NOT MANY KNOW THE IMPACT CLOTHING HAS ON THE ENVIRONMENT
The UN calculated that the clothing industry accounts for 10% of all global CO2 emissions - that’s more than all international ﬂights and maritime shipping combined. It produces around 20% of all industrial water pollution and 35% of oceanic microplastic pollution (ref_01). On top of this, there are many health and social issues created by dangerous working conditions, exposure to hazardous chemicals, long hours and low pay. We all need clothes, we all want to look good - but clearly there’s an imbalance.
Sustainable change within the clothing industry is currently focused on materials. Innovations in recycled, biodegradable and organic fabrics are brilliant but, they’re only one piece of the puzzle. Current efforts are often being outpaced by increasing consumption (ref_01) and so we believe a broader conversation is needed - one that addresses the cause, not just the effects.
THE PROBLEM IS SIMPLE, TOO MANY CLOTHES ARE BEING MADE
The most sustainable product is the one you already own. Probably not what you’d expect a clothing label to suggest but, it’s true. In the last 15 years, clothing production has doubled (ref_02). Regardless of whether a garment is made from an organic or recycled yarn, everything has an impact. Before we talk about sustainable materials, we should ﬁrst ask why a product is being made. We often see clothing labels follow trends and re-create versions of popular products. It makes sense from a business perspective, but really this only over-saturates the market which, inevitably, creates waste. To justify using resources, there needs to be an objective reason for a garment to exist.
WHAT WE’RE DOING:
• During our design process, we question why we are producing a garment. Does the design serve a purpose, use an innovative material, pioneer a new production technique or take things in a new direction? Does it truly improve what’s been before?
• If there's a justiﬁable reason, then, and only then, do we go into production. If not, we go back to the drawing board… too many clothes are being made.
SEASONAL FASHION CYCLES ARE THE ENGINE DRIVING THE PROBLEM
Where seasonal fashion cycles may have once mirrored changes in weather, they’ve now become a treadmill that drives over-creation and an obsession with newness. Incremental change is the lifeblood of the fashion industry. If a style of garment proves to be popular, it’s standard practice for a brand to create several iterations the following season. The changes are subtle... enough to make the original item seem old and entice a second purchase, not too great that the garment loses its appeal. There are rarely any functional beneﬁts to the newer versions, it’s purely a commercial exercise and, one that works. In Europe, the amount of clothing bought between 1996–2012 increased by 40% (ref_01). When compared to 15 years ago, the number of times a garment is worn before it stops being used has decreased by 36% (ref_02). We have more but use it less. Sampling, producing and promoting a clothing collection uses a vast amount of energy and resources. Regardless of whether the materials used to make garments are sustainable, these cycles are not.
WHAT WE’RE DOING:
• We do not follow seasonal fashion cycles or develop collections based on trends and targets.
• Our approach is to design products that serve a clear purpose. We focus all of our efforts on perfecting how each individual garment functions.
• We would encourage everyone to consider the reason for buying a new item of clothing - could what you already own last a little bit longer?
IN A RACE TO THE BOTTOM, PEOPLE AND THE PLANET ARE PAYING THE PRICE
To push prices down, many clothing labels manufacture their products in countries where there are low labour costs and poor environmental regulation - often thousands of miles away. It doesn’t sound good and, it isn’t. Working across such great distances not only increases the carbon footprint of each product but, it also makes it harder to avoid mistakes during sampling and production - causing further waste. The fashion industry’s high carbon footprint is largely down to the type of energy used during manufacture. In China, textile manufacture is dependent on coal and, as a result, the carbon footprint of textiles are 40% greater than those made in Europe (ref_01). Garment production is one of the world’s biggest and most labour-intensive manufacturing industries - estimates of those directly employed range from 25 to 60 million people (ref_03). It has to be said that clothing manufacture provides jobs and GDP growth for people in poorer countries, however, long hours (often far beyond legal limits) poverty wages and poor working conditions are standard in global supply chains. A 2016 report found that 54 of 71 leading UK retailers believed there was a likelihood of modern slavery occurring at some stage in their supply chains (ref_03). Clearly, the value of clothing needs to be addressed.
WHAT WE’RE DOING:
• To reduce our carbon footprint, we are committed to only work with garment manufacturers and fabric mills in Europe.
• People who are happy and healthy make the best clothing. We work closely with our suppliers and regularly visit the factories to ensure working conditions are maintained at the highest levels.
• We ask all of our suppliers to consider where they get their energy from and, if they haven’t already, to switch to renewable sources.