Eva Kruse

Eva Kruse is the Chief Global Engagement Officer at PANGAIA, a direct-to-consumer materials science company on a mission to save the environment through breakthrough innovations for everyday lifestyle products. Kruse is an experienced apparel industry executive and has served on many advisory boards in both governmental, commercial and cultural organisations.

Innovation for fashion sustainability

Eva Kruse, Chief Global Engagement Officer at PANGAIA, is shaking things up in the sustainable fashion world through the power of innovation.

PANGAIA started as a materials science company, aiming to address the fashion industry’s significant environmental footprint. The company’s goal; to improve the industry’s material sourcing and processing, with the belief that better inputs could transform industries.

PANGAIA's brand has evolved beyond its materials science roots, but innovation remains central. The company continues to invest in new solutions and provides materials and product offerings to other businesses.

They've come up with many new and creative ways to make fashion more sustainable. This includes transforming waste from the food industry into new textiles. Exploring alternatives to fossil fuel and animal-based materials and developing new fibre mixes and technologies to recycle fibres.

Eva’s optimism stems from her belief that through the use of science and technology, the fashion industry can create more durable, less impactful products that are worth more to both people and the planet.



Beginner’s guide to sustainable fashion innovation

1. Start with the materials

PANGAIA started as a material science company to tackle the biggest environmental footprints in the fashion industry. The lesson here? If you want to make a big impact, start with the basics – the materials.

Significant potential lies in creating eco-friendly textiles through the use of innovative biodegradable alternatives or by recycling wool, cotton or cashmere from food industry waste streams.

Consider exploring superior plant fibres like regenerative cotton, hemp-nettle and seaweed.

LanzaTech, a New Zealand-based biotechnology company, is a good example of sustainable innovation. They have developed a unique carbon capture technology that transforms industrial waste gases into ethanol. This can be used as a basis for producing sustainable textiles.

Explore the work LanzaTech are doing in the biotechnology space 

2. Create to demonstrate

If the market isn’t responding, showcase your innovative product yourself.

PANGAIA recognised that the market responds to the right product, so they created a brand to demonstrate their material science. Eva says however exciting the innovation, the design must be right. 

She encourages businesses to use their innovation to create a product with an exciting story or a positive environmental impact, something that meets the needs of the consumer and will get them talking.

Fashion brand Reformation has made sustainability its unique selling proposition. Producing stylish clothes that don’t compromise on environmental responsibility. By 2025, they aim to source all fabrics from recycled, regenerative or renewable materials. To achieve this, they use sustainable fabrics and efficient, eco-friendly technologies in creating their garments. 

3. Stay on the lookout for innovation

Keep an eye out for the latest sustainable solutions. From high-tech innovations to natural resources, the evolving landscape is driving costs down as scalable solutions emerge. 

4. Replace harmful components

Currently, 60% of materials in the fashion industry are sourced from fossil fuels. These materials, even when recycled, still have negative environmental impacts through micro-fibres.

Eva encourages businesses to look for plant-based replacements, like biobased evo® nylon and biobased Creora® Elastane. Some innovative alternatives PANGAIA is exploring include mushroom leather, grape leather and lab-grown leather.

New Zealand businesses could investigate seaweed fabric, which is renewable, grows quickly and requires no fertilisers. Seaweed aquaculture is also an emerging sector in Aotearoa.

5. Evaluate natural fibres

Cotton's environmental impact stems from its resource intensity and pesticide use.

PANGAIA favours recycled cotton over virgin fibres to mitigate these challenges. The brand invests in transitioning to regenerative practices to protect biodiversity.

Eva recommends collaborating with scientists and biochemists to create innovative fibre blends, such as those derived from plant and fruit fibres or seaweed.

New Zealand’s ZQ Merino works with sheep farmers who practice regenerative farming to supply wool for various uses. Each grower has a unique environmental plan to manage their farm's ecological impact. This includes projects such as planting native trees and protecting local species.

Check out ZQ Merino  

6. Embrace science, technology and innovation

Some of PANGAIA's advanced solutions involve replicating spider protein for fibre production, crafting denim from Himalayan nettle and developing a floral alternative to goose and duck down.

There's a wealth of innovation happening in the sustainable fashion space. With science and technology, we can create exciting, relevant and durable products with less environmental impact.

Setting trends and inspiring new behaviours 



The global fashion industry, which accounts for 4–8% of global CO2 emissions, is in dire need of a sustainability revolution.

Eva believes the fashion industry has the potential to inspire change across various areas. Despite challenges like overproduction and overconsumption, Eva argues that due to its cultural influence, the industry can set trends and inspire new behaviours.

“If the fashion industry made it cool to shop consciously, to wear things more and buy vintage, it could set a trend that influences the broader system of consumption. I believe fashion holds a significant responsibility, but also a great opportunity to be a trendsetter and a change-maker."


Dressing up and changing outfits several times a day due to social media influence can seem extreme, but it also has a fun, creative aspect. We shouldn't ignore that, but we need to strike a balance.

Eva suggests the adoption of digital clothes, vintage or borrowing from other people’s wardrobes to maintain fun and creativity in fashion, without contributing to overproduction.

Designer Wardrobe, a New Zealand-based business, aims to promote sustainable fashion by offering a marketplace for pre-loved clothing. They provide a platform for buying and selling high-quality, second-hand clothes.

This helps extend the lifecycle of the clothing, thereby decreasing the demand for fast fashion and reducing the environmental impact of the fashion industry. 

Shifting our mindset

Eva calls for a mindset shift towards the value of clothes.

Consumers need to understand the environmental impact of producing a garment, considering the cost to the environment and the people involved in its creation.

