When Carol Chyau discovered yak down during her travels to Yunan, China in 2006, she knew that the best way to help catalyze the growth of social enterprise in China was to start one of her own. Chyau founded Shokay, a textile company which crosses disciplines and geographies to bring premium yak down products to market and social change to the communities behind them.
Yak fibres are sustainable alternatives to cashmere and wool — they are 30% warmer than wool, 1.6 times more breathable than cashmere and have a fine, smooth texture. As a comparison, an individual yak fibre is 18-20 microns with a length of 30-40mm, and cashmere is between 14-30 microns and 20.5-90mm long.
Taking inspiration from the qualities of the yak fibre, Shokay has developed an extensive range of fabrics, yarns and hand-knitting yarns in 100% pure yak down for luxury outerwear, as well as in unique yak blends composing of wool, organic cotton, in-transition cotton, hemp, Tencel™, and recycled PET.
Animal fibres often get a bad reputation for having high environmental impacts due to land use, water consumption, animals feed and chemicals required for production (EAC “Fixing Fashion”, 2019). More importantly, animal farming for textiles brings up several issues surrounding their welfare, ethical treatment and effects on biodiversity.
However, with sustainable practices, government policies, and international support on-the-ground training for local herders in place, animal fibres can be a sustainable choice as they have high-performance technical properties and very low end-of-life impacts on the planet (compared to other natural fibres such as conventional cotton, or synthetic fibres such as virgin polyester).
Shokay’s social enterprise model leaves a positive social impact which empowers young Tibetans and the livelihoods of Tibetan herders. The yak fibres used in Shokay’s products are sourced directly from Tibetan herders, enabling them to earn a living while preserving their traditional herding and community lifestyle.
The boom of the animal fibre industries has led to overgrazing and grassland desertification in many areas across China and Mongolia. As yak fibre enters the fashion industry, sustainable herding practices must come hand-in-hand with economic growth.
Currently, yaks are farmed on a small scale, and as the demand and awareness for yak fibres grow, Shokay’s efforts in building sustainable practices for yaks and the herding communities now will allow the yak market to scale in a healthy manner.
Yaks are low-carbon emission animals. They are currently raised by Tibetan herders with a semi-nomadic lifestyle, which prevents overgrazing of land; their tongues are short, therefore they do not pull grass from the root when feeding which is beneficial for grassland conservation; the hand-combed method used during harvesting is not harmful or invasive for the animals; the relationship between yak and herder is personal and animals are treated as an extension of family and livelihood.
One per cent of Shokay’s sales revenue goes towards their Community Development Fund, empowering the communities in their supply chain. Over 800 herders in Western China have benefitted from Shokay’s healthcare programs. A projected 500 tonnes of yak will be sourced in the next 3 years, with the opportunity to positively impact one million Tibetans. In addition, Shokay plans to facilitate and invest in workshops for animal husbandry and land conservation in order to develop the knowledge and skills of the community and future generations.
Carol Chyau’s social enterprise has drawn attention for its vision — in 2006 her business idea won first place at the Harvard Business Plan Competition. She was selected as an Echoing Green Fellow in 2008 and a finalist for Cartier’s Women Initiative. Chyau was also named one of Forbes’ Top 30 Entrepreneurs under 30 and one of Top 5 Social Entrepreneurs at the Chivas Venture Competition.
Shokay believes that yak can really play a part in the future landscape of materials. Since yak is not yet commercialised, the company has spent several years developing a traceable supply chain for their yarns and fabrics, even creating the first yak grading system. By working closely with their supply chain and industry association partners, Shokay aims to set the standards for yak collection, segmentation and processing to facilitate sustainable scaling and prevent negative practices that might disrupt a sustainable yak fibre supply chain in China.
The company believes that the fashion industry needs to address our pressing environmental and social challenges by integrating change at every level of the supply chain: from sourcing sustainable raw materials, to working with certified mills, and audited garment factories, to marketing campaigns with other leading sustainable fashion brands that educate end consumers regarding the urgency and importance of knowing where your products come.
As for what’s next, Shokay has been busy collaborating and adopting holistic approaches to the way they source fibres and develop products.
Last year, Shokay signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ICIMOD. Based in Nepal, ICIMOD is an intergovernmental organization that works to develop a sustainably-sound mountain ecosystem in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region that can help improve the living standards of mountain populations and sustain vital ecosystem services for the 1.3 billion people living downstream. Shokay is exploring opportunities to build best practices for the livelihoods of yaks and the herding communities, coupled with land preservation in the mountainous areas. Shokay became a member of Textile Exchange and exhibited at the Future Fabrics Expo by The Sustainable Angle.
The company also launched Shokay Lab, a community of brands, designers, and manufacturers that share resources and jointly develop products that are thoughtfully made. The creative social enterprise also has plans to launch an accelerator program to empower material innovation.
Seems like a strong contender for the future of fabrics.
Shokay will be presenting a joint masterclass with The Sustainable Angle on 9 May 2019, from 9:30-12: 30 pm in our London Showroom, W10. Registration details TBC.
During the festive season we are bombarded with even more pressure to buy, update our party looks and overload our wardrobes, encouraging rapidly increasing clothing waste. According to the report A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future published by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation in 2017, 53 million tonnes of fibres are produced annually for the clothing industry, and 73% of garments end up either landfilled or incinerated after consumer use.
At this time of year retailers slash their prices in the sales; bargains are alluring, and we are made to believe that we really need that cheap piece of clothing, but we want to explore how to love and enjoy fashion by building a Sustainable Wardrobe:
• If you buy, choose only items that can create new looks by complementing what is already in your wardrobe. Before purchasing, think about how many times you will likely wear the new item. The #30wears rule suggests that when shopping, ask yourself if you would wear an item at least 30 times – but aim higher, we would say at least #300!
• Buy smart. Products at low prices are of low value and made cheaply. Invest in quality items that last and which can be resold. Check out The RealReal, Vestiare Collective and similar new secondary market companies #invest
• Get creative: Create your own look and wardrobe that includes vintage and secondhand items, don’t buy a whole look, get #creative
• Buy from brands who integrate sustainability at the core of their business – this means brands who not only produce responsibly with sustainable materials but who also ensure fair labour practices. Check their websites #investigate
• Repair– use your needle and thread to mend your loved clothes. Find a local tailor to help if needed. You can even get creative here by customizing and adding elements of your personality or by updating the silhouettes of your garments. #mend #fix #reinvent
• Choose only items that are of good quality and can be loved for a long time or eventually passed down to family and friends- those pieces have emotional resonance and amazing stories attached to them! #handmedown #secondhand
• Look at care labels, check out a brand’s website and search for information about sustainability – ask store staff for more information about the products that you’re buying
• Prolong the life of your clothes by following the washing instructions inside. The Carbon Trust reports that 1.5% of global production of CO2 emissions occur in the consumer washing/laundering process. Check garment labels to care for your clothes properly, skip the dryer and opt for line drying, use cold water settings and wash less often so we can protect our world’s drinking water.
• Invest in filtration gadgets such as this gadget to help fight the microfibres problem that comes from washing our clothes. Synthetic fabrics shed tiny plastic microfibres when washed – 250,000 plastic microfibres can be released after just one washing of a synthetic fleece jacket (EMPOWER @filterfibers) and up to 700,000 microfibres can shed from a typical 6kg (13lb) household load (BBC News). It is not perfect but improves the situation.
• Clothes swapping and rental systems: Hold clothes swaps with your friends, or join designer rental companies such as Rent the Runway, DrexCode, or Armarium. London-based Higher Studio offers more avant-garde choices for the artistically inclined.
• Consider local brands and materials as it also helps reduce your garment’s carbon footprint in the shipping and delivery process. #local
For a quick 5-minute snapshot to building a sustainable wardrobe, see Anuschka Rees‘s beautiful visualisation below:
Discover sustainable materials, fibres and the innovations that will influence the future of a more sustainable fashion system at our upcoming 8th Future Fabrics Expo on 24-25 Jan, 2018.
On the 13th of September The Sustainable Angle’s curator Amanda Johnston was invited to join the Lenzing Sustainability panel discussion during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Istanbul. This year the event was held at the Zorlu Performing Arts Centre, nestled within the luxurious Zorlu shopping centre.
