The CLIC™ Chronicles: Rethinking textiles for the circular economy

rethink sustainability

The CLIC™ Chronicles: Rethinking textiles for the circular economy

The Swiss company Muntagnard is at the very heart of the circular economy. By creating clothing lines that have sustainability at their core, it has become a leader in advancing innovation in textiles through bio fabrics and the wider bio economy. We talked to Dario Pirovino of Muntagnard about the company and where it sees itself now and in the future, in a world that is constantly striving to reach net zero.

 

What are the biggest challenges for sustainability in the fashion industry? 

Only a very small percentage of textiles can and are recycled in today's system. Garments are not designed and constructed to be recyclable, leading to an ever-increasing creation of waste and a need to source new raw materials. Companies do not track back fully for adherence to social, environmental or economic sustainability of all parties involved in the supply chain. It is also difficult to say how much better one garment is than the other - such comparisons and results can highly differ based on a lack of comparable data sources and the focus one is taking.

Garments are not designed and constructed to be recyclable, leading to an ever-increasing creation of waste and a need to source new raw materials

What do you want to achieve with your products? 

We want to equip our customers with desirable clothing to look good between the fast-paced and ambitious life in the city and the calming and raw beauty of nature. Muntagnards or Muntagnardas means 'people from the mountains' in Romansh. We live in the city but are home in the mountains. We want to achieve the highest standards when it comes to quality. Our signature Jacket LANA was developed over three years. We wanted to make it entirely plastic-free and without cotton. This way, we aim to show that there can be alternative material solutions for high-quality products. Our monofibre products, LEGNA and MANGOLA, consist of one fibre so that they can be recycled in today's systems. We also strive to introduce fully circular business models. For example, we lease our LANA jacket: you can choose the duration you want to wear it and only pay for what you actually need it.

 

What is your 'Swiss Wool' innovation? 

When developing a product, we aim to create the most sustainable option possible - always enhanced biodegradable and ideally fully recyclable. We bought 1.5 tons of Swiss wool, which is hardly used anymore as it is a challenging fibre to work with, being significantly different to the standard merino wool fibre. We found a wool fabric company in Biella, Northern Italy, which was keen on the idea of creating a more local fabric with us. The CEO brought us in contact with one of the best spinning mills and took over the weaving, dyeing and finishing of our fabric, so we developed our very own and exclusive Swiss wool fabric that we proudly use in our jacket LANA.

 

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Why is plastic a problem in fashion? 

Microplastics are one of the most underappreciated sustainability threats - we can hardly grasp the scale of the issue. With each washing cycle and just by wearing synthetic clothes, small synthetic fibres (<0.5mm) are being shed and end up in our environment. We are astonished by the vast amount that can be found everywhere, and not only in the oceans, but right here in our heritage and homes. We will never use standard synthetics. From that perspective, also recycled synthetics, which so many brands now look at as the holy grail, is not a workable solution for us.

Read more about sustainable fashion here: Fashion’s future is in the forest

 

Education is key to change the global mindset. How do you talk to your audience? 

We try to explain why our products are 'essentially different'. We are engaged in multiple bachelor's and master's theses as partners and hold guest lectures at universities and other events. We are also proud having been asked to create a course on sustainability in textiles at the Swiss School of Textiles in Zurich.

In the textile sector, there are many examples of companies leading the way by focusing on sustainable production as a differentiating factor in the market…

Is Switzerland well positioned in sustainable innovation? 

It is challenging to be successful in the textile industry given high Swiss wages and fixed costs. However, that is the case for every industry here. In the textile sector, there are many examples of companies leading the way by focusing on sustainable production as a differentiating factor in the market, such as Schellenberg, Müller Textil, or Cilander. Our customers have become more and more aware of sustainability issues and ask us specific questions. This shows us we are on the right track.

 

Are Swiss consumers sustainably conscious?

We believe so. The high living standard means being in the privileged situation to think about a healthy and sustainable lifestyle a bit more. Being surrounded by mountains, lakes, and nature everywhere seems to bring a high level of intrinsic motivation and awareness to let the environment stay as beautiful as it is.

 

Sustainability is a process. Where do you see yourselves in the five next year? 

We want to come up with more innovations, staying true to our circular collections, and improve on production processes, especially to decrease the water and chemical intensity even more. We want to show traceability for our products in an easy and transparent way. Our ambition is to lead the way with premium sustainable products and we hope to inspire other companies to follow and show that sustainability and high-quality products do not have to be a contradiction in terms.

The production of new products stemming from new virgin materials has to be lowered and recycling options need to be increased drastically

How can your sector participate in reaching net zero? 

The use of a piece of clothing needs to increase drastically and the appreciation for everything that goes into making a garment has to improve. The production of new products stemming from new virgin materials has to be lowered and recycling options need to be increased drastically. Production processes and the resources that go into making garments - such as water and chemicals - need to become more and more efficient. Moreover, each of us can contribute in the way we buy, use and reuse clothing. To do all of this and not give the consumers the impression that they need to make a sacrifice is key to the required change, and we work relentlessly to provide such peace of mind for our customers when they buy or use Muntagnard products.

 

What developments can we expect in the textile industry in sustainability in the next five years? 

The industry will hopefully focus on more recycled content in products and increasing the possibilities for actual recycling. We're already seeing some very promising solutions to create new and high-quality clothes out of old garments and fabrics and we strongly believe that this will be one of the key aspects in textiles in the near future. We're hoping to see more and more sustainable solutions to tackle the microplastic issues and create fully circular solutions for synthetic clothing. Also, the textile industry is very likely one of the next sectors that will see some impactful business model innovations. As we've seen with movies (Netflix) or music (Spotify), many sectors are more and more decoupling ownership from usage of products, and we believe that textiles will see developments going into similar directions. This means the sharing concepts, subscription and leasing models of clothes will become more prominent and many companies will need to think hard about their current make and sell models.

Read about second-hand fashion here: The CLIC™ Chronicles: Is this a new era for old goods? How the second-hand market can promote a circular economy

…the textile industry is very likely one of the next sectors that will see some impactful business model innovations

What about you? What do you do to reduce your carbon footprint and build a more sustainable future?

We are very reflective in everything we do, yet we don't believe we're in need to sacrifice too much in our daily lives. While we're obviously trying to consume consciously (focus on sustainable, high-quality products and use them for longer), we also for example reduce the amount of flights to an absolute necessity, minimise the amount of CO2 intensive food products and try to lead by example without being moralisers.

In the end, we believe it's not only about living the perfect sustainable life oneself, but rather that everyone continues improving bit by bit towards a more sustainable future. This way, we can jointly achieve the largest impact together.

Wichtige Hinweise.

Die vorliegende Marketingmitteilung wurde von der Bank Lombard Odier & Co AG oder einer Geschäftseinheit der Gruppe (nachstehend “Lombard Odier”) herausgegeben. Sie ist weder für die Abgabe, Veröffentlichung oder Verwendung in Rechtsordnungen bestimmt, in denen eine solche Abgabe, Veröffentlichung oder Verwendung rechtswidrig wäre, noch richtet sie sich an Personen oder Rechtsstrukturen, an die eine entsprechende Abgabe rechtswidrig wäre.

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