Tuesday evening this week I joined in on Fair2Wears meeting, where the two eco-friendly designers Rachel Kollerup and Johanne Helger Lund were speaking about their brands.
A lot of people still associate organic clothing with shapeless dresses made out of itchy grey and white linen. Which is exactly the image Johanne and Rachel are fighting against.
Johanne Helger Lund has a background as costumier and is behind the brand Ecouture. She makes inspiring, bohemian and colourful design, which is anything but boring or grey.
Her decision to focus on eco-friendly fashion has taken a lot of determination, patience and creativity.
Even though sustainable and environmentally friendly fashion is gaining footage within the industry, making it as an eco-friendly designer is difficult.
For one thing production is more expensive. Secondly, the market for organic fabrics and items (like buttons and laces) very limited.
This means that you don’t have the same artistic options as a regular designer, as you just can’t find organic buttons in various different colors on the market. It forces you to compromise from time to time, using non-organic material to be able to make sellable items.
This might seem as if you are compromising with your ethics, but the truth is, as Johanne says: when it comes to fashion the number one thing for women still is how they look in the clothes. They might care about sustainability and fairtrade as well – but you cannot sell clothes on ethics and good intentions alone.
I guess the only long term solution to this is an industry that starts producing a lot more organic fabrics and fittings.
Rachel Kollerup spoke after Johanne – and gave some good suggestions on how the industry can do exactly that: produce more sustainable and environmental -friendly fabric that still feels and looks nice.
Together with Force Technology she is working on a project to find alternatives to for example cotton. She will produce a collection made with viscose made from wood pulp from beech grown at sustainable tree farms. This fabric is called tencel. It feels nice, looks nice, doesn’t loose colour as quickly as cotton– and as an extra plus to all the wrinkle free fanatics it doesn’t need to be ironed.
Finding alternatives to cotton is highly relevant, as the production of it is a big threat to our environment – causing leaky irrigation systems, wasteful field application methods, pollution by chemicals and cultivation of thirsty crops not suited to the environment.
With the population of the earth growing approximately 1.14% a year we simply cannot afford using huge amounts of space and water on highly water consuming and non-edible crops.
Moving away from ‘fast fashion’
Another part of the research project is to focus on the production of fabrics with a long durability. We need to move away from a ‘buy and throw away’ culture, where a piece of clothes only needs to last for one season.
I admit that this will be a big challenge, as the industry makes a huge amount of its money on fast fashion.
But this is a problem that we need to address. The retail manufacturing industry is the second most polluting industry on Earth, second only to oil. Also – the disposal of cheap garments made from manmade material cannot easily be recycled.
Therefore it will be a big improvement using recyclable garment and keeping the production as ‘green’ as possible.
But to only use a piece of clothes for one season is, in my own opinion, pure madness. In the last 5 years textile waste has increased from 7 to 30 per cent.
Another problem is the amount of unworn clothes being destroyed even before it reaches the customer.
As you know this issue is close to our heart, and even if small – I hope that NDA can help make a positive change in this field in the future.
It was definitely inspiring to meet so many dedicated and enthusiastic people working for a greener planet.
If you want to support Fair2Wear and their future work – then jump to their website here