s

News

Fashion: fast vs slow

We love slow fashion

At ecoHaven, we like our fashion like we like our weekends: slow. Many of the brands we stock have 2-4 seasons and some have a timeless collection that gets a new piece taken in to the collection and another taken out a few times a year, but generally remains the same - which we love! 

Slow fashion labels often release a collection seasonally or even less frequently, giving the designers more time to thoughtfully perfect their creations before releasing them to the shops. Slow fashion designers are also concerned about the longevity of their clothing, paying much more attention to the style, design and quality of the garment to ensure it gets as much wear and love as possible. 

Slow fashion relies on beautiful, timeless style rather than fickle trends and is designed to be worn for years to come. Many slow fashion pieces are designed with versatility in mind, which may mean they can be worn all through the year or can be worn a couple of different ways.

Slow fashion is obsessed with quality, not only in the manufacture of clothing but also in the (slow) life of the garment after purchase. This influences how it is made and affects which fabrics are used in production, chosen for their sustainability and longevity. 

What about fast fashion?

Fast fashion refers to an occurrence in the fashion industry whereby production processes are accelerated to bring new trends to the market as quickly as possible (Perry, 2018). Fast fashion is reliant on a supply chain that weaves its way through some of the poorest countries on Earth, employing people, yes, but often not ways that are safe and financially beneficial for the workers involved (Siegel, 2018). I'm not going to go into the social, environmental problems regarding fast fashion - you probably know them already - but I will say one thing, fast fashion is not sustainable for people or planet.

Now, many high street and department stores introduce new products multiple times in a single week (Lambert, 2016). Instead of 4 new fashion lines per year, we are seeing 52 (once per week), 100 or even more! This speed and cost at which clothing is made means affects how it is made: quickly and from cheap (often poor quality or polyester) fabric (Lambert, 2016). 

Yes, fast fashion is cheaper to the consumer, but at the cost of the environment and the people making your clothes, I argue that it's not worth it, especially when Australians are buying 27kg of clothes per year (Pepper, 2017) and could possibly spend a little more on fewer items.

 

By purchasing something that has been designed to look stylish for years instead of a season or two, we can slow our rate of fashion consumption, which is a big win for the environment as well as our wardrobes.

 

Reference list

Lambert, J. 2016. Fast Fashion Sucks. Socially Conscious Living. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.sociallyconsciousliving.com/causes/fast-fashion-sucks/.

Pepper, F, 2017. Australia's obsession with new clothes and 'fast fashion' textiles hurting the environment. ABC Radio Melbourne, 12 January 2017. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-12/australias-obsession-with-new-clothes-hurting-the-environment/8177624

Perry, p, 2018. The environmental costs of fast fashion. Independent, 8 January 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/environment-costs-fast-fashion-pollution-waste-sustainability-a8139386.html

Siegel, L, 2018. How your fast fashion habit is harming more than the earth. Vogue, 21 March 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.vogue.com.au/fashion/trends/how-your-fast-fashion-habit-is-harming-more-than-the-earth/news-story/b67985de72be083a05570255ee8bdc2c

Introducing the loveable clothing label Kindling

Nina O’Brien, founder of Kindling Clothing opened her first shop in Brunswick East a little over a month ago. To celebrate her success and show off her gorgeous label, we‘re shining a light on Kindling.

 

The new Kindling shop in Brunswick East

 

Nina does things differently. 

Her choice to manufacture offshore in Vietnam was very deliberate. Having previously worked in Vietnam with international social enterprise garment manufacturers, Nina knew she wanted to work with these people again. Far from the horrific stories we hear about offshore garment factories, Nina’s studio is run slowly, ethically and fairly, honouring the people behind her label. 

Nina employs professional seamstresses that she works with and knows personally. Each piece is cut and sewn by one person from beginning to end. It is not the fastest way to sew but it is the most fun and ensures a hand finished quality and attention to detail in each piece. 

 

When you know what to look for, it’s easy to spot a Kindling piece.