"This includes all production costs, says Eva. Not just for the company and retail, but also the environmental impact on rivers, forests, oceans and the people sourcing natural materials. If consumers were willing to pay for these costs, they would value their purchases more and be less likely to dispose of them casually."

New Zealand outdoor brand Kathmandu, has taken a step towards transparency by adding Digital IDs to their products.

Stitched-in QR codes offer customers comprehensive sustainability information about the product, such as details on materials, manufacturing processes, repairs, traceability and resale tips.

This helps consumers understand their purchase impact, including the environmental footprint, and encourages responsible and sustainable behaviour.

We need more than just changes in consumer behaviour to deal with environmental challenges. Eva advocates for changes in policies, higher taxes on carbon and water and businesses moving to sustainable practices that protect nature.

Several nations have already adopted measures to promote sustainability. Pioneering this shift was Sweden, which introduced the world’s first carbon tax in 1991 and currently imposes the highest tax globally.

Other European nations, namely Finland, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland, have since followed suit. Some areas charge taxes on water usage.  

For established New Zealand fashion brands looking to become more sustainable, Eva offers the below guide: 

Step 1: Look into the materials you’re using

This is the first step towards sustainability and helps to reduce the environmental footprint. Organic and regenerative cotton, recycled cotton, hemp and linen fabrics are more sustainable than conventional options, needing less water and fewer pesticides. They're also free from genetically modified organisms, reducing environmental impacts. 

Step 2: Balance creativity with sustainability

Don’t lose the fun and ingenuity in design, but keep an eye on overproduction and overconsumption. Invest in efforts to slow down consumption and increase the lifespan of clothing.

Maggie Marilyn, a New Zealand fashion brand, employs several strategies to promote slow fashion. For example, they avoid markdowns or sales to emphasise the lasting value of their pieces. They also advocate for mindful consumption to encourage reduced purchasing and raise awareness about industry challenges to inspire sustainable choices. 

Step 3: Be authentic in your sustainability journey

Concepts like circularity have always been part of indigenous cultures’ respect for nature.

New Zealand brands should leverage this authentic connection to nature to tell a unique and authentic sustainability story.

Moana New Zealand, a Māori-owned seafood company, tells a story of ‘true connection’, recognising the interconnectedness between people, product and place. Kaitiakitanga is one of their guiding principles, which means they pay attention to how they interact with the environment to honour and protect it for future generations.

Discover the work Moana New Zealand are doing in the fishery space 

Reimagining fashion through technology for a sustainable future


Eva’s insights into the meeting of technology, sustainability and good design are set to redefine the fashion industry’s approach to environmentally conscious business practices.

This comes as a wake-up call for New Zealand businesses to incorporate these emerging trends and strategies into their operations.

The adoption of technology has transformed the fashion industry, particularly in the realm of resale. Online digital platforms have elevated the second-hand shopping experience from physical thrift stores to an international marketplace of pre-loved items. This shift hasn't only reduced waste but has also made fashion more accessible.

Additionally, Eva highlights how technology has made the production process more efficient.

By reducing the need for physical prototypes, the negative environmental impact of manufacturing and transporting products is minimised. Enhanced digital tools have made online shopping better. They've helped lower the number of items returned and the carbon footprint that goes with them. 

Key takeaways for New Zealand businesses


If there’s one thing New Zealand businesses should note, it’s the importance of embracing technology to foster sustainability, which could be through the following:


Resell, don't discard 

The rise of online platforms has transformed the resale market, making it easier than ever to connect wardrobes and give pre-loved clothes a second life.

No longer is buying second-hand associated with dusty thrift shops; it’s now a cost-saving and sustainable choice.

Let’s start thinking of our wardrobes as renewable resources.

The RealReal, one of the world’s largest online marketplaces for authenticated, consigned luxury goods, has revolutionised the concept of second-hand shopping. This platform connects people’s wardrobes across the globe, making pre-loved items accessible to a wider audience and promoting sustainable consumption.

Discover the RealReal


Opt for digital prototyping 

Digital prototyping can significantly cut production lead times, reducing the need for physical samples and the carbon footprint that goes with them.

Digital prototyping means creating a virtual model of your product before it physically exists. It’s like having a virtual fitting room for your designs, minus the hassle of returns and exchanges.

New Zealand special effects company Weta Workshop, uses digital prototyping to design and create their props and costumes. This saves resources and reduces their carbon footprint. 


Invest in fit technologies

High return rates are a significant issue in online shopping, both for business profitability and the environment.

Emerging technologies that allow customers to measure their bodies and find well-fitting products can help combat this. We are getting closer to a world where every online purchase is a perfect fit.

New Zealand businesses should be inspired by global companies like Fit Analytics, who are paving the way in this space.

Check out Fit Analytics


Design for circularity

Designing with circularity in mind from the beginning can significantly improve a product’s recyclability.

By choosing materials (ideally non-blends) carefully and considering how they can be taken apart and reused, designers can contribute to a more sustainable fashion ecosystem.

Advancing in circular fashion, Tentree leverages recycled polyester, organic cotton and certified TENCEL.

Their commitment to sustainability is clear in their pledge to plant ten trees for every item sold. Furthermore, their Circularity programme makes sure that no clothing goes to waste by recycling or reselling used garments.

Discover Tentree

Value every resource

Technologies that track products and materials throughout their lifecycle can help us think of everything as a valuable resource.

If every piece of clothing has a digital passport, it then carries value and encourages us to make the most of it.

Ahluwalia is an example of a fashion brand who is a pioneer in the digital passport space. They have partnered with EON and Microsoft to embed a digital ID within each garment so the rich story of each garment can live with the item forever.

Find out more about Ahluwalia and the digital passport

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