Here at Playtime, we value sustainability and innovation. In celebration of Earth Day, we wanted to take a moment to talk about some incredible innovations and opportunities. Whether it’s drawing inspiration from nature to create new textiles, incorporating natural dyes to lessen your impact, or finding ways to reduce waste, there are so many exciting changes happening in the industry. With a future that looks even brighter (and greener!), let’s celebrate Earth Day!


Looking to nature

microbial bio leather sneakersMicrobial bio leather sneakers by Anne Marika Verploegh Chassé photographed by Jon Brown, from Sourcing Journal

We’ve previously discussed the innovations with mushrooms and leaves, but there are many other nature-inspired creations to celebrate. Spintex is a UK-based company that drew inspiration from spiders to create their silk. Free of hazardous materials, they spin their fibers at room temperature by pulling from a liquid protein gel to create fibers that are completely biodegradable. Spintex fibers are also high-performance and lightweight. This innovation offers a sustainable alternative to silk that doesn’t require harvesting from silkworms, with its only by-product being water. Finding inspiration in species big and small, three engineers have turned to one of the world’s top predators for inspiration. From the University of Massachusetts Amherst, these engineers looked at polar bears to develop their synthetic polar fleece. This bilayer textile has a layer of threads that conduct light to the bottom layer that is made of a dark coated nylon. Mimicking the black polar bear skin combined with its white fur that traps heat, this lightweight solution can keep the wearer warmer with less material.

Researchers at Columbia University and the Fashion Institute of Technology are developing a leather alternative from bacteria. Both compostable and flame-retardant, this material blends eco-friendliness and function. Simply the way the material binds with the bacteria used to grow it creates a high level of flame retardancy. Merging high-tech solutions with sustainable sources is the way of the future. Innovators are turning to unlikely sources to find new solutions. While these new materials seem inaccessible sometimes to smaller brands, groups like Uncaged Innovations are working hard to find ways to produce materials like leather replacements that are not only eco-friendly, but also accessible. Uncaged Innovations seeks to work more with brands in the middle market, rather than exclusively luxury labels who have long established histories centered around leather. Making these new, innovative materials more accessible is a crucial component for having a more sustainable industry as a whole.


Au natural

Natural dyes are a great solution for producing more sustainable collections, and one of our brands has just launched a collection centered around them. The Sunday Collective has released their TSC Naturals collection that exclusively uses an organic dying process. With onions, indigo, and beechwood, they dye GOTS certified organic cotton in simple silhouettes that are gender neutral and comfortable. The Sunday Collective’s TSC Naturals collection is available for immediate delivery on Orderwizz.

The use of natural dyes allows for a process that is significantly less harmful than chemical dyes. Unnatural dyes are a large source of water pollution, and make it harder for fabrics to be recycled. A trend that has been identified by our partner Fashion Snoops as well, a shift towards using more natural dyes is becoming increasingly popular. Through the efforts of global initiatives like Fashion for Good, natural dyes are making a strong return to the fashion industry. Fashion for Good is currently working on a library that would identify the best, most durable natural dyes to help brands turn to them instead of synthetics.


Radical reduction

Brands like Upé and R3ady to Play are centered around creating collections from waste. Upé uses 100% recycled fabrics to create their collections. With oversized silhouettes, their garments can be worn longer as children grow. Upé has accepted the challenge to “make nice, simple, durable clothes from what already exists.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. As for R3ady to Play, their small quantity collections are made with cotton surplus. By recycling or reusing all of the fabric waste generated by production, R3ady to Play is focused on limiting their impact on the planet in order to preserve it for generations to come. Both brands are on Orderwizz, so head to their virtual showrooms to learn more.


To the future

Variant 3DPhoto from Variant 3D

Not all inspiration comes from nature itself when it comes to sustainable solutions! Innovative companies are turning to artificial intelligence for help, too. For example, the company Variant 3D is offering alternatives to creating physical samples, as well as reduce waste. Using their programs, brands can design their products and create a digital twin to see exactly how it will move and fit on the body. By cutting out the need for physical samples, brands save time, reduce pollution from transportation, and save on costs. Brands can also use Variant 3D to maximize their use of fabrics and avoid deadstock. With technology like this in its early stages, the future is sure to be full of innovations that are going to revolutionize the industry.


The future is sure to be a space where nature and technology meet to offer concrete solutions for the fashion industry’s sustainability issues.  From new materials that replace unsustainable textiles to reducing waste with the help of artificial intelligence, there are innovators throughout the industry driving change. We are so proud to have brands like The Sunday Collective, Upé, R3ady to Play, and so many more as part of our community, available to shop year round on Orderwizz as well as at our trade shows in Paris, Shanghai, and New York. In just a few weeks, registration will open for buyers, press, and passionates to get their pass to The Big Small Show, where sustainability is always a main focus.


Header photo from Upé


Material World: Bacteria-based bio-leather is booming, Sourcing Journal (2023, April 5).
The warmth-trapping secret of polar bear fur, Sourcing Journal (2023, April 14).
Why this bio-based alt-leather firm wants to give small brands first dibs, Sourcing Journal (2023, April 3).
Will spider’s silk reinvent the fashion industry, Interesting Engineering (2023, March 4).
Vers la fin des teintures chimiques dans la mode, Fashion Network (2023, April 7).
SpintexVariant 3DUncaged Innovations
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Madeline Blankenship
Madeline Blankenship