The Importance of Fabrics
One of the most important things we can do to improve environmental and social performance of a garment is to use the right fabric. To create enough fabric for just one garment requires significant use of energy, water, chemicals and human-power. So, managing this to ensure energy, water and chemical input is minimised whilst human-power is cared for, is crucial to positive environmental and social performance.
Often, when organic cotton is discussed or suggested, it isn’t always clear why making the switch to organic cotton can have such a profound impact.
Conventionally grown cotton in some cases can be one of the most environmentally damaging and socially harmful parts of the fashion industry due to its excessive use of insecticides and water. Cotton accounts for 2.5% of world agriculture, but it uses a disproportionate 16% of world insecticides. Largely speaking, the insecticides used in cotton growing are toxic for humans and the natural environment.
By using organically grown cotton you eliminate the use of harmful insecticides, thereby increasing welfare for the growers and handlers of raw-state cotton. The carbon footprint is reduced through increased soil fertility and elimination of greenhouse gases caused by the application non-organic insecticides and fertilisers. Furthermore, less water is needed, not only through irrigation but also through eradicating water involved in creating non-organic inputs such as synthetic insecticides and fertilisers. Water use is subject to growing regions, but rain fed crops are more commonplace with organic cotton and once the water has been used it will not contaminate sources and can be used again in a productive and safe way.
This is why we are increasing the percentage of organic cotton used in our collections year-on-year. It will not be an easy transition and will take us time to develop fabrics with our current suppliers as well as finding new suppliers to meet our needs. However, we are committed and hope to be mainly organic in the not too distant future.
Wool is one the oldest fibres used for clothing and it still has a prominent place in the world of menswear and the fashion industry as a whole. Good quality wool keeps you warm, is comfortable and long lasting. Wool does have a moderate environmental impact if you only look at the preliminary stages of its lifecycle such as breeding and processing. However, if the wool is of good quality, in most instances this is offset throughout the garments lifecycle, due to reduced washing requirements and its longevity.
Managed correctly, the presence of livestock such as sheep can help build topsoil and soil fertility. This is key for future food production and the storage of greenhouse gases (through carbon sequestration) which further offsets the carbon footprint of wool.
We endeavour to use only the highest quality wools, sourced from historic British woollen mills and long standing knitwear factories. This helps us to create high quality clothing which is long lasting as well as a garment which has a lower environmental impact through its extended lifespan.
All of our wools are processed in Europe (prominently in the UK), meaning they adhere to strict European guidelines of chemical usage. Being a natural substance, when wool is ready to be disposed of (if of course it is no longer recyclable) it will biodegrade back into nature.
Linen is another fibre which has been used for centuries and is known for its soft, breathable qualities. It has a low environmental impact due to its low water and insecticide requirements. This makes it a great option for summer clothing for practical and environmental reasons. Linen plays a key part of our spring and summer collections for these very reasons…. plus the fact it looks great!