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:
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 Follow us: @Sustainable_Ang @TheSustainableAngle #futurefabricsexpo
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 DANI S.p.A included as both exhibiter and speaker at the seminars during the 6th Future Fabrics Expo on the 25 – 26th January 2017. For seminars and Exhibition register here.
For more than 10 years, Dani has chosen to be a sustainable company, recognising the social and environmental responsibility principles that guide its current and future business accomplishments, that are oriented towards development of the company and its employees, while safeguarding the future generations. Dani S.p.A is a leading leather manufacturer that has chosen to compensate circa 2,000 tonnes of CO2 released for the production of "Zero Impact" leather.
We had the pleasure of interviewing DANI S.p.A Marketing Manager Marta Fumei about their Zero Impact leather and what obstacles they think the fashion industry needs to overcome to become a more sustainable industry.
TSA - Can you provide a brief outline about what Zero Impact is and how it has evolved since its inception?
DANI - As a 66 year old family owned tannery, at Dani we felt it was important to develop what would have not simply be a “new product” but an icon of our corporate philosophy -that touches each strategic choice and innovation technology- integrated in the company’s DNA.
This is how Zero Impact Leather was born. We developed this project in three winning moves.
More Innovation: Innovations along the production process thanks to technological improvement in un-hairing, tanning, re-tanning and finishing phases, to substitute all heavy metals.
Less Emission: Thanks to our ability to measure CO2 emissions and the innovations introduced in the production phases, we were able to lower our CO2 emissions by 5%
Zero Impact: To reach the total compensation of CO2 produced, we are involved in a reforestation program in partnership with AzzeroCO2. Since we started we already planted 1,869 trees in Italy.
TSA What first inspired the owners to start developing Zero Impact? Was it a desire to improve sustainability in the fashion and leather industries or something else?
DANI Thanks to the technology available today, there are less concerns related to the sustainability of leather tanning. Innovations have been implemented to all phases of the process to limit the use of natural resources, to recover the waste and to have a better control of the entire production while safeguarding the working environment and respecting the laws that regulate our industry.
The desire to brush off our shoulders the image of a polluting and carless industry guided our development and choices, until sustainability became for us the priority: we conduct ongoing research to reduce the environmental impact of our production and at the same time we collaborate with the tanning district of Arzignano, including the purifying plant, chemical companies and all other partners that transform our waste into other products.
TSA Can you tell us about any positive environmental / social impacts you have seen or expect to see as a result of Zero Impact?
DANI The realisation of this project was also possible thanks to the involvement, participation, suggestions and experiments conducted with our partners.
With this project we would like to approach even more sustainable brands, building together a product that is responsible for consumers, the environment and the future generation. We would like to build awareness about the possibility of producing in a more sustainable way, and about the fact that we always put the research of innovative products as a starting point for everything we do.
To prove this, for two years Dani has been publishing its Sustainability Report: distributing it is our free choice, and represents our will of informing our stakeholders about the impact of our activities in a social and environmental context, explain our remuneration policy and commitments to employees, provide information on the relationship with customers and suppliers, and our involvement with the local community.
TSA Do you expect Zero Impact to be used by more large industry players in the future?
DANI Of course! We know for a fact that we are not the only one looking into this kind of innovation, but above all, we know that our customers are looking more and more for a partner rather than a supplier, someone that is safe and reliable, that can assure a certain level of quality, especially when it comes to what do we use to tan our leather.
TSA The fashion, leather 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?
DANI Unfortunately the past actions and the past practices undertaken by the fashion industry have not always proved them right. Is it also true, that the world as it is today cannot keep up with the increasing demand of throw away fashion: our habit has changed so much that, for a lot of people, now shopping is just a primary leisure and they want everything at a low price. The fashion industry has a very complex supply chain and, for this reason, companies should start looking at each stage and character of this: not only to reduce the use of natural resources and better select the raw material needed, but especially behaving ethically and contributing positively to the society and to the environment, everywhere in the world. It is important to pay attention to all the sustainable dimensions in order to start making the difference. When we only consider one or another, we lose something along the way and our commitment does not build as much.
TSA What do you think is the biggest obstacle to becoming a more sustainable and less harmful industry?
DANI The biggest obstacle would be not to focus on all aspects of sustainability but only on one of these. In fact, there cannot be an economy without a society, and a society cannot survive in an environment that will not last for long. We should not forget that the environment is the most important element, where everything happens and on which everything depends.
TSA What are your plans moving forward?
DANI With the project Zero Impact we would like to start a contagious activity, not only directed to our B2B customers, but also to the final consumer. We would like to bring to their attention the care and the attention we pay every day in what we do and how we do it. We are looking at the future imaging new partnership with University and research Institute, to make sure to build together innovations. We are also looking at young generations, trying to leave them with a knowledge about higher care for the society and the environment, and trying to give them the possibilities to grow with us.
TSA How can industry professionals and consumers get involved and engage with the work you are doing?
We always love to promote our “open door” policy, and one of our main aims is to welcome anyone that has is curious, or is willing to learn more about leather. We would like to invite professionals and consumers into our plants in Arzignano to experience a day at the tannery. We would like professionals to try our products while sharing the same visions and values. We are here to give you all the explanation you might need and to share our passion and our knowledge.
To find out more about DANI S.pA and their Zero Impact leather (http://www.zeroimpactleather.com & http://www.gruppodani.com)
Amanda Johnston of The Sustainable angle talks Supply chain, over consumption and researching sustainable textiles with Harpers Bazaar Argentina:
It was a great pleasure to be interviewed by Harpers Bazaar Argentina for their November issue, during my recent visit to Argentina to participate in INTERDISENO 2016, the University Network knowledge exchange program.
