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Innovative Fabrics Point to Sustainable Future at CLASS/CFDA Event

Innovative textiles including Ecotex, Reverso, Newlife and BACX were just some of the eco-conscious fabrics on display at a recent, exclusive educational workshop in Manhattan for CFDA/Lexus Fashion Initiative finalists hosted by C.L.A.S.S. (Creativity, Lifestyle And Sustainable Synergy).

Speaking to seven of the CFDA/Lexus finalists, including designer Prabal Gurung and Christopher Kunz of the Nicholas K brand, was Giusy Bettoni, CEO and founder of C.L.A.S.S., a worldwide, multi-platform network that works to showcase exclusive fashion, textiles and materials created using smarter sustainable technology for designers, buyers, media and business.

According to Bettoni, the fashion industry needs to better combine the versatility and beauty consumers expect from their fashion, while also mitigating the harmful environmental impact of producing textiles. Focusing on creating “fashion that is green,” rather than simply “green fashion,” was central to the workshop’s message.

“It is a slow but constant evolution,” Bettoni said. “It is really a key motivating factor for designers to be able to be cool and responsible without giving up their identity, but while also adding new values to their portfolio.”

Examples of this conscious approach to innovation can be found in fabrics like Re.Verso, re-engineered wool and cashmere made 100 percent in Italy from up-cycling pre-consumer cut-offs. The results are a 96 percent savings in CO2, an 89 percent savings in water, and a 76 percent energy savings, as certified by LCA (Life Cycle Assessment).

The challenge facing the industry until now has been that many consumers have not viewed sustainable fashion as a quality product. With new innovations in textiles, however, it has become possible to produce quality garments that also conserve resources. Max Mara, for instance, has used Newlife’s Techno-Silk in its garments for four seasons now.

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“Often times brands assume that the more sustainable fabrics are not of a particular quality, which is not the case,” said designer and CFDA/Lexus finalist Prabal Gurung. “Significant strides have been taken. In particular, the BACX and Re.Verso had a very nice [feel] and we will be working with C.L.A.S.S. to potentially source for upcoming collections. We are excited to see what comes of this.”

With consumers now becoming much more educated about how their clothing is made and sourced, it is the responsibility of the fashion industry to meet this demand, and to inspire other industries to think about their environmental footprint as well.

“Its great to see that companies can produce in ways that improve on their own operations while doing it responsibly and delivering great products,” said Christopher Kunz, co-founder of Nicholas K and CFDA/Lexus finalist. “The fashion industry should be a leader in education, change and innovation. If the fashion industry can demonstrate it can be done, then other industries will have little excuse to operate as usual. I also think its important to educate the consumer. Enable and empower them to be able to make good choices.”

Also introduced at the event was the launch of C.L.A.S.S. Education, a new division of the C.L.A.S.S. program which seeks to share knowledge, introduce new ideas, and present eco-smart materials to better educate and empower industry professionals, students and faculty.

Centered in Milan, C.L.A.S.S. Education will launch its first Design Responsibility & Ecosmart Textile workshops starting in July for both industry professionals and students studying fashion design, business and production.

“Our goal is to provide a dynamic forum to exchange ideas, challenge future fashion systems, and examine the textile manufacturing process through an onsite visit,” fashion educator and C.L.A.S.S. co-founder James Mendolia, said. “We want to encourage innovative design thinking that allows participants to explore brand strategies that can strengthen their capability to innovate and add value to their brand.”