As London Fashion Week kicks off, Friends of the Earth is calling on the fashion industry to do more to tackle the problem of plastic pollution. In a two-pronged attack, the charity is both urging clothing brands to use natural, rather than synthetic, fibres in the production of their clothes, and also encouraging the public to embrace slow fashion by choosing fewer, more durable clothing items made from sustainable material, which can be kept for longer.
It’s a subject that has been at the forefront of our minds this week as we visited the ‘Fashioned from Nature’ exhibition at the V&A museum, which documents fashion’s relationship with nature through the ages.
From the foral designs embroidered onto lavish gowns in the eighteenth century and the impact of the use of fur and feathers in couture fashion to the new technologies being developed to produce fibres and fabrics with a smaller environmental footprint, the exhibition offers a fascinating look at the damage fashion has wrought on our natural environment, and the steps now being taken by leading lights such as Stella McCartney and Helen Storey, to combat it and change industry practises.
It’s a subject we care passionately about and, whilst we are a young brand, we are already committed to using natural fibres in our garments and packaging to minimise plastic pollution, which is widely seen as the scourge of the modern age.
We package our wool and cotton jackets in biodegradable plastic bags and cardboard boxes for sending out to our customers and are constantly exploring new fabric options to make our garments as friendly for the environment as they are for your wardrobe.
The jackets in our current collection are made from cotton and British wool and for our next collection of shirts we are looking to include a design made of linen, a fabric that uses far less water to cultivate than cotton. We are also keen to include garments made from Tencel fabric going forwards as this fabric is not only super soft, absorbent and naturally unfavourable for bacterial growth, it is also made from wood pulp from sustainable wood sources and produced in a closed loop process, which recycles the water and solvents used.
The buttons we use are made from mother-of-pearl, a classic natural material. They are produced by a company committed to sustainable procurement, animal welfare and biodiversity as well as water and waste management. We are also investigating some British-made buttons, which are produced from either corozo, a sustainably sourced ‘vegetable ivory’, or casein, a milk protein.
We believe that many fashion brands are already making changes to their production processes to introduce more environmentally friendly practises, and were heartened to hear from renowned Irish designer, Orla Kiely (at the ‘Orla Kiely: My Life in Pattern’ exhibition at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum; another exhibition well worth seeing) that she believes consumers are turning away from fast, disposable fashion as more becomes known about its environmental impact. She says:
“There’s so much to be said for quality now… People are prepared to pay a bit more to invest in pieces that they will love and that will last.”
We hope that is a trend that is here to stay.