Future Fabrics Expo 2019

The Future Fabrics Expo took place in London last week. Here are our key takeaways.

Last week we attended the 8th Future Fabrics Expo, a London-based sustainable materials showcase that has grown exponentially as brands increasingly understand the importance of integrating more sustainable sourcing choices in to their supply chains. The way the expo is delivered allows brands to both discover commercially available sustainable materials, but also to understand the context behind why these materials are better, and how they can engage their customers in the conversation. 

This year the expo journeyed from fibre to finished garment, reflecting The Sustainable Angle’s vision of “a fashion industry where creativity and designing for sustainability contributes positively to our environment and communities.”

Designers on show included Kitx, participant of the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange and Tiziano Guardini, winner of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards Emerging Designer 2017, who also spoke in the two-day seminar series.

Materials on show included recycled natural and synthetic fabrics, organic cotton, low impact denims, wool, silks, leathers and leather alternatives; regenerated cellulosics such as Tencel™ by Lenzing Group, and sustainable natural fibres such as linens and hemps. 

Nova Kaeru was present, showcasing Pirarucu fish leather which is used by Brazilian brand Osklen – the first brand to use Pirarucu at a commercial scale. 48% of the brand’s accessories are now made from Pirarucu, as they seek lower impact alternatives to leather that both reduce the impacts caused by the leather industry (such as greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation of the Amazon), and that support livelihoods of indigenous communities.

The Pirarucu fish is sourced from riverside communities in the Amazon region. The skin of the Pirarucu was historically discarded but together with Nova Kaeru, Osklen turned this by-product into a new material which is used in the accessory collections. In creating this new material, Osklen is able to further support the local community and economy. 

Other materials on show that we love included Apple Skin, used by Green Carpet Talent Competition 2017 finalist Mateja Bendetti, and Pinatex.

An Innovation Hub showcased emerging innovations and technologies, including a collaboration with Fashion for Good’s Plug-and-Play Accelerator Programme. Innovations on show ranged from biodegradable sequins, algae-derived textiles, biodegradable glitter, and recycled leather, to innovative dyeing and finishing technologies and materials designed for circularity.

Overall, the growth in size and scope of this year’s Future Fabrics Expo demonstrated that sustainable materials and manufacturing play an increasingly significant role in brands’ design and sourcing decisions. The fact that it is able to both educate visitors, and enable them to make better material choices provides hope that lower impact choices will become increasingly accessible to consumers, along with increased engagement around sustainability issues. We hope to see an increasing number of brands integrate more sustainable materials into their supply chains as part of long-term sustainability strategies.

Read more about some of our favourite innovative and sustainable materials to look out for in 2019