Fashion 4.0, No. 1: Welcome to Our Blog

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Welcome to Variant Malibu’s blog, Fashion 4.0. Just as we founded our company to bridge technology and fashion, and change the way sustainability and creativity converge, we are launching this digital chronicle to further the conversation around these pillars. Here, we’ll share curated insights and intelligence with you, our fashion-tech community of dreamers, do-ers and game changers. We’re living in an exciting time when science and technology are being tested for consumer interaction and consumption, and like the potential we see in Variant, the possibilities are endless. 

We believe the circular economy is the future of fashion, from both an economic and an environmental POV. Adidas by Stella McCartney is one example, with its collaborative collection that unveiled two styles made with sustainable fibers that, in their very creation, push the boundaries of technology and science. The “Infinite” hoodie – which will go to market next year -- is made from cotton clothes reclaimed from landfills. Those fibers are broken down to a molecular level and remade into new ones which can then be disassembled and remade again and again. The prototype tennis dress is made with Microsilk, a lab-grown, spider-like silk developed by California biotech startup Bolt Threads. While established brands such as Adidas and McCartney have considerable means to walk the talk, they’re doing their part to move needle closer to the new reality for everyone. 

And here’s an earful: The House of Marley this month debuted its Liberate Air wireless earbuds made from bamboo and recycled plastic, and the Finnish studio Aivan and scientists, are using fungus and yeast-based plastic to prove concept with headphones. Will these innovationsreach critical mass sooner than later? Bolt’s product development lead is optimistic. This report in Sourcing Journal reminds us that we all can do our part – as makers and consumers -- to collectively move the needle forward. 

We also love the literal convergence of tech and fashion: MIT engineers have led advancements in embedding semiconductive devices into fibers, and as a result companies such as New Balance, VF, Bose, and 3M are seeking ways to use the technology in their products.

Meanwhile, AI and robotics aren’t just future-proofing fashion, they’re changing our shopping experience IRL. Bricks-and-mortar, aka physical retail, isn’t going anywhere, but to thrive it has to adapting to the modern consumer. How many “Instabrands” that started as pure-play e-commerce companies are now opening physical stores? Too many to count. (A few of our favorites: Warby Parker, Glossier, Brandless and Cuyana).

As technology can make world to seem smaller by giving us glimpses and access into other cultures, we’re keeping an eye on Europe and China for learnings and inspiration, particularly when it comes to sustainability and innovation. In the world’s most populous nation, finding ways to be more sustainable may seem even more pressing than it does Stateside. We were inspired by World Economic Forum’s post on Top 5 Sustainability Lessons from China. In another potential move to cut carbon emissions,India has approved a Mumbai-to-Pune hyperloop, putting the nation in the front-runner position to be the world’s first to implement the supersonic transportation system conceived by Elon Musk in 2013 and developed by Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One, among others. Silicon Valley isn’t the only startup incubator on the map attracting famous funders. After all, famous people are just like us. They buy stuff. Some also use their money and platforms to invest in ventures that benefit exponentially more people. (Case in point: Ashton Kutcher with Spotify and AirBNB).

Last but not least, an easy way to be more eco-friendly: Remove some plastic from your daily routine by showering with bottle-less shampoo and conditioner. Beauty Independent profiles HiBar, a company making solid hair cleansing products that are both effective and fun. For the many of us who do our best thinking while in the shower, this is a win-win.

Thank you for joining us on this journey. Together, we can create great things.

With Gratitude,

The Variant Team


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