After a hectic day at INTI headquarters, meeting staff teams and delivering a lecture to an audience of SME's, I met with Harpers magazine's journalist and photographer in Buenos Aires' cool Palermo district to share a drink, and to talk about sustainable fashion and textiles, and consumer culture.
We discussed the main challenges facing fashion and textiles, and that our industry is ranked the second most polluting in the world. The prevailing economic system that the fast fashion system in the West is perpetrating is counter intuitive; it is the nature of this model that it needs all the time to produce more clothes, and open new stores at an ever increasing pace interested. The consumer is led to believe that clothing should be cheap in relation to other goods, so today it is very difficult to understand true value and the ecological and human cost involved in its production," The workers who are manufacture our clothes on the other side of the world often do not earn enough to live "
I explained the work of The Sustainable Angle, and our focus on spotlighting opportunities for change right the way along the supply chain, and showcasing and research into sustainable textiles from around the world. "The textile industry is an opportunity for significant change by itself, but the communication of the message has to be positive regarding the whole product cycle: We can not discharge responsibility for over consumption and fast disposal only on the consumer; all players must play a part in operating responsibly. "
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☺
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.
Last week The Sustainable Angle’s founder and director Nina Marenzi took part in a panel discussion around ‘Sustainability: Supply chain problem or design opportunity?’ as part of WGSN Futures, a series of talks and discussions which ran over two days with the theme ‘The Vision 2030: how technology will drive a more sustainable and more successful creative industry.’
Staged by the world's leading trend authority, WGSN Futures 2016 brought together leaders from fashion and the creative sectors to debate and define the key trends that will shape the industry over the next 15 years. The talks explored the major trends in design, technology & communications, consumer behaviour and retail, presented by global industry thought leaders and WGSN experts.
The flagship summit took place in London, where 300 senior-level delegates in the fields of strategy (c-suite), design, marketing, retail and digital gathered to hear WGSN's own experts and analysts and a panel of world-class industry experts share their insights.
Amy White, Christopher Raeburn, Nina Marenzi, and Orsola de Castro
The panel discussion on sustainability took place between Nina Marenzi from The Sustainable Angle, Orsola de Castro of Fashion Revolution, designer Christopher Raeburn, and Amy White from Avery Dennison, a world leader in supply chain solutions working with some of the world’s leading emerging designers to help them introduce sustainability into the design process. Last year we announced our partnership with Avery Dennison, intended to provide leading apparel brands with innovative sustainable solutions by combining the unique capabilities and expertise of each company to drive the future use of new sustainable materials in apparel branding.
The panel addressed the idea that for brands to start being more sustainable it’s key to begin by stating a vision of what they are trying to achieve to be more responsible, rather than immediately defining specific targets which may not be reachable. Design should take centre stage, with sustainability as a design constraint leading to more responsible decisions. Finally recognising the power of communication, Orsola voiced a wish that those brands already working with sustainability at the core of their business would be more vocal, coming forward to share what they already do to be more responsible – after all the industry is on a journey, for which transparency and collaboration is essential.
A few weeks ago The Sustainable Angle took part in the first "Threads: Rethinking Fashion" event hosted by Impact Hub Kings Cross and Ashoka Changemakers. The talks were designed as an exploratory series to support innovations for a fair and sustainable supply chain, covering a range of topics throughout the series.
Coinciding with London Fashion Week, the first in the series “From fibre to fabrics: Sustainable sourcing practices to procure raw materials” explored current sustainable practices, showcasing live case studies and Q&As. The featured speakers were TSA's researcher and project manager Charlotte Turner, and Christopher Stopes of Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
The event gave industry professionals, students, and those simply interested in finding out more the opportunity to learn about and discuss challenging issues and positive solutions currently facing the fashion and textiles industries, as well as discover some of the beautiful sustainable materials currently available on the international market. It was great to see the audience ranging from professionals from high-end luxury fashion brands and start-ups, to fashion students and general consumers.
To follow up this event, one of those behind "Threads", the new sustainable fashion and lifestyle website The Lissome, interviewed Charlotte to find out more about sustainable fashion and materials, sustainable sourcing and how we assess sustainability, plus emerging brands and tips for living more sustainably.
You can read the interview in full here.
At The Sustainable Angle we spend much of our time researching and sourcing both innovative and humble sustainable materials, in the interests of reducing the fashion industry's over-dependency on cotton and polyester. These materials are showcased at the Future Fabrics Expo as well as other events and workshops throughout the year, and on www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com.
Few of our discoveries have been as exciting as Piñatex by Ananas Anam, a non-woven material made from the fibre of pineapple leaves, ideal as a leather alternative for accessories including bags and footwear. We've had the pleasure of showcasing Piñatex on numerous occasions already since its launch in 2015, including at the 5th Future Fabrics Expo, INSPIRE ISPO Munich, and at our recent sustainable materials workshop hosted in conjunction with UKTI and UKFT.
We decided to interview Piñatex's creator, Carmen Hijosa, to find out more about Piñatex, and how fashion businesses and consumers can get their hands on this material.
TSA: Can you provide a brief outline about what Piñatex is and how it has evolved since its inception?
Ananas Anam: Piñatex is a natural and non-woven textile made from pineapple leaf fibres, which is the by-product of the pineapple harvest and as such Piñatex is made from an agricultural waste.
After significant research and development through a PhD at the Royal College of Art in London by Carmen Hijosa, Piñatex was launched in 2015. Today, Piñatex is developed through the company Ananas Anam, launched in 2014 by Carmen Hijosa. The company is part of the InnovationRCA department of the Royal College of Art.
Piñatex is sold only business to business, different products such as shoes, bags, accessories, clothes and furnishing products have been made from Piñatex.
TSA: It's an amazing material, what first inspired you to start develop it? Was it a desire to improve sustainability in the fashion / textiles industries or something else?
