Eco-Friendly Fashion: A 360° View
Posted on May 15 2015
Do you know that the textile industry is one of the most resource-consuming sectors in the world? And that the average citizen’s (from the Nordic region just as an example) yearly consumption of textiles uses more water than a family of three would use in the same year. In other words, a individual's fashion choices use more resources than a whole family's daily uses!
When someone says they are “going green,” a lot of lifestyle changes most likely pop into your head. Maybe this person is going to trade in their gas-guzzler for a hybrid compact, or perhaps they are looking into installing solar panels in their house, or buying more locally grown, organic food. However, what about fashion? Whether or not we like to admit it, the textile and fashion industry as a whole shares a portion of the blame for our current environmental woes.
According to this Ecouterre's recent article, Nordic Ministers for the Environment is planning to turn Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland into the leaders of sustainable fashion.
The fashion industry uses an exorbitant amount of resources from the materials chosen, to the production process, bringing that product to the consumer, and in garment care. Brosbol, Denmark’s Minister of the Environment, shared in the same article that "80 percent of a product’s environmental impact stems from choices made during the design phase" and that "to minimize the footprint of its textiles requires not only rethinking the way we design textiles, but also the way we produce, market, care for, and circulate them". Although these Nordic countries are striving to regulate the fashion industry in order to help save our planet, sadly our government is so far not following suit.
Instead of waiting for policies to force the fashion industry as a whole to change, we are working to become a company that demonstrates how fashion doesn’t have to harm the environment. Instead of only using eco friendly material, we are implementing a 360° eco-friendly approach that starts with the design process, to the material used, production, marketing, clothing care, and recycling. We aim to become a company that our customers can trust as partners in their efforts to help our planet regain its health.
Since 80% of a product's environmental impact stems from choices made during the design phrase, this is the most important phase where our choices make biggest impact. We made conscious choices to design in a way that will minimize the material used and the wastage of resources. Beyond the eco-friendly materials that we use, our designs provide the maximum amount of usage for a minimum amount of materials. Since all of our designs are actually several outfits in one, you get more outfits for the same amount of fabric. This design aspect reduces the labor and resources required to create the garment, such as the water and electricity necessary. It also increases the productivity of the consumer by allowing her to worry less about fashion, and instead be more focused on influential aspects of her life.
In this photo below, 1 simple Taylor pullover was worn by 3 different stylish women in 8 different ways. With your own creativity, you can create even more ways to wear the same top!
Whenever possible, we seek to use organic, natural fibers in our clothing. Since our clothing is very unique in that it is reversible or convertible, sometimes we have no choice but to use synthetic materials. However, these materials are used very minimally, and we instead love to design clothing that uses natural fibers like cotton, linen, silk, wool, and cashmere. Not only do these natural fibers create gorgeous pieces, they also occur naturally in the environment and therefore are less costly on our resources to produce as compared to synthetic materials.
Although we do not produce our own clothing, we are very picky when it comes to choosing who does. We only use manufacturers that practice sustainable methods of production and we work with the best factories that produce other famous designer labels. Beyond their methods of production, we are also concerned with the sustainability of how the factories view labor. We have personally visited each one of the factories we work with both in China and here in New York to make sure that there is no child labor exploitation and workers at the factories have very satisfactory working conditions.
Our current fashion industry is all about buying more and more: out with the old and in with the new! From a profit standpoint, it makes sense. Why create garments that will last a decade or more when you can create ones that only last a season and will need to be replaced after a year? Fashion marketing follows the same trend. Every ad and fashion magazine is telling you that you HAVE to get this new fashion trend, or your wardrobe won’t be complete. However, we are taking a different approach. Instead of continually sending the message to our consumers to buy more, we encourage them to buy smarter. By that, we mean we encourage everyone to shop for quality pieces that are classics, will last a lifetime, and are flattering on them.
As an independent label ourselves, we look forward to the day when there will be more clothing sold in small or on virtual stores with hyper-efficient logistics. We also love the idea of SustainGrade labeling and digital tagging, which would allow customers to know exactly where their clothes came from and the impact it had on the world to create them.
5. GARMENT CARE
Since we use quality materials and only the best construction, our clothes last longer with less effort from you, meaning you won’t need to buy them over again. It also means that you can wear them more often between washes. Once you do need to wash our multi-functional clothing, it can be washed at low temperatures without harmful chemicals. We love using laundry detergent that is eco-friendly, such as the products sold here.
We love the idea that someday all clothing will be returned to where they were purchased to be remanufactured into a new garment. We also love the thought that someday sharing our fashion with one another will move beyond the walls of thrift shops. For now, we are working to always create clothing that will last a lifetime so you can either give it away to a friend, or use its multi-functionality to reinvent its use in your wardrobe.
One of our favorite sources to refer back to when we consider our own place within the future of the fashion industry is Levi Strauss’s “Fashion Futures 2025.” In it, the future of the fashion industry is considered and discussed. Although 2025 sounds like a long time from now, that’s only ten years. However, Levi Strauss forces us to consider how the fashion will have to change simply because they will run out of resources if they do not. We highly recommend giving this article a read, as it lays out four different possible scenarios based on how the industry reacts, and how the consumer forces them to react. All of our decisions we now make about our company’s sustainability come from a place of wanting to see the future hold a greater appreciation for slower fashion production and distributions. Even though this future will require a complete redefinition of how we interact with fashion, it also promises to bring about a more positive understanding of the power of “less is more.”
While as a fashion brand we practice eco-friendly standards, we also need fashion consumers to support such standards.
How can you support?
1. Consider shopping more (or exclusively) at brands that support sustainable practices.
When consumers select only environmentally conscious companies, then more and more companies will become sustainable. If every consumer demands fashion that is carefully constructed to last forever, that was made with only sustainable practices, the fashion industry will have no choice but to change.
2. Rather than buying trendy, cheap clothes won't last, consider investing in pieces that are of a higher quality and more classic silhouettes.
You will find that even though your wardrobe is smaller, you don’t have the need to go to the mall every weekend to purchase yet another “next best thing.” Also, you can consider giving your clothing a new life after you’re done with it by recycling it or donating it, rather than throwing it out.
3. Use eco-friendly detergent and recycle.
It’s not easy to completely change how you see fashion, but by simply being mindful each day of where you buy your clothes, how you interact with your clothes, and how you view your place within this industry as a consumer, you can help to change the industry itself. As a consumer, you too can make a conscious choice about how you will play a role in the future of fashion.