Sustainability is one of those terms that everyone uses (especially in the world of conscious fashion), but there isn’t a set definition readily available. For all its broad ambiguity, or rather because of it, it is also one of those terms that everyone has an opinion on.
A quick Google search will show that there are plenty of existing articles writing their take on sustainable fashion, so we won’t do a recap of that. Instead, we wanted to turn the tables around for a change and see what our community had to say.
So we asked our #mattertribe — what does sustainability mean to you?
“Sustainability is pragmatism, it’s smart and responsible decisions in the creative process but also in your daily life. That means being aware and educated about our world, about environment, about pollution, about people and always try to make the best choice in order to protect but also improve our communities.” – @victoiremaureau
“Natural fibers, quality materials, outside of “trends”, clothes that I will wear years to come and once I am done, I recycle them and my clothes won’t hurt the environment.” – @maimup
“Sustainability should especially concern the environment and question the impact on it. Sustainable clothing should be free from chemicals, pesticides and instead use natural + recyclable materials. It’s about producing timeless styles, free from trends, so that the pieces can be worn for many many years. The fast fashion industry turned two seasons into 52. That’s just wrong. Less is more.” – @melliandsophie
“Using resources in a way, and at a rate, that if we continue to do so will not harm the earth, soil, forest, etc.” – @bridgetownbells
“To me it’s about thinking holistic, a whole. When I look at an item I want to buy, I’m thinking what is the material, where is it coming from, who might have made it, is the price realistic or to cheap, is the brand okay and lastly can I live with the item after going through this scenario or would it make me sad.” – @stinemadvig
“Limiting mass consumerism and understanding the real history of the Industrial Revolution. Moderation is key, to me.” – @sshaunna_mc
“Sustainability means to me that we live on. That we can continue doing what we’re doing for many generations to come. If what we are doing is only short term, then it’s not sustainable. Sustainability is long term thinking. It’s planning for life to go on. Not just our life, but all life.” – @sophia.lightfoot
And now we’re going to throw our two cents into the pot.
First, a little context: ethical textile is at the core of our beliefs, we began with a passion for sharing traditional textile techniques as well as the stories of people who made them and the culture they live in. Sustainability, naturally, was a pillar to that – although what it meant to us became more complex over time.
There is no clear cut definition but the way we see it, sustainability is a journey with the actions taken shaping its impact. It’s about the decisions we make everyday, as individuals and businesses, that come together to collectively affect greater change. Beyond our commitment to ethical production and eco-friendly materials, we’ve aligned ourselves with sustainable practices across our production and design process. We see it as a start to finish thing. Meaning, from design, raw material production, marketing and final sale, to use, reuse, repair, remake and recycling of the product and its packaging – every detail is thoroughly considered.
Here’s what that looks like:
We design our garments with a minimal waste approach, a method that reduces textile waste in the design to pattern cutting process. Our production partners then collect the leftover fabrics from every order and they become a basis of collaboration with like-minded brands and designers who want to spread the importance of reducing waste.
Working with a hybrid production process, we incorporate elements of digital and mechanical processes where it is more efficient, and handmade processes when we see that they have immeasurable human value. Our design approach is also rooted in seasonless styles and seasonal fabrics, adhering to timeless principles of style rather than runway trends. Styles are tested by time, and are phased out or brought back accordingly.
We’ve also added sustainable materials to our range, like organic cotton, banana fibre, and even introduced a natural dye range. This year, we even made the switch to change our packaging from white Tyvek envelopes (its synthetic nature made it non-recyclable) to an option made from 100% post-consumer and post-industrial recycled content.
It’s not just about our actions (though they speak volumes), it’s also about the message we’re sending out. Part of being in a purpose-driven business is looking beyond profit and product. For us the balance is in encouraging our customers to buy more mindfully. In the 1930s people would buy 9 outfits a year, and now it has gone up to 30. So while we would love for our community to buy our pieces, we would love it more if they bought it because they will love and wear it for the years to come.
With all this said and done, there still isn’t a clear cut definition of sustainability – and maybe it’s okay that there isn’t. After all, sustainability is a journey with the actions taken shaping its impact. It’s about the decisions we make everyday, as individuals and businesses, that come together to collectively affect greater change — and that looks different across the board.
Comment below and let us know what you think. We would love to hear what sustainability means to you.