Ananas Anam: As a designer, my objective was to create a product that carried social and ecological responsibility throughout its Life Cycle, and through it, do something about how to sustain and indeed to heal planet earth through our actions, at the same time than helping the pineapple farming communities in the Philippines, where the pineapple fibres come from today.
Thanks to my research and the ethical views behind Piñatex, a new and sustainable material was created. Piñatex represents a sustainable solution in the face of today’s social and sustainable dilemmas.
TSA: Can you tell us about any positive environmental / social impacts you have seen or expect to see as a result of Piñatex?
Ananas Anam: Piñatex does not need any land, nor does it use any water, fertilizers or pesticides, as it is a waste from the pineapple harvest. This is quite unique in the textile world, especially when we consider that pineapple is the second most popular fruit in the world, and without having to plant any extra, we have an abundant source of raw material to manufacture Piñatex.
Following the Cradle to Cradle philosophy, Piñatex represents much more than a new material, it also involves a societal and civilizational change. Ananas Anam offers the opportunity to empower pineapple communities throughout the world by making them and to make them more self-reliant and sustainable, as the harvesting of the fibres gives them an added income, with extra potential to use the bio-mass left from the extraction of the fibres and convert it into organic fertilizer or bio-fuel.
TSA: At the moment Piñatex is a very new and small-scale innovation which has already generated interest from international brands. 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?
Ananas Anam: The supply chain of Piñatex is being developed with the aim to scale up and become a fully functioning industry. This is the way that everyone in the supply chain will benefit to ensure that Piñatex can become a democratic product, available not just to a few, but to everyone that cares for social and ecological issues. It is my intention to make Piñatex become a mainstream material indeed!
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?
Ananas Anam: Textiles need to minimize their negative impact in the environment. I think the most important challenge is about water, as the production of textiles requires an important quantity of water. Regarding the social challenges, there are still unfair working conditions behind the fashion brands, especially in the countries where the cheapest labour is.
TSA: What do you think is the biggest obstacle to becoming a more sustainable and less harmful industry?
Ananas Anam: My research led me to the conclusion that the success of synthetics like acrylic, nylon, polyester and polypropylene is due mainly to cost.
Within a fast-evolving fashion industry which is more and more driven by the success of fast fashion brands, the production keeps accelerating and puts priority on quantity rather than quality. However, trend analysis tends to show a change in customers’ mindset. Indeed, people pay more and more attention to who, how, where and when the clothes we wear are made.
TSA: Can you tell us about your plans moving forward?
Ananas Anam: Our objective for 2016 is to consolidate our company and strengthen our team. Once our production is fully consolidated, we intend to reach to a wider customer base, while at the same time continuing the on going Piñatex R&D, to include more textures, surface finishes, and colours to our present range.
TSA: Finally, how can industry professionals and consumers get involved and engage with the work you are doing?
Ananas Anam: Professionals can engage with Ananas Anam by creating products made of Piñatex. Consumers can get involved by following the evolution of Ananas Anam on the social media. Finally, everyone can share our message on sustainability and our social values.The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is the apparel, footwear and home textile industry’s foremost alliance for sustainability across the entire supply chain, which focuses on developing the Higg Index, a standardized supply chain measurement tool for all levels of industry. We'll be showcasing SAC at the 5th Future Fabrics Expo to help raise visibility if the coalition and its work, so ahead of this we spoke to Baptiste Carrière-Pradal, VP Europe, to find out more about SAC and the Higg Index. TSA: Can you tell us a bit about the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and what it set out to do? SAC: The Coalition’s main focus is on defining a common language for our industry: the Higg Index, a standardized supply chain measurement tool for all industry participants to understand the environmental and social and labor impacts of making and selling their products and services. By measuring sustainability performance, the industry can collaboratively address inefficiencies, resolve damaging practices, and achieve the environmental and social transparency that consumers are starting to demand. By joining forces in a Coalition, we can address the urgent, systemic challenges that are impossible to change alone. A common language is also the first step to efficient transparency. TSA: The Sustainable Apparel Coalition represents more than a third of the global apparel and footwear market, which signifies a massive number of companies and products. What do you feel this means for the potential for SAC to have a positive impact on the fashion and textiles industry, from a retailer’s and consumer’s perspective? SAC: The urgency and expanse of the sustainability issues facing the apparel, footwear and home textiles industries requires collective attention on a global scale. This is why collaboration is the heartbeat of the SAC. This collaboration enables brand to shift resources from measuring their impact to improving their social and environmental impacts. Sharing best practices allows members to implement sustainability strategies that are already tried-and-tested by their peers, saving considerable time, money and resources. Through the SAC, member driven, some of the world’s most recognized apparel brands have created the Higg, and are now deploying it in their supply chain. This cost-effective sharing can be especially beneficial to small and medium-sized businesses that also use the SAC to source supply chain partners with exceptional credentials. Brands and retailers join the SAC for access to the essential resources and support they need to credibly and effectively meet their sustainability goals. They use the Higg Index to radically simplify the process of measuring, sharing and benchmarking sustainability performance at every stage of product lifecycles or the retail value chain. This helps to precisely identify areas requiring improvement and highlight robust actions to take. Brands and retailers also join the Coalition to be part of the apparel, footwear and home textiles industry’s largest and most diverse network of people, companies, and organizations focused on creating transformative change. Finally, our members are paving the way to transparency. Once a common language will be used in the supply chain it will become the standard to communicate about factory, product and brand performance with all of the industry stakeholders. Manufacturers join the SAC to improve their sustainability performance using the Coalition’s suite of assessment tools, The Higg Index. The Higg Index radically simplifies and standardizes the process of measuring sustainability performance and sharing it with current and future partners for faster, easier evaluations. Manufacturers also join the Coalition to be part of the apparel, footwear and home textiles industry’s largest and most diverse network of players focused