The history of Istanbul Fashion Week only dates back to 2008, then named Fashion Lab, expanding to become a fully-fledged fashion week in 2010.
The panel were greeted by a packed theatre with a diverse audience comprised of fashion fans, industry insiders, buyers, journalists, bloggers, influencers and photographers.
The discussion was chaired by renowned journalist Ferhan Istanbullu, and the panel was coordinated by Hale Saracoglu from Lenzing, who also contributed her expertise in the fashion industry supply chain and in the field of man made cellulosics. She conveyed the importance of clear communication around sustainability to the discussion. Hale explained and highlighted the FSC certified wood feedstock, closed loop production process and key benefits of different Lenzing fibres such as Tencel™, Eco Vero™ and Refibra™.
Ferhan was interested to hear the panel’s thoughts on defining sustainability, and to frame the importance of our fast fashion habits as contributors to the culture of fashion consumption. The panel observed that with fast fashion we have been led to consume very easily in excess quantities. We can throw away the products we don’t like or we don’t want anymore so easily, as their price suggests that their value is disposable, and we have lost the desire, patience and knowledge to care for and repair our clothing.
The challenges designers and brands face today is in implementing holistic sustainable practices- and understanding that sustainability goes beyond choosing the right fibres or production processes, but is also about the quality and longevity of garments, in order to stem the huge environmental impact that comes from today’s throw away culture of clothing.
Amanda introduced the work of the The Sustainable Angle, what we do, and how we developed our criteria, highlighting examples of more sustainable and responsible materials for fashion in both man-made and natural fibres which have a low environmental impact, highlighting the variety of choices available and the necessity to move away from unsustainable non-renewable virgin polyester and conventionally grown cotton currently dominating the market. We discussed the need for diversification of the global fibre basket, and the crucial need to develop circular models throughout the textiles supply chain, and through to product in order to provide solutions to our growing, and unmanageable material waste streams. We shared the interest from industry partners in projects that propose how we may think differently about material sources in the future, and how we manage those waste streams.
At retail lack of information on labels means that consumers don’t know where the fabric come from, what is it made of? The answers to these questions and transparency of process are important. For example TENCEL™ branded fibers come from trees. But, understanding the processes that makes the fibre, yarn and fabric are as important as the raw material of fabrics, only this way we may understand its impact to the environment and make informed choices when we shop. The need for full transparency of information, certifications and supply chain traceability being key.
Simone Seisl, Materials expert, Ambassador and Consultant for Textile Exchange said; ‘we are talking about a very serious subject with global climate change, and we need to act as a community to create a change. We have duties individually both in our professional work environment and personally in our private life. We don’t expect anyone to make a dramatic change from day one to day two however starting from today we need to start this movement step by step. Water waste, global climate change and the micro-plastic issue in the oceans are some of the environmental problems. There is no one solution to all, all the problems are linked together.’
Simone flagged up an opportunity and observed that Turkey is a key player in Denim production in the world, and that Textile Exchange believe that Turkey is poised to play an important role in the successful recycling of Denim in the future, lowering the impact on natural resources and initiating an important step towards the circular economy for textiles.
All agreed there is now an urgency to investigate how we can produce raw materials more sustainably, and innovate, by first thinking in a solutions based way. Also, discussions about some of the new innovations and solutions, developed to address our most pressing sustainability issues, including leather alternatives and the interest in recycling technologies and pre and post consumer industry and food waste materials suggested a new, responsibly produced materials landscape for the future.
The discussion concluded with a Q&A, of not only consumer habits and how to make the right fibre choices, but most importantly of how to think creatively, how sustainability should be recognised as a game changer and an opportunity, for businesses to future proof their operations. The discussion also drew attention to the significance of the impact that we as consumers and industry practitioners can have through our everyday choices.
Many thanks to Hale and the team at Lenzing Istanbul for their organisation and hospitality.
The Sustainable Angle is delighted to announce that the 8th Future Fabrics Expo will present its largest ever dedicated sustainable materials showcase at a new venue, Victoria House, Central London (Holborn WC1) in January 2019.
Following the success of the 7th Future Fabrics Expo in January 2018, and in response to demand from both our partner mills and industry visitors, the 2019 8th edition of the Future Fabrics Expo has increased in scale, ambition and vision.
Our aim is to provide the fashion industry with a one stop shop for accessing a broad range of material solutions, and the strategic tools needed to respond to the critical imperative to change current practices presented by the wasteful and polluting impacts of the fashion and textile industries. Since our inception in 2011, the Expo has facilitated and supported sustainable sourcing practices, enabling fashion brands to begin diversifying their fabrics and materials and lowering environmental impacts.
These materials are global qualities, which showcases and enables informed sourcing. We situate this resource in the current sustainability context, providing educational background information and research, aiming to demystify the complexities of sustainable practice. The best practice traditional natural fibres, regenerated cellulosics, naturals and synthetics bio source, and closed loop materials.
Enhancing our curated selection of globally sourced textiles and materials will be ten specially selected best practice mills and suppliers, presenting their materials in their own dedicated space. For the first time we will also showcase several manufacturers and globally recognized certifiers. A new space presenting fashion brands working with materials sourced via the Future Fabrics Expo provides a view of best practice, from materials sourcing through to product realisation.
We will also again be presenting an exciting expanded Innovation Hub, showcasing both emerging and commercially available innovations, featuring a collaboration with Fashion for Good organisation. The Innovation Hub acknowledges the recent surge in research and design that has led to the plethora of materials innovations we are now seeing surface in response to material scarcity, increasing waste streams, the need for transparent and traceable supply chains, and those addressing the cellulose gap for example .
We have coordinated again an inspirational seminar programme, featuring key thought leaders, panel discussions and presentations from innovators, industry insiders, textile producers and designers.
Nearest tube station: Holborn station, Central line. Address: Bloomsbury Square, London WC1B 4DA
Please contact us if you require further information at email@example.com
To find out more about The 7th Future Fabrics Expo:
To find out more about recent events where the Future Fabrics Expo was showcased such as Copenhagen Fashion Summit, The London Textile Fair and London Fashion Week, please see below:
Copenhagen Fashion Summit:
The London Textile Fair:
London Fashion Week:
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24th – 25th January 2018, London
The Sustainable Angle holds the 7th Future Fabrics Expo, a curated showcase of 5000+ sustainable innovative fashion materials with a lower environmental footprint, on 24-25th January 2018. Since 2011, our aim is to support sustainable sourcing, enabling fashion brands to begin diversifying their fabrics and materials basket right now in order to reduce their environmental footprint.
Our curated materials collection of 5000+ fashion materials embodies a range of sustainable principles, innovations and new technologies, sourced from international suppliers and mills who demonstrate a commitment to lowering the environmental impact across the textile supply chain. They are selected according to our environmental criteria established with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion. Each material on display has detailed sustainability information, relevant certifications and the contact details of the suppliers displayed.
At the 7th Future Fabrics Expo we will again hold our popular seminars, highlighting circular economy systems and transparency in the fashion supply chain. Tickets include entry to the seminars which can be booked upon entry to the Future Fabrics Expo on a first come first served basis.
Seminars presented by industry leaders from:
The nearest tube stations are
West Brompton on the District line – only 500 yards from Iris Studios.
Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm
Address: Iris Studios London, SW10 9AE
Please contact us if you require further information at firstname.lastname@example.org
#futurefabricsexpo #thesustainableangle #futurefabricsvirtualexpo #sustainablefabrics #sustainability #fashionmaterials #fabrics #sourcing #7thfuturefabricsexpo
The Sustainable Angle is proud to support a new charity venture based in West London, which aims to convert underused green spaces into edible teaching gardens for surrounding schools and communities. The pilot project is located in Kensington and will serve Thomas’s School Kensington, St. Mary Abbot’s C of E School and the Victoria Road Montessori Nursery School. Arcadia Charitable Trust has secured the permission of Christ Church, Victoria Road W8 to turn over the southern portion of their garden space to be converted into an edible teaching garden. They have partnered with Edible Playgrounds for the consult, design and construction of the garden. The partnership also entails 12 months of engaged support through workshops and seminars to ensure the garden is embedded into both KS1 and KS2 curriculum. This is an exciting project for as we are all well aware, many urban schools enjoy highly restricted outdoor space, if any at all. The idea behind this initiative is to provide these schools with that rare gift of earth in which to plant and watch things grow and to instil an awareness and appreciation for where food comes from, while providing the surrounding community that same opportunity during school holidays.
