Truth be told, we all fancy a good look. Whether it’s that $142.00 engine-turned full-grain Ralph Lauren belt you intend to gift yourself for your thirty-first birthday or that cheek, cool and urban Chilli Mango hoodie you plan on awarding someone special for a decade-worth of companionship and cherishable memories, the go-getter feel that comes with a being in a fashion-forward proper look is undoubtedly a key component of the modern man’s way of life.
In fact, based on cumulative data compiled by The Fashion and Apparel Industry Report suggests that the global fashion industry, currently worth an estimated $481.2 billion in 2018, is set to rise to an upwards of 712.9 billion by 2022 with trendsetter brands the likes of Cartier, Gucci, H&M and Hermes set to be on the forefront of this exponential surge.
All that considered, there is a looming concern over the impending impact this drastic rise in global fashion production will have on the environment hinged on the fact that the largest portion of greenhouse gas emissions in the world comes from the ‘use phase’ of clothing. Fast fashion as a fad is progressively crippling the earth as we know it and there needs to be industrial amendments to counter it by making it ethical and eco-friendly.
This breeds the question of sustainable fashion, the purported and quite-literally certified future of the clothing and apparel industry. With the expanding awareness and inclination of the customers on environmentally-friendly style and wear and the ethical and moral rebuke that has plagued such esteemed industry dignitaries as H&M and Burberry, there is a growing urgency within the industry to foster and maintain sustainable practices in the entirety of their operations.
The discussion of sustainable raw materials has led to some pretty interesting innovations over the years from apple leather (an innovative/semi eco-green fiber developed by emerging designer, Matje Benedetti, which is a mixture of apple pulp and polyurethane) to Orange Fiber, a company that spins yarn from citrus waste.
While we’re on this topic, it would be a rustic error not to mention Green Nettle Textile as an acute contributor in the local sustainable fashion industry here in Kenya. Just recently, the Nakuru-based startup was among the four winners to bag the 2019 Global Change Award alongside a dashing $170,000 as investment seed capital from a pool of 6,640 entries from 182 countries.
Besides the funding, the winners are will also have access to an intensive mentorship programme that will open their ideas to diverse markets in major fashion capitals such as Sweden, Hongkong and The United States of America.
In Kenya, nettles grow everywhere, usually around the edge of human activities like farming and fishing. After the certification of the plant by the Kenya Bureau of Standards in 2009 following its vast nutritious and medicinal value, it has fast become evident that there is more to a nettle than its sting. Green Nettle Textiles is now leveraging this new-found opportunity to develop an eco-friendly fabric while improving the livelihoods of farmers by creating jobs and contrary to your fears about their nature, the fabric doesn’t sting.
Another relatively new but still notable member in the sustainable fashion industry is Vaa Slow Fashion which is set to start developing environmentally friendly leather using fish skin. The startup attributes its roots to the Africa-Basque Challenge which was a 4-month collaborative African/Spanish business accelerator workshop from where it managed to come in third place from a total of eleven companies securing $3390 in seed funding and a mentorship programme.
While we’re on this motion of thought, the discussion on eco-friendly, recycled jewelry begs to be explored. I mean, it’s would only be fair to match your nettle dress shirt with a shiny upcycled brass wristwatch or a ring made by a native indigenous member of the community who will use the earnings from the sale to feed his family as opposed to enriching an already wealthy mining cooperative in a way that’s communally sustainable.
For a long time, Kenya has nurtured the artisan culture with there being various variations and types of crafts and jewelry all around the country. From the infamous Maasai Beads and Shuka to the polished Nandi brass-work, there are a plethora of options when it comes to the Kenyan bling and a number of ventures out there are keeping the culture alive and relevant in a sustainable way by using materials that are recycled and reused, the likes of Artisan & Fox, Victorious Craft Group, Kipato Unbranded, Shop Soko and Bawa Hope to mention but a few.
Ladies and gents, from this it would be well in order to conclude that sustainable fashion is undoubtedly the way to go. The fashion industry had ravaged the environment for long enough and it well in the interest of safeguarding the ecological future of the earth that we advocate for a more sustainable way of being dapper, maintaining the drip and glowing the glamorous. I would, therefore, urge investors to go big on investing and innovators and future-shapers to go crazy on innovating and finding new ways to sustain the fashion industry because the market is growing, the rewards are big and of course, the ultimate reward being to protect the place we call home.