on creating transformative change. TSA: The Sustainable Apparel Coalition developed the Higg Index, which is a tool for measuring both the environmental and the social performance of apparel. Can you explain how it works, and how it could be used to assess the sustainability of textiles? SAC: The centerpiece of the SAC is The Higg Index, a suite of ground-breaking assessment tools that empower brands, retailers, and manufacturers to measure their environmental and social and labor impacts at every stage of the lifecycle and value chain, and then demonstrate the data in a standardized and simplified way. For those just starting to implement sustainable practices, The Higg Index guides their important first steps, helping to distinguish strengths and weaknesses in the supply chain. For those already deeply engaged, it has more advanced potential, such as benchmarking sustainability performance against other SAC members, identifying macro risks and performing targeted research and analytics. TSA: The fashion and textiles industries are globalized on a huge scale, and one of the most environmentally impactful industries out there. What do you think are the most pressing environmental and social challenges that we are facing in the industry? SAC: We have at the SAC an holistic view on those challenges, considering that each of the topics has a consequence on others and that it is only on the long run that we will collectively more towards a more sustainable industry. TSA: Where do you see the most potential for change in the fashion and textiles industries? SAC: Much progress has been made in the past decade on specific topics. However, the potential for change is huge, with a better integration of the sustainability challenges and opportunities upstream, for instance at designer level. TSA: How can industry professionals and consumers get involved and engage with the work you are doing? SAC: Open access to the individuals and organizations driving the shift to sustainable production is perhaps the greatest reward for joining the SAC. Members commit to radical cooperation to meet shared goals, peers and competitors share tried-and-tested practices and sustainability leaders help new adopters map the path forward. SAC members inform, invigorate and sustain each other along the challenging road of transforming sustainability goals into realities. No company alone can shift the existing industry paradigms. To ignite the change required to redefine the way the industry is run, peers and competitors come together as a united front, adhering to the Coalition’s set of core collaboration values that are designed to further impactful change across the industry. Through SAC membership, brands, retailers and manufacturers commit to transparency and the sharing of best practices, a full-circle collaboration that benefits all involved. While collaboration is often equated with bottlenecks and roadblocks—the opposite of targeted and effective forward momentum—the SAC has cultivated an ethos of “perfect is the enemy of good enough.” This philosophy ensures that the sharing of numerous perspectives doesn’t interfere with progress. Though the ideal solution may yet to be found, adequate alignment around next steps is good enough to keep going. This dedication to moving ahead allows the Coalition to develop and share practical tools that support the industry’s sustainability goals in a timely manner. All images sourced from http://apparelcoalition.org
written by Charlotte Turner
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 5th Future Fabrics Expo, taking place on the 29th-30th September 2015 at London Olympia Exhibition Centre, as part of Fashion SVP.
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, and in particular denim production, which has been known to have large-scale impact on water contamination and supply.
We wanted to let Kassim share their thoughts on sustainability in the textiles industry, what they are doing to help improve it, and why it's so important to them.
Read the full conversation below, and discover a range of Kassim Denim sustainable fabrics 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 ours, and projects like the Future Fabrics Expo and Future Fabrics Virtual Expo?
Kassim: Organizations like The Sustainable Angle with initiatives such as the Future Fabrics Expo are truly the organizations needed to help people move towards a greener world, and Kassim sincerely believes in making a green and pollution free world for generations to come.
TSA: The Future Fabrics Expo is based in London, and you also exhibit at trade fairs elsewhere in Europe and Asia. 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?
Kassim: Generally most people are becoming more and more aware of sustainability, regardless of which region they are in. This helps us to maintain our research on the matter and seek developments to augment the supply of these buyers’ needs for sustainable denim fabrics.
TSA: Kassim Denim produces a huge amount of denim for the global market. Can you tell us about the types of materials you produce that have a reduced environmental impact, and are there any sustainable fibres of processes you are working with that you think could be good alternatives to standard cotton denim?
Kassim: “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.
And on this we seek out the best possible alternatives, for example the use of recycled PET yarns or Tencel® to achieve a similar cotton hand feel.
TSA: How do you think we can increase the use of sustainable materials in the fashion industry?
Kassim: To do this we need to create sustainable materials that are both high quality and fashionable. So these will be made using sustainable fibers/yarns, eco-friendly processes, and less harmful chemicals, but will really appeal to customers through looking good and performing well.
TSA: Last year, Kassim Denim were sponsors of a student project on the MA Fashion and the Environment course at the London College of Fashion. Why do you feel it’s important for you and other textiles mills to engage with students, and do you think we could create more positive change by getting fashion students involved in the textiles industry earlier?
Kassim: Upcoming and young designers are those who will soon bring the world the true essence of a sustainable fashionable culture. So we believe we all need to support these rising designers in their efforts, as they will shape the industry of the future.
TSA: You have said before that textiles manufacturers need to cater to the demands of consumers – is there anything you think we should be doing to help increase consumers' demand for more sustainable materials?
Kassim: The best recourse in this matter is that organizations like yours keep communicating about these new innovations, and launch awareness campaigns to help educate the end user about the facts and pros of sustainability.Kassim Denim fabrics can be seen at the 5th Future Fabrics Expo on 29th – 30th September, London, and all year round on www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com. They can also be visited twice a year at several global trade fairs: Texworld, Munich Fabric Start, Premier Vision China, Premier Vision Istanbul, and Bangladesh Show (Dhaka). Kassim Denim are generous sponsors of the Future Fabrics Virtual Expo, and the Future Fabrics Expo.
written by Charlotte Turner
We recently had the pleasure of welcoming Leatherteq to the London College of Fashion, to debut their innovative Litehide technology for the first time in the UK. The Sustainable Angle's director Amanda Johnston hosted the evening lecture, led by Desmond Ko of Leatherteq with guest speaker Morgaine McGee, Vice President Product Development for Signal Brands, one of the world's largest global distributors for leather accessories.
