TTCU) have received compensation for the family of Jaysri Kathiravel, a Dalit garment worker who was sexually harassed and murdered. They continue to push for an enforceable agreement to end gender-based violence; In March, a coalition of more than 200 organizations in 40 countries launched a week of action, calling on brands and manufacturers to pay workers and respect workers’ rights; And in Cambodia and Bangladesh, garment workers protested outside their factories on the day Amazon made payments on Black Friday.

The need for protests, strikes and campaigns to happen still speaks volumes about how much progress is still needed, but change is afoot.

Legislation is the new black

The next big thing in fashion? legislation. Specifically, legislation to address the unfair green washing and environmental destruction caused by fashion brands. In March, the European Union approved a proposed directive on “human rights, environmental and good governance due diligence,” meaning that when the legislation becomes law, companies will have to pay a fine if they cause harm by failing to perform their duties with due diligence. Businesses, including fashion brands, will have to take responsibility for the entire supply chain to make sure they prevent child labor, allow freedom of association, and protect biodiversity, among other things.

In October, the UK Competition and Markets Authority announced the Green Claims Act. Brands that make misleading or ambiguous claims about sustainability, make unsubstantiated claims, omit information, and do not take into account the full life cycle of a product, may find themselves, as of January 2022, violating consumer protection laws. So, a fast fashion brand dropping a “sustainable” group without explaining exactly what makes it sustainable wouldn’t fly anymore.

Actions on a smaller scale are also underway, such as Massachusetts’ plan to add nonwovens to the state’s no-disposal list to help boost recycling and resource recovery rates, and hopefully with more legislation on the horizon. The United Kingdom announced that it would consult on an expanded producer responsibility scheme (where producers assume physical or financial responsibility for the disposal of goods) for textiles; The US Federal Trade Commission is set to review its Green Guide (its version of the Green Claims Act) next year; The European Union has proposed stricter measures for sustainability reporting for large companies; A group of more than 50 brands, suppliers, NGOs, retailers and associations have supported COP26’s request by the Textile Exchange to incentivize the use of “environmentally preferred” materials.

loop closure

As we saw on Black Friday, brands that produce so much they can give away for free have led places like Chile’s Atacama Desert to become fashion pranks. Discarded clothing piled high allows brands and consumers to see the impact of the lightning-fast, linear fashion system. In response, fashion companies have begun adopting circular practices to keep clothing, textiles, and fibers in the loop, preventing waste.

This year the likes of Nike, Mara Hoffman, Raeburn and Rachel Comey have joined the ranks of brands that are embracing reselling through their own platforms and partners like Responsible and Recurate. Net-a-Porter and Harvey Nichols now offer users the opportunity to pre-sell darling clothing, while Vestiaire Collective has launched a new “brand-certified” brand in partnership with Alexander McQueen, which invites trusted customers to sell their unworn clothing. The pieces are then endorsed by both Vestiaire Collective and the brand.

Of course, circularity should not start with the end of life, it should be designed from scratch. To this end, ASOS, in partnership with the Center for Sustainable Fashion, released the circular design guide in November. The free interactive resource is designed to help designers and students “create fashion products that support the circular economy”. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation also launched a similar book in December. The book, Circular Design for Fashion, includes contributions from Bethany Williams, Marina Siri, and Duran Lantinck among others. Insights from the ASOS Guide include making regular plans more efficient for waste reduction, product durability and textile recycling technologies, while Ellen MacArthur’s presentation seeks to “reshape the entire system.”

“For circularity to be a true success, material innovation is also needed, and this year, it was a highlight. Finland-based textile specialist Spinnova has developed a pulp-based fiber that really improves quality every time it is recycled and processed”

For circularity to be a real success, material innovation is also needed, and this year was a prominent topic. Introduced in 2021, Finland-based textile manufacturer Spinnova has developed a pulp-based fiber that actually improves quality each time it is recycled and reprocessed, tackling the challenging problem of many materials becoming less useful with each Course. , which means that recycling effectively turns into down-recycling. Heritage Italian jeans brand Candiani launched Coreva, the world’s first biodegradable denim to use natural rubber instead of synthetic threads, Hermès created the first bag using Sylvania mushroom leather, and Orange Fiber, a startup that makes fabrics from citrus by-products that won Vogue magazine Yokes Challenge 2021

PUMA is taking a two-pronged approach with its RE: SUEDE pilot programme, launched in November, and combining physical innovation with retrieval infrastructure, another vital principle of circulation. 500 participants in the pilot program will wear an updated version of PUMA SUEDE (made of biodegradable TPE and hemp fibers) for six months to test for durability before being returned via a newly introduced system. From there, the sneakers will undergo a biodegradation process. While brands like Thousand Fell have already created loafer sneakers in one look, the more solutions, more funding, and more innovation, the better.

Slow progress, but unstable progress

As we face the climate crisis, there is absolutely no doubt that the fashion industry is progressing very slowly. But it continues to advance thanks to its dedicated and innovative creators, organizers, and innovators who are constantly striving to make an impact in new areas. The United Nations Fashion Charter relied on sustainable communication during the COP26 Declaration, and the global sustainability organization launched the WSO Models and Agency Academy to promote an ethical and sustainable approach to modeling. No stone was left without its heart.

Despite the prominence and power of Disney’s sinister billionaire CEOs who seek profit at the expense of everything else, good things happen. If we focus on combining them, and hit the accelerator, we can be on to something.


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