International - Supporting Progress
Sourcing our recycled and organic pieces, we work with small premises in Bangladesh and China. We recognise our responsibility to ensure manufacturing methods used match those who wear our products and align with our own core values. The only avenue for us to work with establishments who are committed to fair and safe working practices; any premises we work with outside of the UK are certified by reputable and transparent certification bodies, such as Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Recycled Claim Standard (RCS), Sustainable Supply Chain Solutions - SEDEX, amfori BSCI or OEKO-TEX certified. Each standard has stringent requirements and monitoring procedures to ensure only credible garments that meet the strict criteria receive the certifications.
We are proud to be supporting two premises across Asia which are powered by renewable energy, encouraging gender equality and promoting fair wages, working conditions and moral standards to those they employ. No harmful dyes, colourants or substances are used during any part of the sourcing or manufacturing processes. They themselves have ambitious sustainability targets to reduce emissions, water, energy and waste.
The processes used to derive and produce our luxury recycled fabric is innovative and forward thinking. Each items is crafted in some part from recycled plastic bottles (predominantly 13.2 oz) - the process for still blows my mind. It is a truly successful method to repurpose plastic that would otherwise end up in our oceans or landfill. There are between 9 and 16 plastic bottles in each of our recycled items! If you consider how long it takes you to empty a standard 13.2 oz plastic bottle, and consider the years you can love and wear one of our recycled items with proper care and consideration - its a no brainer really to support a movement for a more sustainable option.
The premises we work with source the plastic bottles local to their establishments, proactively helping tackle local plastic pollution, as well as create jobs, provide training and income for local people. We are forever improving our relationship with our far off partners, I hope one day we can share the names of those who have actually helped make your clothes.
Using Recycled Polyester
All of our recycled pieces are made from recycled polyester (rPET), which there are both positives and drawbacks for using. There is no getting around the facts, so a brief overview:
Polyester is a synthetic fibre and one of the most popular materials in the fashion industry today. In regular form it is itself highly unsustainable, derived from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Recycled polyester comes from finding another purpose for PET that has been used and is referred to as rPET. rPET retains all of the benefits of regular PET whilst also comparatively having a smaller environmental footprint, requiring over 50% less energy to produce.
Now that sounds positive, to give you the full picture here are the limitations that come with rPET.
rPET ultimately still is plastic and depending on the methods to transform it, there is a chance it could shed microplastics. Being a recycled version, the volumes are expected to be lower than regular PET. PET and rPET ultimately have a lifetime and cannot be continually recycled forever. As such, one day it will require disposing of, for which there currently is no widespread method for doing so responsibly. Although comparatively it has a much smaller environmental footprint, there is still an environmental impact associated with the rPET processes, including the release of CO2 and energy input for making it and the array of colouration processes which are required.
Our take - the rPET used within our items is derived specifically from single-use plastic bottles, which prevents them from ending up in landfill or our oceans – both of which are facing their own crises from pressures of a throw-away society. The lifetime of most items of clothing is significantly longer than the time it takes to drink and empty a plastic bottle. Whilst the quality of clothing is a key factor for the lifetime of individual clothing.
Every one of our items are tried and tested before we take that final step to add them to our collections for one single reason - quality. I come from a family of Northern farmers, who get bored after doing nothing for 10 minutes and need to be on the go the whole time, often found riving on with sheep, playing in sheds or fiddling under a car or tractor…if the clothing gets the thumb up from them after a few weeks of putting them to the test, they get a firm thumb up from me for durability, shape and washing. I say with confidence our clothing is high quality, durable and designed to last for years if looked after properly.
The quality of the fabric is a determining factor in the shedding of microfibres. Research by the University of Plymouth indicated that rPET sheds less and results show that textile design can strongly influence release of microfibres, with woven textiles with a compact structure twisted and composed of continuous filaments, release less microfibres. All of our recycled items are considered to have a tight weave within their textile makeup. Additionally, cooler washes are proven to reduce the release of microfibres. We recommend on our care labels a maximum 40 degrees, with most items recommended 30 degrees purely from an environmental standpoint.
Home Tip! If your washing machine does not have a filter, the use of a Cora Ball is the answer (no ad I promise! This is something I use at home myself to reduce my own impact). This is a laundry ball thrown in with each wash which prevents some microfibre breaking off our clothing and collects that that does so it can be disposed of in the right way.
The environmental footprint of the process to make rPET is something we cannot avoid, otherwise we wouldn’t have the products in the first place. We are working to become carbon neutral through premium carbon projects in an effort to offset the emissions resulting from the process and within our wider company. Watch this space for updates!
We are currently in an era where innovation is booming and plastic pollution is a term heard regularly on news outlets and environmentalists driving must exploration and funding to identify methods to breakdown polyester in all forms responsibly. The lifetime our recycled clothing can reach will hopefully see innovation win on dealing with it's disposal.
So our take is it’s a significant improvement from regular polyester, our recycled items do have a hugely reduce impact on the environment and ultimately do benefit the environment by keeping some plastic bottles out of landfill and our oceans. What cannot be ignored is there remains room for improvement. Research and innovation is leading industry progression based on discovery and continued learning, we hope this will lead to positive change within the lifetime of our clothing.