Aug 21, 2023
by Karl Smith
ICYMI: The Latest Sustainable, Planet-First News from Fashion, Art and Design
by Karl Smith
Aug 21, 2023

At FUTUREVVORLD we spend a lot of time talking about what people – as well as brands and corporations, of course – could be doing, about what they should be doing, and what they are doing. When it comes to the latter, though, it’s the tangible things – like sneakers, clothes and lifestyle design objet – that end up getting the most attention.

The reality is, though, that there are things happening constantly which lend themselves less to the medium we work in. But that doesn’t mean those things are any less important. A lot of the time, in fact, those things are considerably more important than a pair of shoes – more likely to have lasting or broader impact on the world.

That doesn’t even need to exclude the fashion industry – sometimes, there are happenings within fashion and footwear less quantifiable (or, to be honest, less newsworthy in an obvious way) than a drop but which may still move the needle in the right direction when it comes to sustainability, circularity and modes of more conscious production.

And, to that end, this list covers some of those stories: a spotlight on new programs, commitments, products and upcoming events which are more than worthy of your time and attention. From Stella McCartney to Nike, Billie Eilish to Patagonia – volcanic dyes to regenerative cotton clothes.

Nike and Susan Fang Create a Recycled Basketball Court

Nike and basketball go together like, well – honestly – I’m not sure there’s anything that goes together better than Nike and basketball in a way that gets the point across. Usually, that symbiotic relationship takes the form of footwear and apparel. Now, though, Nike has proven that the connection goes deeper.

The Swoosh is no longer just working with what goes on basketball players’ feet, but also on something even more integral – focusing on what’s under foot as well. By which mean the court itself.

Working with artist Susan Fang on the design, Nike’s newly-minted court is not only made with the idea of getting young girls into sport in mind, having been constructed at Gucheng Elementary School in China’s Yunnan Province, but was also made from what the brand refers to as Grind – a mix of Nike-specific recycled materials, created from production scraps, manufacturing waste, and end-of-life footwear.

Stella McCartney Releases 100% Regenerative Cotton T-Shirt

Stella McCartney is constantly breaking new ground. So much so that it can often feel like the brand is throwing everything at the wall and waiting to see what sticks. And, while some people have criticized that approach, at this point in time – at this point in the Climate Emergency – I think the wall can take whatever we heave at it. (And we should be heaving everything.)

Having worked previously with Natural Fiber Welding and (the seemingly now-defunct) MYLO, the label is now taking another sustainable direction: regenerative materials.

In launching its new “Snog-a-Log” T-shirt, Stella McCartney is providing more than just a bandaid for sustainability-related issues.

With cotton sourced from the brand’s SOKTAS regenerative patch, the garment’s production contributes to the restoration of biodiversity, soil health and toward combating the effects of climate change. The humble T-shirt – still full of surprises.

Billie Eilish’s OVERHEATED Climate Event Returns to London

Having recently rolled out a new pair of recycled Nike sneakers and worked with REVERB to have her Lollapalooza set entirely powered by renewable energy, Billie Eilish is now continuing her hands-on approach to the planet at a grassroots, community-driven level. And it comes with roller skating.

Coming 30th August, the event – taking place at Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace in West London (because, sure) – will feature plant-based food, wheel-based fun and, of course, climate-based panel talks and workshops.

The situation may be dire, but soon and gloom isn’t always the best way to get that message across.

G-Star RAW Dyes Its Jeans With Volcanic Rocks and Soil

With natural dyes enjoying their much-deserved moment right now, finding new ways to color clothes has become a huge part of fashion innovation. Dye can come from bark, from algae and from plants – so why not from volcanoes?

Well, that’s the question Amsterdam-based denim brand G-Star RAW isn’t exactly asking so much as it is definitively answering. Eschewing synthetic dyeing options that are harmful to both people and planet, G-Star is using pigments derived from volcanic rocks and soil to provide the color for its garments as part of a new “Dyed By Minerals” collection. Combined with lower-energy, cold-water processes, the choice to use organic materials takes the environmental sting from the dyeing process and has the secondary benefit of producing more interesting, more varies hues.

So, a win/win, really.

patagonia infinited fiber company infinna partnership material deal clothing cotton textile regenerative biodegradable recycled waste fashion design

Patagonia Launches a New Repairs Program

When it comes to brands who walk the walk on sustainability issues, Patagonia is – or, at least, ought to be – one of the first that comes to mind. It’s in the company’s DNA. I mean, in what other context can you talk about a founder who cedes control and donates their entire, life-long endeavor to fight climate change? The answer, obviously – unfortunately – is none. Bezos isn’t exactly coming through, after all.

In that sense, then, it should come as no surprise that the California-based outfit is continuing on that path. Its latest initiative, picking up and running with its longstanding push for circularity, will see the brand offer an extended network for repairs on its products. In order to lower wastage and keep its wares out of landfill, Patagonia’s new digital “Repair Portal” will connect consumers and garment repair workers directly. Through this system, consumers will have the ability to request repairs 24 hours a day and to keep track of open repair jobs.

Given that keeping a product in circulation for just an extra nine months “saves 20-30% in carbon, waste and water footprints, compared to buying something new,” that’s a whole lot of potential good for the planet.

GUESS Moves Toward Material Changes & Takes a Circular Turn

When I say that GUESS isn’t the first name which automatically comes to mind when sustainability is the topic, that’s at least in part because the Los Angeles-based brand rarely comes to mind at all. Granted, the label has picked up some cultural capital in the last few years from collaborations with figureheads like A$AP Rocky, but it’s still somewhere short of being a household name.

Perhaps, though, there’s room to make its name in the planet-friendlier space. According to Sourcing Journal, GUESS claims that “more than 50 percent of its apparel mainline products are now made with environmentally preferred materials” – a term referring to lower impact materials.

It doesn’t end there, though, as “Guess aims to source 80 percent regenerative, recycled, or organic cotton for all of its apparel brands by 2030.” Which, essentially, may not make the brand a marquee name but does put the LA outfit front and center when it comes to sustainability.

Carhartt Is Rolling Out Its Trade-In Program

Continuing on the theme of circularity, Michigan-based workwear, streetwear and skatewear outfit Carhartt has also announced new measures aimed at doing its part for the low-waste cause. Expanding on its previously announced “Reworked” trade-in program, Carhartt is now pushing the initiative out to thirty-five stores across the U.S. with a mail trade-in option due to roll out in late 2023.

According to Fashion Network, “Customers can exchange their gear for a digital gift card, which can be used on, or at any Carhartt company store. Any gear not eligible for trade in will be properly recycled or donated to keep fabric out of landfills, according to Carhartt.”

So, even if your Carhartt goods aren’t eligible for a cash prize, they’re still eligible to be taken care of.

Getty & Frieze Partner on a Year-Long Climate-Focused Initiative

While art institutions everywhere are under fire for their ties to Big Oil (and Big Pharma, for that matter), two of the biggest names in the art world – Frieze and Getty – are taking steps in a more positive direction.

Announcing a year-long partnership that will see artists and organizations receiving vital grant money, the collaboration will culminate in 2024’s PST ART event, which – as HYPEBEAST reports – “will showcase over 800 artists in 50 coordinated exhibitions and public programs that will open dialogues pertaining climate change, artificial intelligence, environmental justice, and alternative medicine.”