GREAT NEWS FOR OUR ENVIRONMENT
by Frances Harder
Don’t know about you but I have been very concerned about the plastic waste that is dumped in the ocean, the landfills, or shipped to other countries to dispose of our waste. Additionally, after years of sending boat loads of our garbage overseas to other countries to dispose of the China have recently said “NO” to accepting any more shipments of our trash! They have been taking half the Worlds plastic waste for years. But Germany has been shipping three quarters of their plastic waste to China. Maybe this will motivate their brilliant engineers to invent/create a solution for this catastrophic global situation.
Every day we all have contact with thousands of different forms of plastics uses, from plastic wrappers, containers, toys, bottles, straws, etc.….. So, what to do about this global crisis that we have created for ourselves? Well, I was very interested to read in this week’s Economist that John McGeehan of the University of Portsmouth in Britain, and his colleagues have reported details of the discovery of a bacterial enzyme called “PETASE” that can break down polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in the production of plastic bottle. They have engineered a version of the enzyme that can digest plastic faster than any natural variety. The report is published in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”. This plastic munching bacteria called “Ideonella sakaiesis 201-F6” was discovered in 2016 at a PET-bottle recycling plant in Sakai, Japan. This is all in the very early stages and still lots more research is needed but it does, thankfully shine a hopeful spot light on this whole global plastic waste crisis. If they can surmount the development for industrial use PETASE might begin to make a dent in the alarming situation the world is in with all our plastic waste.
We must also do our part by becoming more sensitive to the over use of plastics and its eventual disposal. Many of us are beginning to wake up to this global catastrophe. One of the first things when out eating and drinking is to ask your server not to give you a plastic straw. Billions of straws are produced yearly, which often unfortunately end up in the ocean where they all too often get caught in turtle’s noses or blocking their stomach. If you want a straw, ask for a paper one or buy your own metal straw and carry it with you. We recently returned from Maui where we are fortunate to travel often to visit our son who works there. There are so many wonderful turtles there to watch and enjoy but unfortunately, we see far too many who have been injured by the plastic in the oceans. Many of these injured turtles and sea life are often found on the beaches, or in some cases in the ocean in crisis. Some are fortunate to be rescued by volunteers and then operated on to clear their mouths, noses and insides from the pollution of plastic waste in the oceans. But unfortunately for many sea creatures it is all to often too late!
The plastic waste and the consequences of all this waste in the ocean is not all visible to our eyes but the damage to the sea life is obvious. Fine plastic particles are also causing imbalances in our oceans. Synthetic fiber particles from some synthetic fabrics that when washed begin to break down in the water. Plus, plastic particles from beauty products such as shampoos that have been made to incorporate these plastic particles to help clean our hair. Then, skin care products are also guilty of incorporating plastic particles in face cleaners etc. So, if we can begin the cleanup process using this promising newly discovered enzyme, plus get more serious about recycling plastic into other products like roof tiles and synthetic wood before it is too late to repair the damage done to our amazing planet that would give us hope for the future. It’s imperative that we stop the stream of plastic waste filling the global landfills and our oceans.
As I am writing this article for apparel related professionals who for the most part are aware of these issues. It is my hope that we can work together to help alleviate some of the industry pollution issues. The clothing industry is a guilty polluter of our environment and we should begin a serious dialogue to address, and to find solutions to solving the plastic waste, pollution of the ocean and the overproduction of clothing.
I am a hopeful observer of the millennials who I feel are already making an impact on changing some of this bleak issue. Like the Baby Boomers, who were responsible for many positive changes after the second World, the millenniums have begun to make positive changes to the 21st century. Sustainability, responsible sustainable production methods, upcycling and recycling is something the millenniums seem to be very much involved with and actively creating a positive global impact.
Knickers, Panties or Thongs?
Whatever the choice there appears to be a technical problem that could be improved upon.
By Frances Harder
As a designer and a technical apparel professional who is also an avid workout person I am regularly exposed to looking at women’s rear-ends. Sometimes professionally and other times because I have no choice I have come to realize there is room for improvements in the undergarments we choose to wear. Additionally, with the “Athleisure” clothing trend where women are wearing workout gear all day and that workout gear typically involves tight leggings, which often leaves NOTHING much to anyone’s imagination. Unless they are wearing a long top to cover up their hips and butts. Plus, all too often what is worn under the skin-tight and sometimes too thin fabric that has been made into leggings will stretch so much that it exposes skin, or details as to what undies (knickers, panties or thongs) are worn under the leggings.
