Brands like North Face, Allbirds and Patagonia, as well as the Kering luxury group, are all about agriculture these days. Here’s the dirt.
Under pressure to renounce cotton harvested in a Chinese region marked by gruesome repression, they face a backlash from nationalist Chinese consumers.
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The challenges of the past year gave designers every reason to recede into the shadows, but creativity won’t be denied.
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In a country house on the Baltic coast, Nina Norgren and Bengt Thornefors, the founders of the textile and furniture brand Magniberg, have made a home entirely their own.
Announced this morning, the investment in Natural Fiber Welding will see Allbirds bring a vegan leather replacement option to customers by December 2021. It’s a natural addition for a company that has always billed itself as focused on environmental impact in other aspects of its apparel manufacturing.
Allbirds these days is far more than a shoe company and Natural Fiber Weldings suite of products that include both a purportedly tougher cotton fiber made using the company’s proprietary processing technology and a plant-based leather substitute.
Those materials could find their way into Allbirds array of socks, shoes, tshirts, underwear, sweaters, jackets, and face masks. Natural Fiber Welding already touts a relationship with Porsche on its website, so Allbirds isn’t the only company that’s warmed to the Peoria, Ill.-based startup’s new materials.
With the addition of Allbirds Natural Fiber Welding has raised roughly $15 million, according to data from Pitchbook. Other investors in the company include Central Illinois Angels, Prairie Crest Capital, Ralph Lauren Corp. and Capital V, an investment firm focused on backing vegan products.
Allbirds is far from the only clothier to make the jump to plant-based materials in the past year. The buzzy clothing company Pangaia invested $2 million into a company called Kintra which is making a bio-based polyester substitute in December.
By the far the biggest startup name in the sustainable fashion space is a company like Bolt Threads, which has inked deals with companies including Stella McCartney, Adidas, and the owner of the Balenciaga fashion house (among others).
Other startups that have raised significant capital for plant-based fabrics and materials are companies like Mycoworks, which raised $45 million last year from backers include John Legend, Natalie Portman along with more traditional investors like WTT Investment Ltd. (Taipei, Taiwan), DCVC Bio, Valor Equity Partners, Humboldt Fund, Gruss & Co., Novo Holdings, 8VC, SOSV, AgFunder, Wireframe Ventures and Tony Fadell.
With Natural Fiber Welding’s products Allbirds is boasting about a significantly reduced environmental footprint for its leather-like material. Natural Fiber Welding claims its material reduce the associated carbon footprint by 40 times and uses 17 times less carbon in its manufacturing than synthetic leather made from plastic.
The company does say that the plant leather will use natural rubber, an industry with its own history of human rights abuses, that’s also trying to clean up its act.
“For too long, fashion companies have relied on dirty synthetics and unsustainable leather, prioritizing speed and cost over the environment,” says Joey Zwillinger, co-founder and co-CEO of Allbirds, in a statement. “Natural Fiber Welding is creating scalable, sustainable antidotes to leather, and doing so with the potential for a game-changing 98% reduction in carbon emissions. Our partnership with NFW and planned introduction of Plant Leather based on their technology is an exciting step on our journey to eradicate petroleum from the fashion industry.”
TechCrunch has reached out to Allbirds for additional comment, but had not received a reply at the time of publication.
Already pushed to the breaking point by the pandemic, designers, manufacturers and retailers claim the newly-negotiated Brexit deal is a disaster.
The second daughter turned model released a five-piece collection. Only one of each item was made.
Through thoughtful collaborations with Mexican artisans in Oaxaca and elsewhere, contemporary designers are helping to evolve — and protect — one of the world’s most enduring handicrafts.
Designers and tech start-ups are working to improve sustainability and interrupt the path to the landfill.
An expert in conserving garments for museums and collectors finds a new calling in saving the clothes worn by victims of atrocities.
In the late 1960s, Tillett Textiles teamed up with designers in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, for a historically significant collaboration. Now the prints are being reissued.
A Kissinger protégé (and a pre-eminent textile art collector), his fingerprints can be found on many of the leading postwar institutions linking the two allies.
Works by Bisa Butler and Barbara Earl Thomas are featured in major museum shows in Chicago and Seattle. It’s a star turn that many feel is long overdue.
Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest once bred dogs in large numbers and sheared them for wool.
In the small group of high-culture institutions that venerate the art of fashion, Black designers have been largely overlooked.
At her family home, the textile designer Nathalie Farman-Farma has drawn from ancient Eastern and Western influences with scholarly respect and stylish abandon.
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Perched above the shores of Lake Como, the vibrant weekend house of Caterina Fabrizio is a shrine to pattern and texture.
Leather goods made of fungi are versatile and sustainable, a new study finds.
The potential move, which could come as soon as Tuesday, comes amid reports of the use of forced labor in Xinjiang, where China has carried out a crackdown against mostly Muslim minorities.
The Afro-Brazilian sculptor Sonia Gomes, in a debut U.S. show, gives materials new life — as they have given her life new balance.
A small study prompted fears that neck gaiters could spread more virus droplets than they stop. But new research shows that those face coverings can protect just as well as other cloth masks.
The pandemic has many people thinking about how they’ll spend time outside as the weather cools, meaning favorites items may soon be in short supply.
Best known for her series of deconstructed flags, Sonya Clark offers poignant, clearsighted reminders of this country’s legacy of racial violence.
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More than 190 organizations have come together to demand an end to garments made by forced labor in China.
Several firms that were blacklisted by the U.S. Commerce Department said they had found no evidence of forced labor or other abuses.
The move, which affects suppliers to major international brands including Apple, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, could force companies to sever some ties to China.
Creamy as silk and costlier than gold, a Montecristi superfino Panama hat is as much a work of art as it is of fashion.
For a simple lunch or dinner, Vanessa Barragão often makes arjamolho, which is healthy, flavorful and perfect for summer.
Sophie Taeuber-Arp did it all: Installations, textiles, costumes, abstract art. Nearly 80 years after her death, an online gallery show commemorates her talent (and a major museum exhibition is coming).
Kenya has halted imports of secondhand clothes to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The move limits fashion selection, but opens doors for the country’s designers and manufacturers.
Tom Atton Moore’s vibrant floor coverings are indebted to centuries-old craft techniques — and to the more contemporary art of trawling through one’s phone.
The industry has returned to work, but it’s far from business as usual for small suppliers to luxury brands and retailers.
The sumptuous craft was introduced along the country’s trade routes centuries ago. Even now, links to this delicate tradition still remain.
And how they came to be staples on Instagram and in our homes.
Why settle for a tea cozy when you can make knitwear fit for a nuclear winter?
The advice from public health officials has been confusing, leaving us to decide whether a D.I.Y. mask is better than nothing.
With overrun hospitals facing an acute shortage of masks, people are pulling out their sewing machines to fill the void.