Updated: May 20
It is getting more and more likely that these are possible conversations in the near future:
"I love your sweater! Where did you get it?" "Thank you, actually I made it myself!" or "Those jeans fit you perfectly, are they also toxic-free? "You are so sweet, and Yes, actually they are!"
For many years, well before the Corona virus outbreak, the Fashion industry has been under scrutiny as consumers increasingly have come to understand that their favorite pair of jeans could actually have an even higher carbon footprint than their last weekend flight.
Abrupt change to shopping patterns
But even though the average consumer might have wondered how it's possible for a t-shirt to only cost 3 euros, it takes time before the actions catch up with the sustainable mindset. There were loud complaints that the change was happening too slowly, until Corona hit and the change in shopping patterns became very abrupt.
We don't know what will happen but we do know that humans are creatures of habit. There is that saying that it takes 21 days to change a habit. In many parts of the world those 3 weeks have been passed and lock-down continues.
Meaning that a lot fewer people are now impulse buying clothes and despite the efficiency built into the online shopping experience, it still gives the buyer some extra time to actually think it through, and maybe re-think, before "adding to cart" and clicking the Pay button.
The best factory will be the closest factory?
Part from the pollution caused while producing the fast-fashion items, the debate has also been about the conditions of the factory workers with a different origin than the brand itself.
Many of the big fashion retail chains have taken measures accordingly but with the Corona crisis slowing down the supply chain, the "best factories" are likely to not just be the most sustainably run factories, rather the ones that are physically located closest to Headquarters.
Explaining why the Spanish Fashion retail empire Inditex is not suffering as much as their competitors right now. Quoting Wikpedia: "New styles are prototyped in just 5 days and 60% of the manufacturing happens locally to shorten lead-times. In Zara stores, it can take a new garment as little as 15 days to go from design and production to store shelves."
Conscious clothes production by Spanish startups
The hashtag #MadeInTheNeighborhood has been used by this Spanish startup for some time and is likely to further strengthen their brand as the virus loosens its grip on our lives.
Kniterate was truly born global, being part of the HAX hardware accelerator program in Shenzhen, China, founded by the Spanish duo Gerard Rubio and Triambak Saxena.
Now based at their HQ in London, Triambak Saxena went from being "a molecular biologist studying the genetic mechanisms of flowering", to being the Co-CEO of Kniterate.
As explained on their website: "Kniterate is a compact digital knitting machine that brings fashion fabrication into your workshop. Perfect for small fashion businesses and design studios, maker spaces and schools."
It's said to be like a more affordable, computer-controlled industrial knitting machine and claims to be able to "transfer stitches around and do it automatically, freeing you up to do your best creative work."
Quite literally this Spanish startup, with a similar"knitty" name, warms your heart, body and soul with their knitting kits and patterns online. We Are Knitters have made an amazing journey betting on a hobby that some of us thought was getting extinct.
Early on during quarantine life (in Spain from March 14), Pepita Marín Rey-Stolle, CEO and co-founder could see a sudden boost in sales, shared with newspaper El Confidencial:
"(...) we broke the billing record in a single day: 100,000 euros." "Our sales have been multiplied fourfold compared to the previous week, especially by the volume received from Spain, Italy, France and the United States," adds Alberto Bravo, co-founder.
Pre-Corona crisis, founder of Jeanologia, Enrique Silla, told Sifted about their predictions:
“We believe that in three years our mission will be finished and that jeans will be completely detoxified and dehydrated, so no more water or toxic chemicals will be used in a single pair of jeans around the world".
Based in the growing startup hub Valencia, their technology promises to decrease energy usage by a third, chemical usage by two thirds, and water consumption by 71%.
Some of their tech developments are washing machines, replacing water with high-tech alternatives such as ozone particles and nano bubbles. This very technology is now being transformed into an efficient way of sanitizing medical supply like face protection masks.
Interviewed during the crisis, the founder shares further predictions with Spanish El Mundo:
"An important way to restore confidence to the consumer would be to ensure that what you buy is absolutely disinfected." "All this experience we're acquiring can be used to sanitize textile garments found in clothing stores, restaurants, hotels, etc." He adds: "The sanitization of garments could become a new line of business."
Consumers willing to pay a sustainability premium?
Back in the summer of 2019, Sustainable fashion designers dominated the catwalk in the 080 Barcelona Fashion show and already then proved that "Sustainable was the new black".
Fashion guru Charo Mora then said: "There is a clear turning point in the fashion industry. At times it may look like it's just a marketing strategy, but there is an increasing change."
Knowing where we are now, in the middle of a forced Shopping stand-still, the sustainable way of dressing might not just be the most fashionable way to go out (when allowed), it could become the most accessible way to dress.
Did you find this interesting? Do you agree? Or disagree? I so love an interesting conversation and would love to hear your thoughts. Please do leave a comment!!
Crafted by Caroline Lagergren
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