Dusted off by new technologies, the so-called “traditional” fashion sector is taking on a new face. Creativity, innovation and responsibility have thus become key words for companies in the sector.
“More and more business ideas are born from this union,” says Guylaine Bouquet-Hanus, Business Manager at the House of Entrepreneurship. “There is a clear increase in the number of ‘fashion’ or ‘leisure’ projects that are linked to digital or new technologies. This concerns, for example, the design and production of watches or connected objects, online sales sites with virtual fitting rooms, 3D printed objects or clothing made of bioplastics or the eco-responsible production of vegetable fibres for clothing or accessories.
This desire to consume in a more ethical and responsible way makes sense when we know that fashion is probably second among the most polluting industries in the world, just after the oil sector. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, its environmental impact might be greater than that of international flights and maritime traffic together. This observation can be explained by a doubled consumption of clothing in only 15 years and the explosion of the “disposable fashion” or “fast fashion” phenomenon.
It is also the second most water-consuming industry after agriculture. The industry is influenced by the use of chemical agents in the preparation of textile fibres, the pollution of rivers and the very short life span of products. As a result, the fashion industry is in the spotlight and awareness actions are increasing. Many initiatives and projects for a more sustainable fashion are emerging in Luxembourg.
Love clothes as much as you love our planet
Stylianee Parascha has created What Eve Wears, a Luxembourg start-up with Greek origins that offers clothing made of organic cotton or linen and recycled fabrics. “In Athens, where I used to lived, every second person had a connection to the creative industries. In Luxembourg, the advantage is that you can stand out and make a difference. Your creativity is more appreciated here than elsewhere,” she says.
When we talk about the concept of sustainable fashion, the most common associated word is “transparency”. Where are my clothes made? How? And by whom? The Fashion Revolution movement was one of the first to propose to citizens to think about the question “Who made my clothes?”. Everyone is invited to post a piece of their dressing room with the #WhoMadeMyClothes hashtag on social networks and challenge their favourite brands on their social and environmental commitment.
Fashion Revolution Day was created following the collapse of the Rana Plaza textile garment workshops in Bangladesh in April 2013 which killed more than 1,100 people and injured 2,500. It is celebrated every year around the world in honour of greater transparency and ethics in fashion. Since 2017, the day has become the awareness-raising Fashion Revolution Week, which took place on 22-28 April 2019.
The founder of What Eve Wears is also the coordinator of the movement for Luxembourg: “This year, we organised two sold-out events. We have had excellent feedback and requests to make these events recurrent, and extend the activities to the organisation of workshops dedicated to children, because learning to consume differently begins at an early age.”
A round table on sustainability, innovation and technology in fashion was also organised in collaboration with Silicon Luxembourg and the Office City workspace. “We had 5 panellists, an interesting mix of people from different backgrounds. As coordinator, I was very happy to bring together five start-ups, including Zoe Muse and Einfuhlung that both are members of the Creative Industries Cluster just like me. Today, they are even discussing future collaborations,” says Stylianee Parascha.
Twice as many active members in Fashiontech
Artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, 3D printing, new materials or micro sensors: all these innovations lead to fashion 2.0 and push the limits of technology ever further. “With the help of biomanufacturing, we can now obtain vegan leather made from mushrooms, spider silk and other materials with low environmental impact and animal-friendly properties. New technological solutions also help to address the waste problem, either by recycling materials more efficiently or by using food industry waste to create new materials,” says Stylianee Parascha. “In Sicily, for example, oranges and citrus fruits are transformed into natural fibres. We must be open to innovation – it is there to help us improve the world we want to live in.”
Like the start-up What Eve Wears, other members of the Luxembourg Creative Industries Cluster have also understood the importance of using new technologies to promote sustainable development in the fashion sector. “New technologies make it possible to take into account the personality and tastes of consumers already in the design process. This desire to create and consume responsibly is becoming increasingly strong,” explains Marc Lis, manager of the Creative Industries Cluster. “The number of active cluster members in the Fashiontech sector has almost doubled in just one year. Several of them, who are listed on the creativecluster.lu platform, have launched or are preparing to launch joint projects with sustainable fashion as a leitmotif,” he adds.
A good sign that innovation in fashion is not just a fashion trend.