On March 10th, 2017 The Sustainable Angle founder Nina Marenzi was invited to be a part of The CSR and Ethical Business Society, London School of Economics, roundtable on “Fashion the Future: Towards Sustainability in the Fashion Industry” as part of their project week on sustainability.
The clothing industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, after the oil industry. Textile waste is increasingly a serious environmental threat. In recent years, the acceleration in speed of the fashion supply chain and changing consumer attitudes towards fashion as a disposable commodity has contributed to the large levels of textile waste generated worldwide. In the UK, an estimated 0.8 to 1 million tonnes of all textiles are sent to landfill each year, and used clothing accounts for approximately 350,000 tonnes of landfilled textiles, an estimated £140 million worth.
The CSR and Ethical Business Society at the LSE aims to raise awareness and draw interest of LSE students on the environmental issues posed by fashion industry, the fast-fashion paradigm and the role of consumers; and current initiatives addressing these issues across the clothes lifecycle.
Panellists made up of David Logan, Nina Marenzi, Christina Dean, Caroline Haycock and Jade Galston, each presented on the issues, solutions and future plans from their point of view within their field of expertise:
The roundtable featured the following panellists:
Co-founder of sustainability consultancy Corporate Citizenship and former Director of Special Programs at Levi Strauss & Co has worked extensively on corporate social responsibility issues across the world.
Founder and Director of The Sustainable Angle set up in 2010. The Sustainable Angle is a not for profit organisation that initiates and supports projects which contribute to minimising the environmental impact of industry and society, and that help make it easier for companies, institutions and individuals, to make better informed decisions when it comes to sustainability.
Christina Dean is a sustainable fashion advocate who founded Redress and the EcoChic Design Award. She has recently co-authored the consumer guide entitled ‘Dress [with] Sense’. Redress’s Frontline Fashion’, the documentary about how designers are changing the future of fashion has just been released and is available on itunes.
Christina Dean proclaimed that educating designers on sustainability is an act of environmental activism. Redress is helping teachers to learn about ideas on how to cut waste out of fashion, and generally about zero waste design and up-cycling.
Caroline Haycock has been working in Ethical responsibility and Quality assurance for more than 10 years she is now the Director of Ethical trade and corporate responsibility at Debenhams, Caroline has also worked on campaigns such as ‘Made by Great Britons’ campaign in an effort to help bolster domestic textile production and revitalise the UK clothing industry.
During the talk Caroline referred to the work Debenhams is already undertaking with TRAID, a charity working to stop textiles and footwear from being thrown away to landfill reducing waste and carbon emissions, while raising funds to fight poverty. As well as the informative website on CSR and sustainability they have which you can see here: http://sustainability.debenhamsplc.com. Debenhams’ environmental responsiblitlies focus on carbon, energy and waste, reducing their impact through improved awareness of environmental problems, efficiency and sustainable investment.
Jade Galston founder of Fertha which gives a curated range of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories that has been hand picked from one of their charity partners, creating a sustainable and convenient shopping experience, and extra revenues for the charities they work with.
The roundtable was a great success with good questions from the audience demonstrating how many young people and students are interested in sustainability in the fashion industry, are questioning the status quo and are ready to take action. You can find out more about the work of The CSR and Ethical Business Society at LSE HERE.
The Eco Chic Design award has just been launched again and the deadline for application is 3rd April more information is available on their site HERE.
At the Sustainable Angle we spend much of our time researching and sourcing innovative textiles and materials with a lower environmental footprint and reducing the fashion industry’s over-dependency on conventional cotton and polyester. These materials are showcased in the annual Future Fabrics Expo as well as in workshops and Pop ups throughout the year, and a curated selection on www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com. This year we are delighted to have FLAVIA AMADEU’s rubber from the Brazilian Rainforest included in the 6th Future Fabrics Expo 25 – 26th January 2017. You can book Tickets here: http://bit.ly/2bnxkLW
FLAVIA AMADEU supports small producers and artisans from Amazon rainforest, whose economic activities are integrated with the use of sustainable natural resources. The coloured rubber represents a process of social innovation, which resulted from years of research, and has been responsible for generating social transformation and environmental preservation. The Sustainable Angle asked Flavia Amadeu to tell us a little bit more about her work, and what the future holds.
TSA – Can you provide a brief outline about what FLAVIA AMADEU is and how it has evolved since its inception?
F – FLAVIA AMADEU is a design brand that supports small producers and artisans whose economic activities are integrated with the use of sustainable natural resources in the Amazon Rainforest. The company is specialised in the design and production of coloured wild rubber and an Amazonian rubberised textile. The company has evolved through years of research, building strong and trusting relationships with a key network including local producers, artisans and many partners from the public and private sectors, both inside and outside of the rainforest.
TSA – What first inspired you to start FLAVIA AMADEU? Was it a desire to improve sustainability in the fashion / textiles industries or something else?
F – Firstly, it started as a desire of promoting social change within my work alongside an early connection with the Amazon rainforest. These values merged during my research with the coloured rubber that began in 2004, in partnership with the Chemistry Laboratory LATEQ, University of Brasilia. This meeting soon became my life mission.
TSA – Can you tell us about any positive environmental / social impacts you have seen or expect to see as a result of FLAVIA AMADEU?
F – I have been working directly with local communities since 2011. Today, my suppliers are small producers who I taught rubber production methods to. It is great to see continuation and progression of the production chain, also enabling the inclusion of women in income generation. 2016 was the biggest year for social impact to date, generating positive achievements. Since my return to Brazil in December 2015, I have worked with more than 120 small producers and artisans; regularly working with 3 communities in the rainforest. In the State of Acre, Brazil, my work engages a local cooperative aside a vast network of people supporting my work including beneficiaries. Another great achievement is the involvement of women in the production chain of wild rubber, who have made up about 65% of the artisans and producers I have worked with.
I am so lucky to have seen such positive impacts spark from my work. When I first began working with communities in the rainforest, children who observed the process are now young adults whose lives have developed through interaction with this rubber production. I have seen women gaining more confidence involved in the production chain showing great enthusiasm about the rubber handcrafts that I introduced to them and even teaching others.
One of the key people I have worked with and spend time with is artisan and rubber tapper José de Araújo, who has become a recognised artisan in rubber handcrafts. He and his family managed to leave a state of poverty to buy land in the rainforest to protect, because of the development of his handmade unique and beautiful shoes. His wife Delcilene Araújo is an example of women empowerment. Nowadays she takes care of the stock, logistics, team work and became also a skilled artisan.
I hope FLAVIA AMADEU proceeds to benefit countless more producers and artisans. I aim for our projects to stimulate empowerment of women and promote more social and economic opportunities, also integrating supply chains in the Amazon rainforest.
TSA – At the moment FLAVIA AMADEU is a new and small-scale company creating innovations like natural rubber from the Amazon. How do you expect it to scale up and be used by the industry in the future – do you think it could eventually be a mainstream commercially used material, and would you want it to be?
F – The aim is definitely to expand, that FLAVIA AMADEU becomes an important reference in sustainable design. In order to scale up, we have been working to multiply the social innovation of the rubber among more producers. I am always looking for project and investment opportunities, which can add social and environmental values to the production chain. Overall, I would like the production to grow in a profitable, but balanced and sustainable way.
TSA – The fashion and textiles industries are some of the worst offenders out there for negative environmental and social impact. What do you think are the most pressing environmental and social challenges that we are facing in the industry?
F – The most pressing issue in my opinion is the human cost disregarded by the fashion and textile industry, which, of course, directly and indirectly relates to the natural environment. In order to put all costs down, life is neglected at all levels. Producers are primarily affected, still working in the most damaging and exploitative conditions in the 21th century! The Bangladesh tragedy put that in our faces and there is plenty more issues we are not being exposed to, for example, lives affected by pesticides, pollution of rivers coming from the washing of textiles and so many more. The drastic impacts drops upon the entire production chain, including the natural environment and final consumers.
