How I'm making fashion sustainable
I feel a lot of anxiety about making clothes in a world that needs to consume less clothes. I recently read Overdressed: the Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline where she illustrates the single-use throwaway nature of the current fashion industry and it struck me right through the heart. I wanted to share with you how carefully I consider my contribution to the industry and my impact on the environment.
All of my fabrics are at least 95% natural fibers that will biodegrade with time. This is a piece of my linen/cotton fabric that I dropped in my worm compost bin a couple of weeks ago. Moisture, bacteria, and little wigglers sped up the decomposition. It was disintegrating in my hands as I washed the dirt off! (I tried this a couple of months ago, but that piece had completely decomposed and I couldn't find a trace of it!)
The other <5% of fibers is usually lycra or spandex, both synthetic (a form of plastic) fibers. They give stretchy fabrics their "regain" which is a fancy term which means that it snaps back into shape. I'm always on the lookout for a 100% natural knit that won't stretch out of shape. I'm bringing back the 100% cotton knit from last winter for some new cozy styles that I'm really excited about!
The only exception is my swimsuit which is 100% lycra. There really are no good alternatives for swimwear. You need all of that regain to keep your soggy suit from sagging! I know that you're going to go swimming and you're going to buy a swimsuit, so I made mine well. The stitching and the classic style will hold up for years.
I'm also changing my packaging from plastic mailers to biodegradeable 100% recycled Kraft cardstock mailers. It will look prettier when it hits your doorstep, and the packaging won't outlive the garment.
Lastly, I don't overproduce. Clothing is so abundant that third world countries can't absorb all of our second-hand donations. Clothing is so devalued that fashion brands have been known to burn unpopular backstock, including H&M which burned 19 tons of clothing in 2017 alone. In contrast, I make small runs of each style and sew replacements as garments sell. Online orders are often made to order. This way I can react to consumer demand and have very little backstock left at the end of each season. I treasure the resources that have been entrusted to me.