1. If it can have pockets, it will have pockets. Nina loves a good dress with a pocket (who doesn’t?) and makes sure to design all her pants, skirts and dresses with pockets. 

2. It’s cute and quirky. Nina injects her own personality into her designs and each collection has great colour combos and fun patterns. Her current collection features sweet dresses in cute prints, comfy, wide linen pants and boxy tops with two-tone neck detailing.

3. The attention to detail is evident. Each piece is cut and sewn by the same person from beginning to end, which shows in the hand-finished product.

 

We love Nina’s thoughtful, deliberate approach to Kindling and wish her every success in her future endeavours. We're lucky enough to be the only Kindling stockist in Hobart, so do come by if you'd like to see what all the (well deserved) fuss is about.

 

All images sourced from Kindling.

How to style a button wrap

Our Sorrento Button Wraps are the ultimate multipurpose wardrobe staple. These wraps can be styled so many different ways and make the perfect travel companion. Made ethically from 100% Mongolian cashmere, they're incredibly soft, lightweight and warm. There are seriously so many ways to wear the Sorrento Button Wrap, so this week we thought we'd show you 3 new styles to try.

Image via Mia Fratino, wrap styled as a scarf

 

There are seriously so many ways to wear the Sorrento Button Wrap, so this week we thought we'd show you 3 new styles to try.

This is an easy one. Unbutton the second and third button from the neck hole. Now just pop your head through your newly created neckline. One side will create a button poncho that drapes over the shoulder, the other side will create a sleeve.

 

This one looks a bit strange without arms on the mannequin, but turns the wrap into a wrapped-up-tight poncho with a cowl at the front. To style: Open all buttons and wear like a vest. Flick one side over your shoulder, then the other. Find the last button on one side and button it into the last button-hole on the other side and pull it up to the nape of your neck (apologies for not taking a photo of this step but hopefully you can work it out). Now, style the cowl at the front. Et voilà!

 

This low cowl poncho is another easy one to master. Wear as a poncho with the buttons at the back. Now, undo one or 2 of the buttons and pull the cowl at the front down to your favourite position. Done!

 

We hope we've inspired you to play with your clothes! Got a favourite way to wrap your Sorrento Button Wrap? Let us know in the comments below.

How to weed out the 'sustainable' from the 'fashion'

In a time where 'sustainable fashion' is being used as a marketing term to sell more clothes rather than an agent for positive change, actually weeding out the 'sustainable' from the mass of 'fashion' can get tricky.

Here's how to tell if a fashion brand is ethical and sustainable: 

1. Read the label

It’s important to know what it’s made from. We’ve dedicated an entire blog post to understanding what clothes are made from, so take a read if you’d like a refresher. 

The label should also tell you where your clothes were made. Be cautious of anything made far away. We stock clothes made ethically and sustainably in far flung places like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh (yep, there are ethical clothing factories in Bangladesh now!) and Vietnam, but be aware that an item’s country of origin can often give you a good glimpse of the conditions of how it was made. The Richest came up with a list of the 7 worst countries for horrific sweatshop conditions in 2014. These include Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mexico, Turkey and Indonesia.

 

2. What is it rated?

There’s a growing number of organisations that can show you how ethical and sustainable a brand is depending on the rating system used. Note that a lot of smaller labels are not included in these reports.

Rank a Brand looks at the sustainability and ethics of major brands, Baptist World Aid releases a yearly report that assesses the ethics of companies, with a focus on human rights. Fashion Revolution is my favourite organisation to turn to for it’s focus on brand transparency, releasing a yearly index report that assesses the social and environmental information shared by fashion labels.

 

3. Check the company's Corporate Social Responibility policies

If it’s a small label, it probably won’t have a CSR policy, but any label committed to sustainable fashion will want to let you know about it. The label’s ‘about page’ is a good place to start. If the company doesn’t tell you straight up, chances are they don’t have much to say, which is a red flag.

