August 5, 2021

Sustainable highlights from the Paris fabrics fairs

5 min read

Holding live trade fairs in pandemic times is not easy. Nevertheless, fabrics trade-show organizers in Paris opted for a real event: Première Vision’s new “Fashion Rendez-Vous” format and Texworld’s Evolution–Le Showroom concept took place at the beginning of July on a much reduced scale and under heavy security precautions.

Première Vision even had a Corona testing station specially installed for all visitors who did not have a PCR test or a full vaccination. Texworld had arranged appointments for visitors in advance. The fair organizers had been able to compensate for the greatly reduced exhibition space with a very curated selection and new forms of presentation. Despite the low number of exhibitors, there were some very interesting labels and companies to discover.

Here are some highlights that caught our eyes…

Ecotan
At Première Vision Fashion Rendez-Vous, the company Silvateam from Piedmont, Italy presented its new product Ecotan. The innovative technology allows leather to be tanned and dyed without risky substances such as chrome, heavy metals or glutaraldehydes on the basis of chestnuts, among other things. Around five years of research went into the innovation, which aims to close a cradle-to-cradle process.

Sneakers made with Ecotan

Sneakers made with Ecotan

The formula uses plant-based tannins from sustainable resources, combined with additives that are harmless to health. The result is a leather quality that is equal to chrome-based tanning, but is harmless to health and “green.” At the end of the life cycle of a leather tanned and dyed with Ecotan, the material can be used as fertilizer for organic farming. The bio-circular loop goes even further than the circular economy by using only materials from nature that can be returned to nature after use. Ecotan therefore sees itself as the “world’s first bio-circular leather.”

The formula is based on chestnuts, gallnuts, tara pods and Quebracho wood, sourced largely from the immediate environment in Piedmont. The Ecotan-tanned leather is suitable for the shoe industry, leather goods and for use in the automotive industry. Silvateam is working with Biofin Leather on its new product and is already in contact with 20 tanneries of the Leather Working Group for implementation in Europe, Asia and South America.

Tricolor
Also at Première Vision, the collective Tricolor was present and has set itself the goal of promoting French wool and also processing it in its own country. The organization, which speaks in its subtitle of a “renaissance of the French wool industry,” wants to unite as many national players in the textile chain as possible to offer a more sustainable product that is locally sourced, of high quality and 100% traceable. Co-founder Pascal Gautrand says, “There are around 7 million sheep in France, which produce 14 million kilos of wool. But until now it was cheaper to ship this wool to China, wash it there and process it further, and then send it back again, instead of processing it in our own country. Only about 4% was kept in France, 80% was exported abroad for processing.”

Covers by Tricolor made of undyed wool

Covers by Tricolor made of undyed wool

Through this system, not only turnover but also a lot of know-how was lost. This is to change in the next few years. The collective has already been able to win over numerous players in the sector as members, such as the National Sheep Farm in Rambouillet, the Lavage de Laines du Gévaudan laundry, the Filature Colbert spinning mill as players in pre-production. At the end of the textile chain are fashion producers such as the denim manufacturer 1083 or Atelier Tuffery, the lingerie specialist Le Slip Francais or the well-known fashion brand Balzac Paris. Groups like LVMH and the Fédération Française du Prêt à Porter Féminin are also involved.

“At the moment, the main thing is to install dialogue and communication between the actors and also with the public. There are 280 different breeds of sheep in France. There are very interesting qualities among them,” adds Gautrand. But these differences also bring a lot of complexity. Uniting all the actors at Tricolor is a big task because a flock of sheep in France usually comprises 200 to 300 sheep, in Australia, one of the largest suppliers of wool worldwide, there are 10,000 animals per flock.

Valerius360
At Texworld Evolution we discovered the Valerius360 project from Portugal, which was only launched in 2017, and is about circular economy in the fashion and paper industry. “Resourcing the Future” is how the creators describe their all-round process of 360 individual steps, which can be roughly divided into six work stages: Valerius360 collects clothes and fabrics from overproduction and from warehouses with unsold products. These are sorted according to color and composition, so that in some cases even a re-dyeing of the yarns or fabrics becomes unnecessary. Then the remnants are shredded in a continuous process so that they make a raw material for spinning or paper production. Then they are spun for jersey fabrics. All raw materials that are not of sufficient quality or have fibers that are too short are further processed for cotton-based paper. The yarns are knitted into jersey and used again for garments.

T-shirt made of recycled jersey by Valerius360

T-shirt made of recycled jersey by Valerius360

In the process, at least 50% of virgin raw materials can be reduced, chemical consumption is reduced by 98.5%, water by 85% and energy by 83%. In addition, the unused textiles do not go to waste. In some cases, some new raw materials have to be added, but Valerius360 tries to create 100% recycled fabrics.

The range includes fabrics out of recycled cotton, recycled polyester, organic cotton and Tencel and SeaCell. Customers of the company with about 80 employees in Barcelos, in the northwest of Portugal, are eco-oriented brands such as Armed Angels. According to the company, the process developed there is unique in Europe.

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