For 5 years now the Centre for Sustainable Fashion has approached sustainability from an explorative and collaborative platform, choosing to look at the fashion industry from a multi layered and wide angled perspective. This means examining farther than just our visible and physical decisions (be that use of energy or materials choice for example), and looking in to where our creative ideas and decisions begin to develop, and the reasons behind them, whether we are designing a garment or choosing what we buy and wear. Much of the centre’s work explores humanity and our connections with each other and with nature, and an important part of this is how we choose to use the resources nature has given us.
An area of growing discussion and contention over the past few years has been about the fashion industry’s use of materials, and harmful production processes we have been subjecting our environment to. Although it is by no means enough to simply replace the materials you use, it is still important to consider that this choice is one of many along the supply chain that can have a negative or positive physical impact on our environment, and so is an opportunity for worthwhile exploration as part of a wider decision making process.
That’s where the Future Fabrics Expo by The Sustainable Angle comes in. Since its inception in 2010, the Centre for Sustainable Fashion has supported the not for profit organization in the task of exploring, researching, challenging, examining and constantly assessing alternatives to the overly dominant cotton and polyester fibres that are on the market today. By individually assessing globally sourced fabrics against the environmental criteria that were developed together with CSF, The Sustainable Angle has been able to amass a diverse collection of around 1,000 commercially available, high quality and beautiful fabrics with a reduced environmental impact, sourced from small scale producers, large scale global companies, and artisans around the world.
These fabrics are showcased at the annual Future Fabrics Expo, to enable designers and buyers to physically experience and learn about diverse fabrics that are available on the market, and what they have the option to be asking for. These fabrics range from organic natural fibres, to recycled innovative performance fabrics and regenerated cellulosics, suitable for a wide range of applications, and all of them are individually selected for both their sustainability credentials and their physical qualities.
There have been longstanding misconceptions about the realities of the textiles industry, and sustainable materials in particular, that we at The Sustainable Angle hope our work, and the Future Fabrics Expo especially, will help eradicate. Centre for Sustainable Fashion has been challenging conventional aesthetics for the past 5 years, and The Sustainable Angle has set out to challenge people’s perceptions of the stuff things are made of.
Fabrics are just one part in the journey towards a more responsible way of producing clothes, but by selecting a sustainable fabric that fits well into the overall design concept, which is more responsible, designer-led and takes the end of life of the garment into account at the outset of the design process, we can begin to see how the pieces of the puzzle fit together, and how each element of the supply chain can be adapted and improved.
The 3rd Future Fabrics Expo will take place on 22nd – 24th September 2013 at London Olympia as part of Fashion SVP. It is open to buyers, designers, leaders, learners and decision makers who wish to explore some of the latest innovations in the textiles industry.
Charlotte Turner, The Sustainable Angle and Centre for Sustainable Fashion