If you’ve got the time, reach out with a quick email asking them about their dedication to ethical business and sustainability. I’ve done this before and have been met with a stock standard “we aim to become an ethical company in the future” and have also been completely ignored, but you might have more luck and find out that this company is actually  a lot more ethical than they let on.

 

4. Beware of cause marketing 

Perhaps I’m just showing my cynicism, but sometimes a company will donate to a charity or get behind a cause in an attempt to appear caring. This is cause marketing at it’s core. Helping not-for-profits is excellent, but its not ‘proof’ that the brand is ethical or sustainable. I can think of a certain label that is a cruelty free advocate, yet when it comes to human rights, has done little to no work on improving anything for it’s factory workers or addressing it’s environmental responsibility. If a fashion label donates to a not for profit but it’s products are being made by sweatshop labour, then maybe their charity work is done for good publicity and tax benefits than actually giving a damn? Or am I just being cynical again?

Not every company that donates to charity is hiding something or trying to make up for its other unethical faults and there are many ethical companies that also support not-for-profits, but charity work is not evidence enough that the company is wholly good.

I'm glad that we live in a time where caring is cool. What isn't cool is when fashion labels pretend to care to gain credibility rather than actually doing the work, further propagating a system of repression for their garment workers and a strain on the environment for, well, everyone. I know it can take a lot more effort to discover the brands doing the right thing, but it's worth it to support companies that reflect your values, taking the power away from companies that exploit and giving it back to those that enrich.

Fibre Files: natural fibres, synthetic fibres and everything in between

 

What's the difference between natural fibres and synthetics? Are some natural materials better than others? What are semi-synthetics? What about recycled? I’m here to answer all of these questions. Consider this your 101 crash course into the world of fibres.

 

What's the difference between natural and synthetic fabrics?

Natural fabrics like merino wool, cotton, linen, hemp, silk and cashmere are made of fibres that are produced by animals and plants. Synthetic fabrics, like polyester, nylon and PVC are made from plastic, created in laboratories, often from petroleum (Reeves, 2016).

 

 

Are some natural materials better for the environment?

Yes, although there is a lot of difference between natural fibres, depending many factors like how they were farmed, how they are produced and how they were dyed. When shopping for sustainable fashion, look for natural materials like and linen, hemp, silk and merino wool. these fibres are recyclable, renewable and will biodegrade once no longer useful. Organic cotton is a lot kinder to the environment that regular cotton, but is still a very thirsty crop that requires a lot of water to produce. Generally speaking, clothing made from natural materials are kinder to the environment, produce far less toxic by-products than synthetics and can be safely returned to the earth (Lodhi, 2016).

 

What about animal products?

Wool, leather, possum fibre, cashmere and silk are all animal products. How and where the animals live and how these materials are claimed makes a big difference to its sustainability. For example, traditionally sourced leather comes from cowhide. Cows need a lot of land, food and water, and then killing, skinning them, tanning and dyeing their skin takes even more energy and resources (Lodhi, 2016). Whereas possums are an introduced species in New Zealand with no natural predators and have overtaken and destroyed many rainforests and the habitat for rare and endangered species. If they are not eradicated, possums will continue to destroy the environment (read all about ecopossum in a previous post) and many would argue that by producing possum fibre we are helping to protect the environment.

There is also the ethical debate when talking about using animals for clothing. Some animals live in a social herd and get a hair cut once in a while, others are killed for their skin and silk. Everyone has their own moral compass and I'm not going to go into my personal ethics, only to say that it is a topic to consider when buying animal products.

 

What are semi-synthetics?

Here's where I put my chemistry professor hat on. Semi-synthetic fibres are made from raw materials, usually from wood or bamboo pulp cellulose and require chemical processes to partially break down their naturally long-chain polymer structures so that they can be spun into fabrics. Most semi-synthetic fibers are cellulose regenerated fibers. Semi-synthetic fibres include viscose rayon, Tencel, cupro, bamboo and modal and vary greatly in terms of sustainability (Mass, 2009).

