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February 13, 2020

The Fabric Fair Pioneering Greener Materials

The Future Fabrics Expo is introducing designers to the very latest in sustainable materials. Grace Cook from Vogue reports on a fabric revolution...

Consider the cactus on your shelf. That verdant green plant covered in tiny prickles is likely nestled within a chic ceramic plant pot. It probably has a name, because it earned itself semi-human status after you forgot to water it during last year’s 34-degree summer heat and it still managed to thrive. It doesn’t die on you like other house plants often do. This cactus is your friend.

Now consider wearing it. For at the Future Fabrics Expo in London this week, cactus leather was just one of an array of new, ethical, man-made fibres on display. “It’s a pretty cool textile,” says Amanda Johnston, who, together with the expo’s founder, Nina Marenzi, curated the vast array of fabrics on offer. The expo, organised by The Sustainable Angle, a not-for-profit organisation that initiates and supports sustainable projects within the fashion and related industries, acts as a hub for fashion designers, fabric sourcers and students seeking out sustainable fibres across the global market. “We’re seeing a plethora of really amazing leather alternatives; this area is a honeypot of growth,” Johnston continues. “We’ve also got apple leather, grape leather, pineapple leather. Veganism has just exploded so that’s transcending into the materials we are seeing be developed, too.”

Established in 2010, the Future Fabrics Expo is the Selfridges of sustainable textiles, an edited selection of the best offerings on the market today. The event is a one-stop shop for environmentally conscious designers, and – with the fashion industry being one of the most polluting on the planet – it’s now more relevant than ever.

As a result, I’m happy to report that when I went to London’s Victoria House to attend the three-day event, it was buzzing. Panel talks and seminars arranged with partner Parley for the Oceans and its founder Cyrill Gutsch – who has worked with Stella McCartney and Adidas – offered engaging in-depth discussions about recycling textiles and how fashion could have a positive impact on the ocean. Meanwhile, rails stuffed to the brim with fabrics were a hive of activity, with representatives from British luxury brands including Wales Bonner, Molly Goddard and Mother of Pearl all sifting through the options, clamouring over the thousands of materials on offer.

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