Sustainable brands, everywhere?
So, after all this talk about sustainable brands, there should be loads of them. Sustainability in fashion is good for the environment, and everyone is realizing this and implementing change, aren’t they?
The answer, unfortunately, is no. A recent report showed that only 1% of new clothing introduced in the first half of this year in the US were sustainably made.
Consumers might be demanding change, but retailers are not yet all on board. In fact, most of them are still only looking at the ship on the horizon through binoculars!
Luckily, there is the 1% that feel passionate about the issue. More and more ethical brands are born in the US, and hopefully, the small wave will become a big one.
We believe that sustainability is on the rise. The industry must act, as research is showing that sustainability in the consumer's eye is starting to equal 'good business.'
This blog looks at a few activewear brands within America that are doing it right.
A short recap on the problem
Sustainability in a nutshell
The fashion industry has an enormous carbon footprint – some say it is more than 1 billion metric tons every year. This excludes water contamination, too much cheap clothing ending up in landfills, labor abuse, and micro-fibers scattered everywhere.
We want our fashion industry to be addressing these problems. We want them to try and lessen damages. We want them to tell us:
- Where our clothes are being made
- If unions are looking out for workers
- If they are audited regularly
- What chemicals they are using
- If they are following good quality water practices
It must not be empty words. Many large brands are jumping on the 'green' bandwagon, but are not applying it to their overall business model.
Sustainable Activewear Brands
The brands we are looking at pledged to use organic materials, installed ethical labor conditions, and friendly production cycles. They use less water and have shorted their supply chains to reduce their overall carbon footprint.
The Curated is a sustainable online label. The concept is simple: they work together with small factories and source leftover fabrics.Quantities are limited, but it makes their brand very exclusive.
Their focus is on 'long-term investment' pieces. They see this focus as ethical, as it forces consumers to invest in staples that they can wear for many years, rather than selecting quick-cycle clothing.
The brand has recently shifted to a pre-order model, making it even more sustainable. This means that there are no excess items and no waste.
Look at their products here: https://shopthecurated.net/pages/concept
This company ticked off all the 'sustainability' boxes.
- They use organic cotton instead of conventional cotton.
- They recycle almost 2 million plastic bottles to create eco-alternative fabrics.
- The dyes they use have a low impact, and their fabric softeners are bio-gradable.
- They use reclaimed water.
- Even their packaging is eco-friendly.
The majority of their factories are WRAP-certified, which means that the independent non-profit company, WRAP, with offices all over the world, declared their manufacturing safe, humane, ethical, and lawful.
Alternative Apparel can truly stand behind their mission of loving the planet and of being mindful of the impact that they have on it. Their best-sellers are t-shirts, jogger pants, hoodies, and pull-overs.
Athleta is part of a group of more than 3 000 companies that are certified as being 'B-Corporations.'
These companies are considerate. They think about their impact on workers, suppliers, the community, and the environment. There is a right balance between profit and purpose.
This activewear company has lofty, commendable goals:
- Currently, they've empowered more than 3200 women in the workplace. Their goal is 10 000 women in 2020. This means to give them opportunities to better their education, life skills- and leadership abilities.
- 60% of the materials they use are sustainable. They aim to up this to 80% in 2020.
- They try and save water. Currently, 4% of the items they make are made with water-saving techniques. This must get to 25% in 2020.
- 70% of their waste is not going to landfills anymore. The aim is 80% in 2020.
Read more about this innovative brand here: www.athleta.gap.com
This company is situated in Los Angeles, California. The words they use to describe themselves on their website is 'vertically-integrated,' 'local,' and 'traceable.'
Grocery Apparel is aware of the lifecycles of all their garments and fabrics – as they state it 'from farm to factory.'
- They support family farms and pay decent living wages.
- They believe in fair: fair trade, appropriate conditions, and fair treatment.
- They have a short, locally based supply chain so that they can follow through on their promises.
- They use 100% certified organic cotton, Tencel Lyocell, recycled plastic- and cotton, hemp, and vegetable dyes in the making of their activewear.
Read more here: https://groceriesapparel.com/pages/about-us
This company is doing a lot in the name of sustainability.
- Their factories are socially responsible and safe.
- They use recycled fabrics to manufacture their brand.
- Water use is closely monitored.
- They believe in equality and human rights.
Their garments are produced to last and to be environmentally friendly. Best-sellers include leggings, sweatpants, hoodies, shorts, tops, and bras.
Read more about this company situated in Austin, Texas: https://www.outdoorvoices.com/
No sweatshops or child-labor for this brand! Pact boasts of being the world's first guilt-free fashion brand. They also use organic cotton, no harmful chemicals, and less water.
They want you to think about what you buy and value it. This is where sustainability starts. Choices have a significant impact, and it is where all of us should jump from. A closet should no longer be something just to shove clothes in. It should be mindfully managed.
Pact promotes 'sustainable fashion for all.' Their clothing items are exclusively organic cotton and include activewear across the range for men, women, children, and babies.
See their beautiful activewear here: https://wearpact.com/about
This company upcycles fishing nets, water bottles, and other ocean waste into a recycled polyester. Some of their profits are even donated to help clean up the oceans further.
Girlfriend Collective focuses on fibers that can be 'sorted out' and re-used. This is why you can 'send in your old Girlfriend' and receive a $15 gift card in return. The recycled clothes are shredded, and the fibers regenerated to make new pieces.
They also sell a micro-fiber filter from their website that can be used with a home washing machine. Micro-fibers from synthetics can be 'caught' and disposed of before it lands up in the water.
Read more about their innovative approach here: https://www.girlfriend.com/
One can't help to admire the passion and the drive of these sustainability-driven companies. They genuinely believe that one small step now and have considerable repercussions in the future. We salute you!
You, dear reader, can make a difference by buying in into the mind shift. Buy your activewear to last. Support these companies.
Our support means that they can keep on doing what they are doing and perhaps even do more. It may be a drop in the bucket in overall sustainability, but together we can make a difference.