The Emergence of Eco-Conscious Style

Read before you shop!

Emma Menebroker

11/15/20233 min read

The Emergence of Eco-Conscious Style

The fashion world is undergoing an exciting shift as designers embrace sustainability and eco-conscious practices. Moving beyond fast fashion and wasteful manufacturing, innovative brands are now looking to nature for inspiration. They are integrating biomimicry, recycled materials, ethical production, and other solutions to reduce the industry's environmental impacts.

Rather than extractive designs, fashion is now emulating nature's ingenuity. Flowing gowns mimic butterfly wings and insulating coats reflect polar bear fur. These biomimetic techniques fuse beauty with sustainability. Nature's brilliance is translated into garments that captivate aesthetically while advocating an eco-friendly future. This trend can be seen on the fashion runway, with more and more designers embracing faux furs and sustainable alternatives to animal materials. In the 2023 New York Fashion Week, luxury brand Area utilized textiles and paint to mimic the appearance of fur pelts. They also incorporated fake bones and fabric fox scarves, referencing older styles in a contemporary and sustainable way. There are also many examples of when nature informed the function of fashion. Whether it be the hydrodynamics of swimsuits inspired by shark skin or Velcro inspired by burrs, there are many examples of how what we wear day-to-day has been inspired by our environment.

Sustainable materials are also transforming fashion's footprint. Plant-based fabrics like bamboo, hemp, and organic cotton offer cruelty-free alternatives to conventional textiles. The company MycoWorks has developed “mycelium leather”, composed of fungal networks that are almost indistinguishable from leather. This solution will greatly decrease the fashion industry’s carbon footprint. Likewise, companies are developing convincing leather alternatives from tree sap and prickly pear cactus! Another awe-inspiring bioplastic is being created by Charlotte McCurdy, part of the One x One sustainable fashion collective, who is making sequins out of algae, grown to sequester carbon and then heated to take on their next life as a sustainable plastic alternative (1).

Additionally, upcycled and regenerated materials give new life to waste that would otherwise go to landfills. By diverting post-consumer scraps into new fashions, these innovations challenge the culture of disposability. Many designers are revitalizing clothing scraps or old clothing marked for the trash, breathing new life into materials originally viewed as non-salvageable in our current linear system. One company taking the message of upcycling to heart is Off the Hook, utilizing old tire tread to construct shoe soles.

The use of synthetic petrol-based dyes is also a large hurdle the fashion industry faces when becoming more sustainable. These dyes require a large amount of water, contributing to 20% of global water pollution, are highly toxic to humans and other species, and contribute to a substantial amount of the greenhouse gasses released during the garment’s production. Looking back at the original pigments used by humans, natural dyes from various plants and animals were utilized to change the color of a garment. While the production of natural dyes are difficult to execute on a large scale and the pigment may fade faster, more research needs to be conducted on how we can balance consumer expectations with environmental conservation. There are a variety of inspiring natural dye innovations coming from companies such as Colorfix, which uses microorganisms and fermentation to make pigments, and Living Ink, using algae waste biomass to make the future of black pigment (3). These sustainable innovations typically require discoveries to occur on a color-by-color basis, depending on the natural materials and treatments used.

Ethical manufacturing practices further enhance the sustainability of fashion. Local production and artisanal craftsmanship empower communities while minimizing transport emissions. Likewise, the production of clothing on demand ensures that less material is wasted. Brand transparency also ensures fair labor practices and builds consumer trust. A commitment to the circularity and longevity of clothing by designers and consumers aims to eliminate fashion waste and fast fashion.

Connecting fashion with the circular economy, many businesses have employed ways to make their clothing compostable. Not to be confused with the often-greenwashed term ‘biodegradable’, compostable clothing requires that materials be composed of organic natural fibers that are not blended or trimmed with synthetic fabrics. Organic clothing must also utilize eco-conscious dyes as mentioned previously and not have any chemical finishes. Organic cotton is the top contender for compostable clothing, but there are many other well-known players including hemp, linen, wool, and modal (a plant cellulose-based fabric). From zippers to buttons and thread, these companies are expanding the realm of sustainable fashion and bringing the industry into a more eco-conscious future.

As designers continue to explore nature-inspired solutions, they pave the way for a more sustainable industry. Their creativity marries sophisticated style with environmental values. By embracing this movement, fashion can become a powerful force for good. Its innovations will grace runways and push the industry towards a greener future.

If you have a sustainable design that could change the world for the better, we would love to work with you to make your vision a reality. Connect with us under the ‘Contact Us’ tab.


  1. Reid, Melissa. “Biomaterials are the Future of Sustainable Fashion.” The Last Fashion Bible, Accessed 15 November 2023.

  2. Hamilton, Holly. “Top 7 Sustainable Fashion Innovations From 2020.” Innovation that Matters, Accessed 15 November 2023.

  3. “Sustainable Dyes: Is Conscious Color Possible?” Sustainable Jungle, Accessed 15 November 2023.