The Changemakers: The disruptors driving values-based industry evolution
Dr. Amanda Parkes
Chief innovation officer, Pangaia
As the brand’s chief innovation officer, Dr. Amanda Parkes has led Pangaia’s material science efforts for the last four years. That’s included introducing new ideas like stain-resistant finishes, a variety of fruit and vegetable leather, and the brand’s first denim collection. The combination of chic styles and scientific advancement has made Pangaia a favorite of Kardashians and climate activists alike, and it’s kept the brand profitable.
What are some of the biggest technological developments you’ve worked on recently?
“I’m pretty excited about something we’re doing called multiplex laser surface enhancement. It’s complicated, but it’s a way to treat materials for things like water resistance and toxin removal. We also have a laser system that superheats gasses to a plasma state — it works like a sealant on the textile, kind of like a patina. It’s really exciting — no chemicals involved, low energy consumption. We try to have multiple projects going at one time in different stages of development. So we have things coming out now, things planned for next year, and then we have early stage research happening for things that might not be revealed for multiple years, depending on how the research process goes.”
What should the industry at large prioritize, in terms of responsible materials and sustainability?
“The No. 1 thing is fossil fuels; that’s what I’m worried about more than anything else. We need to get rid of them in every way possible and bring everything into the biocycle. Beyond that, soil. If we want to move to a regenerative culture, that requires soil. Things like monocropping [the criticized use of large swathes of land to grow a single crop] ruin the soil over time.”
What are your biggest priorities at Pangaia?
“We have lots of good leather alternatives, so now I want to find biodegradable ways to replace harmful synthetic materials, including nylon and spandex. That’s especially in activewear, where those materials are used the most. Responsible activewear is a big priority.”
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