The fashion industry has one of the primary responsibilities for global pollution. Candiani Custom aims to offer an innovative solution in the denim world to face it. The project follows the vision that not only companies but also consumers should change their approach to adopt more sustainable practices in their daily life.
Fashion is one of the most polluting industries
Fashion is for sure among the most polluting industries worldwide. Some of its main problems are environmental impact, overproduction, garments’ end-of-life, social responsibility, and transparency and traceability.
(Fast) fashion’s environmental impact
(Fast) fashion’s environmental impact is definitely alarming. The United Nations estimate that the fashion industry causes around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the sum of international flights and maritime shipping, and 10% of water waste worldwide. A study published in Nature Reviews & Environment shows that its yearly water consumption equals 79 trillion liters.
Overproduction’s issue in the fashion industry
Not only production but also overproduction in the fashion industry pollutes. According to Nature Reviews & Environment, the sector produces more than 92 million tons of waste annually. Many brands decide to burn their unsold garments instead of providing discounts for positioning reasons and not to devalue them in consumers’ eyes.
What happens when clothing reaches its end-of-life? Once their life cycle ends, garments are often burned or dumped in landfills or even left in empty areas, such as in the Atacama Desert in Chile, where 39,000 tons of used clothing are abandoned yearly.
CBS brought to the attention of the general public the Kantamanto market, Accra, Ghana. In the United States, in 30 years, there has been a five-fold increase in garments purchases. Still, each is worn, on average, only seven times before being thrown away. Often clothing is donated to charities, but it is not always good to be reused or resold. So, 15 million garments every week come from Western countries to the Kantamanto market, in a state where only 30 million people live. Traders and artisans buy and try to give a new life to this enormous amount of items. Still, upcycling is increasingly becoming more difficult due to fast fashion's poor quality and the number of garments dismissed. Around 40% of the clothing brought to Ghana hence ends up in landfills.
Labor’s exploitation in (fast) fashion
Labor’s exploitation in (fast) fashion is an issue that has been well-known for decades, worsened by cheap clothing’s production on a vast scale. Many companies move their operations to countries with lower costs and more permissive regulations, violating their employees’ human rights and making them work in unhealthy conditions. According to a report by the International Labor Organization, more than 74 million kids are forced to work in high-risk situations since they use dangerous machinery or harmful chemicals.
A lack of transparency and traceability
Lastly, the fashion industry is characterized by a general lack of transparency and traceability. The Fashion Transparency Index 2021 considers 250 among the sector's most famous international brands and retailers. It has stated that their average transparency score is only 23%, looking at carbon emissions, produced waste, and fair labor treatment. Moreover, many fashion actors are aware of the approach used by their direct suppliers. Still, they do not know what happens across the entire value chain.
Candiani Custom, Candiani Denim’s custom-made jeans
Candiani Denim has developed its Candiani Custom project focused on custom-made jeans, starting from a simple question: if we are good at producing innovative and sustainable fabrics, how could we make a jean?
Once we identified the main garments’ production and consumption problems (environmental impact, overproduction, clothing’s end-of-life, social responsibility, and transparency and traceability), we found some innovative solutions to provide consumers with an alternative approach to jeans’ purchase. Therefore, we opened the first urban micro-factory in Milan to make custom-made jeans using progressive and sustainable fabrics and the best textile technologies.