I got asked the other day, Samita, you always talk about sustainability but what can we do to launch a sustainable fashion brand? You can take 15 steps to create and nurture a sustainable fashion brand.
A sustainable fashion brand has two trajectories. It sustains the environment and the community.
Create a product that offers a solution to an environmental problem
Create a product that offers a solution to an environmental problem. Deidaa's eco warriors or the stuffed handmade organic cotton toys that we sell at our store are made completely out of waste, fabric shreds or offcuts. These are filled with recycled polyester fibre made from discarded PET bottles. The eco-warrior toys are nurturing a circular economy and minimizing waste. They are offering a solution to an environmental problem.
Think out of the box
You may not offer a product at all. You may offer a service e.g., clothing rental services for corporate wear, party wear or bridalwear.
Make the product with sustainable materials
Now that you have zeroed in on what to make, decide what is it you'll make the product with. If it is textile based, you can select from organic textiles, neo textiles or smart fibers or recycle textiles.
Organic textiles can be organic cotton linen or flax, hemp, jute, nettle or Ramie. Ramie is just another variation of nettle. You may use peace silk, vegan silk or ahimsa silk.
Neo fibers, smart or innovative fibers can be from banana, pineapple, grapes cornstarch, or soya. Replace polluting leather with coconut leather, mushroom leather or Pinatex aka pineapple leather.
Recycled fibre can be resourced from discarded plastic PET bottles. Anything that is trash can be recycled and reclaimed as fiber.
It is easier said than done. There will be problems. Pinatex is always in short supply. Scarcity can be a problem. Availability can be a problem. Certain fibers like soya may not take strong colors. You will have to work around initial hiccups.
Make the products in a sustainable manner.
Use zero waste patterns that consume nearly the entire fabric
Have simple silhouettes or designs with minimum stitching.
As for example, a kaftan has two stitching lines and can be easily repurposed into something else.
Support the local industry and reduce carbon footprints. If you are making overseas, ensure you offset the carbon footprints.
Repurpose and upcycle
Repurpose vintage clothing, blankets, and pillow slips. Upcycle. Take something basic and add value to it.
Make to Order or make indent
Ask your clients to pre-order on the basis of sketches, presentations storyboards. Make only the quantity required and nothing extra.
Have a sustainable workplace
Use green energy, energy efficient electrical gadgets and energy efficient machinery.
Minimize printing. At Deidaa, we only print the shipping labels. Set your printer to grayscale. Use double-sided printing. If we are sending out 15 parcels in a day we print all the labels at once. We optimize the use of ink and paper. We reuse stationery and packaging. We never buy bubble wraps. We recycle and reuse bubble wraps we get in incoming shipments. We urge our clients to reuse packaging. We recycle mailers especially the ones with bubble wraps.
Use green agents to clean your office or workspace
Replace chemicals with simple things out of the pantry, like vinegar and baking soda.
Have a compost bin outside the lunchroom. Use the compost to grow herbs and veggies in a community garden. Everyone can pitch in and enjoy fresh fruits and herbs.
Give incentives to green employees
Reward employees that embrace sustainable practices. At my previous workplace those of us that walked to office or took public transport would be shouted morning tea on specific days of the week.
Replace toxic dyes toxic chemical dyes with vegetable dyes
Vegetable dyes are not color fast. There is also, progressive loss of color. So, if you decide to use chemical dyes, make sure you treat the effluents till they become non-toxic.
Use sustainable packaging
Recycle wrapping paper. Use cornstarch mailers and packaging.
Make do and mend
Include a repair kit with every garment, with repair instructions, extra beads and buttons. Accept used clothing and reclaim the fibres.
Use green service providers
You can use green couriers that use bicycles for local deliveries and offset the carbon footprints for overseas shipments. Use green launderers and dry cleaners.
Get Third Party Validation
Apply for and acquire third-party validation Oeko Tex, GOTS, SEDEX certification for ethical production. These certificates add of legitimacy to your brand.
You cannot be a sustainable brand if you only address the environment and not the community. You address the community by being an ethical manufacturer. Coming up next - how to be an ethical manufacturer.
I would love your comments on this post.
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