When reviewing the fashion industry’s environment impact, it’s important to look at the materials that make the clothes, where they come from, how they’re farmed and how they’re treated. In fact, the “materials” step of the development process often has the biggest environmental impact of any step of a garment’s life (including the dyeing, delivering, packaging, you wearing and you washing the clothes). Here we take a look at some of our favourite brands and the materials that make up their clothes.
It’s important we have a greater focus on the materials that make our clothes because they have such a significant environmental impact. For example, your “friendly” biodegradable cotton, a natural fibre itself, is one of the most environmentally damaging crops there is. Non-organic cotton is extremely water intensive to cultivate and process, a t-shirt can use over 13,000 litres and a pair of jeans over 90,000 litres to make. Furthermore, significant amounts of pesticides and toxic chemicals are used whilst farming the crop, which have been shown to cause health issues to communities who harvest the crop.
Luckily, there are brands using more sustainable materials to make their clothes. And rather than you have to dig around to find them, we thought we share 5 of our favourite brands using sustainable materials, we hope you like them as much as we do.
The Tracksuit Club are a favourite brand of ours. The Berlin based brand combine culture, design and sustainability to build a striking aesthetic that’s for the now and the future.
Completely manufactured in Europe yet inspired by New York City “from the court to the underground” the brand recycle around 29 PET plastic bottles to make one of the tracksuits, and around 10,000 bottles were recycled to make their “Hour Zero” collection. The gender-neutral design and classic fit works on all silhouettes and comes in a classic black or a distinctive orchid colourway.
We can all agree there’s too many plastic bottles on our earth, so recycling these into the tracksuit whilst building a brand that moves a community forward, receives big love from us.
Houdini sportswear employ circular principles with a drive to radically enhance product performance and sustainability. Because of this, the sustainable sportswear brand often develops entirely new fabrics or improve the technology of existing qualities, fibre compositions, treatments and production methods. Most of their products are made from polyester; primarily using recycled and recyclable polyester fibres.
This comes with many benefits to the customer and the environment. These garments are easy to take care of and dry quickly, production of these materials requires less water and it can be recycled endlessly without damaging the quality.
Washing our clothes once we have them has a significant environmental impact, to reduce this footprint Houdini treat their clothes with pH Pure™, a treatment that lowers the pH value of fabric to prevent odorous bacteria. The treatment contains no hazardous chemicals and is applied while the yarn is being produced, meaning it won’t wash out of the garment. (The woollen garments are not treated with pH Pure™ since wool have natural anti-odour properties).
Houdini have recycled their garments for years, but, because the garments are biodegradable, they’ve also been able to eat them.
Riley Studio, a brand providing a range of gender-neutral garments that are kind to the planet, use a suite of sustainable materials across their range of simple essentials. The brand source recycled materials and work with ethical partners, setting out to discover everything they can about their supply chain.
With versatile pieces that stand the test of time: from a limited edition run of modular teddy coats, made from recycled wool and up-cycled plastic bottles, to a timeless t-shirt created using recot2® (a mixture of recycled cotton and organic cotton) branded with their trademark “Human Kind” stamp.
This simple, sustainable and ethical English design studio are closely looking at the materials step, and swiftly becoming one of our favourites.
As a material science company, it’s obvious why Pangaia make this list. The brand use many natural fibres and compounds in their clothing, whilst treating them organically to reduce washing necessity.
Natural fibres, such as those derived from seaweed, a biodegradable down insulation made using flowers, aptly named as FLWRDWN, and organic cotton, certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), removes the high demand for fresh water and pesticides, whilst being cruelty free and good for the planet. The peppermint treatment removes the need to wash as regularly, maintaining a fresh scent.
Many of their popular hoodie and sweatpants collections are made from recycled and organic cotton dyed with botanical dyes. The use of these sustainably derived, renewable, biodegradable, and non-toxic dyes, from sources such as flowers and food waste, reduce the amount of harsh chemicals and colorants that would otherwise enter into the planet’s water streams.
By seeking sustainable materials and dyes, PANGAIA have created a perfect hybrid of eco-friendly fashion and clean, considered design.
@raeburn_design is a collaborative and creative fashion studio where daily design meets painstaking production, alongside monthly events, discussions and workshops. Christopher Raeburn has established his eponymous brand with responsible and intelligent fashion design for a global audience.
The RÆMADE ethos in particular has pioneered the reworking of surplus fabrics and garments to create distinctive and functional pieces. From wool field jackets to nylon parachute canopies, each RÆMADE style is produced by meticulously deconstructing the original and reworking the materials into unique and ethical garments. This innovative approach, with an unusual balance of high concept, accessibility and wearability, is applied to menswear, womenswear, luggage and accessories.
There’s much more than just these brands using sustainable materials. We also seen innovations in fibres with the lab grown leather Zoa, recycled ocean plastic and landfill waste, econyl and nucycl and new natural fibres from pineapple husk and spider silk. Each step is important to changing the way the industry works and these innovations in fabric and subsequent use by desirable brands is a step in the right direction, moving towards a changed and sustainable fashion industry.
Gray, S. “Mapping clothing impacts in Europe: the environmental cost.” WRAP: Banbury, UK (2017).
World Health Organization. “Children’s Health and the Environment. WHO Training Package for the Health Sector World Health Organization.” http://www. who. int/ceh (2009).
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