Sustainable Fabrics Decoded
by Jessica Eva for Public Figure
Image via Peony Swim
When shining a light on a garment’s sustainability credentials, the fabric it is made from is the most influential factor. Ultimately this process is what places the most demand on the earth’s precious resources which is why you may have heard a few buzz words emerging relating to eco-friendly materials and their counterparts.
Here’s what you should know about the sustainable fabrics that our favourite brands are using.
A significant portion of a fabric’s environmental impacts can be reduced by repurposing what is already in circulation. Not only does this save the material from going to landfill but in closing the loop and making it into a new garment we place less demand on the earth’s resources to produce something from scratch.
There are two approaches to repurposed fabrics that are being adopted – one involves reusing existing material, also known as ‘deadstock’ sourcing. When a fashion house buys their fabric run for a garment or collection they will often overbuy so that they can easily meet demand. Environmentally conscious fashion houses then purchase the leftover reams of fabric or offcuts, aka. the ‘deadstock’ fabric, to use in their own garments saving the material from going to waste.
Shop deadstock with Autark
Another sustainable approach relates to regenerating the core fibre and weaving it into a new fabric entirely. A key example of this is Econyl.
It seems fortuitous that the new guard in sustainable swimwear is being made from discarded fishing nets plucked from the ocean itself. Econyl is becoming an increasingly popular alternative fabric for your favourite cossie, including our go-to Peony styles.
A recycled nylon, Econyl is made by regenerating post-consumer nylon products such as old carpets, upholstery and abandoned fishing nets. The fibres undergo a process that restores them to their virgin state then transforms it into textile yarn. In doing so up to 80% of global warming contributions are reduced compared to using regular nylon derived from non-renewable petroleum oil.
Best of all the quality of the material is just the same allowing for a high quality swim set with a far lighter environmental footprint.
Shop Econyl with Peony
Natural fabrics are a common preference for many, the benefits such as breathability, tactility and movement are hard to trump with engineered fibres. However, natural materials – cotton in particular - have come under scrutiny in the sustainability debate due to the demand that they can place on natural resources. It takes a large volume of water to produce cotton, often requiring potent pesticides which are harmful to the local environment as well as the growers themselves.
One solution to mitigate this as a conscious consumer is to seek out GOTS certified organic materials. GOTS represents the Global Organic Textile Standard, a worldwide authority who endorse fabrics based on their set of criteria for social and ecological impacts. The benefit of choosing a garment made from GOTS certified organic cotton is that it demands far less water to grow and the methods used cultivate the cotton crops give back to the earth through biologically diverse agriculture which prevents the need for pesticides.
We are pleased to have brands like Van Der Kooij available at Public Figure who make a conscious choice to use materials that adhere to these standards.