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Sustainable is the New Fashionable

When Chanel announced its new sustainable plan aimed at addressing climate change in March, the announcement marked a sea change for the fashion world. The French brand’s ambitious program includes goals like reducing carbon emissions across all operations and shifting to 100% renewable electricity by 2025. It was a moment with a message: Sustainability and luxury are not mutually exclusive.

Coldwell Banker Global Luxury® Property Specialists already noted this shift. In “The Report: 2020,” 36% of them said that sustainability and eco-friendly features were among the most-wanted luxury home amenities. At some point, sustainable materials in our homes are not going to be simply wanted; they’re going to be expected.

Younger generations of affluent homebuyers appear to be driving the movement. If Jeffries analyst Flavio Cereda’s July 2019 prediction holds true, millennials and Generation Z will account for four-fifths of the luxury industry’s growth in the coming years. That same Jeffries report found that three-quarters of millennials said they’d alter their buying habits on environmental concerns. Similarly, “A Look at Wealth 2019: Millennial Millionaires,” a report from the Coldwell Banker Global Luxury program and WealthEngine, found that 62% of millennial millionaires said they are interested in health, which experts believe is driving the wellness real estate trend and eco-conscious building. Interior designers also expect increased focus on sustainability in the future.

“So many aspects of our world are making strides to be more environmentally friendly, and the design community is leading the movement,” says Rudy Saunders, an interior designer with Dorothy Draper & Company, Inc. “I think this will be especially true as millennials move into positions where they will be looking to designers for assistance with decorating their homes and able to spend more on their homes. This is a demographic, to which I belong, who grew up with an environmental focus and therefore will bring this to the table.”

If sustainable is going to be the new fashionable when it comes to the décor in our homes — which brands are thinking outside the “green” design box when it comes textiles? We take a look at four conscientious luxury textile makers who are reducing their carbon footprint one stitch and one post-consumer recycled thread at a time.


Founded in New York City in 1938 by Hans Knoll, this iconic company has a history of producing environmentally conscious textiles with a modernist edge. Knoll says that its commitment to sustainable sourcing has led to a 6% drop in the company’s landfill waste and a 9% decrease in its greenhouse gas emissions. The company’s KnollTextiles division is one of the largest textile suppliers in North America, ranging from fabrics suitable for upholstery to panels, drapery and wall coverings.

Currently under the creative direction of Dorothy Cosonas, KnollTextiles offers a large selection of modern environmental fabrics consisting of over 49% recycled content or over 75% natural fiber (including cotton, wool, silk, mohair, velvet and linen). Its award-winning line of panel fabrics designed by Suzanne Tick — Micro, Mezzo and Macro — consists of 100% recycled fabrics and continues to be a designer favorite.


Denmark-based Kvadrat has been leading the field in textile innovation since 1968, with special priority given to developing sustainable products and evaluating the environmental impact of its textiles. For years, its pioneering textiles sought to lower environmental impact. The company’s robust collection includes Waterborn, a sustainable alternative to leather. “Compared to similar microfiber textiles, it is produced using 70% less water with a 99% reduction of organic solvent consumption,” according to the company. Another product, Revive 1, is made from post-consumer plastic bottles and “supports the reduction of plastic waste.”

Lately, the company has pushed the boundaries of sustainable design as new technologies have emerged. Re-Wool is one recent example. Made with 45% recycled wool and designed by Margrethe Odgaard, Re-Wool is partly made by reusing scraps from Kvadrat’s yarn spinners in the UK. The non-recycled wool gives the fabric its color, while the recycled portions reduce its environmental impact, since it has already been treated and processed. As such, the costs and emissions associated with transportation, farming and dyeing are taken out of the equation completely.

The Danish manufacturer also developed an upholstery textile for outdoors with designer Karina Nielsen Rios. Crafted with a highly durable, specially developed Trevira CS yarn, Patio features a fluorocarbon-free, environmentally focused finish that is water repellent and fast drying. It also provides resistance against chlorine, seawater and artificial weathering and is flame-retardant. Unlike most outdoor fabrics, it’s soft to the touch.


New York-based MINNA captures both the millennial aesthetic and millennial ethic in near-perfect form. Founded by graphic designer and weaver Sara Berks in 2013, the boutique company is known for creating ethically made home goods by working collaboratively with master artisans in Central and South America. “We believe that contemporary design should not sacrifice social responsibility, and that our homes should be a reflection of our values,” explains Berks on MINNA’s website.

MINNA offers everything from pillows and rugs to table linens and fabrics by the yard — all inspired by feminist art, the Bauhaus style, traditional crafting and vintage textiles. Patterns, colors and textures are meant to be mixed, matched and layered. When it comes to upholstery, Gold Stripe can be adopted for a range of interiors, from boho to classically themed spaces. The bold Stacks rug, available in three color choices, is a favorite among die-hard minimalists. The new Puzzle pillow, available in lemon or terracotta, is also an easy standout for the bed or couch. 


As one of the design industry’s forward-thinking creator of textiles for commercial and residential interiors, Maharam has made progressive environmental practices a main part of its corporate and design philosophy. Its sustainable practices include lines of textiles that are bio-based, made from recycled content and Greenguard certified. Sarah Morris’ bold and colorful upholstery textile, A Band Apart, is a bio-based, Greenguard-certified textile made of 75% polyester and 25% cotton.

Another vibrant choice is the boldly patterned Glaze by Hella Jongerius, which is made of 37% rayon, 35% cotton and 28% post-industrial recycled nylon. And if a client is in want of a millennial pink couch? Merit is a worthy solid in Macaron, made of 76% post-consumer recycled polyester and 24% polyester.

By Alyson Pitarre

This article originally appeared in Homes & Estates magazine. 

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