Today's post is in response to a specific reader (and professional colleague's) question...
I've been meaning to ask you about eco-friendly fabrics since last year. I'm curious and concerned about the fashion industry's move towards sustainability. Our industry is the second largest polluter in the world according to research. Between textile waste, polluting natural resources and social abuse, the industry is making a huge impact. Have you heard discussions about sustainability in fashion? Also, what steps are industry leaders taking to improve the enormous waste associated with cheap fashion? I've vowed not to design another piece of clothing unless it is made from recycled fiber or textile. It is difficult to stay away from polyester since it's the cheapest thing on the market and abundant. However, it's made from plastic and highly toxic especially when place in dryers. Most people don't have a clue. My question to you is? Which fabric stores sell recycled textiles or work with factories recycling fibers to weave new textiles. I may not get into the business of custom making textiles but I want to support businesses who do. Is it possible to find a list of stores or distributors contributing to eco-fabric? I would love to have this knowledge or find research. There are a few professors at F.I.T teaching sustainability in fashion but it's a new concept. What are your thoughts?
Thank you for asking about this, Stacia. If you care about the environment and our collective future, you may care to know that there are some companies specifically focused on providing Eco-Freindly fabrics, and to my eyes, it doesn't look like the NYC Garment district is leading the charge.
First of all, I want to emphasize that I truly believe that durability is the absolutely best way to make responsible use of the fabrics we purchase. Make something that will last until you have either worn it to pieces, hand it down, pass it on to friends or family, or donate it to a thrift shop. That is the best we can ask for, no matter what a garment is made of.
Aside from that, I have noticed bamboo Fabrics at NY Elegant, which are delightfully soft and wonderful to touch.
I also visited a few eco-friendly fabric suppliers at last year's DG Expo. The businesses are not local, but they do sell in smaller quantities, so you would be able to obtain and sample their offerings that way.
KenDor Textiles is a Canadian company, offering a variety of Eco-friendly fabrics, including:
Recycled Polyester (Repreve*)
Zen Tex is a company with a New York Garment District Showroom, selling wholesale (1 roll minimums) to the trade. Among their offerings are:
- Yarn Dyes
- Gauze/Double Cloths
- Recycled Polyester
- Lyocell/Tencel® (from wood pulp cellulose)
Indigo Handloom has thousands of unique handwoven fabrics in its collection. We work with several different areas in South Asia and work in all natural fibers including all varieties of silk, cotton, wool and linen. Our fabrics require no energy to be made - besides the energy and expertise of our master weavers. By choosing handloom fabrics over machine-milled fabric, reduces the carbon footprint of your products as well as employs nine times as many people.
I have spoken at length on this subject in a recent post, detailing a local event on "The Future of Fashion", and challenging people to thing differently about how/what we wear/use/create/consume.