Fashion entrepreneur Miroslava Duma has founded a new company, Fashion Tech Lab, focused on investing in and developing new technologies and applying them to the fashion industry, while also aiming to make them sustainable solutions, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
Duma created the company in part as an aim to meet the sustainability demands of Millennial and Generation Z consumers. She previously has invested in other fashion firms with technology and sustainability goals, such as ethical fashion brand Reformation, online wardrobe-operating system Finery and fashion influencer monetization service RewardStyle.
In addition to having a private venture arm with a $50 million to invest, Fashion Tech Lab also includes FTL Experimental Laboratory, which intends to create innovative and sustainable technology solutions, and FTL Agency Services, which aims to connect innovators and their innovations with major players in the fashion industry who might gain by leveraging them.
In a sector where business empires can be built on the ability to successfully predict, exploit and survive trends, sustainability is suddenly the hottest trend around. Just yesterday, a bunch of big brands, including Nike and H&M, got together to announce the Circular Fibres Initiative, aimed to develop and use sustainable fabrics and manufacturing techniques.
Even in recent months, we have started to see individual apparel companies move in this direction. Among other developments, adidas created a 3-D printed shoe made of recycled ocean waste and fellow athleisure companies Under Armour, Reebok and Nike all have seemed to be developing pretty clear sustainability agendas
Duma may be thinking even more broadly with her new endeavor. She told Business of Fashion in an exclusive interview she is intent on pursuing innovations across the fields of materials science, nanotechnology, wearable electronics, high–performance fibers and fabrics, and other concepts. Even the structure of the startup itself is pretty sprawling, as a company that will invest in new companies and technologies, while also helping to accelerate those technologies and find partners in the fashion industry that can make good use of them.
So, as a company that is all about sustainability, Fashion Tech Lab is not only about sustainability. It's also about helping the fashion industry migrate to a new technology era just as the sector undergoes a massive shakeup, some of it driven by Amazon's growing push into apparel.
Still, the core mission of Fashion Tech Lab is based on Duma's observation that “the fashion and apparel industry is the second-largest polluter in the world," according to Business of Fashion. That sounds like a foundation for innovation in the name of solving a big problem. Duma seems very serious about it and intent on solving, and let's hope the rest of the fashion and apparel industry's growing obsession with sustainability doesn't just prove to be a passing fad.