What responsibility do we have
to change the world around us
What responsibility do we have
to change the world around us
Fashion is a distinctive part of our lives - every day we make a decision about what we are going to wear and how we would like to present ourselves to the world. So when we talk about creating a "good" design or making "good" purchases, what does that entail?
Given the depth of impact that fashion holds on us and the world around us, what responsibilities do we have, both as individuals and brands, to make positive change? Does your fashion represent your personal values?
Everything in our wardrobe comes directly from nature, whether cotton or polyester. Fashion can be a grounding influence, reminding us daily of our connection with each other and the planet itself - we just have to be willing to listen.
AS A SUSTAINABLE FASHION BRAND, WE UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF DESIGN IN REDUCING OUR IMPACT ON PEOPLE AND THE PLANET, FROM THE SOURCING OF MATERIALS TO FINAL PRODUCTION. WE ARE DEDICATED TO USING HIGH-QUALITY ORGANIC, RECYCLED AND CERTIFIED-SUSTAINABLE FABRICS TO CREATE CLOTHING THAT IS DESIGNED TO BE VALUED, NOT WASTED.
We have listed below fabrication facts and figures to guide your purchasing, so you can find out how each fibre has an impact on the environment and the communities making our clothes.
Organic cotton is a more sustainable alternative to conventionally grown cotton. GOTS-certified cotton is grown without the use of harmful chemicals and pesticides, making it safer for both growers and the environment. The farming methods required to meet the GOTS certification minimise the use of energy and water, with specific farming methods locking CO2 into the soil, reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of each yield by up to 94%.
Organic fabrics are only certified when the awarding organisation has investigated the full production supply chain. Cotton suppliers certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) undergo regular audits, ensuring that no forced or child labour is used anywhere in the supply chain. These audits also ensure that hazardous chemicals are not used in dyeing and fabric treatment stages, and that all wastewater is treated before disposal, protecting workers and water supplies.
The cotton we use is organically-grown from India, and spun into yarn in India at a GOTS-certified mill. The cloth is woven on small power looms in a fair-trade community in Kerala, India. We also use organic cotton thread and labelling on each garment. All of our suppliers adhere to our ethical standards and we can guarantee fair wages and good working conditions have been provided for the people involved in making our garments.
Buying items made from organic cotton protects water supplies, stops the use of poisonous chemicals, promotes traceable supply chains and ensures better working conditions for garment creators.
Linen is a fabric made from the stem of the flax plant. The flax plant was a popular material for textile creation until the speed of production was overtaken by factory-made cotton and synthetic textiles. Nowadays linen accounts for less than 1% of the fibre market globally, despite its many benefits.
A huge advantage of linen is that it requires much less water than cotton to grow. It's also naturally moth resistant and gets stronger with every wash. Linen in its natural colours (ivory, ecru, tan and grey) are more environmentally friendly compared to pure white linen, which requires intense bleaching to create a bright colour. When untreated, the material is biodegradable and leaves behind no harmful waste or by-product.
Hemp is made using the fibres of the cannabis plant. To extract the fibres, hemp is soaked and softened in dew or chemical, after which the fibres are scraped off the plant to create a yarn. With improvements in industrial machinery, it is now possible to do this process entirely mechanically. This method requires very little energy and can be done entirely without chemicals.
Hemp uses less water than other plants to grow, and production requires no chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Crops have a high yield and can improve the surrounding soil quality, making it a good ‘break crop’ for rotational farmers.
Tencel is a brand name for a type of lyocell (a form of rayon), a fabric that is becoming increasingly popular across the fashion industry. The cellulose fibre is made by dissolving wood pulp and using a special drying process called spinning. Tencel is a less intensive way of producing fabric than regular rayon or cotton, and requires less energy, water and chemicals to create. As a naturally derived fibre, Tencel is biodegradable and recyclable.
Lenzing AG, the company behind Tencel, gathers its materials from certified sustainably managed forests. They also practice and promote an environmentally responsible closed loop production process. The process uses a nontoxic, organic solvent which has a recovery rate of more than 99% for reuse.
By reusing and repurposing textiles that have already been created, we're reducing the demand for the production of virgin fibres and fabrics. This contributes towards a closed loop system, diverting post-consumer materials from landfill and minimising our reliance on resource extraction methods that negatively impact the environment.
It is estimated that globally only 1% of our clothing is currently recycled into new garments.
This is partially due to certain materials like synthetics and mixed-fibre fabrics being harder to break down in the recycling process. As a brand, we use recycled materials in our products whenever we can - if we cannot break down a material we make every effort to find a way of incorporating it into a design, so that nothing is wasted. A number of our products use recycled off cuts or end of roll fabric that would have otherwise been sent to landfill or burned.
How Fanfare uses recycled materials:
Although conventional wool farming can be incredibly damaging for the environment, wool that is certified by independent auditors can offer a more responsible alternative. Multiple organisations have provided the industry with tools to recognise responsibly sourced wool.
The Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) put in place by Textile Exchange highlights farms with the best wool production practices. This ensures that wool is sourced from farms with a progressive approach to managing their land, and from sheep that have been treated responsibly. RWS provides a robust analysis of the textile, from farm to the final product, ensuring that the entire production system meets a high standard of ethics and responsibility.
In global terms, UK sheep farms are small, having on average approximately 350 sheep. UK sheep are raised naturally outdoors on pasture. Wool is a naturally occurring by-product and sheep are required to be shorn of their wool once a year for their own comfort and health. Standards put in place by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 ensure that the process is stress free for the animal.
Harvesting the inner coat of the cashmere goat is a naturally occurring process. The goats shed their winter coat in spring, and the fleece is harvested by hand using a comb that collects the fine hairs of the inner coat.
Standards and certifications are also available to make sure that cashmere has been sourced sustainably and responsibly. The Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA) works along the supply chain to ensure animal welfare, grassland management and sustainable harvesting. Meanwhile, the Kering Standard on cashmere is designed to promote and encourage sourcing of cashmere from production systems that respect social and cultural values, support local livelihoods and drive more sustainable grazing practices with high standards of animal welfare.
The mulberry trees that sustain most silkworms require very little pesticides and fertilisers. Mulberry trees can be grown organically, use less water than cotton, and produce a biodegradable natural fiber.
If untreated, silk is completely biodegradable. The use of dye, toxic chemicals, blended fibres and trims can hinder biodegradability. Generally speaking, silk is considered a rather sustainable fibre, but there are still environmental and animal welfare concerns. Read more in The True Fashion Journal.
Alternative silk options are available on the market but come slightly higher price points compared to conventional silk. GOTS certifies multiple organic silk suppliers and Peace Silk - also known as cruelty free silk - which comes from cocoons where moths have been allowed emerge naturally, in keeping with their biological life cycle. Wild silk can be collected after the moth has naturally left the cocoon, and is most often harvested in natural open forest areas.
These fabrics should be avoided as they are resource-intensive, cannot be easily recycled, and can cause the pollution of our waterways during washing. Where possible, skip petroleum-based synthetics such as polyester and nylon, as these are plastic-based materials that take centuries to break down once disposed of.
Approximately half of all textiles are made of non-organic cotton, but current production methods are environmentally unsustainable. According to the WWF, 20,000 litres of water are required to produce one kilogram of cotton; equivalent to a single t-shirt and pair of jeans. Water is a finite resource and cotton has such a huge impact on our water supply. That amount of drinking water is enough to keep an adult quenched for 25 years.
The disappearance of The Aral Sea is named by the UN as the greatest environmental disasters of the 20thcentury, and was a direct result of cotton production in the local region. The resulting desertification left behind toxic, infertile soil, damaging other vital food crop production and creating toxic dust storms that seriously affected the health of the people living on the coast of the Sea.
All of us wear cotton, even if it’s just a pair of socks or a tote bag. Cotton production accounts for 2.3% of global arable land coverage, and makes up 24% of our global pesticide and 11% of our global insecticide use. If we did a chemical analysis of our own blood, we would most likely find a number of different toxic chemicals in our bodies that have come, in part, from our clothing.
Producing cotton has severe environmental impacts. The use of agrochemicals, excessive water consumption and destruction of habitats have harshly affected ecosystems around the world. In many cases, cotton farmers in developing countries experience poor working conditions and high levels of debt to the companies that produce cotton seeds. According to the International Labour Organisation, 11% of the world’s children are in forced labour, with many of them working in the fashion supply chain.
Made from crude oil (a fossil fuel), synthetic fibres like polyester and nylon make up 65% of all textiles produced globally. Processing these materials takes a lot of energy and also has environmental consequences. Nylon production creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas which has a global warming potential 310 times that of carbon dioxide, and polyester uses large amounts of water for cooling.
These synthetics are essentially plastic - they are non-biodegradable and often non-recyclable, adding huge amounts of textile to landfill sites. They also shed harmful microfibers every single time they are washed, contributing heavily to plastic pollution in the ocean. 1/3 of plastic pollution in the ocean is made up from textile fibres. These fibres also account for 85% of man-made debris found on shorelines worldwide. There isn’t enough research at the moment to fully understand the impact these micro fibres are having on our health, but plastic from synthetic clothing can be found in our food and water, and even in the human digestive system – the way we care for our clothes has a big impact on not only the health of our planet, but also the health of us and our families.
Wash your clothes less and invest in a microfibre bag that helps to reduce the release of microfibres into our waterways.
Viscose is an artificial fibre made from wood pulp. On the surface it is sometime presented as a sustainable alternative to cotton, but the production of rayon contributes more to greenhouse emissions. According to environmental group Canopy, more than 70 million trees are chopped down per year to be turned into cellulosic fabric. By purchasing viscose that is not sourced from sustainably managed forests, we are actively contributing to the deforestation of first-growth and ancient trees.
Furthermore, the process of breaking down the wood pulp into fibres uses harmful chemicals such as carbon disulphide which can be toxic for workers. The 2017 Dirty Fashion report found that most rayon processing plants do not have adequate treatment facilities and measures in place to prevent the chemicals from polluting the water and air.