Sustainability has been an important buzzword in the fashion and intimate apparel industry for some time. It can impact the fabric selections made by brands, the manufacturing practices of factories, and the technology used to develop products.  Often, we need to ask, “Who is the driver of sustainability and how can we all make a difference in making the movement a success?”

Dora L International is a full-service intimate apparel company known for solution driven innovation.  Being a meaningful part of the sustainability movement, we believe, is about bringing innovative and earth friendly solutions that check off all the boxes including quality, price, and service. Focusing on technical expertise and innovation, we all need to show brands that they can do more to meet their customers’ desires by actively researching, sourcing, and presenting options that make business and marketing sense.

The Movement is Now

Now is the time to make it happen.  The intimate apparel industry understands that now, more than ever, women want to be their best selves, to shop thoughtfully, and buy things that they love.  This means making mindful purchasing decisions about products that they feel good about wearing, improves their overall feelings of wellness, and communicating the importance of buying products that were made with minimum impact on the earth.  This is a particularly important movement to the next generation of shoppers that are paying attention to what they have and are thoughtful about the new purchases they make.

Forward Thinking Fabrics

The intimate apparel industry has started to focus on fabrics that are eco-friendly and functional.  At times a bra can sound like a beauty or wellness product that focus on natural ingredients, moisture management, lift, and breathability!  More brands are incorporating stunning fabrics made from earth friendly bamboo,recycled nylon, recycled lace, and organic cotton.  There are now capabilities to line cups with recycled spacer or double-knit material and the use of bio-based synthetic fibers from natural materials that reduce the amount of petroleum-based ingredients in the final product.  A truly forward-thinking material is Umorfil which uses fish scales to create a collagen skin friendly fabric!

3D Virtual Sampling is Here

The creativity of designers is unleashed with 3D virtual sampling which is one of the most exciting technologies in the fashion and intimate apparel industries.  Although the development of this technology began several years ago, now it has reached a point of maturity where it can bring personalization to the end user, reduce the amount of hazardous waste produced, lower costs, and shorten production times.

Today, 3D virtual sampling has successfully impacted our ability to be more sustainable including: reducing pot dying and lowering the amount of material wastage with less printing needed particularly with screens cut and dye stuff for printed meeting samples.   Virtual sampling allows us to curtail the amount of manual sampling required for production and helps reduce excessive material waste and water. A great deal of traditional product design and sampling requires trial and error which has led to a tradition of excess. Instead of increasing demands on workers and faster shipping, we can now focus on efforts that are more expedient and sustainable.

Even with all of the benefits, it is important to understand the limitations of 3D virtual sampling.  Clients experience a 3D view of the garment design and can download brand avatars to use to see garment proportions.  There is certainly the ability to view initial prototypes style lines before sampling, however, we cannot actually fit garments for first prototypes.  The intimate apparel industry is moving in this direction, but the technology may need another year or so.

Embracing Challenges for A Brighter Future

The challenges for companies that were experienced during the global pandemic forced a change in the way we all do business.  Some of those adjustments are having a positive environmental impact that will likely carry over to the new normal.  For example, many global teams have had the ability to work virtually, and it is likely that this new office structure will continue into the future in some format.  Other company practices that are being evaluated include travel vs. virtual meetings and how it can be further incorporated into our company policy as a way to reduce our carbon footprint.

A Commitment to Positive Change

Sustainability, driven through innovative offerings for clients or internal company practices, begin with believing that the movement is important and that we can always do more.  It is the valuable understanding that it is the solutions that we offer to our customers that will make a great impact towards a positive future.  The intimate apparel industry can be successful in helping the planet and ourselves by offering solution driven products that focus on sustainability, service, and the bottom-line.

Written by Dora Lau, founder and president of Dora L International.