I should define these three types of undies: I am a Brit, so I use the term “Knickers” as underwear.
It seems to me as technical designer that there is a need for improvement for these female undergarments. That need could be a good market niche for anyone wanting to enter this exciting industry. What we choose to wear for undies should be comfortable but also should not be a point of focus when out and about wearing trending Athleisure garments. Not only for the wearer but also for the rest of us who are exposed to looking at other women’s butts when spinning or doing Yoga at the gym, or on a walk or hike.
For the most part the most obvious need for improvement is the rear-end focal point seam across the back portion of the pantie, which attaches the main body portion of the knickers/panties to the crotch portion. Obviously, thongs have no seam but can often be identified on the wearer through the tightness of the leggings. By including circular knitting and the use of other modern construction methods such as tape and bonding, plus incorporating some of the wonderful high-tech fabrics I think we could create a better fitting undergarment. We also now have the evolving three D printing process, which is getting better and better. I am convinced that soon the material choices available will really revolutionize the world of fashion. Additionally, make sure that the fabric weight chosen for leggings are produced from a thicker weight fabric! Or purchase leggings that are the right size!
Smart Production & Smart Clothing
by Frances Harder
Over the past few years the clothing industry has and continues to rapidly evolve in many new exciting directions! Smart production, custom made to measure clothing, smart textiles that can be made from things like fermented wine and coconuts! What does all this new technology mean? The next generation of clothing goes way beyond wearables and may change, or even save lives. Equally important are the new ways that clothing is being produced, which is also going through massive technological upgrades with robots and single layered cutting for mass customization of individually made to measure clothing. T-shirts made from 6 recycled plastic bottles blended with cotton.
This new exciting breed of technology is much more than just monitoring how many steps you’ve taken or your heart rate. The big difference between smart clothing and traditional apparel is integrated technology such as sensors that are embedded into the fabric to “read” your body. Smart clothes can connect you to technology from head to toe and enable everything from paying for your morning coffee, tracking DNA for purity of fibers, playing music to mapping travel routes. RFID threads are now used to track garments and even clothing that will monitor your moods, your heart and emotions. Or, even including bras that can automatically adjust to support under different situations.
Here are a few other fashion brands that are leading the smart way:
Google & Levi’s Trucker Jacket with Smart Touch
What happens when 150 years of Levi’s denim innovation meets Google engineering? A groundbreaking garment called Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket. The cuff of the left sleeve is made of a slightly different denim material that’s been specially woven with conductive Touch-sensitive Jacquard Thread, which allows the sleeve to act as an interactive touchpad for the jacket. The jacket connects to a mobile device via Bluetooth technology. With a tap or brush of the sleeve cuff, you can control music, screen phone calls, get directions and more.
Nadi X Vibrating & Virtual Yoga Pants
The Sydney-based startup Wearable X’s Nadi X pants have woven-in technology with sensors that provide gentle vibrations at the hips, knees and ankles to encourage you to move and/or hold positions for an easier yoga workout. The sensors sync up via Bluetooth to your phone and through the companion app, which gives you additional feedback.
Under Armour’s Smart Sleepwear & Shoes
Under Armour recently unveiled “smart sleepwear,” which the company claims help athletes “to rest, win and repeat.” This Athlete Recovery Sleepwear has an infrared pattern inside the clothing to absorb infrared wavelengths and reduce inflammation while an athlete is sleeping, aiding in recovery time. Under Armour has also launched two new pairs of connected running shoes with embedded sensors in the foam soles that can track key statistics such as distance, slide, length and cadence.
Stella McCartney has created custom garments from 3D printers. This method is being refined with new finer fibers that react more like traditional textiles. I feel this eventually will be a total game changing method of producing clothing. Maybe one day we will have the ability to create and print garments from our own home!
Smart production and clothing presents new avenues for smart retailers and brands to drive greater sales, and it really can supercharge the fashion business. Additionally, with the apparel, footwear and accessories industries having connected devices built into their products, brands can analyze customers’ habits and then optimize marketing outreach. It can also create a unique experience for the wearer that has never been available before.
Another exciting part to this story is that there are now major investments being made into US production. This is creating new jobs and requiring new training and job descriptions. All good!!At this ground-breaking time in our industry Fashion For Profit Global Platform will be assisting our members connect resources, evolve, educate, market internationally and match international universities to provide more updated education/training for students and to our new high-tech Global industry on our exciting worldwide platform