Fashion 4.0, No. 7: The Future is Garbage & Old Materials Are New Again

Ocean Plastic Recycled Into Sustainable Materials

Global fashion search engine Lyst’s Year in Fashion 2019 report was released this week, and Sustainability was the lead story in the annual survey, annointed the top “Movement” of the year. According to Lyst data culled from 104 million shoppers who searched the web for fashion using its platform, searches including sustainability-related keywords increased 75% over last year, with an average of 27,000 searches for sustainable fashion every month. Searches for specific sustainable materials rose; 102% for Econyl, 52% for organic cotton, 130% for Repreve and 42% for Tencel.

At Variant, we’re obsessed with sustainable materials, because they’re the building blocks of the new fashion movement we’re helping to push forward with technology and inspired design. After Movements, the other categories that Lyst tracked include Moods, Moments, Power Dressers, Breakout Brands, Logo of the Year, Viral Products, Revival Products and other trend-worthy topics.

We were equally gratified to see that the leading trend in the report’s closing section, “Next Year in Fashion,” was Space Age Style. As the report put it, "With four missions to Mars, testing of SpaceX’s reusable rocket and a new generation of human-crewed spacecraft all readying for lift-off in 2020, it’s about to get intergalactic. As seen on the S/S ’20 catwalks, we predict holographic fabrics, space-suit outerwear and otherworldly styling.”

We couldn’t agree more, and we can’t wait to share what we’ve been working on for the past year – let’s just say that there are some out-of-this-world creations we look forward to sharing with our community of fellow fashion-lovers and changemakers. 

Back in March, we chatted with another newsworthy innovator, Stephanie Benedetto, the former corporate attorney who is reshaping the supply chain by making deadstock textiles more readily available to designers – and saving the world’s water supply in the process.

Her company, Queen of Raw, sources vintage and deadstock textiles from around the world and makes them available to large enterprise manufacturers and small designers alike.

“There’s a massive problem in the industry with waste. If we do not make a change, by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will face shortages of fresh water because of textile production,” Benedetto said. Queen of Raw has already saved over 1 billion gallons of water and saved companies over $10 million with supply chain efficiency.

"I take a broad view of sustainability. It’s really around sourcing and finding what’s already out there. If it exists, we are working to onboard it and make it available as quickly as possible,” she said. 

Queen of Raw’s technology enables “intelligent searching” – customers can filter by materials, location and price – as well as blockchain technology to track the source of each materials down to the farmer who grew the cotton, and update its availability in real time. Over time, the platform is able to identify when waste and overages occur, and with AI learning, it can eventually predict usage and reduce waste.

“We’re providing a business-based solution around technology. I’m selling to an industry that has always done things in an old school way, where you would pay huge amounts and know little about the origins of the materials. We are more transparent, and provide end-to-end connectivity,” she said. 

The all-digital platform is easy to use, allowing customers to drag and drop selections into their cart in a matter of seconds. Queen of Raw offers a free, open-source service on for small and medium manufacturers looking for 250 yards or less (there is even a section for three yards and under) and a paid service for enterprise manufacturers.

Queen of Raw creative director Corbin Chase and founder Stephanie Benedetto

Benedetto hopes more designers will embrace deadstock fabrics. The platform also offers a mood board feature that helps designers get creative.  “I hope it becomes the gold standard as people are starting to care more from the top down and the bottom up. Use your purchasing power to make a difference,” she said. Here’s to everyone out there who’s committed to doing great business while preserving our planet and making the world a more beautiful place.

With Gratitude,

The Variant Team

Have a tip? Email us at

Interested in collaborating with Variant? Fill out an application here