What is fashion’s place in a world that is rapidly running out of natural resources? 

The fashion industry’s disastrous environmental impact is no secret. Unsustainable agricultural systems and contamination from synthetic fibres, dyes and finishes continuously pollute ecosystems and decimate biodiversity throughout the value chain whilst simultaneously perpetuating socio-economic injustices. Consumerism has fuelled the desire for fast fashion, which is reliant on overconsumption of finite resources and intensive farming practices. Increasing amounts of fertilisers and pesticides are needed to meet these demands, degrading the soil which inhibits regeneration, resulting in a loss of arable land. For fashion to have a future, there needs to be an imminent shift to regenerative practices that protect biodiversity and support agricultural food systems.

Sunflowers could provide a solution. 

Sunflowers are utilised as a part of regenerative agricultural systems and aid climate mitigation through soil remediation and boosting biodiversity. Cultivated globally, sunflowers can be grown without fertilisers and can be companioned and rotated with other food crops. Their extensive roots establish a symbiotic relationship with beneficial microbes, bacteria and fungi that promote healthy soils. Sunflowers can withstand drought, and their natural resilience has made them a model for scientists studying climate change adaptation. 

Climafibre has developed fibre for textiles, natural dyes and a hydropic coating made entirely from sunflowers.

Using enzymes derived from bacteria and fungi, Climafibre has worked closely with scientists to develop a unique process to isolate cellulose fibres from sunflower stems. These fibres are then combed and spun into a yarn, then woven into a fabric. The hydrophobic coating is made from a by-product of the sunflower oil industry and provides water-resistant protection for natural fibres without the use of harmful chemicals. This coating allows the fabric to maintain its breathable qualities with minimal alteration to its aesthetics or hand feel. Climafibre's bold colour palette has been developed from pigments extracted from various parts of the flower. They can be used as a natural alternative for textile dyes and printing, free from fossil fuels. Climafibre envisions a future localised production network within Bioregion PA9*, which integrates food and fibre systems and promotes regenerative agriculture.

*Bioregion PA9 encompasses the UK, Ireland and the Faroe Islands.