The textile industry has a long history of innovation, from the invention of the spinning jenny and the first heavy duty sewing machines to the highly advanced technology of today. Here is a look at some of the novel textile trends that are set to shape the textile industry in 2024 and beyond.
Novel textiles are designed to be environmentally friendly, resilient and hardwearing, and light and easy to manufacture and work with. One example is Vividye, a reversible textile colouring process that was invented by a Swedish startup. This means that prints can be easily removed from clothing to allow for a more efficient recycling process.
One of the biggest environmental challenges facing the textile industry is the growing amount of waste created by fast fashion. There is a huge demand for cheap and on-trend clothing, and unfortunately this leads to a very fast turnover from garment manufacturing to disposal.
Since the year 2000, clothing sales have doubled, while the average amount of time a garment is worn before being thrown away has declined by 36%. The fashion industry creates about 92 million tonnes of clothing waste each year, and much of this is made from cheaper fabrics such as nylon and polyester, which contain microplastics.
Every time these garments are washed, they shed microfilaments that end up in waterways, and are ingested by fish. It is thought that the food chain is now contaminated with microplastics that can pose a threat to human health. Additionally, about 20% of global wastewater comes from the textile dyeing process.
Vividye have an novel operational model of selling textile ink to printing companies and then collecting the garment at the the end of its lifespan and remove the print without damaging the material. This means that the garment can be recycled or reprinted with new designs and reused.
Refiberd is another novel approach that is helping to make the textile industry more sustainable. Currently less than 1% of all textile waste is recycled into new clothing because of the difficulties of sorting through the individual garments.
Refiberd have developed a new accurate sorting technology that can detect fibre composition and the presence of contaminants in the textile waste. This means that any materials that are difficult to recycle, such as spandex, nylon, and acrylic can be detected even when composition levels are below 2%.
Each garment can be processed in a matter of milliseconds with the aid of a hyperspectral camera that transmits data to a computer to identify the different fibres. A machine learning model then makes a prediction of the material composition of the textile.
The female-led engineering team at Refiberd aims to bring the cutting edge of AI technology to address the global economic and environmental challenges facing the textile industry and help to build a more sustainable circular economy.