- The fashion industry has a major problem when it comes to sustainability.
- Overproduced garments and accessories often end up in landfills, exacerbating the climate crisis.
- But 3D manufacturing, including printing and weaving, is helping create a zero-waste future.
- This article is part of “Build IT,” a series about digital tech and innovation trends that are disrupting industries.
In the late 1990s, the designer Issey Miyake unleashed his game-changing A-POC project, an early attempt at zero-waste fashion.
The process involved feeding a single piece of thread into an industrial weaving machine, programmed to spin an enormous, continuous tube of fabric. Wielding fabric scissors, buyers could then slice the hemline however they wanted. The innovative project used tech to reduce textile waste, an approach that nodded to sustainability before it was even within fashion’s vocabulary.
Decades later, a lot has changed. The climate crisis continues to worsen, yet the fashion industry at large still struggles to harness tech’s potential to build a more sustainable future.
But there are glimmers of hope. Existing innovations are being fine-tuned daily, and creators are dreaming up ways to turn zero-waste fashion from a utopian dream into a reality.
Leading the pack is Unspun, a California startup whose business model centers on 3D-weaving technology, on-demand manufacturing, and at-home body scanning. The company’s business model is multipronged, but its core mission is to “find the intersection between profitability and sustainability,” Kevin Martin, the company’s cofounder and chief technology officer, told Insider.
The company is developing its Vega 3D-weaving tech, which weaves yarn quickly and directly into clothing, streamlining complex