The fashion industry is one of the most environmentally harmful industries in the world, responsible for 10 per cent of humanity’s carbon emissions. It is known for inefficient production processes, unnecessary transportation, and high-energy demands.
Every second, the equivalent of a rubbish truckload of clothes is burnt or buried in a landfill. If the fashion sector continues on its current trajectory, that share of the carbon budget could jump to 26 per cent by 2050, according to a 2017 report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
The key problem in the fashion industry is that the current fashion system promotes the consumption of new clothing.
In an interview with Silicon Canals, Katrin Ley, Managing Director at Fashion for Good says, “today’s fashion industry is caught in a vicious cycle of take-make-waste. It’s a cycle that is clearly not sustainable.”
Consequently, forward-thinking designers must combine fashion and design to create sustainable, functional, and timeless alternatives.
Ley adds, “The good news is we see game-changing technologies that can bring real change to the industry, and we increasingly see large corporations that are committed to becoming more sustainable. Consumers, too, are becoming more aware of the challenges facing the industry and taking action to pressure brands and policymakers to initiate change.”
“To move the industry forward, which can only change if the industry works together, Fashion for Good acts on two fronts: as an Innovation Platform we give promising start-ups the support they need to grow and scale. And as a Convenor for Change, we are building a Good Fashion Movement, through our museum, community space, and open-source resources, to help people understand the challenges and reimagine how they can make a difference.”
Sustainable startups in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is home to numerous businesses, designers and foundations focused on sustainable and circular design, aiming to change the way clothes are manufactured and used.
Talking about sustainable fashion startups in Amsterdam, Ley shares, “Several innovations are being initiated all over the world to tackle the key challenges of the fashion sector. However, these innovations need support to move from niche to mainstream. Investments and uptake from brands and consumers are still not at the level needed to truly drive systemic change, because back in the days, the industry has not been investing much in innovation.”
“No one can change the industry on their own, so we collaborate with a wide network of experts and partner organisations to support the innovators in our programmes. As a result, they get the unique opportunity to connect to manufacturers, brands, and investors capable of helping them fast-track the integration and implementation of their daring innovations,” says Ley.
The Fashion for Good Accelerator helps startups drive innovation in sustainability, circularity, and transparency to make all fashion good.
“Connecting the innovators with large, corporate players in collaborative pilot projects is a crucial step to driving mainstream adoption of innovative technologies to shift the fashion industry to a circular system that is regenerative and restorative. Fashion for Good facilitates these collaborative pilot projects, offering innovators coaching, bespoke fundraising support, hands-on guidance, and, in some cases, financial support to manufacturers through the Good Fashion Fund,” she says to Silicon Canals.
Fashion for Good provides practical support to innovators depending on their stage of maturity
Ley continues, “Our Scaling Programme supports market-ready innovators who have passed the proof-of-concept phase and are ready to scale their innovations in the supply chain. Connecting these innovators with large, corporate players is a crucial step to driving adoption.”
How to make the fashion industry sustainable?
According to Ley, collaboration is necessary, as a lot of innovations can be initially more expensive which can slow implementation.
“If a group of brands all participates in a pilot they share the costs and risks. That’s where Fashion for Good provides such a unique offering because it enables brands to work collaboratively together in a pre-competitive space. It’s also important that manufacturers and suppliers are involved from the offset as they have a wealth of knowledge and understanding and are also the ones implementing these new technologies. Long-term relationships and commitments between brands and manufacturers incentivise them to invest in new more sustainable and innovative processes,” concludes Ley.
In the same spirit, we have here a list of Amsterdam-based startups leading the way in the sustainable fashion industry. Do swirl through.
Founder/s: Marcella Wijngaarden, Melissa Wijngaarden, Noor Veenhoven
Amsterdam-based Project Cece is an online marketplace for fair and sustainable fashion. The platform offers over 15,000 products from over 100 different webshops with sustainability at its core. The Dutch company’s goal is to have a positive impact on the fashion industry by making fair and sustainable clothing easy to find.
Founder/s: Gabriele Trapani, Iris Skrami, Nicolò Tresoldi, Piero Puttini
Renoon is an online platform that aggregates sustainable fashion products. The Amsterdam-based platform brings together the offerings of different websites in one place, where users can easily find sustainable collections from their favorite brands, and learn about new labels that produce according to their personal value.
Renoon’s proprietary algorithm can process millions of fashion items and assign sustainability attributes to them.
Founder/s: Max Klijnstra and Milan Daniels
Otrium is an online fashion outlet marketplace that allows fashion brands to open an online outlet with minimal effort and all the advantages. Through their platform, brands can sell both outlet collections and previous collections, where all items remain their property until they are sold.
