Sustainable Fashion: Sequinova’s Eco-Friendly Solution – Sustainability Magazine

The fashion industry’s impact on pollution and waste is monumental, often highlighted by overflowing landfills and polluted beaches. 

Fashion production accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions – equivalent to the entirety of the European Union.
Shockingly, 85% of all textiles end up in landfills yearly, with many being non-biodegradable.
The most extravagant yet unsustainable of these textiles are sequins. 
Throughout their manufacturing process, sequins are harmful to the environment, as their production uses fossil-derived feedstocks which are generally high-polluting and energy-intensive, having major ecological impacts.
Washing plastic-based clothing items contributes to microplastic presence in marine environments, which can contribute to sea life can mistake these sparkling particles for food, ingest them, and suffer repercussions – even entering our food chain.
As sequins grow in popularity in today’s market, the sustainability issue worsens.
Sequins have always been popular – it’s hard to look away from something so sparkly, especially under the flashing lights of the Eras Tour. 
At Taylor Swift’s UK Eras Tour concerts, Swifties wore enough sequins and glitter to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools.
They’ve existed in many forms throughout history.
Hand-sewn sequins were once a luxury, but the early 20th century brought lightweight gelatin sequins coloured with lead paint. 
Though visually appealing, these sequins melted in low temperatures and dissolved in water making clothing impossible to wash. 
The 1930s saw scientist Herbert Liberman create acetate sequins for Eastman Kodak films, laying the groundwork for modern sequins made from Mylar or plastics.
Modern technology has made sequins more accessible, driving their popularity. 
The Sequins Apparels Market Size and Trends 2023-2030 Report predicts a 6.7% compound annual growth rate, reaching a projected value of US$22.3m by 2028. 
Sequins are especially popular for concerts and seasonal event wear, with 1.7 million sequinned items discarded after the festive season according to Oxfam.
Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram have intensified this trend – according to eBay 58% of people only wear sequined outfits once or twice before discarding them.
While many manufacturers strive for sustainable sequins, none have managed to make it stick yet.
Stella McCartney collaborated with Radiant Matter to create a bio sequin jumpsuit, made from fully biodegradable sequins. 
The company is renowned for using sustainable and plant-based materials, hoping to remove toxic textiles from the market.
"Fashion designing alone doesn’t feed my soul,” Stella says, "It does creatively. But for me, I really find it so rewarding to try and save the planet at the same time.” 
But is this possible on a larger scale?
Sequinova says yes.
The company is a spin-out from a Bodici research and development project that emphasises scalability and sustainability in fashion.
"The pandemic, as hard as it was, showed the need for a complete rethink towards supply chains, towards design and redesign and manufacturing overall,” says Co-founder Clare Lichfield.
"Especially supply chains showing just how vulnerable they are to global situations.” 
Clare says Sequinova was founded on two critical pillars: “To create a whole new generation of women's wear that wasn't technically possible before, and to do so with respect for the planet and people at its core.”
When Clare first started exploring sustainable sequins, she was surprised by the fast growth of the industry.
She says: “I really thought that consumers would be phasing out the use of sequins. But actually, the demand is higher than ever, and it's only growing.”
Clare is now highly conscious of this growth, noting that sequins are “a US$15bn industry set to double in the next ten years.”
Sequinova’s sequins are made from cellulose, a fully biodegradable material, offering a green alternative to plastic sequins.
These sequins degrade in freshwater, leaving no toxic residue in under eight weeks, significantly reducing environmental impact.
Sequinova's manufacturing process is tailored to fit existing machinery by replacing plastics currently used, allowing for quick and easy scaling. 
The company has established partnerships with factories across Europe and Asia, ensuring that its textile manufacturing remains sustainable.
Sequinova creates products that look and feel the same as their traditional counterparts, aiming to drive change without relying on consumers to alter their behaviour.
Its approach is pragmatic, focusing on the fastest, most efficient way to reduce environmental impact. 
This mindset drives their commitment to zero-compromise products that people desire for their quality, not just their sustainability.
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