The lecture was designed to engage both students, and those already working in industry, with what's involved in earlier often forgotten stages of the leather supply chain, and to find out ways we can reduce the impacts caused by existing leather preservation processes. Litehide offers a solution, as an innovative patented system designed to address the regulatory and environmental challenges now faced by the global leather industry, through reducing the impact, and increasing the performance of hide preservation.
We spoke to Desmond Ko, Leatherteq Limited's Director, to find out more about the inspiration behind Litehide, and the impact it is set to have on the leather industry.
TSA: Can you tell us what was the motivation to develop Litehide? DK: Salt is currently the main method of preserving hides. About 20lbs of salt is typically used per hide. The used salt is contaminated with biological waste material. Salt, when introduced in high quantities is detrimental to both subterranean and ground fresh water supplies. This is a problem associated with the leather industry that has not been truly addressed. Litehide is an alternative method of preservation that completely eliminates the need for salt and therefore the salt pollution issue associated with it.
TSA: We think it’s important to be clear about the language we use, so is there a way you define ‘sustainability’ in relation to your work? DK: I think more in terms of sustainable development rather than sustainability.
Borrowing a definition from the International Institute for Sustainable Development, "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:
Litehide addresses both concepts as:
TSA: With this in mind, can you tell us a bit about your goals for Litehide? DK: We have a simple goal, that is, to replace salted hides with Litehide on a global scale. To achieve that, we start with meatpackers (whom harvest the hides and traditionally salt them). Now we also share this idea with brands that collectively have the commercial authority to demand greener hides for their leather.
TSA: From the outside it looks like Litehide wasn’t a straightforward innovation to develop – how has it has evolved since its inception? DK: The vision and the strategy of the business has largely remained the same. That is to license the technology. I think the evolution is for the people that work within the company. Most of us have business or finance backgrounds. It has been a challenge for us to learn the leather business. That goes for the whole supply chain from meat packers to fashion brands. The learning curve has been steep but we have had fantastic support all along….
Luckily, Litehide, the product, has not needed to evolve from its original concept. We and our partners continue to find benefits and advantages as a better form of the same raw material.
TSA: Can you tell us about any positive impact you have seen as a result of Litehide technology? DK: We know we are impacting positively upon the global environment. Particularly rewarding is how well received Litehide is from meatpackers, tanners through to brands (these include automotive, upholstery, shoes, clothing and handbags companies). Our partners appreciate the sustainability credentials, supply chain and cost savings….
TSA: Litehide is a very specific solution for an early stage of the leather supply chain. What do you think are the most pressing environmental and social challenges in the leather industry? DK: Perhaps correctly, the world has largely focused on the tanners being the main polluting party. Most tanners are attempting to adopt the 3Rs (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle). Hence, they are able to “do something” with the tanning chemicals. However, typically 60% of the total dissolved solids of a tanner’s effluent stream come from the salt used in preservation, which they do not have much control over. Hence a technology like Litehide will help both at source (the meatpackers), at the tanner and resulting in greener leathers for the brands.
TSA: Do you think there are any aspects the industry needs to improve on overall? Not so much things for the industry to improve upon but matters for the industry to consider. I think it is unusual for someone to have access across the entire leather supply chain. We have been privileged. We see a few recurring themes….
TSA: Industry is slow to change the way things are done and the impact we are having. What do you think can be done to become a more sustainable and less harmful industry? DK: Thinking about leather, two quick fixes spring to mind. Addressing chemicals used in preservation and tanning goes a long way. Brands and consumers understanding the beauty of individual animals (with their natural flaws and all) and hence using more of the hide rather than discarding the flaws….
TSA: Can you tell us about your plans moving forward? DK: We are a new growing business. One thing we have not been doing is marketing. The lecture at London College of Fashion in March was our first “public” Litehide event. Now that we have signed up clients that will have product in the market in 2015, we are preparing to be more public about Litehide in the second half of this year.
TSA: And finally, how can industry professionals and consumers get involved and engage with the work you are doing? DK: The reality is that consumers buy finished articles and the brands source finished leather. It would be ideal if both parties can consider the leather’s origins, which in this case is the often imperfect hide and how much of a miracle tanners perform in turning these into seamless articles.
The easiest way to get involved is to contact us. We are reachable via our website www.litehide.com
written by Charlotte Turner
With only days to go before the 4th Future Fabrics Expo opens at London Olympia Exhibition Centre (28th-30th September), we're looking forward to showcasing some other organisations that are doing important work in the field of sustainable fashion and textiles, along with our core showcase of globally sourced reduced impact fabrics.
One of these organisations is Historic Futures, who have spent more than 10 years exploring value chain transparency and traceability. This work is integral to knowing more about where our products come from, how they are made, and the impact they are having on both the environment and on global communities.
Historic Futures are currently developing String3, so we spoke to co-founder and director Tim Wilson to find out more, and we found what he had to say so interesting that you can read it in full here.
TSA: What was the motivation to start Historic Futures and to work on improving supply chain transparency? HF: I had been working in the value chain / traceability area for many years and realised there were no solutions focusing simply on getting reliable data from the whole chain without linking to specific product or production systems (e.g. organic). The triggering event - to actually get started - was a conversation with Nike that demonstrated how difficult it was to collect reliable data from the value chain.
