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Innovative fibers, a gold mine to be exploited for stores

The fashion industry consumes 25% of the pesticides used in the world and emits more greenhouse gases than air and sea transport combined. According to the Fashion for Good report, dated 2021, it would take around 1,000 billion dollars to finance the decarbonization of the sector by 2050.

The trend in the textile industry would therefore be towards recycled or natural fibres: eucalyptus, coconut, pineapple, milk and nettle, seaweed, hemp, flax… These materials constitute a gold mine to be exploited for the clothing industry and , in fact, for ready-to-wear shops. These fibers are beginning to make their way into the spokes.

It is therefore a value to follow for personal equipment shops looking for a niche to stand out. Especially since, with the Climate law, the first environmental displays on textiles will be tested in 2023. A promising start-up, Clear Fashion, is already offering an application allowing consumers to assess the overall impact of ‘a garment.

Durability tested and approved

The brands are thus beginning their green shift. Germaine des Prés, a brand of natural fiber lingerie, has just released a line of babydolls and panties made from organic milk casein, with a feel close to silk, a material requiring very little water and energy. Organic cotton, hemp, linen, but also nettle, pinatex (vegetable leather), lyocell (eucalyptus), modal (beech wood), lotus, coconut, algae…

What do all these new fibers have in common? Their connection with nature. Another rising value: fish leather. Ictyos, a French start-up, has already attracted 1,600 customers around the world. “The destruction of the skins of fish consumed in restaurants consumes energy. On the other hand, the treatment of animal leather, exotic or more local, causes a lot of pollution, explains Benjamin Malatrait, one of the founders of Ictyos. We have therefore entered into partnerships with restaurants in order to recover their fish skins, then we treat them with vegetable tannins before dyeing them with reactive or vegetable dyes. The result ? An innovative, local, sustainable marine leather with a low environmental impact. »

In eco-responsible fashion, our margins are lower, but our clientele is very loyal because we are still not in the niche.

Léa Laurent, manager of the Les 3 L Vegan boutique in Montpellier

These marine, salmon, trout, sturgeon and carp leathers are then found in the form of bags, watch straps, etc. “Our clients, big brands or independent designers, came to see us out of curiosity. Today, they use our leathers for their durable aspect,” says Benjamin Malatrait. Proof that the trend is there. Brands and distributors interested in implementing innovative, recycled textiles can turn to Ceti, the European Center for Innovative Textiles, which offers information and assistance with prototyping.

An eco-responsible approach

Cevennes, vegan, Léa Laurent, at the head of the Les 3 L Vegan boutique in Montpellier, spent three years building her offer: “After studying marketing, I started as a saleswoman. But I wondered about the provenance of the products I was selling. I dressed eco-responsibly and I didn’t find myself in conventional fashion, she explains. Between documentaries on the animal condition and environmental concerns, I carried out a market study which enlightened me on the potential of this market. »

Launched in 2019, his shop is always full. Textiles, shoes, bags and cosmetics: the entire offer is made from eco-responsible, labeled, ethical products, not necessarily all made in France but always precisely sourced. “I only offer natural fibers, classic like organic cotton, linen, hemp, but also more atypical like shoes made from pineapple leaf fiber (pinatex, from the Naé brand) or corn leather from the French brand Magnethik. It took me three years to find serious brands that allowed me to reverse the somewhat hippie image of eco-responsible fashion. »

Result ? Vegan customers for some, but also quite simply interested in a more responsible approach. “In the store, it is necessary and very pleasant to be in the exchange, to know exactly how to explain why I chose a particular brand. In eco-responsible fashion, our margins are lower, but our clientele is very loyal because we are still not in the niche. »

However, beware of greenwashing: adding a few eco-responsible bamboo fiber products to its shelves can lead to a one-time purchase, but to have an environmental impact as well as to build loyalty, the fashion store of tomorrow will have to offer truly virtuous clothing, presented in detail. . With belief.

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