A few days ago, Gita Gopinath, chief economist of the IMF, officially named this crisis “The great confinement”. It’s as part of this “Great Evolution” in sourcing rationales that we are seeing paradigm shifts in terms of raw materials and in thought processes around sustainability, often begun before the crisis, raising all sorts of questions.
This health crisis that has shaken up work processes for spinners, embroiderers, lace makers, and manufacturers has also had a positive impact on creativity and production methods for the fabrics of tomorrow. Without entering the realm of science fiction, because certain solutions already exist in the real world, we can observe that the industry is increasingly conscious of the need to preserve resources and produce fairly and simply, and the textile sector seems to be positioning itself around 3 main axes:
- Collaborative and regenerative innovation
- Transparency and “Locally Made”
- A more flexible product offer from suppliers and long-term investment.
Collaborative and regenerative innovation:
Demonstrating that international professionals are highly engaged, Common Objective, a sustainable online sourcing platform founded by a British professional, Tasmin Lejeune, has just surpassed its crowdfunding goals, raising nearly 430 000 euros and bringing together more than 200 investors during this Covid-19 crisis. Prominent partners include Vivienne Westwood and the Kering and Farfetch groups, recently joined by French couturier Roland Mouret and cotton supplier Plexus Cotton, who have now become investors. This tech tool brings together big names in sustainability (suppliers, brands, and consultants) by offering them visibility, connection, and industry-specific data. Contributions can still be made through April 15, 2020.
“The future is not prescriptive, it’s collaborative.”
Geraldine Wharry , sustainable fashion market analyst
In view of the health-related questions raised by this pandemic, we may be wondering what direction suppliers will favor in their work post-Covid-19. What kinds of solutions can be adapted from medical and care use in terms of textile innovation? What new rapport with garments and underwear for sports (yoga, watersports, activewear) or leisure (spa) will emerge?
Consumer protection as part of sourcing management will thus become a key aspect for brands. Given this factor, encapsulated antibacterial solutions, the inclusion of silver yarns for purification, and thermoregulation are currently areas of research being explored by cutting-edge labs. European technologies, in fact, are being used for intelligent fabrics and on this type of research: the Spanish firm Pyrates, for example, with their microencapsulated fiber solutions for antibacterial or cosmetic care products, or Swiss lab HeiQ and its work on antimicrobial developments, odor control, and a Covid-19-blocking coating that can be applied to all fibers.
Transparency and “Locally Made”:
Two other key sourcing concepts are transparency and local management of resources, for a better grasp on future potential crises.
Offering methods of sustainable and transparent textile innovation is the primary purpose of the Centre Européen des textiles innovants: CETI! A pioneer in industrial recycling solutions for spinning mills and nonwovens, the CETI now provides traceability solutions within the fiber itself (insertion of trackers, filaments akin to RFID chips) that allow for the authentication of a yarn and of its weave. Amongst other solutions, we can envision that the use of technology (3D printing, bio-manufacturing, etc.) to create a local “Fab lab” ecosystem that could offer an independent, rapid-response capability may be an answer in the medium term.
A more flexible product offer from suppliers and long-term investment:
Suppliers are attuned to the market and are aware of Covid daily, bringing their deadstock back to life to make masks or scrubs for medical use. They are now looking ahead to the recovery with greater flexibility and relevance. Such is the case for Sofileta, which is planning to increase capacity for its stock service, and Tissages Perrin, whose Summer 2022 color range, created by textile designer Karine Gariglio-Chanvillard, “will be limited in order to allow clients the chance to add their own personalized touch”. And lastly, the use of CO2 dyeing solutions has increased with some Chinese lace makers.
A paradigm shift is also happening in favor of long-term solutions, both in terms of products and distance-working conditions.
“Durability is a value that will take on greater importance…our company has a role to play in this future; I feel optimistic. We offer a product that provides a certain guarantee of safety and protection.” A quote from Angela Missoni
“I don’t think that we need to reach some kind of utopia…it’s a matter of balance. And I think that we already have enough to start working on a roadmap toward what this kind of shift will look like.” Orsola de Castro, co-founder of the Fashion Revolution movement. Source: BOF
In conclusion, we are on the cusp of the “deconfinement” in France. Dearest brands and other key players in our truly marvelous textile industry, we have observed your ability to react, adapt, and stay connected with your community, through your engagement in action. The time has now come to prepare for the next stage by asking ourselves the right questions about adaptability and future prospects. We will back in touch soon with a series of articles on sustainable sourcing solutions, innovations, and new markets.