It is no longer a clandestine narrative that the fashion industry is one of the most wasteful industries in the world. With more than a hundred billion fashion items produced each year, three out of five end up in landfills. More often than not, luxury brands and fast fashion brands are at the forefront of the abhorrent waste generation. However, with the ethical and sustainable fashion movement gaining momentum, various luxury brands are diligently trying to turn the tables for the better. In the 2019 G7 Conference in France, twenty-four fashion houses and textile producers, including opulent luxury logos like Burberry, Chanel, and Ralph Lauren, signed the ‘Fashion Pact.’ Despite seeming mere signatory, the ‘Fashion Pact’ is a historically unbeknownst move and can transform the profligate practices of the fashion world.
Plant-based Luxury: What is it all about?
In the contemporary scenario, green is not just an option; it is the new luxury. Some of the most renowned luxury clothing brands like Loro Piana, Dior, and Valentino are co-opting bio-fiber to create stunning fashion pieces. Mega-mogul of Italian wool – Loro Piana has resorted to sustainably sourced plant-based material to produce some of the world’s finest fabric. Likewise, Roman luxury house Valentino is producing ethereal-looking women’s handbags from 55 percent recycled paper. In addition, Chanel is not far behind as it has begun using plant-based caps for its luxury perfumes. Finally, Nike has collaborated with the biocouture project of Launch Fabrics to enhance the circular economy in the fashion domain by providing bio-based materials with the acceleration wheel.
Plant-based Materials that are Changing the Face of Luxury
- Pinatex – Made from the waste pineapple leaf, Pinatex is a natural alternative to leather. It shares many similarities with conventional leather in terms of water resistance, softness, and appearance. Devised by Spanish designer Dr. Carmen Hijosa, pinatex is currently being used by more than a thousand luxury fashion brands like H&M, Hugo Boss, and likewise.
- Mylo – Invented by biomaterials producer Bolt Threads – Mylo is another noteworthy substitute to leather and is derived from mycelium that is conventionally used to grow bacteria. Mylo is a natural fiber per ISO standards and is co-opted by brands like Adidas and Stella McCartney.
- Malai – It is a leather-like fiber made from the cellulose of coconut waste. With its origin in the Southern part of India, Malai has now gained recognition among international brands like Eva & Lucia, Crafting Plastics, and likewise for producing sustainable shows, bags, and upholstery. With properties like flexibility, durability, and water resistance coupled with composability, Malai has become a much-needed innovation within the sustainable fashion movement.
- Desserto – A cactus-derived alternative to animal leather, Desserto is a soft, breathable, and partially-biodegradable fabric made by Mexican designer Adriano Di Marti. One of the unique aspects of Desserto is that it does not stain for up to 10 years and remains incredibly sturdy. The fashion brand Fossil has recently launched a collection of bags made from cactus-derived leather.
Thus, it would not be erroneous to say that the fashion world, especially luxury fashion hubs, is slowly moving towards more organic and plant-based rhetoric.