TSA – What do you think is the biggest obstacle to becoming a more sustainable and less harmful industry?
F – I believe the biggest challenge is to change mind-sets. This means transformations across the production chains, from company policies to consumers.
The shift towards ecological products and manufacturing methods has begun, people are beginning to become more knowledgeable about the impact their purchases have and are keen to learn the story behind the work, but there is still a long way to go.
TSA – What are your plans moving forward?
F – My future plans include the ability to increase the social innovation of rubber among multiple more communities in the rainforest and to be able to empower women and attract young adults in sustainable work with this material. Additionally, I aim to expand the production and distribute Organic Jewellery globally, simultaneously designing more collections and products. Currently, I am applying for funding and seeking investors who are keen in supporting my business, helping it expand.
TSA – How can industry professionals and consumers get involved and engage with the work you are doing?
F – Information about the company values, artisans and sales of my products are available at www.flaviaamadeu.com.
The Sustainable Angle teamed up with our longstanding sponsor of the Future Fabrics Expo, Kassim Denim to talk about the future of denim. We have had the pleasure of showcasing the forward-thinking Pakistan based mill Kassim Denim for several years now, and are delighted to welcome them back once again as sponsors of the 6th Future Fabrics Expo 25-26th Jan’17 (Tickets available here: http://bit.ly/2dP00xN). Kassim Denim have worked with some of the world’s best known fashion brands to create top quality materials, and are constantly working on innovations to reduce the negative impact of the textiles industry.
We asked Sohail Ahamed, market developer at Kassim denim to tell us more about their work and how they see the future of denim in terms of sustainability. Read the full conversation below, and discover a range of Kassim Denim fabrics with a reduced social and environmental at www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com
TSA – Kassim Textiles have been supporters of the Future Fabrics Expo for many years, also generously sponsoring the Future Fabrics Virtual Expo, our online showcase of sustainable materials, since its inception. Can you tell us why you think it’s important for Kassim to work with organizations like The Sustainable Angle, and projects like the Future Fabrics Expo and Future Fabrics Virtual Expo?
K – Working with TSA and The Future Fabrics Expo (FFE) has always been our affirmation in the belief that the world needs a more sustainable and eco-friendly environment. Simply put, we define sustainability as to keep doing what we have been doing while leaving behind enough resources for the coming generations to keep doing it too.Being a part of FFE we have the chance of both showing the world what we do and to also learn what others are doing in their respective fields.
TSA – The Future Fabrics Expo is based in London, and you also exhibit at trade fairs elsewhere in Europe and Asia. Looking back at 2016, have you noticed a significant difference in these markets when it comes to knowledge of sustainability and demand for sustainable materials, and (how) does this influence Kassim’s development of more sustainable materials?
K – Over the past year’s brands, buyers, and the end consumer have become more conscious and aware of the declining environment and the impacts it is having on mother nature and the earth.
This gives Kassim the added impetus to drive our sustainable production further in line with our corporate statement “Kassim Denim has always strived to be eco-friendly producing sustainable denim fabrics, and our “Green Kassim” is based on these principles and includes a dedication to protecting the health and safety of our employees and others, and using resources more efficiently. Our sustainability vision focuses on three major areas: manufacturing excellence, product sustainability and corporate citizenship. KASSIM is committed to conducting all affairs lawfully and with integrity and to ensuring excellence in environmental, safety, and all other areas of compliance.
TSA – Kassim Textiles produces a vast amount of denim for the global market. Can you tell us about the most innovative types of raw materials you produce that have a reduced environmental impact, and are there any processes you are working with that you think could be good alternatives for the future?
K – For us at Kassim it’s important that we develop our processes to be as efficient as possible throughout the whole supply chain. For us sustainability is to always have future generations in mind, and reduce our environmental impact so that we leave enough resources behind for future generations to come. “Sustainable, environmentally responsible, green management” are the key factors to Kassim Denim’s endeavors to produce the best denim fabrics possible, whilst maintaining the true essentials of being environmentally friendly, to match up with the drive of consumers to buy sustainable products.
Each of these three perspectives are integral parts of our commitment for integration of an environmental and social lens into core operational and financial management – from material sourcing through product design, manufacturing, distribution, delivery and end-of-life management.
TSA – The textile industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. What do you think are the most pressing environmental and social challenges in the fashion and textile industry? What needs to be done so the textile industry increases the use of materials with a lower environmental impact?
K – It’s true that the Textile Industry is the second most polluting industry, and the most pressing challenges for the textile industry is how to lower the use of water, keep a check and balance on the carbon foot print, and most of all making products from bio-degradable materials and in turn producing products that can be easily recycled,
TSA – What are Kassim denim’s plans moving forward?
K – Moving forward Kassim denim and in line with our “Green Denim” concept, we are stressing on the use of more compliant chemicals, and including fibers that are proven sustainable.
Kassim Denim offers a broad selection of fabrics with an reduced environmental impact in fibre type ranging from organic cotton, linen, Tencel®, to recycled polyester etc. to discover more about Kassim Denim, visit The Future Fabrics Expo (25-26th Jan) 2017 or online at www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com
At The Sustainable Angle we spend much of our time researching how fashion’s environmental impact can be lowered through textile innovation, and novel ideas to transform the fashion system and design practice. Certifications and standards play a hugely important part in the monitoring and transparency of these innovations and textile practices. Today we are continuing our questions with Christopher Stopes the UK Representative for The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). You will find hundreds of GOTS certified fabrics in the Future Fabrics Expo 25-26th January in London, as well as a preview of a selection of these fabrics in our Future Fabrics Virtual expo available 24hrs online here. If you missed Part 1 you can catch up here
TSA: In debates about more sustainable fibres, cotton is often considered as too ‘thirsty’ and therefore not a viable option for a future with low water tables. Would you say organic cotton is a viable option, though?
GOTS: Organic cotton uses less water, so it is an obvious choice if you want to be more sustainable. According to a report from MADE-BY for UK government, “Organic cotton production can reduce the toxicity, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions of growing cotton and has the potential to deliver added social benefits”. Buying organic cotton has been calculated by the Swiss organisation Helvetas to cut CO2 emissions by 18% when compared with buying conventional.
TSA: As the world’s leading standard for organic textile processing, what is GOTS’ biggest challenge moving forward?
GOTS: Making sure that the fashion industry cleans up its act through taking on board high standards, such as GOTS, that cover the whole supply chain and are independently certified. We want to make sure that the textile sector (fashion and apparel, work wear and personal care) provides a truly sustainable organic option, using organic approved processing and organically produced fibres. We are not only talking about organic cotton, but organic wool, linen and other organic fibres too.
TSA: Today the fashion industry is said to be the second most polluting industry in the world, next to the oil industry. What do you think are currently the most pressing environmental and social challenges in the fashion and textile industry?
GOTS: There is an urgent need to work to stop the appalling social conditions in the industry, one that depends too much on child labour, modern slavery, in unsafe buildings and bad working conditions. We see the consumption of cheap clothes on the backs of many people! And there are huge challenges from the highly polluting textile processing plants. GOTS places tight requirements on the permitted chemicals (GOTS exceeds the Greenpeace Detox requirements) and it is mandatory for GOTS certified textile wet-processing plants to have a working water treatment plant.
TSA: Where do you see the most potential for change in the fashion industry?
GOTS: Changing consumption patterns, caring for our clothes and making them from high quality organic fibres, in socially and ecologically sustainable value chains. That’s what GOTS is about! And it requires independent third party inspection and certification – so it overcomes one of the huge problems in the fashion industry – greenwash!
TSA: How do you think initiatives like the Future Fabrics Expo can help organisations such as yours?
GOTS: The Sustainable Angle and Future Fabrics Expo help spread the word and that means we can work better together and so help make a difference in the fashion industry!
TSA: How can industry professionals and consumers get involved and engage with the work GOTS do?
GOTS: Look at our GOTS simple show video to find out more about GOTS. Remember that there are important differences between organic and conventional cotton production and processing. Find out more about GOTS certification through the GOTS website.
