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Fibre testing system to augment sustainability check

"Textile sustainability has been gaining traction lately and putting a lot of pressure on fashion companies to take sustainable route. While some go by standards organisations like GOTS or ISO, to learn more about the supply chains of their favourite brands, we still don’t have scientific evidence to show exactly where a garment has come from. If a technology was developed to do this, it would quickly impact the level of sustainability within the fashion industry, and would quickly percolate among other industries as well."

 

 

Fibre testing system to augment sustainability check

 

Textile sustainability has been gaining traction lately and putting a lot of pressure on fashion companies to take sustainable route. While some go by standards organisations like GOTS or ISO, to learn more about the supply chains of their favourite brands, we still don’t have scientific evidence to show exactly where a garment has come from. If a technology was developed to do this, it would quickly impact the level of sustainability within the fashion industry, and would quickly percolate among other industries as well. Imagine a Fiber Testing Kit, that any consumer could purchase, bring home to their closet, and run a quick analysis on their favourite T-shirt. Anyone with the ability to test the fibre, theoretically, could hold companies accountable for their sourcing practices. An invention like this could be highly disruptive to the fashion industry.

Time tested methods

Ted baker

 

Around 40 years back, DNA profiling was developed by British-born Sir Alec Jeffreys, a geneticist and professor at the University of Leicester. In California, biochemist Kary Mullis, learned how to link and repeat DNA (polymerase chain reaction or PCR), while trying to find the point of genetic mutations for hereditary diseases. Both extraordinary minds made incredible breakthroughs for our knowledge and understanding of the human genome. DNA testing was implemented into law enforcement’s forensic teams within two years of the discoveries and has since been used worldwide to prove criminal acts, as well as exonerate innocent suspects.

Many fibres are traceable through the forensic analysis. Once analysts determine if the thread is natural, manufactured, or mixed, they can usually identify the product it came from – a rug; a sweater. This is again often used by law enforcement and prosecutors to seek justice for crimes. Fibre forensic analysis is usually debated in court due to the mass of products created. The amount of production of a particular manufactured fibre and its end use, influence the degree of rarity of a given fibre. Unlike a fingerprint, there is no way to tell two fibres of the same origin apart. Fibre forensics can only be used as evidentiary support to corroborate other facts. Still this technology hasn’t been quite successful.

Molecular Tagging

In a world of ever-growing technological advancements, this could be a logical next step in ensuring more sustainable supply chains. Molecular tagging of genes can identify and verify products creating a forensic proof of origin for more sustainable fashion. It tags fibres by matching batches to origins already known. Once a supplier is tested and proven to be sustainable, SigNature(™)T technology can then continue to tag future batches. Although this gene tagging method may not be able to track individual fibres from anywhere in the world yet, many sustainable fashion organisations have mapped out the production process for consumers.

Organisational efforts

Made-by, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the fashion industry’s environmental and social conditions, has laid out a seed-to-shelf roadmap. Made-By works with sustainable brands to standardise the production process, and mainstream sustainability advancements. Over 50 industry experts consulted on the typical methods, and six large fashion brands have now joined, including G-Star and Ted Baker. The organisation is creating an awareness among consumers to learn more about the manufacturing side of where their garments come from. The fibre testing system could back up these organisations’ endeavours by proving their process is safe, environmental, and sustainable.

 
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