The first part of creating a sustainable garment is selecting an environmentally friendly fabric. So what makes a fabric environmentally friendly?
Some of the main factors we look into when analyzing a fabric are:
1. The source of the fabric - what materials does it come from? Is it natural or man made?
2. The process to create the fabric - what are the resources required? are harmful chemicals used in the process?
3. The life cycle of the fabric - is it biodegradable? compostable?
As a small business, it's not viable to audit the whole value chain of where the fabrics you purchase came from, so in addition to using environmentally friendly fabrics, we rely on third party certifications that add that extra layer of confidence that the full value chain has used sustainable and ethical business practices to create the fabrics we use.
Here are some of our favorite fabrics:
One of our most environmentally friendly options is to work with recycled, deadstock or upcycled fabrics. We do this as often as possible, such as our Rodas by Night dress made from Oscar de la Renta deadstock fabric and most recently with the release of our Quilmas upcycled top. However, supply of this material is often limited in volume and harder to source.
Hemp is known as one of the most durable and versatile fabrics in history, originally used for making sails and ropes. Nowadays, hemp is made into avery soft and warm fabric, while still maintaining its quintessential durability, which will allow you to enjoy your timeless hemp garments for many years to come.
Hemp is an all-natural fiber that is resistant to pests and grown pesticide free. It is a high yield crop that produces significantly more fiber than other plants grown in the same amount of space and produces less waste since the entire plant can be used.
Regular cotton is one of the most common fibers used in the fashion world today. Shockingly, it also is one of leading contributors of insecticides, waste and toxins in the entire industry not only hurting the direct land and workers but hurting surrounding communities as well. It takes over 2,500 liters of water to make only one t-shirt! That is more than two years of drinking water for the average human!
Organic cotton uses drastically less water than regular cotton,and is grown using environmentally friendly methods that replenish and maintain the surrounding land by eliminating the use of harmful chemicals and pesticides to produce the cotton. These methods benefit the surrounding earth and community and help protect them from the traditional chemically intensive processes.
Since organic cotton doesn't use pesticides or chemicals, you won't get that itchy feeling on your skin when putting on a new cotton shirt from the store. Your garment will also feel softer and will be more durable since the fibers are hand picked and aren't damaged in the cotton picking process that machines use.
Lyocell is a super light and absorbent fabric. It allows your body to breath and since it is more absorbent than other fibers like cotton, it holds less odor causing bacteria, so it is great for your active lifestyle.
If we told you this fabric was made from wood, would you believe us? Lyocell fiber is a sustainably produced fiber that comes from wood!
Lyocell is produced using wood pulp and a solvent spinning process that reuses 99% of the water it uses to make the cellulosic fiber. Not only is it manufactured using a responsible production process, but at the end of its life cycle, it is biodegradable.
Linen is one of our favorite fabrics. It allows your body to breath very naturally but is still durable and will withstand your everyday life including those insanely hot and humid summer days. It is super stylish but also absorbent, so it will absorb the odor causing bacteria your body produces when you sweat. Linen also becomes softer the more you wash and wear it, so it not only will remain timeless, but will actually get better with time.
Linen comes from the flax plant which requires absolutely no pesticides to grow. When harvesting the flax plant, the entire plant is used which helps to reduce waste. Linen is organic, biodegradable and recyclable! Talk about an amazing fabric!
Cupro is one of our favorite fabrics to work with. Cupro feels like silk on your skin but breaths like cotton! Known as an “artificial silk,” Cupro drapes beautifully and allows for incredible garment designs.
While you may think it’s silk because of the look and feel, it is produced by treating cotton cellulose (a byproduct of producing cotton) with cuprammonium salt (using the byproduct helps reduce waste from the cotton plant). This process gives us a beautiful, silky fabric that is very absorbent and super comfortable and stylish to wear.