Sustainable material trends for the global fashion industry

PEFC can help manufacturers and retailers move to a more sustainable future, increasing business resilience and meeting their climate goals.

Sustainable material trends for the global fashion industry

24 March 2022 Forests for Fashion

Who wins the sustainability argument: the cotton shirt or the polyester shirt? Unfortunately, there is no simple way to call the winner.

Choosing sustainable materials is one big positive step businesses - and consumers - can take towards climate action. 

In an important webinar organised this month by the Textile and Fashion Federation (TaFF) Singapore, industry experts spoke about the sustainable material trends and what lies ahead. What are the preferred materials and why it makes a difference?

PEFC was represented in the webinar by Deepa Hingorani, who has 20 year's experience within the fashion industry. She explained to the online audience that PEFC chain of custody is a mechanism to trace certified material from sustainable forests to the finished product. 

By eliminating raw materials linked to deforestation, biodiversity loss, exploitation of endangered species, as well as human rights and labour rights, fashion brands can use PEFC-certified materials to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and win consumer support in the process. 

The 60-plus leading fashion brands who signed the Fashion Pact can use PEFC-certified materials to advance on their collective climate target. Deepa Hingorani

There is a definite move, Ms Hingorani insists, towards greater use of Man-made cellulosic fibres (MMCF), such as Viscose/Rayon, Lyocell, Modal, and Cupro, as these form the second biggest cellulosic fibre group after cotton. 

The MMCF value chain has the potential to tackle some of the apparel and broader textile industry’s most significant sustainability challenges and, consequently, make a very real contribution to building resilience and accelerating regeneration.

She also pointed out in her presentation that PEFC-certified MMCF has been included in the global Fashion Pact’s list of materials considered to have lower impact on the environment. 

“This means that 60-plus leading fashion brands, who signed the Fashion Pact, can now use PEFC-certified materials to advance on their collective climate target: transition 25% of their key materials to lower climate impact sources by 2025.” 

Ms Hingorani drew attention to our white paper ‘Fashions Change, Forests Stay’, which sets out how sustainably managed forests, and the shift towards responsibly sourced and certified forest-derived products, plays a vital role in helping fashion brands and retailers meet their commitments to tackling climate change. 

PEFC can help manufacturers and retailers move to a more sustainable future, increasing business resilience and meeting their climate goals.

"We are already working with fashion brands and retailers," Ms Hingorani pointed out, "by helping them maximise their impact through sustainable forest management."

She mentioned the PEFC brand collaboration with Salvatore Ferragamo, as well as working on brand procurement policies with many others, including Karl Lagerfeld, Guess, River Island, and Farfetch. 

The webinar was organised by TaFF fashion sustainability programme, which was launched in November 2021. We announced at the same time a sustainability partnership with TaFF. The three-year partnership aims to help TaFF promote responsible sourcing best practices.

The webinar also included a spokesperson for a global brand on its story of adoption of sustainable and innovative materials. 

The webinar panel also included Susan Slabbert, the acting sustainability head of Asia Pacific Rayon (APR), the Indonesian based company which is leading the way in Asia with its MMCF textiles, primarily viscose produced sustainability from forest fibres.

Understanding the importance of sustainable and responsible fashion, APR is committed to the responsible sourcing of raw materials. The textile fibre producer’s main supplier is Riau-based pulp and paper producer, APRIL Group, which has certification from the PEFC. Using APRIL Group’s products certified by PEFC is a practical demonstration of your company’s corporate environment commitment.  

The webinar also heard from Ashley Gill, the standards and stakeholder engagement senior director for the US-based Textile Exchange, a global non-profit organisation that creates leaders in the preferred fibre and materials industry.  She pointed out that the Exchange enables an increased level of scrutiny for consumers, to make sure purchases align with their values, but also helps textile and fashion producers to be more responsible in their sourcing of materials.

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