I know you are searching for the LEDs or sensors in this gown, but for once, there are none. Part of the fashion tech movement is to seek solutions which can make the industry more sustainable, and according to Vogue H&M is working towards that goal. They’ve recently introduced their Conscious Exclusive Collection starring a gown made of Bionic Yarn. Bionic offers three different yarns which use either entirely recovered plastic or a combination of recovered plastic and natural or synthetic fibers. While I’ve seen recycled plastic in nubby Polartec, I’ve never seen it whipped into something that appeared like chiffon. H&M is quite happy with the results, according to Vogue’s post.
“You can’t believe the Bionic dress is made from old plastic bottles,” Ann-Sofie Johansson, H&M’s creative advisor, told Vogue.com. “It’s a precious piece you can wear and cherish and save in your wardrobe. With the Conscious Exclusive Collections, we always try to find a new fabric or new technique. It’s where we try to push the boundaries of what’s possible with sustainable fabrics and show how beautiful the garments can be.”
Although up-cycling plastic bottles is a big step in the right direction, there is bigger work to be done. Many people are aware of the problem of micro plastics in our oceans, but they are less aware that part of this issue is caused by micro fibers coming from our synthetic clothing. Unfortunately it’s coming from our washing machines. So, what can be done? A post on Ecocult boils it down.
If you were to commit to only buying textiles made with recycled polyester, that would still be a quite tall order, but it would be a noble pursuit. That creates demand for textiles made with recycled polyester, which creates a market for recycled plastic bottles, which makes it cost effective for cities to implement recycling programs, which means fewer bottles go to the landfill. And recycling bottles yields a high-quality polyester textile. It’s a win-win. As for disposal, it’s actually best to buy pure polyester garments instead of mixed ones, because as of right now, it’s possible to recycled pure polyester (just bring your 100% polyester garments back to Patagonia) while blended fibers are down-cycled into insulation and stuffing. So, the hierarchy of fashion shopping goes roughly like this: 1. 100% organic, natural fibers. 2. 100% recycled polyester. 3. Blended organic and recycled polyester. 3. 100% natural fibers. 4. 100% polyester. 5. Conventional blended.
It’s not easy to manufacture to these standards and it’s even harder to work with them as a consumer. As I’m writing this post, a new group has started in Europe to address sustainability issues in wearable tech. Good engineering works towards a circular product life, so we’ve all got to figure out how we can do better with what we have now, and move towards more sustainable solutions. Hackathon anyone?
Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!