At The Sustainable Angle we spend much of our time researching how fashion’s environmental impact can be lowered through textile innovation, and novel ideas to transform the fashion system and design practice. Certifications and standards play a hugely important part in the monitoring and transparency of these innovations and textile practices. Today we are talking to Christopher Stopes the UK Representative for The Global Organic Textile Standard GOTS. You will find hundreds of GOTS certified fabrics in the Future Fabrics Expo 25-26th January in London, as well as a preview of a selection of these fabrics in our Future Fabrics Virtual expo available 24hrs online here.
TSA: Can you provide an outline of GOTS’ aims?
GOTS: The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) aims to be the comprehensive ecological and social standard for the entire textile supply chain based on the use of certified organic fibres. It is the gold standard for sustainable organic textiles.
Organically produced fibre is required in GOTS. This means that on the organic farm no GMOs, no artificial fertilisers and no agro-chemicals are used. Instead certified organic farmers use crop rotation and alternative methods of crop production.
GOTS covers textile processing, manufacture, labelling and sale of clothes and other products through to the final consumer. Permitted chemicals allowed in textile processing meet stringent criteria for environmental and human health (exceeding Greenpeace Detox requirements).
There are clear ecological and social benefits from the strict criteria in the standard. Customers can check the certification ID on a GOTS certified product in the GOTS Public Database.
TSA: Can you tell us more about what you think the future looks like for the organic cotton market, in a world where fertile soil is becoming ever more limited and eventually required for increased food production?
GOTS: It’s really important that we look after our soils and that means fostering natural cycles. Organic farming produces cotton and other fibres in a way that helps protect the environment and enhance biodiversity. The demand for organic cotton is growing steadily as more and more people realise the social and environmental problems with GM and pesticide based cotton. Organic cotton farming depends on crop rotation including food crops, so small farmers benefit from better food security – something that can be really important for them.
TSA: With most cotton usually being grown in monocultures, can smaller organic cotton farms ever grow enough cotton to replace what is currently grown in intensive agriculture?
GOTS: The other way of thinking about that question is whether we can afford to go on as we are! We are consuming cotton too freely, for fast fashion – where we throw away our clothes without a second thought. There is a huge challenge ahead about rethinking our consumption – of food, and fashion, and many other things. Thinking that we can rely on conventional intensive monocultures is old thinking. We can produce enough if we produce with the principals of health, care, ecology and fairness – we just have to look after what we produce!
TSA: Can you describe your favourite encounter with an organic cotton farmer or other hands-on-experience while working for GOTS?
GOTS: One of the most inspiring things about organic cotton farming is the stories from small farmers for whom organic production has meant that they can free themselves from the dependency on dangerous pesticides and grow organic cotton and food crops in rotation so helping to feed their families. I love the three great stories from farmers in China, India and Benin in the Soil Association Report Organic Cotton Helps to Feed the World. They really show how organic cotton can make a difference.
At the Sustainable Angle we spend much of our time researching and sourcing innovative textiles and materials with a lower environmental footprint and reducing the fashion industry’s over-dependency on conventional cotton and polyester. These materials are showcased in the annual Future Fabrics Expo as well as in workshops and Pop ups throughout the year, and a curated selection on www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com. This year we are delighted to have Orange Fiber’s innovations included in the 6th Future Fabrics Expo 25 – 26th January 2017.
In a time where fertile land is fast becoming a limited natural resource, innovative solutions are needed. The Italian Start-up Orange Fiber uses citrus waste, a by-product from the Italian juice industry to produce high quality textile fibres with a low environmental impact.
Sicily has a massive production of citrus juice, which every year also leaves around 700 tons of waste materials.
The two co-founders of Orange Fiber, Adriana Santanocito and Enrica Arena, saw the potential in this and developed a system where Orange Fiber converts orange peels, a by-product from the Sicilian juice industry, into high qualitative cellulose fibres. The Sustainable Angle asked Orange Fiber a few questions about their innovation and what they believe the future holds for the textile industry.
TSA: Can you provide a brief outline about what Orange Fiber is and how it has evolved since its inception?
OF: Orange Fiber is an Italian company that uses an innovative process to creates sustainable textiles for Fashion from citrus fruit by-products. Having created a supply chain network with partner companies we opened the first industrial plant in Sicily and produced different prototypes. The first textile production has been completed and some interesting top fashion brand proposals are being evaluated in view of entering the market by 2016.
TSA: What first inspired you to start to develop Orange Fiber?
OF: Orange Fiber’s idea is the result of a deep love for our homeland of Sicily, blended with the desire to innovate in a sustainable way; the Italian industry, known for its excellence in textile production.
The Orange Fiber supply chain from citrus by-product through spinning, weaving and finishing is our contribution towards sustainable fashion practice and economic, social and environmental development.
In 2011, Adriana Santanocito was studying Fashion Design and innovative materials at Afol Moda Institute of Milan, when she heard of the sustainable textiles trend, and decided to explore the subject in her thesis. By simply discussing this with citrus juice producers she discovered the problem behind the disposal of citrus waste and had the intuition to transform citrus juice by-products into a new product that would represent a brand new opportunity for Italian tradition in high quality fashion textiles. She shared the idea with Enrica Arena, and with creativity and will, they started Orange Fiber.
TSA: Can you tell us about any positive environmental / social impacts you have seen or expect to see as a result of Orange Fiber?
OF: Our innovative and patented process reduces the cost and the environmental impact of pollution related to the industrial waste of citrus juicing, by extracting a raw material apt for spinning. Our solution offers the opportunity to satisfy the increasing need of cellulose for textile, thus preserving natural resources. This process reuses waste products, saves land, water and environmental pollution.TSA: At the moment Orange Fiber is a very new and small-scale innovation. How do you expect it to be used by the industry in the future?
OF: We will complete the process of research and development, optimise the cost of production and start replicating the plant in Italy and abroad. Italy produces just 4% of the worlds citrus juice, so the opportunities to replicate the process are endless, and will allow us to lower the product price, becoming competitive with materials such as polyester and cotton. TSA: The fashion and textiles industries are some of the worst offenders out there for negative environmental and social impact. What do you think are the most pressing environmental and social challenges that we are facing in the industry?
OF: The most pressing environmental and social challenges that we are facing in the industry have to do with natural resources, protection and conservation along with the adoption of ethical business models. Considering the human cost of manufacturing clothing is as crucial as profit. In particular, fashion and textiles industries have to work to:
TSA: What do you think is the biggest obstacle to becoming a more sustainable and less harmful industry?
OF: We believe that the biggest obstacle for the fashion industry is the fast fashion and high volume consumerist approach we have come to see. This supply chain reduces R&D and sustainability efforts in order to keep low price points and give consumers more choice.
TSA: What are your plans moving forward?
OF: Since we strongly believe that “the future is not a place we’re going to, but a place we create”, we will continue to research and develop products and new raw materials, working on industrial scale-up and improving our process according to circular economy principles. Our aim is to establish Orange Fiber as the first Italian brand to move into the sustainable textiles industry, through “green” production from renewable sources and contribute to creating a greener fashion industry.
TSA: How can industry professionals and consumers get involved and engage with the work you are doing?
OF: We are creating a B2B2C product addressing the need of fashion brands to use a high quality sustainable and innovative textile for their collections and the need of the consumer to have access to high quality sustainable clothing. Establishing Orange Fiber as an Ingredient Brand, we aim to get involved and engage with industry professionals and consumers working on the added value of the fiber origin and its environmental and social sustainability.
At The Sustainable Angle we spend much of our time researching and sourcing both innovative and sustainable materials to showcase in the annual Future Fabrics Expo. We show a wide range of alternatives with a lower environmental and social impact to cotton, polyester and conventional leather. These materials are also shown in other events and workshops throughout the year, and on www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com.
Atlantic Leather is an Icelandic tannery leading in manufacturing exotic leather from fish-skin which are waste products from the food industry. No fish used are endangered species. The fish-leather is produced from four different species of fish; Salmon, perch, wolffish and cod – each with its own unique characteristics – in a diverse range of colours, textures and finishes, all have been tested by the European Chemical Agency. Atlantic Leather is stationed in Sauðárkrókur, a small but vibrant community of roughly 4000 inhabitants, located in the heart of Skagafjörður, Iceland. The development of the fish leather has been processed since 1994, but the idea itself is rooted in tradition.
