Turning trash to treasure: why Tras(h)umanity is in fashion

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It is my genuine belief that fashion has a great opportunity to be a force for good and a leading contributor to the shift to a new global economic paradigm, writes Alexandra Morris. As Coco Chanel said “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only, fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live what is happening.’’

Since the beginning of time, fashion has been a mirror of cultural, social, sexual & political evolution, and is now undergoing arguably its most critical metamorphosis ever.

It’s estimated that 10 to 25 per cent of all clothes ever made go straight to landfill, this way insanity lies, time for a new routine. With 88 per cent of UK & US Millenials convinced that brands need to do more good rather than just doing ‘less bad’ (according to the recent report 2016 Predictions for the Luxury Industry: Sustainability and Innovation), brands that don’t have sustainability at the heart of their business model will simply have no place in the future world order.

Much like Rapunzel spun golden thread from straw, a similar upscaling alchemy is underway at the Italian textile company Carvico, in partnership with ‘Healthy Seas’, creating a recycled nylon thread called Econyl which is crafted from salvaged sea nets. It’s estimated that there are 640,000 tonnes of abandoned sea nets causing pollution in fishing communities in developing countries and killing marine life, turtles, dolphins, who fall victim to ghost fishing. Econyl can be used to create swimwear, sportswear, underwear and outerwear, bringing a whole new meaning to the term fish net stocking!

London based Auria, founded in 2013 is a luxury swimwear brand which has sustainability at the heart of its manifesto and was recently selected to feature in Selfridges’ Bright New Things window display, showcasing the UK’s sustainable fashion success stories. Their mission is to create fun future thinking design where style and substance are easy bedfellows. Having shown at London Fashion Week for the last 3 years and with Eliza Dolittle and Rhianna in their fanclub, they are certainly one to watch.

Another brand that has at its heart aquatic upcycling is the Spanish menswear & womenswear innovator ECOALF, founded in 2010 with their concept of TRAS(H)umanity firing the engine of their business. It’s their mission to cater to the new generation of conscious consumers who are not willing to compromise on aesthetic values by revolutionising the idea of raw materials & cleaning up the planet.

They currently have 11 partnerships around the globe developing materials from fishing nets, post-consumer plastic bottles, old tyres, post-industrial cotton & even used coffee grinds. Upcycling the Oceans is one of ECOALF’s groundbreaking alliances, whose aim is to transform plastic debris at the bottom of the Mediterranean into thread through partnering with Spanish Fishermen off the coast of Levante.

Arguably the task ahead for established brands, behemouths such as Addidas to re-structure existing supply chains and processes, and reduce their negative environmental impact is much greater task. A prototype has been developed, the upper shoe made entirely from yarns and filaments from deep sea gillnets and other ocean waste. This is the first creation resulting from Addidas’ partnership with Parley for the Oceans, an organization that aims to eradicate pollution of our oceans. G-Star has teamed up with bionic yarn and Farrell Williams to create a range of denim ‘Raw for the oceans’ from sea waste.

In Havas Media’s latest bi-annual report interviewing 300,000 people across 35 countries, the resounding consensus was that people don’t trust brands anymore, Rana Plaza, the banking crisis, FIFA corruption and the horsemeat scandal to name but a few examples of why public trust in business has been decimated.

Time for a new regime, where businesses and brands exist to serve society on an individual and collective level, creating solutions to the global challenges we all face rather than being part of the problem.

We are the change, we are the way, it’s in our hands. The Trash to Treasure Alchemy that the fashion industry are pioneering is a game changing movement that can inspire and inform the choices of brands, designers and consumer tribes.

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Photo Credit: FUMIGRAPHIK-Photographist from Flickr.

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