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Sustainable materials: the new frontiers of fashion

We talk about: Sustainable fashion
7 May 2024

The choice of raw materials is a crucially important aspect for an industry that needs to pursue the path of environmental sustainability. But sustainability in the fashion world means many things, some of which contradict each other. So we thought we would gather some insights into sustainable materials that clothing, shoe and accessory manufacturers are starting to evaluate and experiment with.

The use of organic fabrics and recycled synthetics

Reducing the use of virgin raw materials is one of the most popular paths taken by fashion industries, which therefore seek to introduce organic fabrics and recycled synthetics into their production processes. On the other hand, this also encourages scientific research in implementing techniques to separate the materials of products sent for recycling and obtain more exploitable and better quality secondary raw materials.

Experimenting with ecological materials

As we stated, it is not always easy to establish what is truly sustainable. Take cotton fibre for example: many people are convinced that it is about as natural as it gets, yet its environmental footprint is far from negligible when you consider how much water is needed firstly for its cultivation and then for its processing.

This is also why there are so many alternative materials being experimented with:

  • nettle fibre to replace cotton
  • orange fibre to replace silk
  • ground coffee fibre for quick-drying fabrics

Plus, the yield of cactus leaves, grape skins discarded by the wine industry, and mushroom root systems are being tested to make vegan leather. Not to mention all the fibres that are being experimented with based on cellulose obtained from agricultural waste such as banana skins, apple peel and sugar cane.

The goal is to invent – with the help of biotechnology – good quality, highly resistant and completely biodegradable fabrics.

The use of regenerative fabrics

What are regenerative fabrics? They are materials that are not only ecological because they are of plant origin, but also actively contribute to restoring the environment. One example is Tencel, which is obtained from wood pulp. Another is Pinatex, which is derived from pineapple leaf fibres and is widely used in leather goods.

Such materials can curb the use of non-renewable resources, boost technological development and have a positive impact on ecosystems.

Green sourcing

And this brings us to sustainable sourcing, a raw material procurement strategy that limits environmental impact and supports local economies and thus local communities. The fashion industry can indeed promote responsible, sustainable, ethical and fair agricultural practices for workers.

In this way, manufacturers can also boost their reputation and attract environmentally sensitive consumers.

3D printing of fabrics

Last but not least: 3D printing, which can be applied to numerous fields including – and why not? – the production of fabrics. Or rather, the production of the exact amount of fabric, in the shape and sizes required, with a huge increase in efficiency and minimal material waste. Plus, the materials used can be recycled over and over again, reducing waste production.


As we have repeatedly pointed out, achieving sustainability goals in the fashion industry requires the involvement of the entire supply chain, starting from the very selection, sourcing or invention of raw materials.

As M&A Export is located at another point in the supply chain, we can make our contribution by fostering circular economy in fashion and extending the life of products that are still marketable. Find out more about what we can do for companies in the fashion industry and, if you need someone to help you solve your stock issue, contact us. We can relocate your stock to other markets, protecting your brand and also allowing you to explore new business opportunities.