We have been lucky enough to interview Atlantic leather’s Manager Sigurlaug Vordís Eysteinsdóttir, to find out more about Atlantic Leather, and how fashion businesses and consumers cannot only use this material but visit where it is made.
TSA: Firstly, can you tell us what sustainability means to Atlantic Leather?
Atlantic Leather: Sustainability means the power of nature to us at Atlantic Leather. Respect nature and it’s power.
TSA: Can you provide a brief outline about the products Atlantic Leather creates, and what makes them more sustainable than other leathers?
Atlantic Leather: We produce Salmon, Perch, Cod and Wolffish leather from the by-product from the food industry. We also produce washable Salmon and Salmon tanned from the bark of the Mimosa tree. We turn waste products from the food industry into exotic luxury leather by using the power of nature. In Iceland we are fortunate to have plenty of hot water from geothermal sources, and our electricity comes from a hydroelectric power station. So we rely on the power of nature; exotic and eco-friendly.
TSA: What was the inspiration behind using fish skins to create leather for the fashion industry?
Atlantic Leather: Icelanders are known for reusing everything that others think is trash and we still have our ancestor’s spirit of finding the useful in everything. Iceland is a big fishing industry nation, our ancestors used the fish skins for their shoes, so the inspiration was, find a use for 100% of each fish Icelanders catch and Icelanders are on our way to completing that task, Atlantic Leather is a big part of that project.
TSA: Can you tell us about any positive environmental / social impacts you have seen or expect to see as a result of Atlantic Leather?
Atlantic Leather: Firstly, we don’t have any leather from endangered species, many designers have gone from snake skin to our Salmon skin for example. Atlantic Leather is the only tannery in Iceland and is based in the north of Iceland in a society with a population of 4000. Atlantic Leather was voted the best Tannery of the year in the European section that is a big recognition in our small country. Our leather is inspiring for people, we have so many colours and varieties of finish.
TSA: The fashion and textiles industries are some of the worst offenders out there for negative environmental and social impact. What do you think are the most pressing environmental and social challenges that we are facing in the industry?
Atlantic Leather: Money is the most challenging thing for tanneries. It costs a lot to be sustainable and because we are, then it makes our products expensive in the end. It is also important to stop playing hide and seek and start to open the tanneries up to customers so they can see it with their own eyes and be informed about sustainability. To be truly environmental you have to not be afraid to inform how you carry out the task, and when asked ethical questions, not being afraid of the answer.
TSA: What do you think is the biggest obstacle to becoming a more sustainable and less harmful industry?
Atlantic Leather: Again Money, For Atlantic Leather being stated in Iceland is our biggest obstacle but is also our biggest advantage
TSA: What are your plans moving forward?
Atlantic Leather: Just keeping up our 20-year process in our tanning product, keeping up our developments, and marketing our products more.
TSA: How can industry professionals and consumers get involved and engage with the work you are doing?
Atlantic Leather: Everybody is welcome to visit our tannery, they are able to order sample pack from us, we can ship all over the world, We are on social media, and visit our stand at The Future Fabric Expo☺
Get wise, buy better, make a difference – Last week The Sustainable Angle joined an event held by SUSS as part of #SustainableSeptember, to raise awareness on how you as an everyday consumer could be part of creating a more ethical fashion industry. Designer Abigail Grainger and journalist Emma Grace Baily, the brains behind SUSS, created the start-up to be able to proactively, through events and media engagement, create awareness of sustainability and environmental issues within the fashion and beauty industries. At the cutting edge of popular culture, these industries have a responsibility to educate and inform the general public.
SUSS invited 10 speakers from across all areas of the sustainable fashion industry to participate in two events to share their knowledge and expertise on the current status of the fashion industry, and from their perspective, what we need to know and do in order to make it more ethical. On September 22nd the second #SustainableSeptember event was held and The Sustainable Angle’s materials curator and education consultant Amanda Johnston was invited to talk during the event. Amanda emphasised why we need to reconsider the materials we choose to design with and wear and what some of the best emerging alternatives to conventional cotton and polyester are.
Also invited to talk at SUSS’s events were Diana Auria, founder of Auria Swimwear, the dynamic and creative brand whose ethical values have put the brand at the forefront of sustainable fashion. Amisha Ghadiali, founder of the Think Act Vote project and author of the brilliant book The Future is Beautiful, and Fashion Historian and Associate Lecturer at the London College of Arts, Amber Butchart.
Sustainable September is a movement designed to educate and empower everyday consumers, providing the knowledge and tools to inform better purchasing decisions for a healthier planet. As a designer or other professional working within the fashion industry, you often are well-aware about the environmental and social impact the industry has and what concerted action is needed, meanwhile as a consumer it is not always as clear what that role should be. By being well-informed and equipped with certain skills, we as consumers could act proactively and demand ethical fashion.
#SustainableSeptember is a month to raise awareness with the consumer market, led by SUSS. Check out hashtags from the event #isusseditout and #sustainableseptember and join @isusseditout on Instagram to get more information about future events.
Climate change, caused in a large part by the actions of industries and consumers across the world, is destroying the subsistence of rural tribes in far-ranging areas such as Meghalaya, in the north-east corner of India.
Decreasing precipitation and raising temperatures are making it impossible to continue agricultural activities as usual, and so to prevent further migration into India’s overcrowded cities it is essential to create new opportunities for these communities to earn a sustainable living.
An important opportunity is silk-rearing, which has been practiced by women in the area for centuries. An increase in silk-rearing along with a growing market for natural silk in Europe can help current and future generations of women to earn a living.
This goal can be reached with the help of training, the introduction of efficient working practices and new handcraft technology, building-up a community of producers and continuous consulting to ensure successful development. The objective is the empowerment to manufacture consistently high-quality products in larger quantities, that meet the needs of the European market.
Seidentraum, a sustainable silk supplier that has been showcased in the Future Fabrics Expo since its inception in 2011, is seeking support to help make this happen.
Meghalaya is a wonderful but poor area in the north-east corner of India, at the foot of the Himalayas, with approximately 12.5% of inhabitants living below the poverty line. Traditionally, the people of Meghalaya have practiced organic rice farming and fish breeding, as well as harvesting fruit and vegetables, pursuing farming and handcrafts in accordance with nature.
The promotion of traditional peace silk manufacturing offers new and sustainable subsistence opportunity. Meghalaya is optimally suited to the increase of eri silk rearing, where no silk worm is killed for silk fibre production, but instead only empty cocoons are utilized for making yarn.
To be successful, it’s necessary to improve the quality of the silk yarn and fabrics, by providing training for farmers, spinners, and weavers. By increasing demand for eri silk, the handcrafters will be able to work regularly, thereby continually improving skills and product quality, ensuring traditional handcrafts and techniques are not forgotten.
Seidentraum are working on a 2.5 year project in collaboration with the German Association for International Collaboration and the Government of Meghalaya, to support product development, offer consulting in quality and design, and help build the market. Developments include ensuring workers health is better protected, by replacing floor looms with Flying-8 looms to remove back stress. This new equipment is cheap and easy to build, but can have an immeasurable impact on the community.
Seidentraum are seeking support for this initiative, to enable the provision of spinning wheels, materials to make Flying-8 looms, training, and participation at trade fairs. If you would like to find out more or support the project, please contact email@example.com.
