The knitwear brands making sustainability sexy
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Sustainability hasn’t historically been a particularly sexy subject for the luxury fashion industry. And yet brands are increasingly finding ways to make it a more exciting – and urgent – matter. One such area of innovation is in knitwear, where brands are adapting techniques and designs to create pieces in a more conscious way, while helping the industry inch closer towards a closed-loop model.
Take Gabriela Hearst, who created a graphic blue-and-black sweater and cardigan out of recycled cashmere for AW22. Or Emporio Armani, which has been introducing more sustainable yarns into its collections over the past few years, and this season made a turtleneck out of recycled wool. And Zegna’s #UseTheExisting campaign is centred around recovering fibres, threads and fabrics from the production process, using them for recycled wool or cotton sweaters.
“We are convinced that sustainability is an essential project of transformation for the business of fashion,” says Herno CEO Claudio Marenzi. The Italian fashion brand, founded in 1948, committed eight per cent of its 2010 turnover to making its headquarters and logistic branches completely energy self-sufficient, and uses materials including Econyl and recycled nylon satin. For its Globe label, Herno uses a mixture of dye-free and sustainable wool, as in its responsible wool knit sweater, which is emblazoned with the words “Take Care of Your Future”. “We believe [sustainability] is an occasion of cultural and training growth, but also of sensibility and conscious choices, both corporate and personal,” adds Marenzi. “They are the same choices that are globally determining the end of fast fashion in favour of a weighted and quality purchase.”
Retailers, too, are pushing to stock and sell more sustainable knitwear. Mr Porter’s edit includes Karu Research, whose knits are handcrafted in India with organic Kala cotton, and New York-based Stòffa, which uses The Good Cashmere Standard-certified cashmere. The knitwear in the retailer’s own-brand, Mr P, utilises surplus yarn twisted with recycled and organic fibre. Says Mr Porter buying director Sam Kershaw: “Creating a more comprehensive responsible offer is critical for our customers, for whom sustainability credentials are increasingly impacting purchase decisions.”
Model, Tim Dibble at Models 1. Casting, Keva Legault. Hair, Maki Tanaka using Sisley. Grooming, Victoria Martin using Boy de Chanel. Photographer’s assistant, Robert Palmer. Stylist assistant, Ady Huq