TSA: Historic Futures makes it possible for companies to collect and manage value chain data – can you tell us a bit about how you do this? The basic concept is very simple, and is analogous to situations we all face everyday. I need to speak to somebody at Company X about their new product, but I don't have their contact details. I could ask my colleague sitting next to me, who has read about Company X, what they know about this new product and just go with that. It's really quick and easy, and they probably know more than I do. But if I want to rely on the information - to write an article in the press, or to use in a presentation perhaps, then I'd want to speak to someone who really knows, inside Company X. It's the same problem with value chains. I need to know the country of origin of the raw materials used in my product - because my brand has made a commitment on this, or because the law now requires me to know. I could ask my supplier - who sells me the finished goods - that's quick and easy and they probably know more that I do, but I can't rely on the information. Our String3 system fixes that problem - I send my question to my supplier inside String3, and it provides the tools for my supplier to send it on to their supplier. There might have been several suppliers and even they don't actually work with the raw materials. String3 makes it simple for everyone to keep passing the question on until it gets to those who really know the answer. Sounds very simple, in reality the system is quite sophisticated - making sure that only the answer to the question is ever shared, not the details of each actor in the chain, keeping people informed of progress, benchmarking performance and so on.
TSA: You’re currently developing the newest phase of String, what will this be able to offer clients? HF: String3 - the service we are working on now - will make it simple and efficient for people to find information about how and where their products were made. It will save them time and provide answers which are more reliable than other methods. Interestingly it will also provide a means to benchmark supplier performance - clearly identifying which suppliers and value chains are good at providing this information, driving continuous improvement. Crucially for suppliers, the service can be used free of charge and it does not disclose sourcing details to customers - so suppliers can confidently use the system to help their customers get answers to legitimate questions about raw material country of origin or value chain certification status.
TSA: We’re looking forward to showcasing Historic Futures at the Future Fabrics Expo, which is geared towards the fashion and textiles industries – can you tell us about some of the work you have done in these industries? HF: We've been working in fashion and textiles for nearly 12 years - since the very beginnings of HF. During that time we have delivered projects for many of the world's leading brands. Those projects have ranged from strategy formulation to large scale data collection and reporting - all focused on value chain mapping, to understand how and where products were made.
TSA: Are there some positive impacts you have seen from your work that you can tell us about? HF: We've seen benefits across the entire value chain from better, bolder claims about finished goods for brands, to improved relationships between supplier and customer for sourcing agents, to improved inventory control and "right first time" rates for manufacturers. We've seen suppliers get new business through being able to deliver value chain information and improved efficiency in differentiated raw materials such as organic cotton or recycled polyester. There are many ways that reliable value chain data can deliver benefits, but the area that seems to be the most consistent across geographies and sectors is this ability to obtain reliable data - when needed - for products that contain raw materials where country of origin or compliance with some 3rd party standard is important.
TSA: What do you think are the biggest obstacles with incorporating more sustainable materials into supply chains of different sized companies? HF: Sustainable materials is a difficult term - I'm not sure anybody really knows what it means - but there are clearly important choices to be made about materials and production processes in terms of the impact they have on people, planet and profit. For buyers, understanding what's in your product - and whether it's what you specified - is a critical first step. For suppliers, being able to demonstrate good practice and regulatory compliance throughout the value chain quickly and efficiently is vital if better performing materials are to become mainstream.
You can learn about String3 at the 4th Future Fabrics Expo on 28th - 30th September at Olympia Exhibition Centre, London. We'll be showcasing the work of several organisations and projects, as well as hundreds of individually sourced and researched materials with a reduced environmental impact.
written by Charlotte Turner
Over the years we have researched thousands of sustainable textiles sourced from dozens, even hundreds of mills from around the world. However we have not until now had the opportunity to really showcase what Africa has to offer, something which is essential if we want to show what African industry is capable of, especially if it receives investment and support from the industry.
The House of Lords recently hosted a roundtable event to discuss sourcing African-Made goods, which highlighted the fact that profit to Africa is decreasing, whilst value added abroad is increasing, even though in the last decade a number of the fastest growing markets have been in Africa. This imbalance coupled with volatile cotton prices is something that the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) aims to address with its Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative, working with small holder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa to improve social, economic and ecological living conditions.
CmiA and a range of CmiA fabrics will be included in the 4th Future Fabrics Expo (28th-30th September, London), but before then we wanted to share with you everything you should know about Cotton made in Africa.
TSA: What was the motivation behind initiating CmiA? CmiA: Cotton plays a key role in fighting poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa and contributes to food security in many countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. So far, this potential has often been underused to further economic development. Volatile cotton prices and low productivity leave African smallholder farmers struggling to make a living from cotton production. Against this background, the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) and its Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative have been initiated. Since 2005, we have improved the living conditions of cotton farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa by activating market forces and creating a quality label for sustainably produced African cotton.
TSA: What are CmiA’s goals? CmiA: The goal of CmiA is to improve the social, economic and ecological living conditions of smallholder cotton farmers and their families in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our commitment is not based on donations, but rather, on the principle of helping people to help themselves through trade: African smallholders learn about efficient and environmentally friendly cotton cultivation methods through agricultural training provided by our experts. At the same time, we establish an international alliance of textile companies which purchase the CmiA raw material and pay a licensing fee to use the label. Income from licensing fees, are reinvested in the project regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. At the end, CmiA farmers and their families profit from these investments. The underlying philosophy is already reflected in the name of the Foundation - "Aid by Trade". Additionally, Cotton made in Africa’s purpose is to give African cotton the recognition it deserves in international trade and to lend a positive, recognizable "face" to a hitherto anonymous mass product.
TSA: Can you tell us more about the cotton industry in Africa? CmiA: Almost 10% of the world's cotton production is grown and harvested in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is the fifth largest cotton exporter worldwide. Following the USA, India, Australia and Brazil around 2.2million smallholder farmers in West and South-East Africa cultivate cotton. Often it is grown on small lots and in rotation with staple foods, such as grain, corn and peanuts, within the context of very diversified production systems. Although cotton is one major cash income, 80% of the African cotton farmers have an income per day of less than 1.5USD. By means of CmiA, the Aid by Trade Foundation tries to support cotton farmers. The initiative strengthens their resilience towards external effects like volatile prices and increasingly adverse climate changes that keep them from improving their living conditions and that of future generations ensure their food supply and preserve their health as well as the environment.
