Walmart Integrates Unspun’s 3D Weaving for Sustainable Fashion

The project aims to streamline apparel production and reduce environmental impact.

Retail giant Walmart has announced a collaboration with the forward-thinking clothing startup, unspun, to integrate the Vega 3D weaving technology into their supply chain, starting with men’s chinos. This collaboration aims to overhaul traditional apparel production by utilizing 3D weaving technology, which promises to reduce the environmental footprint of garment manufacturing. It also explores the potential of on-demand manufacturing to revitalize the U.S. apparel industry and aligns with the growing consumer demand for sustainable, locally produced garments.

Tackling the apparel industry’s sustainability challenge

“One big problem with the clothing industry today is that because clothing is made before people want it, excess inventory has to be produced,” said Beth Esponnette, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer at unspun. The conventional cut-and-sew method of clothing production is outdated and inefficient, generating substantial waste through excess inventory and discarded materials. 

In contrast, unspun’s Vega 3D weaving technology creates garments directly from yarn without the need for cutting and sewing, significantly reducing waste and emissions. This innovative approach promises to enhance garment quality through features like seamless construction and integrated labels, marking a pivotal shift towards localized and on-demand production.

Envisioning a sustainable future in retail

Kevin Martin, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at unspun, emphasizes the potential of this collaboration to reshape the apparel industry. “We believe that if we can think of the next generation of apparel and build a process that’s much more automated and enables on-demand manufacturing, we can allow an industry that has, more or less, left the U.S. [to] come back,” Martin remarked. “We were connected with Walmart because as we start talking about the ability to produce in the U.S. on demand, there are very few people thinking about that as actively as Walmart.”

Walmart’s broader commitment to sustainability

Walmart’s collaboration with unspun is part of its broader sustainability initiative, which includes a partnership with Rubi Laboratories in 2023 to explore carbon capture technology in its supply chain. Since 2005, Walmart has collaborated with suppliers, NGOs and climate action leaders to foster positive changes across global value chains, aiming for ambitious environmental goals. 

In 2023, Walmart achieved its target of reducing, avoiding or sequestering one gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions in product value chains six years ahead of schedule, reinforcing its commitment to sustainability. 

The retail giant remains committed to achieving significant sustainability milestones, including transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2035 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions across product value chains. 

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Header Image from Pexels 

Press release link: https://corporate.walmart.com/news/2024/03/14/walmart-and-unspun-take-on-apparel-manufacturing-waste-with-3d-fabric-weaving-pilot-project 

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