We all know the issue: too much fast fashion, toxic products and irresponsible design and manufacture. The goal of this page is to collect a list of those apparel brands that are working in a truly sustainable manner.
As mentioned in my spiel as to why OTHeR LIVES exists, I’ll first and foremost highlight Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certified products. Very roughly, C2C means that products have been developed without the use of toixc chemicals, using renewable energy and/or carbon offsetting, under humane conditions; and with the view to their further lifecycles, whether they be going back as technological or biological nutrients, or a combination of both.
In the follow up posts, I’ll suggest some sustainable stopgaps for items not covered by C2C certification, and offer ways you can actively help to foster positive change.
If a product you’re looking at is not certified by C2C or GOTS (the global organic textile standard), I would be wary of its merit. A few years back, I conducted some research into fibers and many – even the ones like bamboo, which I thought would be green goodies – were rather greenwashers. I’ll repost this article anon.
Until recently, I would never have thought about renting my clothes. I couldn’t see the sense in it. However, after clearing out my wardrobe for the umpteenth time, and wondering what to do with the fallout; and fed up of buying items, which I buy because I can’t live without, wear once and then discard in a hateful heap, I’m coming round to the idea.
The Cradle to Cradle duo also raised the interesting concept of changing the way we interact with products. Why should we buy them and then be left with them at the end of their lives, when we don’t know what to do with them? Wouldn’t it be better – for us and the companies who can benefit from the return of raw materials, for instance – if there were a system in place, which would take these finished-with products off our hands? Yes, I reply. Yes it would!
If you have any suggestions, comments, additions or feedback, let me know in the comments below or send me an email :)
The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute has a directory listing all their certified products.
Overall, there are 40 certified products in the area of fashion and textiles, which includes raw material, fabrics, yarn, threads, dyes and finishes, and apparel. As I am a terrible creator of things, I shall focus on the latter. However, if you are good with a needle and thread, definitely check out the other categories.
Calida is a Switzerland-based underwear/loungewear brand for children, women and men that has long embraced sustainability as one of its core values. Its production is predominantly focused in Hungary, while 75% of its fabrics reportedly come from Switzerland, Germany and Austria. It has recently rolled out a fully compostable t shirt via its I LOVE NATURE range, which you can either compost at home or take back to the store when you are finished with it. A spokeswoman for the brand told OTHeR LIVES that is gearing up to launch further products in the range later this year. It also offers a host of other products that include MADE IN GREEN eco fabrics, for instance.
Austria-based Wolford is another underwear brand, which has embraced C2C. It sells luxury products, which have been manufactured in Europe. Its certified products currently include: Legwear, seamless, tight, hosiery, lingerie, bodysuits, ready to wear, shapewear & accessories. It is fairly pricey, however. On it’s website, it states,
“After the life cycle of your item has naturally come to an end, the products can be returned to our Wolford own stores. In return you will receive a 10% DISCOUNT on the next Cradle to Cradle® product. We will bring the piece to an industrial composting station and the Aurora products will begin a new life as nutrients for our planet, such as humus and bio gas.”
I was most surprised to discover that C&A is also on the C2C case! While it has not been on my radar as a shopping destination in the past, due to my misguided notions that it was also a greenwasher, I’m now definitely interested in what it has to offer! Check out what it’s doing in terms of sustainability in generaland C2C specifically. Currently i’s selling such products in Europe, Brazil and Mexico.
It also addresses the issue of having the right infrastructure in place for the take back of clothing once we have finished with it. Here’s a quote from the website and a link for further reading:
“One of the most important steps on this journey is the development of an effective collection and sorting system around the globe to increase the collection rate of used garments, which currently stands at just 25% worldwide [SOURCE: Ellen MacArthur Foundation]. If the industry doesn’t develop a strong collection system, we will not be able to build a circular industry.
In Europe, our take-back programme is called WeTakeItBack and is run in collaboration with I:CO, a global solutions provider for clothing, footwear and other textiles collection, reuse and recycling. For every full bag of clothes and shoes they bring back, customers receive a 15% discount on their next C&A item.”
In partnership with Fashion for Good and with the support of McDonough Innovation, Eco Intelligent Growth (EIG) and McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC), C&A also released this report on Developing C2C certified jeans.
4. MUD JEANS
Mud Jeans is a great company, which embraces the principles of the circular economy. You can rent your jeans (GOTS certified) and, whenever you’re done with them, you return them. They’ll either be resold as vintage and named after you, or shredded and reprocessed as cotton fibre. Cool! They have stores worldwide and also operate online.
5. PACIFIC JEANS
Pacific Jeans supplies denims to a number of the leading global fashion retailers, including Zara, H&M, GAP, American Eagle Outfitters, Mango and Marks & Spencer. Sustainability and social issues are high on its business agenda, and it has a number of responsible sourcing initiatives and certifications, including C2C. Unfortunately, it is not clear from its website, if all its products are C2C certified and, if not, which retailers are using the certified ones. On the C2C website, the only information I could glean was: “Men & women denim pants, with two shades each, and with all sizes.” Overall, it has a capacity to produce 36 million pairs of jeans a year and employs 26,000 people. These guys are definitely on my list to interview for more info.
6. JOHANN MUELLER
For those of you searching for baby scarves, Hauptli Haus by Johann Mueller is one sustainable place to go. This company is also based in Switzerland, with production taking place at a family-run mill. It has received C2C certification for its scarves.
Watch out for the next post, which will list some sustainable stopgap solutions.
And as always, if you have any comments, additions or feedback, let me know in the comments below :)