Changing The Game: How Fashion Will Help Shape The Future (And We’re Not Talking The Way You Look).

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Let’s talk fashion. Specifically, the fact that at $3 trillion and counting the impacts of the apparel industry go well beyond just your wallet. According to Sustainable Brands, in Bangladesh alone it accounts for almost 20 percent of the country’s GDP, 80 percent of total export earnings and over four million direct jobs. Yet globally, the industry is still rife with heavy pollution, monumental waste and poor working conditions. Couple those kinds of figures with one staggering estimate that the traditional process used to dye textiles uses enough water to fill 3.7 billion competition swimming pools each year, and you start to see the very big problem.

A visionary approach to these problems is fueling innovative technologies and pioneering practices in social and environmental performance that address the need for more sustainable solutions, with scarcity of water representing one of the most immediate concerns. The dyeing process results in billions of gallons of toxic chemicals being dumped into waterways and generates a fifth of the world’s industrial water pollution, according to the World Bank. Understanding the stakes, the world of fashion—and textile manufacturers—are trying to decouple from using nature’s most precious resource.

Some years ago Netherlands company DyeCoo launched a waterless dye process that uses CO2 to dry dye textiles using no water at all – a technology that is being widely adopted by many and that has Nike + Ikea as investors. Since launching the Water<Less™ process in 2011, Levi’s have saved more than 1 billion liters of water in the manufacturing of LS&Co. products, including 30 million liters of fresh water saved through reuse and recycling. By 2020, the Levi’s brand aims to make 80 percent of its products using Water<Less™ techniques. And there are many more jumping on the waste not bandwagon.

Burak Cakmak was recently named the new dean of fashion at Parsons School of Design with 15 years of experience spearheading innovation-driven sustainability strategies for luxury brands such as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and many more, and 8 years as the Senior Manager of Social Responsibility at Gap Inc.. As a visionary now guiding the fashion designers of the future, it would seem things can only get better.

Image: Parsons New School For Design

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