A major topic within sustainable design, is material. What does the garment consist of and
What makes the textile sustainable?
The garments are designed and produced in a certain textile, chosen by the designer. The textile is made from one or several fibers. Choosing the most sustainable option is not as easy as it might seem.
It can be made out of a natural plant-based fiber like cotton, linen or hemp. Cotton often consumes excessive amounts of water and if it is not organic cotton, the plantations are sprayed with pesticides.
It can be made out of natural fibers, like wool from different animals or silk from the silkworm. This can be made in more responsible ways, but often it causes harm to nature and the animals.
Natural textile can be dyed with natural colors and washed with natural detergents. Though, this is very rare on the market. Often the natural fibers, like organic cotton, is dyed with chemical substances.
There are textiles,like viscose and Tencel, that is produced from cellulose (wood fiber) they require different treatment to become a finished textile. These are tricky to tell, if they are made with harmful chemicals or in “closed systems” or not. Some textile brands have better reputation and are known to manufacture in an eco-friendly way. They often require excessive energy to produce and they can’t be dyed with natural dyestuff; they require chemicals to get the desired color.
Synthetic fibers, like polyester, nylon and acrylic are made from polymer filament. These are the most problematic materials because they are (like plastic) made from petroleum- based chemicals, and they end up polluting the environment in several stages. They are all made from nonrenewable fossil fuels. Fracking and burning fossil fuels leaves negative impact on the environment. We do not want the chemicals in the synthetics on our skin and every time we wash the garment, it will spread micro plastics into the water system. Synthetic garments often and up as landfill, because they do not decompose, like natural fibers does. Synthetics was invented in the 1930´s and sadly, they make up 70% of the wolds production of fibers today.
Leather is a chapter on its own
Most leather (90%) is chrome tanned. That is a dirty and dangerous treatment that we are repulsed by. Leather can be tanned with vegetable treatments and that is much better, but we find it very difficult to control the animal welfare when sourcing for leather. Therefore we choose not to use it in our collections. There are leather-like vegan materials to find, made from pineapple and other natural fibers but since they combine it with synthetic material (e.g plastic foil on the surfaces), and chemical dyestuff, it is not 100% natural.
Fibers can be re-used or recycled in various ways. For example using the lint from cotton or wool from the actual production, for less wastage. Re-using textile from old garments is a sustainable option.
When designing ORES collections, it is the natural materials that are the core. I get my inspiration from beautiful natural fibers and textile. A hand-woven silk fabric with texture and luster, for example, or a fine knit sweater in the softest wool, from the llama or yak. It is like choosing the finest ingredients when you cook. It should suit the purpose of the garment, drape well, feel soft, have the right look and be durable and sustainable. It must also be ethical and environmentally friendly. All these requirements are hard to fulfill, because there are
chemicals luring everywhere!
More and more new plastics are manufactured everyday in different industries. Some are harmful to manufacture and provide direct emissions and a dangerous environment for those who manufacture them. Others releases substances that end up in nature and in your body and stays there.
We do not want to contribute to the production of new plastics from fossil fuels or harmful chemicals. We use sustainable textile from natural, organic fibers that we know have been produced without chemicals and in an ethical way. We avoid water and energy intense treatments. We avoid bleaching and we use toxic-free or natural dyestuff. No worker or animal is harmed and there is no negative footprint on the environment.
We think that the natural fibers are better for the environment. They are bio- degradable and easier to re-use, without harsh treatments. They breath and have a natural luster and substances that naturally clean themselves. You can use cold water and mild soap if you like to wash them,
so there is no use of chemicals in the garment life-cycle!
As we mentioned in the previous post, we use high quality natural trims, instead of plastic ones, in all our collections.
I hope to bring some clarity and awareness about sustainable textile. If you have any ideas, questions or comments about Sustainable design, send us an e-mail!