The fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply. The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second.

In Amsterdam, conscious efforts are being made to counter fashion’s devastating environmental impact in a fast-growing sustainable fashion industry.

Fashion for Good, a sustainable fashion platform based in the city, this month launched the Renewable Carbon Textiles Project that brings together key industry players to develop and scale polyhydroxyalkanoates, or PHA polymer fibres.

These are biosynthetic fibres – made from renewable sources such as agricultural byproducts – and provide an alternative to harmful fibres like polyester, which are responsible for increased greenhouse gas emissions and the release of microplastics into the environment.

Amsterdam’s forward-thinking designers and innovators have long been striving to disrupt the industry status quo and change it from within. Here are some of those city-founded trend-setters:

1. Pioneering technology

DyeCoo has pioneered the world’s first water-free and process chemical-free dyeing technology, using reclaimed carbon dioxide. After the carbon dioxide is used to dissolve the dye into the fabric, the CO2 evaporates, and is used again, forming a closed loop process. The company, situated in the Amsterdam Area has already established partnerships with major brands like Nike and IKEA. In 2019 it was recognised by the World Economic Forum as one of the top leaders in circular economy.

2. Revolutionising retail

The Fabricant Iridescence

The Fabricant has moved fashion into the digital realm, designing apparel that no longer needs a physical manifestation at all. Its photo-real 3D designs can be used in digital fashion editorials and social media. This eliminates the need for wasteful sample collections, and can cut lead times for digital ad campaigns. The sale of the Fabricant-designed ‘Iridescence’ dress was a landmark moment in digital-only couture when it sold for $9,500.

Honourable mention: Lalaland is also gaining prominence with its development of virtual models that can be customised to reflect a shopper’s size, shape and skin tone.

3. Recycle and reuse 

Wieland Textiles recycles about 9 million kilos of discarded textiles each year and closes the loop by upcycling these fibres as renewable clothes and materials for new products. It does this with the help of Fibersort, newly developed tech that scans and sorts garments – at a rate of 900 kilos per hour –  into uniform categories of fibres with specific compositions, colours and/or structures.

4. Conscious creations 

BYBORRE believes 80% of the environmental footprint of textile is set in stone during the design process. Therefore, its textile innovation studio helps designers create custom sustainable fabrics, all while putting their own stamp on things. It’s an innovation the likes of Adidas, BMW and Natuzzi have embraced.

5. Jeans for life

Piles of denim jeans on store shelf. Unsplash

Rather than selling its sustainable jeans, MUD Jeans loans them for a fixed period, after which the wearer can decide whether to keep them or send them back to be made into vintage models, leaving no waste and using 92% less water than an average pair. In fact, Amsterdam is a frontrunner in eco-friendly denim, with G-Star RAW and Denham all putting sustainability at the heart of their process.

6. Waste to wardrobe

Maium raincoats Amsterdam

The duo behind sustainable raincoat brand Maium believe “fashion and innovation doesn’t have to cost the earth”. They use recycled plastic bottles to make stylish, functional raincoats that make commuting in Amsterdam a breeze, whatever the weather. Their goal in 2021 is to recycle more than 1,000,000 plastic bottles into their raincoats, without toxic substances and under safe and fair conditions. 

Honourable mentions: Footwear brand Mercer Amsterdam has produced sustainable trainers incorporating vegan leather made from wine waste.

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