The wake-up call coming from the fashion industry is slowly being heard. Tons of waste production and water pollution are just two of the detrimental impacts of the industry. The industry needs to change in every aspect there is. The digitization of the global world offers new solutions to various problems. Can technology also save the fashion industry? How can we make a textile revolution?
The fashion industry is responsible for four to 10% of the annual global greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing these emissions, overproduction, pollution and waste are crucial steps that the industry needs to take. Garment workers need to receive fair wages and safe working conditions. Many consumers have been leaning toward a more sustainable lifestyle. Nevertheless, if sustainability is not accessible, not everyone can make a change. Brands and their stance on sustainability are the driving factors in this transformation. There are still not enough brands out there that are actually sustainable. Do many brands claim they are sustainable – but are they really? Many brands release conscious collections without actual evidence to back up their claims. Or use high-end yarns, but do not pay attention to using other sustainable materials. This is greenwashing – a tactic used by many companies.
Greenwashing is tactic companies use to appear more sustainable than they actually are. They provide misleading information on how their products are sustainable. This way, consumers believe they are helping the environment. In reality, these products are just as unsustainable as others. Companies exaggerate their claims about sustainability to mislead their customers. Nearly 60% of claims that they were sustainable by the major UK and European companies were titled misleading. Greenwashing is a large problem that consumers must be aware of, especially when trying to be more conscious. Certain brands produce one line of products in a sustainable way. Nevertheless, they claim to be a sustainable company, which is greenwashing. These brands see sustainability as a new trend to follow, rather than the last chance to save the planet. It is important to be aware of this issue and support fully sustainable brands instead.
The Textiles Industries’ primary concern is the design, production, and distribution of different items. The items include yarn, cloth, and clothing. It generates many jobs in different countries and is a crucial part of any supply chain. Until the industrial revolution, these textiles were produced individually at home. There were small resales, but people produced textiles for their own good. As the textile industry discovered mass production and distribution, it became increasingly less sustainable. The dyeing process in the textile industry pollutes the water in developing countries. The fashion industry alone is responsible for 20% of the global water waste. Transformation needs to happen across the entire supply chain for the industry to become more sustainable. So, what does the future of it look like? How is this textile revolution?
A current trend across all industries is recycling. The beauty industry recycles packaging, and the fashion industry recycles textiles. In return, the fabric is produced through plastic bottles, which helps save the planet. People are buying second-hand clothing to prolong the product lifecycle. Energy efficiency and reducing the usage of natural resources are one of the industry’s top priorities. 3D printers are creating clothing items, driving the digitalization of the entire industry.
There are many opportunities to present themselves, which consumers and suppliers will be aware of. Nevertheless, textile companies need to implement new technologies and reduce waste. As with any trends, companies remain unsustainable if they fail to adopt them. Unsustainable companies do not meet consumer demand. This will drive the suppliers to lose their competitiveness. There are companies that have realized the opportunities of digitalization in this industry. But who?
BY BORRE is a company that merges the physical with the digital world of the textile industry. The design- and production process of the textile industry can be transformed. This company demands to democratize the supply chain through transparency. The founder, Borre Akkersdijk, believes that transparency is the only way to be 100% sustainable. Borre also believes sharing this knowledge is crucial for all businesses. Gatekeeping ways to improve sustainability is pointless, as it doesn’t lead to the necessary results. He believes in using items, rather than owning items. Renting clothing in the future needs to be accessible to everyone. Low-income households still want to look fashionable.
This is a driving force behind the fast fashion industry. Making rentals accessible to the masses can eliminate this problem. Overall, pioneering companies that believe in transparency are crucial in making a change. Holding brands responsible, and educating them in the process, is a promising path for the future.
Borre Akkersdijk has been a part of textile development for more than 12 years. His mission is to bring transparency to the industry and democratize the supply chain. In 2015, he co-founded BYBORRE, the Amsterdam-based textile innovation studio. Borre’s questioning of the boundaries of the industry turned into a company dedicated to rewiring the textile industry.
Gustavo Brigatto is a business journalist with more than 15 years of experience. He covers start-ups, technology, and innovation. He is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Startups.com.br, a media outlet that follows the start-up and venture capital scene in Brazil and Latin America. For 12 years he was a reporter at Valor Econômico, which is the most prestigious business publication in Brazil.
Gustavo is a business journalist with more than 15 years of experience covering startups, technology and innovation. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Startups.com.br, a media outlet that follows the startups and venture capital scene in Brazil and Latin America. Prior to that, he was a reporter at Valor Econômico, the most prestigious business publication in Brazil, for almost 12 years. Gustavo holds a bachelor´s degree in Journalism from Universidade Mackenzie, a Marketing MBA from Fundação Getúlio Vargas and a Financial Information and Capital Markets MBA from UBS/BM&FBovespa (now B3).
Borre Akkersdijk has been involved in textile development for over 12 years. He is working on the mission of bringing transparency to the industry and democratizing the supply chain. In 2015 he co-founded BYBORRE – an Amsterdam-based textile innovation studio working on the frontiers of scalable bespoke textile development and production.
What started with Borre questioning and rewiring the creative boundaries of circular knitting machines at production sites, grew into a company dedicated to rewiring everything in the production processes of knitted textiles. His studio in Amsterdam houses a knit lab and atelier, a curated library of yarns, and the latest industry innovations coming from a network of industry experts that are otherwise siloed off and inaccessible to most.
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