TSA: Can you give some examples of the effect CmiA has on farmers, the environment, and local economies? CmiA: Since 2005, CmiA has created a large impact on cotton farmer’s lives and that of their families because the focus of our work are the people in the growing countries in Africa. As an inclusive standard relying on a constant improvement plan for participating farmers, the initiative has become a major player in the cotton sector across Sub-Saharan Africa. Whereas CmiA started with 150,000 in three African countries in 2007, the initiative expanded its work to up to now more than 415,000 smallholders in six Sub Saharan African countries. Family members included more than three million people profit from CmiA. Due to training in efficient and modern cultivation methods CmiA farmers have been enabled to increase their crop yields compared to a control group that is not part of the initiative by an average of 23% and thus to also improve their income. By working with CmiA, the employees in the ginneries benefit from fair contracts and prompt payment. Through community projects, CmiA improves the educational infrastructure in the project regions, ensures a better drinking water supply and strengthens the rights of women. These projects that go beyond pure cotton cultivation strengthen the local community and contribute directly to improving the living conditions of African cotton farmers and their families. Additionally, CmiA has a proven significantly better environmental footprint than conventionally grown cotton. As CmiA cotton is exclusively grown under rain-fed conditions, it thereby saves around 1,500 litres of water translated to the amount of cotton required to make a t-shirt. During the cultivation of the raw material, conventionally grown cotton produces 2.4 times more greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of cotton fibre than CmiA.
TSA: What are your plans moving forward? CmiA: Our plan moving forward it to expand the positive effects of CmiA on the cotton industry to the textile industry on the African continent. We aim to use our experiences to support the establishment of a sustainable textile value chain in Africa. As major international textile retailers increasingly look to diversify their sourcing, we see many opportunities for Africa’s textile to capture parts of these markets. CmiA together with its partners are therefore pro-actively promoting the concept of “Textiles made in Africa” produced for African markets as well as for export.
TSA: How do you think initiatives like the Future Fabrics Expo can help organizations such as yours? CmiA: For us, the Future Fabrics Expo is very important as it offers the chance to create awareness for our CmiA quality label on the UK market. Thanks to the expo, we can directly interact with companies and other members of the textile value chain who are searching for an optimal solution for ecological and ethical challenges within the textile value chain. Why? We are the first initiative that made it possible to introduce sustainable cotton into the mass market and thereby create a win-win situation for every participant – from cotton farmers to textile companies and consumers worldwide. Cotton farmers and their families profit from license fees retailers pay for purchasing CmiA cotton as we re-invest the income from license fees in the project regions. Partnering textile companies obtain cotton produced under socially and environmentally improved conditions without having to pay a significantly higher price. They can thus achieve their sustainability as well as accountability goals. Consumers can directly support African smallholder farmers and their families by purchasing CmiA labelled products. With every purchase, they make a valuable contribution to Africa’s long-term future.
TSA: How can industry professionals and consumers get involved and engage with the work you are doing? CmiA: Industry professionals and consumers can get involved in various ways: You can register for our CmiA newsletter to stay informed about our work or follow us on Youtube, Facebook or Twitter. In addition, you have the chance to support our work by purchasing CmiA labelled products. Finally yet importantly, interested companies or traders can make a valuable contribution to the future of hundreds of thousands of people in Africa by becoming partner of our initiative and purchasing the CmiA verified cotton.
You can see a range of CmiA fabrics and find out more at the Future Fabrics Expo, 28th – 30th September, London.
written by Charlotte Turner
Kassim Denim is a pioneering vertically integrated denim mill from Pakistan, and long time supporter of the Future Fabrics Expo and The Sustainable Angle. Kassim Denim develop, innovate, and produce an extensive range of denims, many made with organic cotton and cellulosic fibres, finished using low impact processes.
Kassim Denim have worked with some of the world’s leading denim brands, so we has a conversation with Sohail Ahmed, Kassim Denim’s market developer, to find out the latest news on what the company is doing to reduce it’s environmental impact, and instead create positive change for the company and the environment that hosts it.
Read the full conversation below, and discover a range of Kassim Denim sustainable fabrics at www.futurefabricsvirtualexpo.com.
TSA: Can you tell us what your role is, and how you are involved in improving sustainability within your company, and in the textiles industry? KD: As a market developer it’s my task to keep our administration updated on matters of sustainability, whether it be sustainable processing, or sustainable raw materials like yarns, dyes and chemicals.
TSA: What first inspired Kassim Denim to start working on improving sustainability in the textiles industry? KD: Our motivation... “Sustainable, environmentally responsible, green management” are the key factors to Kassim Denim's endeavors to produce the best denim fabrics while maintaining the true essentials of being eco-friendly, to match up with the drive to consumer product sustainability.
Each of these three perspectives is an integral part 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.
We travail to implement sustainability-focused initiatives along our entire supply chain, both upstream and downstream.
TSA: Can you tell us a bit about what Kassim Denim is doing to be more sustainable? KD: We keep a stringent vigilance to environmental, health and safety-driven issues, and always take immediate initiative on new regulations like restricting toxic chemicals, innovations in toxic disposal etc. We have committed ourselves to minimize our carbon footprint, in addition to other major concerns such as energy use, material and water resource use, and waste management.
