It is common knowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic is upending the fashion industry. From a 27-30% global revenue contraction to mass amounts of employees being furloughed, the fashion industry has taken a serious hit. So what are sustainable fashion companies doing to stay afloat? It would be natural to think that one of the first things to go in a time like this are their sustainable and ethical practices that are more expensive than their alternatives. Examples of this may be producing at manufacturing facilities that don’t enforce fair wages, benefits for workers, and other ethical practices or perhaps switching from organic cotton to regular cotton to cut costs and save money during this financial crisis. Anything to avoid bankruptcy, right? Looking at a few different companies that employ sustainable and ethical practices, their experience took a different turn and the reasons might surprise you.
We answer this question from square one which is, making anything will have an impact on the earth and therefore inextricably be unsustainable. However, because we deeply believe you cannot abate the human desire to create we would rather find the most sustainable route to do so and steer creators toward that greener pasture. So here we are, how do we find sustainable packaging that can ship our products safely yet disintegrate reliably? Let's dig in.
By Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, Lincoln Sarnoff Consulting
In January 2019, CGS reported that 68% of customers prioritize sustainability when making purchasing decisions. And in a recent Gallup poll, 73% of millennials – a group that’s worth $1 trillion in consumer spending – said they’d spend more for sustainable products. Companies are responding by shifting to more transparent and sustainable supply chains and manufacturing systems (like THR3EFOLD). But what about shipping those products to customers? Aside from utilizing more sustainable packaging, the impact of transport – from air freight to delivery truck – historically has been difficult to avoid. Until cleaner transportation exists what can we do in the meantime to offset all these carbon emissions as an industry?
It has become a sad joke in the fashion industry, that if you want to see what colors are trending for the season, just look at the color of the river next to your garment factories. As fashion is finally working to make changes to be more ethical and sustainable, the textile dyeing process is one of the biggest areas with cause for concern. The standard dyeing process requires tons of water, energy, and chemicals. In response, the Chinese government has been cracking down and "in the summer of 2017, tens of thousands of China’s factories were forced to close and undergo environmental inspections." (Melody M. Bomgardner) In fact, "60% of China’s denim-dyeing chemical capacity has been shuttered, equal to roughly 30% of global capacity." Dalton Cheng says, Cheng heads a digital textile printing facility which offers a great alternative to reducing chemical and water waste, but we were curious what natural dyeing options there might be. We are introducing the alternative options to dye textile in the sustainable ways which focusing on the way to reduce use of chemicals.
"According to the Ocean Conservancy, in less than 10 years, scientists predict there will be 250 million metric tons in the ocean and by 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish" (Independent). You may hear about our global plastic epidemic on a daily basis, but do you actually know what you can do about it beyond carrying around metal straw? Sustainable business can feel a lot more overwhelming since the consumer side of the conversation is more common, but that doesn't mean that sustainable business solutions don't exist. To make it easy, we've put together a sustainable fashion brand checklist for you to be plastic free in 2020.
Levi's estimates it takes 998 gallons of water to make one pair of jeans. This is crazy. The process of making denim is notorious for a massive waste of water, excessive chemical use, and little use of recycled material. But here's how one company is using technology to produce denim with one glass of water.
By Michael Menninger, Founder & CEO, Far From Lost
Brands come to us all the time looking to source deadstock fabric and be more sustainable, but then they stop short when they realize they cannot find the exact fabric they want. The biggest problem with our current design model, is when you come up with the product idea first, you have to then source new fabric to fit the exact vision you have in your mind. This perpetuates our massive waste problem in the fashion industry. To be more sustainable you have to design differently. By using design thinking you can design FOR deadstock fabric and still build a successful sustainable fashion brand to scale. Here's a real life example of how one man did just that with the brand Far From Lost.
Thanks to the success of Reformation, deadstock fabric is a hot topic in the fashion industry right now, and for good reason. Pre-consumer textile waste is at an all time high as is (finally) the conversation around fashion's negative impact on the planet (duh). But there's a MASSIVE problem in deadstock fabric really getting a chance to reduce textile waste and it's this: you are designing wrong for deadstock fabric. We promise you will love this - let's dive in.
By Addison Martin, Brand Coordinator, THR3EFOLD
If you’re someone who is looking to start an ethical and sustainable fashion business, take your business in a more conscious direction, or just want to dip your toe in to learn more, here' some free resources you might want to check out.
By Nicole Adalmo, The Natural Edition
The Natural Edition is a collection of elevated basics created for the conscious consumer. From the start, our mission was to do things that we believed were better: materials sourced sustainably, manufacturing that does not harm people or the planet, quality that lasts, and products designed to make you feel good.
For sourcing, we were able to find suppliers and manufacturers that only worked in the sustainable and ethical space and they were a big help guiding us on our product development. However, when we began to assess our shipping strategy, we hit a dead end. The only option our suppliers had was a plastic polybag. They had not been able to solve this problem, so we got to work researching truly sustainable options for packaging, and here's what we found.