You can find a range of Seidentraum organic and peace silk fabrics on our online sourcing tool www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com, along with further information about how they are working to create a more sustainable silk industry.
written by Charlotte Turner
I recently attended the SOURCE Summit hosted by the Ethical Fashion Forum at the Human Rights Action Centre at Amnesty International HQ, to find out about some of the latest developments in ethical and sustainable fashion. The day was focused around 3D profit, discussing how you can link financial profit with positive social and environmental impact.Photography by Rachel Mann
“We believe that business is changing, it’s in part due to external pressures but what I find most relevant about the topic today is that there is a real business case to investing in sustainable reform,” Summerly Horning from Tau Investment Management.Photography by Rachel Mann
After a range of panel discussions and break up sessions discussing topics ranging from accounting to production, the day wrapped up with a panel discussion chaired by Baronness Lola Young of Hornsey about the future of the fashion industry and how it might achieve “3D” success. Dr. Maximilian Martin, founder of Impact Economy and one of the panelists summed it up by saying:
“The textile and garment industry has a role to play, you are innovators and many of you are operating boutique businesses that are working with really interesting ideas about shared products, long value chains, etc. I think many of the things that you’re working on have much more potency to drive wider change than you realize.“
written by Charlotte Turner
Elmer & Zweifel, a German textiles company founded in 1855, have been showcased in the Future Fabrics Expo by The Sustainable Angle since 2012 due to their extensive range of high quality certified organic cotton fabrics, which are available in both small and large quantities. In addition to retail and wholesale finished fabrics, they also produce greige goods and their own brand of organic cotton products called Cotonea. A selection of their fabrics can now be viewed on the Future Fabrics Virtual Expo.
We spoke to Linda Schall from Elemer & Zweifel to find out more.Elmer & Zweifel: organic cotton plantations in Kirgistan and Uganda
Elmer & Zweifel have been working towards creating a more sustainable company and product offer for some time, and have extensive knowledge and control of their supply chain. For starters, they have their own organic cotton plantations in Kirgistan and Uganda, with Swiss NGO Helvetas training the farmers in organic agriculture, to produce high quality cotton certified by IMO. The cotton is then spun in Turkey and Germany, and woven and finished in the Czech Republic by Elmer & Zweifel. All stages of the supply chain including wet processing are certified by GOTS.
According to Linda, the original motivation to start offering more sustainable fabrics was “to improve social and environmental factors over the entire textile supply chain.” They also believed that to create better products, transparency had to be established. She says initially they were producing more sustainable textiles based only on demand, but then more and more clients started requesting these products, leading to the introduction of a permanent organic range – testament to the impact designers and buyers can make simply by asking questions and requesting more sustainable materials.Elmer & Zweifel fabrics in the Future Fabrics Expo
Creating more sustainable products means adapting the normal design and production process, sometimes meaning that added aspects like environmental certifications can make the process take longer, but at the end of the day it is worth it: as Linda says “for us it is important that the whole supply chain is transparent, and we can have an impact all along it.”
As a business, and especially as a business that wishes to continue producing more sustainable textiles, growth is still essential. “It is for example important that the cotton projects in Uganda and Kirgistan that we support are financially viable, and hence, financial turn over needs to increase.” Elmer & Zweifel are seeing increased demand for sustainable textiles, but it is essential that as an industry we continue to seek, develop, and demand more sustainably and ethically produced materials and products.
Linda believes that one of the most pressing challenges in the industry is around ethical and social labour conditions, which need to become fairer, especially in countries such as Bangladesh. In terms of sustainable textiles, one challenge the company has identified is that there are still requests for products which at the moment are not possible to produce in an ecologically sustainable manner, for instance ‘non-iron’ fabrics. However considering the amount of innovation we have been seeing in recent years, it may be only be a matter of time until that is possible.100% organic cotton chambray. Elmer & Zweifel also produce plain and patterned knitted and woven organic fabrics.
Linda summed up by telling us what she thinks is the biggest obstacle to becoming a more sustainable and less harmful industry: “More fashion collections in ever shorter intervals are coming on the market, and this fast turn around of clothes means increased production, more consumption, and more waste of clothes. Therefore, the consumer needs to be made aware much more of the quality of textiles, instead of focusing only on lower prices.”
This approach to consumption, and to a lack of focus on quality, requires an industry and society wide systemic change, in which Elmer & Zweifel believe both the consumer and industry have a part to play. Combining a refined outlook on how we buy and wear fashion, along with the use of higher quality and more sustainable fabrics would certainly have a positive affect on the damage we are causing to our environments and society.
You can find out more about Elmer & Zweifel and see a range of their sustainable fabrics on the Future Fabrics Virtual Expo, which is generously sponsored by Elmer & Zweifel and Kassim Textiles. Elmer & Zweifel will additionally be showcased at the 4th Future Fabrics Expo in London, on 28th – 30th September 2014.
written by Charlotte Turner
This week social enterprise production company The Rainbow Collective screened ‘The Machinists‘ (2010), a documentary by Hannan Majid and Richard York. The screening was in response to a series of recent tragedies in Bangladesh garment factories including fatal fires and the Rana factory collapse. These events collectively killed over 1,000 people and have prompted action throughout the world.
The documentary follows the Bangladesh National Garment Worker’s Federation and the stories of 3 very different garment factory workers, showing the detrimental effects of poor working and living conditions on the thousands of people in the garment industry, accounting for roughly 80% of Bangladesh’s exports. The already worrying statistics in the documentary have significantly worsened since the recent Rana factory collapse and factory fires in late 2012, bringing garment worker deaths in Bangladesh closer to 1,500 than the 200 stated in 2010.
The Rainbow Collective therefore invites you to attend a special fundraising screening of their acclaimed documentary, followed by discussion with leading campaigners, film makers, and industry representatives. The event will be raising money to support the families bereaved by the Rana factory collapse disaster.
written by Charlotte Turner
We’re pleased to say we have contributed another in-depth article to the Ethical Fashion Forum Source online platform to help offer some of our latest research and advice on making your supply chain more sustainable, which we’ll also share at the next Future Fabrics Expo at the end of 2013. You can read our previous article on The Future of Fashion Fabrics here.
In this latest research we wanted to highlight how the supply chain is an interlinked series of decisions – starting right from the very raw materials our fabrics are made from and their cultivation and processing, to the finished garments we are wearing which have been assembled by labourers around the world. Understanding exactly what the supply chain really entails is key to being able to make it more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable.
There have been some great steps made by international not for profit organisations, businesses, initiatives, and researchers, which can contribute to us measuring our impact and improving our supply chain process, and we have shared some of our favourites with you.
Additionally, from luxury materials made with extra long staple organic supima cotton, and performance fabrics incorporating post consumer coffee waste, soy plants or recycled fishing nets, processed with oxygen bleaching or airflow dyeing, to locally sourced wool which travels only 40 miles from sheep to finished fabrics, there are a huge range of options to reduce our environmental impact in our choice of materials, more of which you can read about in the full article.
written by Charlotte Turner
You can take a look at The Sustainable Angle’s new article on the Ethical Fashion Forum Source Magazine about reducing the environmental impact of the fashion industry through innovation in textiles.
Environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry are growing, but there are many ways that you can not only reduce negative environmental impact, but also increase positive environmental and social benefits through informed choices of materials and intelligent design. Thinking critically about materials is just one option, which is not an isolated solution, but part of a considered and linked chain of positive choices along the supply chain.
According to the Oerlikon Textile Report; The Fibre Year 2009/10:
Therefore there is a massive need for fibre diversification to avoid natural resource depletion and support thriving eco-systems, in light of the overwhelming global use of such a small range of fibres despite growing availability of innovative fibres and fabrics.
In 2010 the global textile industry ‘experienced the most potent growth in 25 years’ (Oerlikon Textile Report), with an increase of 8.6% – with such a rapid growth of textiles on offer, it is imperative to make informed and responsible choices.
Written by Charlotte Turner
The Sustainable Angle is delighted to announce that we have been awarded the Positive Luxury ‘Mark of Positive Living’ for our commitment to reducing environmental impact in the fashion industry.
Represented by a Blue Butterfly, The Mark of Positive Living is awarded to best in class brands and companies that have a positive impact on people and the planet, displaying a drop down menu of a company’s positive social and environmental credentials when clicked on (visit our homepage to see the interactive Blue Butterfly).
Positive Luxury, founded by Diana Verde Nieto, was established in order to help consumers navigate the complex language of sustainability, and to reinforce the link between luxury and sustainability. This is very much in line with The Sustainable Angle’s view on sustainability within fashion, and is helping to show that you can lower your social and environmental impact without compromising on style.
In March 2011 the World Economic Forum nominated Diana as a Young Global Leader in recognition of her potential to influence and shape the future of the world, and we are thrilled to have joined so many prestigious companies in the journey to make luxury more positive.