The Amsterdam-based platform has over 300 brand partnerships with both up-and-coming designers and luxury names and more than 3 million shopping members. Otrium is disrupting the fashion industry by solving the problem of unsold inventory using data.
Founder/s: Michael Musandu, Ugnius Rimsa
LALALand uses neural networks to generate images of artificial humans. It is disrupting e-commerce apparel webshops by letting shoppers turn their online shopping experience into a personalised and customised shopping spree.
Through its platform, LALALand offers brands a vast library of age, size, and ethnic-inclusive models so that online shoppers can see themselves in the latest apparel as per their requirements.
Founder/s: Adriana Hoppenbrouwer, Amber Jae Slooten, Kerry Murphy
The Fabricant is on a mission to lead the fashion industry to a new sector of digital-only clothing that wastes nothing but data and exploits nothing but imagination.
The Amsterdam-based company transitioned its garment sampling and marketing content pipeline to 3D digital practices and created new digital-only business models.
The company’s long-term goal is to create tools and products that transition the fashion industry towards an entirely digital existence in both production and consumption.
Founder/s: Kasper Brandi Petersen, Lotte Vink
This Amsterdam-based startup is on a mission to fight overconsumption by developing intelligent apparel that repels stains and odour. Developed in Switzerland, produced in Portugal, and designed in Amsterdam, these smart t-shirts from Labfresh are made of 100 per cent long-staple cotton.
The smart t-shirt repels all water-based liquids, like red wine and ketchup. It has a moisture-wicking technology on the inside which makes sure that sweat is absorbed and spread out over the fabric so it can dry quickly, while not being visible externally.
The Next Closet
Founder/s: Lieke Pijpers, Thalita van Ogtrop
The Next Closet is an online peer-to-peer marketplace for secondhand design clothes as well as accessories. The Amsterdam-based startup focuses specifically on women looking for affordable high-end designer fashion. The online platform also allows users to ‘follow’ each other’s closets and share items on social media. The female-founded brand is on a mission to change the textile industry by inspiring people to invest in quality and reuse what they already have.
Founder/s: Borre Akkersdijk
BYBORRE is an Amsterdam-based textile studio working on aesthetics, functionality, technology, and material research. The company is on a mission to improve the entire textile creation cycle and production processes worldwide by inviting other brands to work with the platform and find out about new ways to create quality custom and sustainable textiles.
The company’s Textile Development Kit allows designers, artists, and all other creators to use its sustainable building blocks, industry innovations, and creative tools, to twist textiles into their own aesthetic, requirements, and style.
Founder/s: Pim Dresen
Mercer Amsterdam is a high-end sneaker brand that focuses on luxury handcrafted footwear and accessories for men and women. The Amsterdam-based company was the first brand to collaborate with Piñatex in order to create the first fully sustainable vegan sneaker made from pineapple leather.
Mercer has produced sneakers with wine leather, cactus leather, creating outsoles from algae, and more. The company is at the forefront of sustainable innovation to show the market that standard materials can be interchanged for plant-based, recycled materials
Founder/s: Pim Dresen
HACKED by_ develops, produces, and sells contemporary fashion collections for men and women using residual materials and unsold and over-produced garments from the fashion industry as a resource. These discarded materials are up-cycled by designer Francisco van Benthum using deconstruction and collage techniques, so they are transformed into up-to-date products with their own unique identity.
Founder/s: Pim Dresen
MycoTEX offers an all-in-one solution for brands to create custom-fit products out of sustainable, vegan textiles made from mycelium (mushroom roots). As per the company’s claims, this manufacturing method solves several major issues in the fashion, interior, and automotive industries.
RE LOVE FASHION
RE LOVE FASHION is on a mission to reduce the pollution of the fashion industry through promoting, stimulating, and activating less consumption of new clothes. The Amsterdam-based company emphasises positive solutions like Re-Use, Re-Touch, Re-Style, Re-pair, and Re-Peat Fashion.
Amsterdam-based ReBlend is on a mission to inspire the use of looped & renewable raw materials. The company develops textiles and textile products made from textiles that otherwise end up in incineration. The company collaborates with front-running partners to develop collections that support a more inclusive and sustainable fashion and textile industry.
Similar to cell-cultured meat, this Dutch startup uses cutting-edge techniques to “bioprint” animal fur without any cruelty to animals. The company, which has partnered up with scientists at the University of Amsterdam, uses cellular agriculture technology to make its fur that is molecularly identical to the real deal. It is 100% animal-free, slaughter-free, and far more sustainable, claims the company.
Founder/s: Hendrik van Benthem
MAIUM is a sustainable fashion company that makes raincoats from recycled plastic bottles. According to the company, at least 66 plastic bottles will be melted down to develop a single raincoat. The bottles have been collected from the ocean and from domestic waste, especially from Asia. The company aims to recycle at least 5 million plastic bottles per year in the next five years.