Sustainable clothing & garments made from recycled yarns…

Somewhat of a divisive topic – and rightly so. In new data out it’s stated that the clothing industry is more damaging to the environment than aviation.

My day job is a lingerie designer. People do need pants.
Do they need as many as I have to design? Possibly not.
It’s a conversation I have with my directors sometimes when designing into a new trend where I need to reinvent another new way to get the buyers to buy, to help the end consumer part with their cash…
(It is a tricky one I don’t want to be doing myself out of a job that I love and I’ve got a mortgage to pay etc – there’s a need to tread carefully…)

We read that the fashion industry needs to find a more sustainable way to produce clothes that has less impact on the environment etc – as well as the need for us to buy more wisely and to consider how we wear and care for our clothes.

So what does Sustainable fashion actually mean?
Well, this is what Wikipedia describe it as;
Sustainable fashion is a part of the growing design philosophy and movement towards environmental and social sustainability, the goal of which is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility.
Sustainable fashion concerns more than addressing fashion textiles or products. It comprises addressing the whole system of fashion. This means dealing with interdependent social, cultural, ecological and financial systems.

It also means considering fashion from the perspective of many stakeholders – users and producers, all living species, contemporary and future dwellers on earth. Sustainable fashion therefore belongs to, and is the responsibility of citizens, public sector and private sector.

Not before time we are on the cusp of a wave in terms of the fabrications we’re using, and buying for lingerie. It’s taking some chin scratching and faaarrrr to much faffing, but I think we’re on our way.

In my day job we’ve had lace and various fabrics produced using recycled yarn that we would show (alongside illustrations) to customers for 1-2 years. The delays in starting to be able to use these fabrics have been that whilst the lace/fabric suppliers were saying ‘We can make any design using recycled yarn’ they didn’t have any sample fabric we could use to make initial garments (and then fit garments, test etc etc) that could can be signed off for production… And then the amount of lace/fabric needed to be knitted was SO HUGE, few companies/retailers were prepared to commit. We were going around in circles.

(Shall we even mention the possible hesitancy and the concern also in being first to the market – it’s a risk if consumers aren’t ready to embrace the concept of wearing recycled plastic bottles…)

The other day I had a great meeting with a customer all about laces, embroideries and fabrics made using recycled plastic yarns. How the fabrics actually feel in the hand is no different to regular qualities – which has perhaps been a stumbling block in the preconceived idea of wearing clothes made from recycled yarns.

In running shoes – it appears that we feel OK. Adidas launched this first mass produced running shoe in 2016 made from recycled plastic bottles. The target in sales for 2018 was 5 million pairs, this year 11 million pairs.

Adidas Ultraboot Uncaged Parley

Adidas is planning to use only recycled polyester in all its shoes and clothing within the next six years in a push to increase the sustainability of its supply chain.

Laces and micro fibre fabrics that many of our underwear is made from are predominately made from polyester or polyamide (nylon). (Cotton is a WHOLE other story – I’m going to come back to this another time.)

In underwear we’re finding there is a slight up charge in the cost of the overall fabric/garment – but not massive… there is another process involved of course in being able to break down the plastic bottles and form a yarn that can then be knitted. (There is a full process of certification that follows the whole journey of the yarn/fabric so that it can be tested and certified it has been made from recycled yarn and is not just said that it is.)

As more and more retailers and businesses are publicly declaring and being openly accountable of the impact of their businesses on the environment it’s fast becoming a race to see who can be seen and IS doing more to use recycled yarns and who is opting for a more sustainable approach across the board. Bring it on.

H&M as a group are leading the way and have the buying power to normalise that all polyester and polyamide used in their fabrics should be made from recycled yarn. (They are also to be fair, a massive part of the problem of high turnover fast fashion) but they are taking the responsibility of their position and others are absolutely and rightly taking note and following suit. It will surely be the case that within a few years it won’t even be a talking point or novelty that recycled yarns are used – it will be the norm.

After the ‘science bit’ lets now have a look at some garments made using recycled yarns and that are made in a sustainable way… (there aren’t as many options as I’d have liked to have shown… if there aren’t many sizes left of a style I liked I’ve not included them… but dig around.)

With the hot/cold and wet/dry spring we’ve been having – a rain coat (*shudder*) may be required. This, I think is a do-able one…

M&S Animal Print Pack Away Parka £29.50

M&S Animal Print Pack Away Parka £29.50

Fact. In my opinion one can never have too many striped tees in ones wardrobe. I particularly like the boat neck and longer sleeve here. This is from the Conscious collection.
H&M Boat Neck tee £8.99

H&M boat neck tee £8.99

Something to wear with your striped tee? (Also available in khaki, but limited sizes left.)
H&M Lyocell Joggers £24.99

H&M Lyocell Joggers £24.99

Or these for a summer time light weight feel.
H&M Crepe trousers £14.99

A good denim jacket will last years and years. My favourite go-to one is at least 16 years old.
H&M Organic Cotton Blend Denim Jacket £19.99 – available in 5 colours.

H&M Organic Cotton Blend Denim jacket £19.99

Yes, I know, these are mainly clothes are from H&M… I read a great article I think in Stylist magazine a few weeks ago about the person who’s heading up sustainability at Asos… I’ve had to really dig deep into the website to find items made that shout about, or even whisper that they are made using sustainable/recycled yarns – there is a lot of swimwear which is great. Some denim items from Weekday (a sub brand of the H&M group – but their size Large is a UK size 12… WTF?).

Hummmmm so much work to do – though we want change now, these things do take time.
I’m designing now for March 2020… so I’m trying to get first garments SAMPLED now using recycled yarns… before they then get selected to go forward into a series of meetings where they are signed off and could be ready to be shipped from China in November… to be ready to be in store for Feb/March 20?

Outerwear generally has a shorter lead time, with less components so, in theory, outerwear could move more quickly with using recycled/sustainable/organic yarns… however there are SO many elements to this conversation, but if we can all do a little something, buy carefully, recycle our old clothes etc etc then it all adds up doesn’t it?

Oohhh well, this was a possibly heavier blog than some… and it’s been ages in the writing/coming… I’ve had bloggers block I think… plus a massive day- job work load as I’m off to China this coming weekend.
I’m there to do another presentation on recycled laces and microfibers and have more discussions and talks on recycled yarns and products which is really exciting and encouraging.
Though the customer I’m meeting is based in the UK… slightly mad we have to FLY all of the way to China to have the meeting – carbon footprint anyone…? Yeah, I know.

Normal service will resume shortly.
xx

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