Find out more about Positive Luxury at www.positiveluxury.com
Find out which brand sand companies have been awarded the Mark of Positive Living at www.positiveluxury.com/brands
Written by Charlotte Turner
On 25th July the Ethical Fashion Forum hosted the Source Summit in London, to enable Source members from all stages of the supply chain to network and share knowledge, thoughts and ideas about the latest in social and environmental development in the fashion industry. The day was underpinned by an inspiring program of presentations from industry leaders including EFF Founding Director Clare Lissaman, and international researchers, educators and entrepreneurs. The event focused on discussing impact, visibility, education and systems, culminating in a series of breakout groups.
EFF Managing Director Tamsin Lejeune opened the event by stating that ‘in order to run a business effectively we have to run it sustainably’ which set the theme for the day, introducing speakers from international sustainable fashion brands.
Prama Bhardwaj from Mantis World gave an inspiring talk, discussing the triple bottom line: people, profit and planet. She gave some fantastic recommendations to achieve this, including her key piece of advice, to pick your battles. Prama’s recommendations to achieve triple bottom line success:
Alana James then discussed her research into mainstreaming sustainability in the fashion sector, having found that consumers rate clothing primarily by aesthetics, followed by materials which are felt to reflect quality and value, and lastly by price. Although 30% of consumers are said to have ethical intentions when shopping, only 3% actually carry this through in their shopping choices, which is something the high street has the power to influence.
Perhaps the most poignant presentation came from Liz Parker who discussed the importance of sustainability in the educational curriculum, in order to facilitate change throughout the industry. She argued that students should be thought of like consumers, as sustainability is values based and therefore can’t be forced upon people. For this reason encouraging critical thinking is vital.
Following the inspiring presentations, the breakout groups to further discuss specific themes resulted in a multitude of positive ideas for the future including:
Overall, a resounding conversation throughout the day was the fact that in an ideal world we wouldn’t talk about ‘ethical fashion’, just ‘fashion’. Sustainable marketing specialist Ceri Heathcote from Ethical Fashion Blog observed that ‘for sustainable change we need to change the way things are at an identity level – who we are, what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it.’ In order to do this, it’s up to each designer, buyer and fashion professional to evaluate what sustainability means to them.
Written by Charlotte Turner
The Sustainable Angle are proud to announce that they have joined the ranks of The Ethical Fashion Forum’s Fellowship 500, which has been launched with the aim of taking the fashion industry to tipping point – the point at which sustainable practices by fashion businesses become the rule rather than the exception to it – from field to final product.
This group of pioneering innovators in fashion and sustainability also have the opportunity to help shape EFF’s strategy to transform social and environmental standards in the fashion industry, and on July 25th the Fellowship met in London to do just this. The event was a platform to network, exchange knowledge, and learn more about current issues regarding sustainable practices, and ways in which the industry can continue moving closer to a more sustainable future. The day was a fantastic opportunity to hear from a diverse range of passionate and experienced speakers, and produced much food for thought.
Read more about the Source Summit soon here and on our website.
Written by Charlotte Turner
On 3rd May 2012 The Sustainable Angle attended the Copenhagen Fashion Summit organised by NICE to hear keynote speeches from international brands and organisations including Gucci, PPR, H&M, Honest By, Terraplana, WGSN, Greenpeace, The Sustainable Apparel Coalition, UN Global Compact, and Peter Ingwersen and the Youth Fashion Summit.
The day included the NICE Fashion Challenge runway, which showcased looks from Danish designers created using entirely sustainable fabrics, and was judged according to design, innovation and sustainability criteria. The contest was won by Susanne Rutzou, whose outfits were made from Newlife recycled polyester, eco silk, organic cotton, bamboo and alpaca.
The conference was opened by Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, who observed that conscious consumers play a pivotal role in developing sustainable business models, through raising demand to brands. Another key comment was from Greenpeace’s Kirsten Brodde, who highlighted the ‘power and influence of global consumers to turn sustainable fashion simply into fashion’.
The importance of customer communication was frequently discussed throughout the day, with Deloitte’s speaker commenting that consumer engagement on sustainable consumption can be positively affected through increased information sharing. H&M (who champion sustainability through their Conscious collection) have found that 23% of their customers are specifically looking for sustainable clothing, showing positive awareness on the high street, but further communication could raise this number. Deloitte’s extensive research has also shown that consumers currently feel social aspects are focused on far more than environmental issues in ‘sustainable clothing’ offers, indicating many opportunities for environmentally sustainable textiles. As PPR’s representative expressed, creative people are creative problem solvers, and designers are positively responding to meeting challenges and incorporating sustainability into design.
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s presentation by Rick Ridgeway stressed that a product’s sale price doesn’t capture the ‘externalised cost’ eg. how much water, fertilizer, waste etc. is involved. The SAC Index aims to give each product a score that includes the eco-impact not only as a footprint in a life-cycle perspective but including the whole bio-diversity and eco-system cost. SAC’s research has estimated that the global apparel & footwear industry has an externalised cost of a staggering $44 trillion – the SAC hopes the future will be: a t-shirt that harms the planet in its production will have a higher price tag reflecting these costs.
Leading up to the conference, the Youth Fashion Summit was hosted by Dilys Williams, leader of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, a great supporter of The Sustainable Angle. The youth summit culminated in ‘demands’ from the represented fashion schools to improve the future of the fashion industry and society.
‘We demand a link between the society of makers and the society of wearers – rebuild trust’
Connie Hedegaard, the EU Commissioner for Climate Action, surmised that ‘we need to reinvent, redesign and reindustrialise our world’. She was presented with recommendations for sustainable fashion with specific focus on consumer engagement, in a bid to positively influence European legislation and business practice on sustainable fashion.
Rick Ridgeway from Patagonia summed up progress when he said that Patagonia have used 100% organic cotton since 1996, and back then a response from one customer was ‘I don’t eat my cotton jeans’. He believes we have moved a long way in a short space of time, but it still is a long process to get people to recognise it’s not just what they put in their bodies, but on their bodies.
Written by Charlotte Turner
In April 2012, the pioneers behind the MADE-BY Track and Trace system invited The Sustainable Angle to present the Future Fabrics Expo to MADE-BY’s partner brands, and to share our thoughts on the future of fashion fabrics. The event was designed to enable brands and organisations to share information and experiences from the supply chain, whilst having the opportunity to see, feel, and learn more about new sustainable fibres in the sustainable fibre showroom. We had the pleasure of presenting along with C.L.A.S.S. Eco-Hub, another pioneering organisation promoting sustainable fibre use in the fashion and interiors sectors.
Our Head Curator Amanda Johnston and Project Manager Charlotte Turner journeyed to Amsterdam to present the expo to a greatly receptive audience from the denim, performance, casual and formal fashion sectors, and were able to meet and hear from representatives from a wide range of brands.
We were invited to showcase a diverse range of our fabrics with a lower environmental impact, including natural and man-made fabrics using organic, recycled and upcycled fibres, and a range of low impact processing systems and newly developed innovative fibres. We received a lot of interest for many of our fabrics, and very positive feedback which will help us assist others in sourcing sustainable fabrics.
The day included thought provoking presentations from experts within the sustainable fashion industry on diverse topics including sustainable cotton label initiatives, wet processing, dyes and colour management at brand level, and regional topics including Solidaridad’s fair wage project in Bangladesh, Greenpeace’s Detox Campaign, and Solidaridad’s Cleaner Production Programme based in China.
Visit www.made-by.org for more information.
written by Charlotte Turner
The Sustainable Angle is a not for profit organisation which initiates and supports projects which contribute to minimising the environmental impact of industry and society.
Our project The Future Fabrics Expo focuses on the fashion industry and how its environmental impact can be lowered through innovation in the textile industry, and novel ideas to transform the fashion system and design practice.
On November 7th – 9th 2012, the second Future Fabrics Expo organised by The Sustainable Angle, will again be hosted by the London College of Fashion with the support of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion. The curated expo will showcase a diverse range of individually selected fabrics, products and ideas related to lowering the environmental impact of the fashion supply chain.
|Future Fabrics Expo 2011|
More information about this event will follow soon, and you can visit our website to find out more about our event and other services.
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