A body of evidence has labelled the fashion industry as one of the biggest polluters on the planet, and is claimed to be the second biggest polluter after the oil industry. Documentaries such as “Stacey Dooley Investigates: Fashion’s Dirty Secrets” are giving the public an eye watering account of the dramatic decline of clean freshwater; these have shocked viewers by demonstrating just how much water is needed for the growing and manufacturing of cotton to serve the demands of the fashion industry today.
Clothes might be cheaper than ever, but our planet is paying the price. So, how are retailers taking responsibility in limiting their impact?
The ever-growing consumer appetite for ‘guilt-free clothing’ has sparked a huge surge in eco-fashion start-ups. More and more retailers are finally beginning to sit up and listen. Here, I would love to share a few of my favourite brands who have built successful businesses while ‘doing their bit’ at the same time.
Yael Aflalo, the LA.based designer, founded Reformation in 2009, with a mission to build a stylish brand with a green footprint. All clothing is produced using fibres that feel almost identical to cotton, but are made from renewable wood and plant materials, as well as reusing clothing and fabric waste. Reformation not only manufactures more sustainably, but also invests in programmes which replenish the resources it has spent, such as restoring freshwater to declining rivers. All of this is tracked on the company’s ‘RefScale’ which enables the consumer to see just how green an item of clothing is, both in store and online.
The brand has attracted an A.list following with the likes of Meghan Markle, Rihanna, Emily Ratajkowski and Karlie Kloss endorsing their clothing, influencing millions online and in their physical stores globally. It is safe to say Reformation is well on its way to achieving its mission of ‘bringing sustainable fashion to everyone’.
- Ninety Percent
A contemporary London based brand which launched in 2018, Ninety Percent has an ethos of sharing 90 per cent of its profits between charitable causes, with the consumer choosing where this money goes. Some of its collections are made from organic cotton, however the majority are made from Tencel®, a renewable wood material. The company is investing hugely into developing the sustainability of its practices, with a focus on continually improving its future collections.
- Know the Origin
One of the more affordable eco-brands, Know The Origin, manufactures its clothing from organic cotton. This British brand was founded in 2015 by Charlotte Instone with the aim of transforming the fashion industry, ensuring full transparency from seed to sale. Clothing is produced using traditional farming techniques with no toxic chemicals. This process is significantly less water intensive, with 70% of this organic cotton being globally rainfed. The brand uses traceable fabrics, meaning the consumer can trace where the material has been sourced, right down to the plantation. Allbirds
This exciting new American footwear brand has completely moved away from the traditional canvas and produces its shoes using purely Merino sheep wool using 60 per cent less energy. Its love for mother nature does not end there it prides itself on its highly sustainable manufacturing process, which focuses on producing, for example, its own laces from recycled plastic bottles, using Castor bean oil in its insoles, creating eyelets from microorganisms, manufacturing shoe soles using sustainable sugar cane and finally, packaging its shoes in 90 per cent recycled cardboard. Intrigued? Go visit its debut UK store at 123 Long Acre, Covent Garden, London.