What will we be wearing in the future?

Aalto University has been invited to showcase its sustainable textile and fashion solutions at the European Parliament in Brussels.
A hand holding green purse on top of a green dress
The Wardrobe of the Future exhibition. Outfit: Sofia Ilmonen Photo: Sofia Okkonen

Aalto’s exhibition 'The Wardrobe of the Future' will be on display from 29 November to 1 December 2022 under the patronage of the European Parliament and hosted by Member of the EU Parliament Henna Virkkunen.

The solutions and concrete actions presented within the exhibition aim at ensuring that textile products placed on the EU market are long-lived and recyclable, made as much as possible of recycled fibres, free of hazardous substances and produced in respect of social rights and the environment. These issues are critical to the industry’s future and very timely, because at the moment the new EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles is being discussed by the parliament. The new EU strategy aims at tackling fast fashion, textile waste and the destruction of unsold textiles, and ensure that their production takes place in full respect of social rights.

With its expertise and creativity across fields, Aalto University hopes to contribute to the discussion and help decision-makers see the big picture and decide on the steps needed for a sustainable textiles and fashion industry.

”We need to involve all stakeholders to construct a better and more sustainable balance in the textile and fashion system”, says professor Kirsi Niinimäki from Aalto University. Niinimäki is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of sustainable fashion. She is part of the Finnish sustainable textile systems research consortium FINIX, which has formulated Aalto University’s key messages to EU decision-makers at this crucial moment.  

Aalto University is also one of the first partners of the EU commission’s The New European Bauhaus initiative which imagines new ways of living. The ongoing green transition in the fashion industry can be an excellent benchmark also for other sectors in a time when all industries must learn how to enhance transformation on a systemic level.

What are the key points that Aalto University wants to make?

Make more use of textile waste as raw material for European textile production

  • We need economic incentives to keep textile material in the EU, as it is the basis of industrial circular production.
  • Illegal shipments of textile waste outside the OECD need preventative supervision through innovative tools and practices.

Eco-adjusted fees for non-recyclable textiles

  • Materials that cannot be reused or recycled need to cost more for producers and consumers. Some materials – like elastane – may need to be banned to enable recycling.

Consumers need simplified information on quality and sustainability

  • Information in the Digital Product Passport (DPP) needs to be simplified for consumer decision making. Develop consumer information instruments based on DPP data.
  • Help consumers recognize good quality through information.
  • Producers have to announce estimated use times of clothing.

Never forget social justice and human rights

  • Human rights violations should be in focus in both EU- level production and production outside the EU.

Local, small-scale producers are the key to renewing the textile industry

  • Smaller European producers are a real alternative to fast fashion. They usually have a more sustainable business model already. Take them into account when developing policy instruments.

Acknowledge the opportunities of traditionally sustainable and alternative raw materials

  • Support Europe-based materials through incentives to increase local sustainable fibre cultivation and production like linen, hemp, nettle. This would also improve the carbon foot- print of logistics through short and transparent supply chains.

More information: 

More information on the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles


Enni Äijälä, Specialist, Aalto University
[email protected]
+358 50 359 4810

Read more:

FINIX logo

FINIX (external link)

Research project on sustainable textile systems

A hand holding green purse on top of a green dress

Wardrobe of the Future shows the future of fashion (external link)

It is clear that the textile, clothing and fashion industries need to change. How do we do it? Discover the Aalto University community's visions for a sustainable fashion future.

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