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The Most Popular Raw Materials in Fashion Today

4 min read
Nov 11, 2022 9:43:45 AM

How do you manufacture trending fashions? In this day and age, customers are more informed than ever. They take everything into consideration, including which raw materials are used to create their looks and the sourcing methods that are used to create those materials. The focus on raw materials will only increase as next gens come into buying power, as Gen Z is more sustainability focused than any generation that preceded them. 

First off, let’s define “raw materials.” Merriam Webster’s definition of “raw materials” is “a crude or processed material,” in fashion, a fabric. “That can be converted by manufacture, processing, or combination into a new and useful product.” 

Now that we have that covered, let’s take a look at what’s happening with four of the most popular raw materials for fashion manufacturing in 2023.

Recycled fibers are on the rise

The circular economy is focused on reusing materials to conserve resources. Due to extensive environmental initiatives by environmental protection agencies, government agencies, and end consumers, recycled fibers have become a priority for manufacturers in 2022. Recycled fibers made up 8.9% of all raw materials last year and that percentage is on the rise. 

Recycled cotton, polyester and nylon will take center stage in 2023. Recycled mohair and cashmere will come into high demand as a replacement for animal-based production –– as will vegan cashmere alternatives, as next gens continue to demand animal friendly manufacturing and production. 

Consumer trust in cotton at a low

Cotton sourcing and production have a nefarious past. However, in recent years, it’s come to light that the working conditions of laborers picking Xinjiang cotton is currently deplorable. Consumers have also expressed concerns over the chemicals and pesticides being used in even organic cotton production. 

Because of this, cotton from organic, FairTrade and regenerative farms decreased in market share last year after years of growth, dipping down to 24 percent of all cotton, compared to 27 percent the previous year. But this will soon change: 36 major fashion brands and counting have already pledged to use only sustainable cotton when manufacturing clothing. So it’s beginning to look like, in the near future, cotton will once again become “the fabric of our lives.” 

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Hemp steps into the limelight

A few fashion designers this year are making a case for mohair, cashmere, and other animal-based products. It seems that, with organizations around the world cracking down on fur, designers decided to pack in as much animal product use as possible while it’s still legal. However, Gen Z and millennial purchasing behavior skews towards the vegetarian. So doubling down on mohair isn’t an actionable path forward to reach next gen consumers… but hemp is. 

Hemp fabric takes less water than cotton to produce, and it requires fewer chemicals than cotton and other alternatives. But the U.S. doesn’t dominate in hemp production. Not even close. China currently leads the global hemp consumer textile market, comprising 78% of global hemp market share. The U.S. is a very distant second place, with 11% of global production. As consumer priorities and cannabis regulations evolve, hemp will soon eclipse animal-based fabrics in market share. 

Flannel and denim mixing for dystopian preps

All of the punky next gen makeup looks of the season call for raw materials that complement those trends. While futuristic fashion looks are becoming more mainstream, recycled flannel and denim are equally complementary. In fact, denim was one of the first markets to rebound after the height of the pandemic in 2020 –– making it a lifeline for the volatile cotton industry. Statista reports that the global denim jeans market is expected to grow from $64.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2022 to about $76.1 billion by 2026.

Flannel can be made from wool, cotton, or synthetic fibers. It’s long been a mainstay of wardrobes in the U.S. and abroad. Flannel is more durable and comfortable than many other fabrics. And the flannel shirts market is predicted to see “booming growth” between now and 2027. 

It’s time for manufacturers to simplify sourcing 

Fashion is a dynamic industry. New raw materials and methods of production are constantly emerging, as the trend cycle keeps getting shorter. Speed to market is critical, but few suppliers understand how to shorten the length of their production cycle. A product lifecycle management solution that’s built for and by the retail industry can be a critical advantage in increasing your speed to market.

Producing fashions from raw materials involves a lot of different players/ factories. With Surefront, you have a centralized home for all of your collaborators and product details. With Surefront PLM solution, it’s never been easier to communicate with your raw materials suppliers, and ensure the best possible end product for your customers.

Make design and production edits right in the application, then share them with internal and external stakeholders with a single click. You’ll have a record that you can point to as sustainability compliance regulations evolve. You’ll also be able to quickly add raw materials suppliers to your database to quickly bring trending, ethically produced products to market.

Ready to experience the difference of a retail PLM solution that allows you to swiftly interface with external suppliers? Surefront’s product lifecycle management solution was built by a retailer to service the retail industry’s unique needs. It’s time we got better acquainted. Book a custom demo with one of our product lifecycle management experts today!

Product lifecycle management is a quickly evolving industry with a lot of moving parts. We do all of the research, so you don’t have to. Stay ahead of news & trends by subscribing to our Product Lifecycle Management Blog.

 

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