Six sustainable clothing and textiles trends defining 2021


The impact of the global textile and clothing industry on the planet is little disputed. According to at least one source, global cotton consumption alone results in 220 metric tons of carbon emissions while using 4 percent of the world’s nitrogenous fertilizers. Considering that over 60% of all textiles made in the world are synthetic – and the vast majority of this material is produced from petrochemicals – doing the math reveals that the impact of polyester and similar fibers is not too beautiful either. Nonetheless, at TriplePundit, we’ve seen more durable outdoor clothing and gear come to market; On this point, we have highlighted some of the most compelling developments in 2021.

Adidas is committed to making more sustainable clothing

Just days before the new year, Adidas announced it would be incorporating more sustainable materials into its clothing by the end of 2021 – up to 60%, in fact. This effort includes vegan alternatives to leather, more circular materials, and oceanic plastic. We don’t know if this popular sports brand has hit that mark yet, but in all fairness 2021 is still a few weeks away. According to the company, 71% of the polyester used in its clothing and shoes is made from recycled materials in 2020, while 15 million pairs of its shoes contain ocean plastic. Considering the brand’s track record of sustainable clothing and gear over the past decade, don’t be surprised if Adidas meets or even exceeds this goal.

Adidas and Parley for the Oceans collected nearly 7,000 tonnes of plastic last year, which Adidas will use to produce around 17 million pairs of shoes in 2021. (Image courtesy of Adidas)

Backpacks go beyond canvas and polyester

In all fairness, the average backpack gets used a lot more times than the typical garment bought from a fast fashion store. This does not mean, however, that progress cannot be made on this front.

For example, the German brand Got Bag mobilized a network of around 2,000 fishermen and women in Indonesia to manufacture its laptop sleeves and backpacks. 3p editor-in-chief Mary Mazzoni was impressed enough to add Got Bag’s products to her latest annual holiday gift guide. “I’ve tested the $ 99 backpack for the past year or so, and with a seamless transition from backpack to briefcase and strap that slips easily over the handle of rolling luggage, it’s perfect for commuting and travel, ”Mazzoni wrote last week.

(Image courtesy of GOT BAG)
(Image courtesy of Got Bag)

Also discover the Tree-Kånken backpack by Fjällräven. These 16-liter packs are sturdy, avoid chemicals and, according to the company, more than 90% of the water used to make them is recycled. The secret? The material used in these backpacks is derived from a yarn derived from Swedish spruce and pine trees. Yes, it is true that the Nordic country has its own deforestation problems. Nevertheless, Fjällräven claims that the fibers needed to make Tree-Kånken come from FSC-certified forests. We were impressed enough to read our back-to-school guide last August.

Fjällräven's Tree-Kånken backpack comes in four earthy colors (Image credit: Three Trees / Facebook)
Fjällräven’s Tree-KÃ¥nken backpack comes in four earthy colors (Image credit: Three Trees / Facebook)

More and more brands are tackling the denim problem

It’s a superficial, unscientific observation, but there’s a good chance you’ve seen more popular denim brands roll out a jeans buyback policy: new pair. Ariat, Levi’s and Pacsun are among the companies that have embarked on such programs.

Certainly developing strong brand loyalty and showing that together they can have a sustainable clothing program is part of this push by fashion companies. But these brands are also aware of the evidence that suggests far too much clothing still ends up in U.S. landfills. In 1960, Americans dumped an estimated 1.7 million tonnes of clothing in landfills. By 2018, that amount had grown to 11.3 million tonnes, according to EPA data. That same year, of the 17 million tonnes of clothing Americans no longer wanted, only 2.5 million tonnes were recycled in one form or another. Denim presents another problem, as in microfibers that pollute the oceans, like this 2020 article from Wired had explored.

Madewell is now teaming up with online second-hand and second-hand stores ThredUP to sell more pre-owned Madewell clothing online.
Madewell is now teaming up with online second-hand and second-hand stores ThredUP to sell more pre-owned Madewell clothing online. (Image via Madewell)

Partnerships can help fashion brands meet the challenge of sustainable clothing. Madewell, long a pioneer with his jeans buyback program, announced such a venture this year. Together with online thrift store ThredUP, the companies’ goal is to collect one million pairs of jeans, which could otherwise end up in the local landfill or incinerator, by 2023. Madewell and her customers, of course , will provide the denim. ; ThredUP will provide the technology i.e. the online sales platform. For consumers who want to clean their closets, the process will work the same: bring any brand of jeans for a $ 20 voucher, and any pair deemed ideal for another life in a different closet will be sold on the site. Madewell Resale.

Generation Z drives the economy

Speaking of ThreadUp, in its most recent report on resale in the retail sector, it concluded that while sustainable clothing trends hold up, the entire second-hand market (which includes resale and traditional donations of savings and clothing) could grow into an $ 80 billion market by 2029. Compare that to fast fashion, which ThreadUp believes could represent a $ 43 billion market the same year.

Like NPR reported, Gen Z is driving much of the savings train. The crowd of 1997 and later has already been disrupt standards, including how they perceive invest. Now the evidence suggests that they are not just transform fashion – they own it and do so on their terms. The fashion industry is reacting the same: the ability to show everyone how cool the economy can be has led to the popularity of apps like Depop, which Etsy has invested $ 1.6 billion in. dollars to acquire earlier this year.

A thrift store in Paris, France
A thrift store in Paris, France (Image credit: Noémie Roussel via Unsplash)

How recycled emissions end up in the gym or yoga studio

This summer, Lululemon announced that it would partner with LanzaTech to develop yarns and textiles made from recycled carbon emissions that, if not captured, would otherwise be released into the atmosphere as pollution. LanzaTech says it can capture carbon from a variety of raw materials, including synthetic gas, industrial emissions from industries such as steel, agricultural by-products, and household waste. The microorganisms that the company has developed can then transform these carbon molecules into ethanol and other basic ingredients that will eventually become tissue.

Expect to learn more about LanzaTech; this week, the company said it has struck a similar deal with Inditex, which owns several fashion brands, including its flagship retailer Zara.

A fabric prototype derived from the emissions (Image courtesy of LanzaTech)
A fabric prototype derived from the emissions (Image courtesy of LanzaTech)

Timberland takes a stand on regenerative agriculture

Timberland was a pioneer in sustainable clothing even before many of today’s popular brands existed. But time and time again, the company has proven to be one of the early adopters. This spring, Timberland and parent company VF Corporation put regenerative agriculture in the spotlight by announcing the garment industry’s first regenerative rubber supply system. The new initiative could help clarify the role of organic practices in regenerative agriculture, in addition to offering consumers a new opportunity to contribute to a more sustainable supply chain.

This initiative is an integral part of Timberland’s goal of sourcing 100 percent of its natural materials from regenerative agriculture by 2030. ”wrote Tina Casey of 3p.

Rubber trees in Cairns, Australia
Rubber trees in Cairns, Australia Image credit via David Clode / Unsplash

Denim jeans image credit: Waldemar Brandt via Unsplash


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