#SustainableAfter, Episode 7

Innovation is in the details: the rise of comfort, function and sustainability

After being faced with the new reality of lockdown, with most of our time being spent in the comfort of our own homes, one of the rare items of positive news from the fashion industry was around activewear and loungewear. 

Loungewear, lingerie and activewear sales have soared, with sweatpants and leggings being among the favourites for working from home.

 

Stylight’s report based on internal data collected from 12 million monthly users across all its international platforms shows underwear as the number one most clicked category in the US for the entire period.

It also reveals a +24% increase in clicks globally on “conscious fashion” brands in the first quarter of 2020 (January-March 2020 vs. 2019).

Other research concurs: loungewear searches have risen 411% year-on-year for the period, while lingerie searches have recorded an uptick of 42% compared with the same period in 2019, according to Drapersonline, while in Heuritech’s Instagram analysis, 1 out of 4 #covid19 posts relates to healthy lifestyle trends during confinement.

In our 7th episode of #sustainableafter, we put together representative brands to talk more about these trends and what it means to be sustainable when it comes to loungewear and activewear and to discover more about how innovation helps. 

Our panellists:

  • Francesca Milani, Head of Merchandising: Product- Strategy- Distribution  and Marketing at Puma
  • Andreas Frei, Chief Operating Officer, Zimmerli
  • Laida Memba Ikuga, Chief of Sustainability & Sales at Cocoro

Focus on materials

Puma confirms that in April this year, their sales of loungewear and activewear doubled.  

Puma links up with First Mile to launch recycled plastic-based ...Francesca mentioned the interest of Puma customers in sustainable products also increasing and the constant research within the company to come up with innovative products that satisfy these new needs. PUMA and First Mile have co-created and recently launched a sportswear collection made from recycled plastic, guided by an ethos of social impact and human connection. For the products made for 2020 they diverted over 40 tonnes of plastic waste from landfills and oceans for use as an innovative fabric, equating to 1,980,286 reused plastic bottles. 

But what are the main barriers for big brands to the introduction of biodegradable or recycled materials on a larger scale?

“Reliability, scalability and commercial size. Which means, finding reliable suppliers, finding materials and technologies that are scalable and taking into consideration the price for consumers, because most of the new materials don’t have the same economies of scale as traditional materials. The solution we have found, to coordinate all these three elements, are launching smaller collections because they are easier to handle.” said Francesca.

 

Zimmerli of Switzerland is a wonderful example of a traditional luxury brand, on the market since 1829. Over the years, it has remained relevant thanks to its innate dedication to innovation.

In March Zimmerli released products with the MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® label. This is a traceable product label that verifies that an article has been tested for harmful substances. It also guarantees that the textile has been manufactured using sustainable processes under socially responsible working conditions. 

Andreas Frei, CEO of Zimmerli, told us that one of the steps they consider very important in their way of approaching sustainability is the sourcing of their raw materials. 

“Our cotton is sourced from Greece. Carefully selected and controlled non-GMO cotton seeds are cultivated via sustainable practices in family farms. The watering is strictly performed by a drip irrigation system. The cotton cultivation is monitored by state of the art technological equipment and a selected team of experienced agronomists has lead to significant resource savings.”

Andreas believes that the communication of such actions to their final consumers also plays an important role in becoming more sustainable, he summed it up succinctly as: “inform the consumer to be part of the sustainable story”. 

 

Bienvenida a la revolución más íntima - Cocoro-intim.comCocorointim from Spain improves women’s lives with sustainable, healthy, comfortable  textile innovation. Their innovative products and mindset helped them become one of the finalist scale-ups of the Loomish Fashion Innovation Award.  

With 5.6 to 6.4 kg of non-recyclable waste per woman/year, the industry of menstrual products has barely changed for 80 years and is far from being entirely sustainable. 

Cocoro has developed reusable and washable briefs with a fabric recommended by gynecologists. Some models are completely lined with cotton. The technical fabric, hidden between the cotton lining and the external material, is based on polyester and is absorbent, waterproof, antibacterial and breathable. 

“They can be washed 60 times without losing their absorbent properties, which means around 2 years of wearing them” clarified Laida Memba Ikuga, Cocoro‘s Chief of Sustainability & Sales. 

 

All of the panellists agree in this episode too with the fact that no one can do things entirely on their own when it comes to sustainability: collaboration is fundamental. 

“We need to all come together to solve the climate change issues.“ said PUMA’s Francesca Milani.

 

Some more interesting facts on material trends

  • People are craving cozy, fluffy fabrics and textures. 
  • Teddy textures, used typically in outerwear, are now cropping in different loungewear pieces during confinement, such as full sets. 
  • Ribbed knit is likewise expected to trend in the US this summer, often in pyjama-like pieces such as tank tops and pants. 
  • Velvet is another comfortable, soft fabric that has become a popular choice during confinement. According to Heuritech analysis, velvet will stay steady in Europe and grow by 13% in the US for Summer 2020, an interesting increase given that summer is typically its low season. 

“Loungewear sales soar in coronavirus quarantine” Fox Business 

“Home comforts: the rise and rise of loungewear” Drapers

“Consumer interest in loungewear, lingerie and activewear surges amid lockdown” Fashion United

Listen to the full conversation here>>>>>