Updated: Aug 29
Fashion Revolution 2.0 represents the next phase of the sustainable fashion movement where technology will play a pivotal role in transforming the industry.
What is Sustainable Fashion Technology?
From innovative materials to digital solutions, technology is driving sustainability advancements in various aspects of fashion production, consumption, and supply chain transparency.
As customers not only have a preference for more sustainable practices but also pay more for sustainable goods - we will continue to see new changes impacting the fashion industry (for the better)
Self-regulating fabrics require fewer dyes/chemicals and indicate overproduction through properties like regulating temperature by changing fibre structure and activating colour change when exposed to UV light.
However, challenges remain around scaling performance, cost and commercial viability of solutions from companies like Sensoria (temperature-regulating yarn) and Kolon (fibres changing colour in response to stimuli). Fibre2Fashion predicts smart fabrics will reach 15% of the $1 trillion textile market by 2025.
Source - ignasi sayol
Organic cotton is grown without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, and recycled polyester fibres made from discarded plastic bottles aim to minimize the environmental impacts of fashion materials.
While this has existed for years with pioneering brands like Stella McCartney - other businesses like H&M have seen the benefit in eco fibres and heavily push their use of reused/recycled poly materials in a lot of their recent marketing materials
Optimized Supply Chains
Real-time Visibility with IoT Sensors and RFID Tracking
IoT sensors and RFID tracking technologies play a crucial role in creating real-time visibility within supply chains. These technologies enable businesses to track and monitor the movement of goods. This can find inefficiencies while ensuring transparency and accountability throughout the entire process.
In the fashion industry, IoT sensors and RFID tags can be used to track the production of garments from start to finish. IoT sensors can be embedded in manufacturing equipment to collect data on production speed, downtime, and maintenance needs. RFID tags can be attached to individual garments, allowing for real-time tracking of their location and status as they move through different stages of production. This real-time visibility method has also been adopted by brands like Zara, American Eagle, and The North Face.
This enables manufacturers to identify bottlenecks, optimize production processes, and minimize waste.
Big Data Analytics
Big data analytics plays a vital role in optimizing production processes within supply chains. By analyzing large volumes of data collected from various sources, businesses can gain valuable insights that drive efficiency improvements and waste reduction.
Adidas, a renowned sportswear brand, utilizes IoT sensors in its manufacturing facilities to monitor energy consumption, machine performance, and production efficiency. The data collected from these sensors is analyzed to identify opportunities for energy and resource optimization, leading to reduced waste and improved sustainability in the production process.
Apparel retailers heavily rely on accurate demand forecasting to optimize their production schedules. Leveraging big data techniques, such as machine learning algorithms, historical sales data, customer preferences, and external factors like weather patterns, can be analyzed to predict future demand with higher accuracy.
This enables retailers to optimize their production quantities, reduce overproduction, and minimize excess inventory that contributes to fast fashion waste.
Challenges with Data-Driven Supply Chains
Ensuring data security and privacy is one of the key challenges limiting full supply chain optimization through technology. With the increased use of IoT sensors and the collection of large amounts of sensitive data, businesses need to implement robust cybersecurity measures to protect against data breaches and unauthorized access.
Additionally, compliance with data protection regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), adds complexity to the implementation of data-driven supply chains.
Extending Product Life Through Resale and Rental Platforms
Data Analytics: Matching Supply and Demand Effectively
Data analytics plays a crucial role in extending product life through resale and rental platforms by effectively matching supply and demand. By utilizing AI algorithms and data analysis techniques, these platforms can analyze and tag items with relevant attributes, enabling targeted searches and matching them with interested customers.
Platforms like thredUP, an online secondhand clothing marketplace, leverage data analytics to analyze and tag clothing items based on attributes such as brand, size, colour, and style. This allows customers to search for specific items they are interested in, making the buying process more efficient and increasing the likelihood of extending the life of those products.
Tracking and Maintenance Solutions
Tracking and maintenance solutions, including the use of RFID and sensor data, are instrumental in ensuring the quality and longevity of products in resale and rental platforms. By monitoring the condition of items and implementing predictive maintenance strategies, these platforms can proactively address any issues and extend the useful life of the products.
Rent the Runway, a popular fashion rental platform utilizes RFID technology to track and manage their extensive inventory of designer clothing and accessories. RFID tags embedded in each item enable real-time tracking and facilitate condition monitoring. This allows Rent the Runway to identify potential maintenance or repair needs, ensuring that items are in excellent condition for each customer, ultimately extending the lifespan of the rented products.
Personalized Recommendations and Optimization
Personalized recommendations and optimization techniques, such as 3D scanning and AI algorithms, contribute to extending the life of products on resale and rental platforms. By utilizing advanced technologies, these platforms can offer customized suggestions to customers, encouraging the selection of products that fit their needs and preferences, leading to increased usage and prolonged product life.
Warby Parker, an online eyewear retailer, uses 3D scanning technology to offer virtual try-on experiences and create customized eyewear. Through their mobile app or website, customers can scan their faces with their smartphones, generating a 3D model. This technology enables customers to virtually try on different eyeglass frames and ensures a personalized fit. By leveraging 3D scanning, Warby Parker enhances the customer experience and extends the life of their eyewear products.
Technology plays a pivotal role in advancing sustainable fashion by enabling transparency in the supply chain, promoting circular economy practices, and facilitating innovative solutions like smart textiles and recycling technologies. From data analytics and AI algorithms to digital platforms and wearables, technology is driving positive change in the fashion industry, helping to reduce waste, improve resource efficiency, and create a more ethical and sustainable future for fashion.
Meanwhile, there are several charities in the UK dedicated to supporting fashion waste reduction and advocating against fast fashion. Supporting these charities, such as Fashion Revolution, WRAP UK, and Oxfam's Second-hand September campaign, can empower individuals to take action and make a positive impact on the fashion industry. By donating, volunteering, or participating in initiatives that promote conscious consumption and responsible fashion choices, individuals can contribute to a more sustainable future while supporting those working to combat fashion waste and promote ethical practices.