Tencel lyocell is a great sustainable option because the chemicals used to produce Tencel are nontoxic and the cellulose (ground pulp sourced from renewable and untreated eucalyptus trees) used for Tencel is treated in a closed loop process in which solvents are recycled with a 99.5% recovery rate. The processing of Tencel never uses bleach (see our previous post to find out more). Modal  - a more sustainable variety of rayon - does require bleaching and not all modal is made from sustainably farmed trees, so look for the Lenzing brand of modal which is made from sustainably harvested beech trees using an environmentally friendly bleaching method for pulp (Brogan, 2017). Bamboo can be a tricky one because depending on how it was farmed and how it was manufactured makes a big difference to how sustainable the fibre is and although the technology for rayon to be a sustainable fibre is there, sadly most manufacturing processes of rayon are not considered environmentally friendly (Mass, 2009).

Even though the manufacturing processes of semi-synthetics may not be perfect, generally they're a lot better for the environment and are biodegradable, unlike petroleum-based fabrics like polyester (Lodhi, 2016).

 

And synthetic fibres?

Synthetic fibres are made by joining monomers into polymers, through a process called polymerization. You don't have to know what that means, the important thing to note is that synthetic fibres are made using chemicals like sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide, which are derived from coal, oil (petroleum, therefore plastic), or natural gas. The production of synthetic fibres is cheap to produce but costly to the planet and does not biodegrade. Synthetic fibres include polyester, nylon (fun fact, I remember making nylon back in chemistry class - that's how easy it is to make), PVC, PU (aka vegan leather or faux leather) and spandex.

There's also the whole micro plastics debacle when it comes to synthetic materials, which continue to break down and shed into tiny plastic particles which can cause damage to marine life, the marine environment and the environment at large. I'll leave the topic of micro plastics for a future blog post, just know that synthetic fibres are the most damaging to the environment both in their construction and degradation. 

 

Recycled?

Purchasing recycled, up cycled and vintage clothing, as well as clothing made from waste and recycled fabrics is a sustainable choice as it takes a hell of lot less energy to manufacture and helps keep clothes and fabrics out of landfill. A good thing about synthetic fibres is that they are durable and can be recycled, although I'm also excited about a new wave of sustainable fashion made from natural materials like recycled cotton and reclaimed wool. Watch this space.

Our Untouched World Pure Skinny Jeans are made from eco-friendly organic cotton and post-consumer recycled polyester from PET bottles

 

Be Curious

As you can gather, there's a lot of difference between natural, semi-synthetic and synthetic fibres and many grey areas when it comes to choosing environmentally sustainable fibres. My advice is to be curious, look at the label and when you don't know, ask. Ask the retail assistant and ask the fashion label. Things change when people ask questions.

 

 

Reference List

- Mass, E (2009). Eco-Fiber or Fraud? Are Rayon, Modal, and Tencel Environmental Friends or Foes? [online] Natural Life Magazine.

Available at: https://www.life.ca/naturallife/0908/ecofiber_or_fraud.htm  [Accessed 27.6.2018].

  

- Brogan, N (2017). Material Guide: How ethical is modal? [online] Good On You.

  Available at: https://goodonyou.eco/material-guide-ethical-modal/ [Accessed 27.6.2018].

 

- Reeves, E. (2016). What's the difference between natural and synthetic fibers? [online] Sierra Trading Post.

Available at: https://www.sierratradingpost.com/blog/lifestyle/difference-between-natural-synthetic-fibers/  [Accessed 27.6.2018]. 

 

 - Greenhouse Fabrics (2016). PU vs PVC. [online]

Available at:  https://www.greenhousefabrics.com/blog/pu-vs-pvc [Accessed 27.6.2018].

 

- Lodhi, A (2016). How to tell if a fashion brand is sustainable. [online] Eluxe Magazine.

Available at https://eluxemagazine.com/magazine/how-to-tell-if-a-fashion-brand-is-sustainable/  [Accessed 27.6.2018].

    • Page 1 of 8
    • Page 1 of 8