There is no sustainable way to support the modern thirst for a ‘current’ wardrobe. Clothing is produced and discarded quicker than we can find water to grow the cotton and landfill in which to throw the pieces we’re bored of. As we come to learn that clothing production threatens more than just our human resources, perhaps it’s time that we consider the make-do-and-mend approach of previous generations?
There are some innovators who are focused on affecting change within the fashion industry. Attempting to look at clothing production holistically — from the factories to the workers to the chemicals contained in their dyes. Ultimately though, production of any kind which uses new materials and natural resources is a heavy tax on the earth. So the brands that ought to be of real interest are the ones choosing to use what already exists, the leftovers. And they are out there.
Ecoalf is founder Javier Goyeneche’s direct response to the issue of global waste. Founded in 2009 — a product of revolutionary technology and new generation ideals — it manufactures clothing and accessories entirely from recycled materials. The brand gained B Corporation certification in 2018, making them one of only two and a half thousand companies, globally, to be recognised for their compromise in favour of the planet. Other commendable feats include the launch of the Ecoalf Foundation; working in collaboration with the HAP Foundation to clean up the world’s oceans, and countless campaigns with notable brands and influencers — drawing mainstream consumer gaze towards sustainable living. Their stores sell not only sustainable clothing but the idea of a more sustainable life, through design, architecture and considered literature.
Part of the World Fair Trade Organisation and one of the Soil Association’s certified organic manufacturers, People Tree were one of the first clothing brands to ‘put Fair Trade producers, garment workers, artisans and farmers at the forefront of the brand’. They were one of the first organisations in the world to achieve the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and they use only safe dyes in their production. Though not primarily a recycled brand, People Tree look to source recycled and natural materials over synthetics and non-biodegradables. Not a perfect solution, but a step toward a more sustainable method of fashion manufacture.
Nudie manufactures with 95.7% sustainable materials; including recycled wool and polyester. The cotton used is 100% certified — non-toxic — organic, and to underline their campaign against needless waste, each pair of jeans purchased comes with free repairs, forever. The marketing message is resolutely one of ‘jeans for life’, reinforced by the second line of Nudie recycled denim: the Re-use collection.
Not only mindful of reusing the waste produced by others in the fashion industry; Indian brand Doodlage takes care to leave no trace of its own discarded materials behind. What’s left over after the manufacture of apparel is repurposed into ‘texture panels’, which are then made into its second line of soft furnishings. ‘Waste’ fabric scraps are used to make their bags and even clothing tags — so no thread is rendered useless. Doodlage source some of their material from collection drives, stoked by public social media campaigns; aiming to fully close the loop on fashion production in the near future.
Korean brand Re;code seeks out material destined for the incinerator and repurposes it into wearable, re-useful, garments. Their collections ‘Military’, ‘Industrial’ and ‘Inventory’ are just that — off-cuts of industries that no longer want them. Old parachute and military tent fabrics are given a new lease of life and are durable enough to last. High-quality industrial materials from airbags and car seats are redesigned as apparel and accessories, as are defective fabrics which would otherwise have been discarded before making it so far as the rails. It’s a far cry from hessian trousers; designed in the classically minimal, boxy, Asian genre.