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New Season Trend Swap!

Updated: May 2, 2019

A/W 2018 is here, so let’s draw attention to some of the trends of the season and particularly trends, which can be replaced with more ethical and sustainable alternatives.

In a world of growing conscious consumerism swapping unethically produced trends for more sustainable solutions is vital

Here are 3 of this season’s top trends and some exciting alternatives:

Patent Leather

According to some - naturally derived materials such as leather are a sustainable option when it comes to durability and ecological impact. It is true that some leather can be durable but there are still types or real leather such as 'genuine leather' for example that are not quite so durable. As real leather is not a man-made material it is also supposed to be more biodegradable.

However, there are other things to take into account.

As we all know leather comes from animal agriculture, which is one of the most polluting industries in the world. The tanning process of real leather involves chemicals, which means that even if the product is biodegradable the chemicals it is covered with are not necessarily good from an ecological point of view. Additionally- the ethical side of leather is ... well there is no such thing!

The trend of patent leather is even more chemically intensive as this type of leather is covered with a very thin layer of lacquer or plastic to give it its distinctive shine.

Purchasing products made from animal skin cannot therefore be a sustainable solution and it is certainly not an ethical one.

The Solution

Thankfully we live in a world of new posibilities. Innovation in technological solutions in exploration for new materials means that materials such as cork leather are a great and sustainable leather alternative and as cork trees grow quickly there is no negative ecological impact.

You may have heard of Piñatex - an incredibly sustainable alternative to leather derived from pineapple leaves! An invention so sustainable that it uses the fruit's waste fibres, is entirely bio degradable and can be disposed of in a compost bin! This type of plant based leather was invented by Spanish designer Carmen Hijosa - she observed the process of weaving a Filipino shirt called 'barong talong' using pineapple leaves. Her invention is pure genius and so affordable that more and more companies are starting to use this amazing material! Even Hugo Boss now offers trainers made out of 80% Piñatex.

Let's hope next winter season the patent leather trend will be ditched for these much cooler and exciting sustainable materials!

Future is in plant based leather


This trend is another 'natural' option fed to consumers everywhere.

Shearling is not simply wool - it is the skin of a sheep or a lamb, which has been shorn shortly before slaughter. The wool is still attached to the skin, which is tanned and used on the outside and the wool stays on the inside and adds contrasting detail to garment elements such as on the collar and cuffs.

In a similar way to leather while this may be considered by some a sustainable material because of its natural origins the truth is that it is simply unethical and not particularly eco friendly.

The Solution

Paper No 9 are American company specialising in creating recycled paper based material, which mimics gilded leather. The materials they produce are animal free and plastic free - natural, non toxic and innovative. You can find out more here.

Paper No 9 Innovation


Fashion Items made out of wool are trendy every winter. Wool is warm, takes colour easily and is natural - therefore biodegradable. Wool can be confusing - where is the harm? Like any other industries involving animal exploitation there are ethical issues with wool. Generally people, who shear sheep are paid per sheep, not per hour and this can result in rough handling of the sheep and cuts in the skin. The other issue is mulesing, which is particularly cruel. This is a surgical procedure without anaesthetic, which involves cutting wool bearing skin around the lamb/sheep's buttock area. This is done to remove flystrike.

The Solution

Izzy Lane is a UK based designer, who rescues sheep from slaughter and uses their wool to produce a more ethical solution. This includes male lambs and ewes, who have had miscarriages. Her sheep live the rest of their lives peacefully in her Yorkshire based home. You can read her story here.

Another alternative to yarn products of the high street is Spiral Spin based in Chichester. An artisan business, which works on small batches of hand spun wool. They also produce vegan yarn, which is amazing!

Recycled wool is also an option. My AW 2017/2018 collection incorporated mock and recycled wool, which is very warm, eco friendly and uses resources that we have already used!

UNDERDOCK trousers made with recycled wool cloth. Find the collection here.

From a sustainable prospective using plant based yarn is key.

There are plant based alternatives to wool such as linen and hemp yarn! Both very versatile and incredibly sustainable plants! There is also yarn made out of.. stinging nettle! All 3 botanical alternatives don't need much water and are easy to grow.

Vegan yarn by Spiral Spin

So whatever trend you go for this season - rest assured there are sustainable plant based options, which will make you feel both stylish and special without compromising on your ethical values!

And as always - Keep Sailing Forward, everyone! X

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