The global textile industry, which for years has been criticised for its unsustainability, is crying out for innovation, too: textile manufacturing processes require toxic chemicals, plastic microfibres from synthetic fabrics end up in the oceans, and cotton farms use excessive amounts of water, fertilisers and pesticides. Meanwhile, Finland is striving to find new pathways in this much-maligned sector.
Spun off from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland in 2015, Infinited Fiber Company (IFC) has made a name for a groundbreaking technology for transforming textile waste into high-quality fibres that can be used to make new sustainable cotton-like textiles. And the process can be repeated again and again, enabling a fully circular system.
IFC has a pilot plant in Finland and is receiving a lot of interest from both investors and global fashion brands like Weekday, which created a denim outfit made entirely from IFC fabric for British actress Maisie Williams.
Another active player in the field is Spinnova. Its award-winning patented technology converts wood pulp directly into textile fibre without dissolving or any harmful chemicals and with zero waste streams. Additionally, 99 per cent less water is used than in cotton production.
Spinnova has great partners with similar values and vision. The year 2017 marked the beginning of co-operation with Finnish design icon Marimekko on the development and market entry of new wood-based textiles. Earlier this year, Spinnova and Kemira entered into a long-term collaboration to develop a sustainable inherent dyeing technology for fibre.
While Spinnova is using wood pulp as a raw material, Knokkon is focusing on nettle to produce yarn, fabrics and different consumer products with a sustainable touch. In fact, nettle-based fabrics were used for royal garments hundreds of years ago, and now they are being reinvented and reintroduced as a responsible choice.