It is currently unclear how some of the textile production methods mentioned can become part of a fully scalable system. Will they really be able to replace traditional textile production on a large scale? Mycoworks, for example, says that one of its goals is precisely to scale up production with new factories and new products; it remains to be seen whether this is possible (but we sincerely hope so!).
We also know that from an ecological point of view, big companies are more harmful than small ones: is the future of sustainable fashion really to scale to match the size of today’s big manufacturers? Or could brands focus on small-scale impact, working with other young brands to create an alternative solution to traditional supply chain monopolies?
The existence of these fabrics implicitly requires their use: brands are still producing clothes, but the solution to the fashion world’s problems may be to optimize their production facilities and curb overproduction. Many people therefore wonder whether the very need to experiment with innovative fabrics, proving their quality, might not lead to an increase in the production of garments that will then remain unsold.
In other words, this could mean increased deforestation to make room for new plants at the base of alternative textiles; it could mean less incentive for customers to change their consumption practices and thus less push for companies to transform their business models. New fabrics could become a justification for continuing to produce fast fashion and not rethinking the production model.
Finally, producing these textiles often requires mixing the plant component with (recycled) plastic. This means that the problem of microplastics released during washings remains real.
Sustainable fabrics are usually new to the market. This implies that many of them are not tested like traditional materials (for example, animal skin). The question then arises: will they last as long or will they require consumers to buy new products more often, perpetuating the traditional production-consumption cycle?
As is only to be expected, clothing products made from alternative and sustainable fabrics often turn out to be more expensive than fast fashion or some luxury brands (reflecting the innovation and work of the creator).This “alt-textile” boom could create a supply that more responsible customers would not be able to afford, creating a resulting stock of unsold goods.
These questions represent challenges that textile companies will face, but also opportunities to demonstrate that these fabrics can truly be the future of fashion.