Sustainability and fashion have developed a much closer relationship in recent years, with organic cotton becoming increasingly common, plastic bottles being recycled into fabric, and old clothes upcycling in to new ones . But there’s one gaping problem: Fashion is by it’s very nature transitory. No matter how green your clothes are, if an article becomes dated and no longer worn, you end up buying more clothes, which uses more resources in their materials, manufacture and transport.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Refinity, a Dutch fashion consultancy, has developed a unique fabric ink that allows wearers to remove designs and re-apply them any time. The ink is machine washable and will only be removed when using a specific detergent developed by Refinity.
Refinity offers an opportunity for people to both buy within their values and express their style, without the two conflicting. Their system also creates the ability for vendors to customize solid fabrics as-needed via digital printing, instead of having to pre-print reams textiles before knowing for sure how popular they’ll be. This in turn could mean a great deal more versatility in ecologically friendly fashions.
This technology is not only useful for fashionistas. Corporations can utilize it to change the logo or messaging on the clothing their employees wear to match current branding. This could this mean both economic and environmental savings. Even if it does not mean big financial savings, it would make a nice, positive PR story, adding brand value and sales.
One drawback to Refinity’s ink at this point is that it only works on organic cotton. On other textiles, it leaves a hazy shadow of the design. Otherwise, the company hopes to develop a closed loop printing/returning/removing system, improving its overall printability, and use renewable energy sources where garments are produced.
Overall, this is one to watch, and potentially incorporate into your company’s offerings.
Readers: What other possibilities do you see for temporary fabric ink? What are other ways fashion and sustainability are being effectively integrated? Comment below
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, global trend tracker, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.