TSA: What do you hope your initiatives and products will change and improve? KD:
TSA: What do you think are the most pressing environmental and social challenges in the industry currently? KD: We look at the impact textile production has on global climate change. We equate climate change with our own lives and base this on studies of just how the changes will impact us directly, that wet regions will be wetter, causing flash flooding; dry regions will get drier, resulting in drought. And … a heat wave that used to occur once every 100 years now happens every five years. Most of the current focus on the carbon footprint revolves around transportation and heating issues, and the modest little fabric all around seems to be unseen. But we at Kassim Textiles see it as a gigantic carbon footprint. The textile industry is the 3rd largest contributor to CO2 emissions in Pakistan, after primary metals and nonmetallic products and their exhausts.
TSA: What do you think is the biggest obstacle to becoming a more sustainable and less harmful industry? KD: The biggest obstacle to sustainability is greed. The race to make more and more money with minimum expenses. And to top it all the total lack of respect of the nature and turning a blind eye to the future of this planet.
TSA: What positive developments have you seen in the industry over the years? KD: In the years I have been working here at Kassim and also observing industrial changes, though very slow paced, there is a definite awaking to the realities of the dangers to the environment. The bodies working for environmental protection have gained the voice to bring their point to the consumers, who in turn are now demanding eco-friendly and sustainable products from the producers.
TSA: In your opinion, will it be the consumer who will facilitate the change in the supply chain, or will it be the design and manufacturing industry? KD: Designing and manufacturing is always dependent on the consumers wants and demands, hence it’s the consumer who will initiate the want, and the manufacturer shall have to cater to these demands.
They can also be visited twice a year at several global trade fairs: Texworld, Munich Fabric Start, Premier Vision China, Premier Vision Istanbul, and Bangladesh Show (Dhaka).
written by Charlotte Turner
As one of the companies featured on our sustainable textiles sourcing website Future Fabrics Virtual Expo, we wanted to introduce natural dye studio Bougainvillea Couture, which was founded in 2011 by UK based and renowned textile designer Luiven Rivas-Sanchez. Bougainvillea Couture produces limited edition ranges of sustainable luxurious fashion accessories, ensembles and fabrics using premium natural materials, responsibly and globally sourced from all over the world.
We spoke with Luiven to find out more about Bougainvillea Couture, sustainability in relation to textiles production and finishing, and what needs to improve in the fashion and textile industry.
Luiven explained that "Bougainvillea Couture engages in holistic and generative textile processes that transcend design trends. We work with a dedicated team of textile experts, designers, artists and practitioners. Together, we source the finest fabrics worldwide to selectively and sustainably hand dye and treat cloth. With craftsmanship and intimacy at the helm, every fabric and accessory created under the Bougainvillea Couture label, meets with uncompromising standards of sustainable assurance and ethical excellence, key factors we believe have been stripped away by a fashion industry with imperatives leaning towards speed and low cost."
You can read the full conversation below...
TSA: What was the motivation to start Bougainvillea Couture? BC: Being trained in design, the motivation to found Bougainvillea Couture was firstly based mainly on aesthetics. However, as we became more aware of textile pollution, our design ethos and rationale consequently changed.
TSA: How has your work with natural dyes evolved since its inception? BC: Our work with natural dyes has come a long way. We are in a position to develop dyeing strategies and invest in lower impact methods of fabric production. It is a team effort that requires constant research and nourishment.
TSA: What first inspired you to start working on improving sustainability in the fashion / textiles industries? BC: Colour, and the way it can be used to improve textile dyeing strategies without compromising the environment.
TSA: Can you explain how do you classify ‘sustainability’ in relation to your work? BC: At Bougainvillea Couture, we aim to be as innovative and sustainable as we possibly can, for us sustainability means the ability to design and produce high end fabrics using low impact dyeing methods and techniques.
TSA: Can you provide an outline of your project? BC: Our project is based on long term ideals. We have a vision to develop a range of sustainable fabrics and fashion accessories for men and women using sustainable guidelines. We work closely with practitioners and suppliers and have huge respect for them. It is part of the sustainable strategy we support, and one of the reasons that makes us proud of what we do and produce.
TSA: What do you hope the work of Bougainvillea Couture will improve in the industry? BC: Because of the amount of chemical dyeing processes remaining unchanged, with critical high levels of pollution still affecting our eco-systems, we hope that our revised dyeing guidelines will eventually make a difference.
TSA: Can you tell us about any positive impact you have seen from your work? BC: Yes, the way our customer base see textiles through our work is slowly changing. They understand more about how it is made and are more respectful of our ideals and goals.
TSA: What do you think are the most pressing environmental and social challenges in the industry currently? BC: Chemical pollution is still top of the agenda, the elevated cost of sustainable organic materials, and lack of respect towards the lower tier members of the supply chain continue to negatively affect the industry. Practical and feasible changes are needed to achieve higher standards of textile and social sustainability.
TSA: What would you like to see happen more in the fashion and textiles industries? BC: We would like more comprehensive dialogue and collaborations between textile manufacturers, suppliers, scientists, designers and consumers.
TSA: Are there any common misconceptions about sustainability in fashion and textiles that you’d like to talk about? BC: There is this huge misconception that sustainability is fashion exclusive and part of a trend. To us, sustainability means consumption in dire need of reassessment, purely to avoid further environmental disasters, if not for us, for future generations. To widely address and embrace sustainable issues, the industry and consumers need to take a more holistic approach to clothing.
TSA: Do you see designers and practitioners becoming more sustainable in your eyes, and how? BC: The potential is huge, but only if their general views of sustainability are pragmatic and their goals are realistically achievable, slow and long term planning is part of our mantra.
TSA: In your opinion, who will primarily facilitate change in the supply chain? BC: We believe the biggest onus lies within the manufacturing industry, but designers need to work closely with them, it needs to be a symbiotic relationship. The consumer tends to be price driven.
TSA: Do you have any events or courses coming up where people can connect with you? BC: Yes, we have started running sustainable dyeing workshops, and have plans to develop and expand on this.
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 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.
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.
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.