We choose to work under a three pillar approach to our fabric selection;
1. Natural Fibres
These are fabrics that have been made from virgin raw fibres such as Hemp, Flax, Ramie or Organic Cotton. They typically have less environmental impact, are durable, have good clothing properties and at the end of their useful life, can either be recycled or biodegraded back into the earth. We consider this the ultimate circular approach to sourcing materials, and where possible we will always aim to select one of these types of fabrics first.
2. Recycled Fibres
There has been a huge development on recycling of fibres, both natural and synthetic, with technology rapidly growing each day in this area, which is really awesome. Some of the current recycled fibres available include hemp, cotton, polyester and nylon. Recycled fabrics are fabulous as they use less virgin materials, which keeps existing materials in constant circulation and utilises what would be in many cases, a waste product.
Deadstock or remnant fabric is typically material that comes from large fashion brands overstock, past season stock, or from Fabric Mills who overproduce a certain fabric which is then redundant for future use (new Collections).
This oversupply fabric, unless resold, is often thrown into landfill (to avoid a competitor using the same print/type), or incinerated, which is crazy as there is usually nothing wrong with the fabric, and in so many cases is of a very high quality. We work with fabric suppliers who purchase this deadstock fabric, to then resell this onto smaller brands. This is great as we get access to smaller unique and limited runs of fabric, without needing to meet huge minimum order quantities that many fabric supplies impose.
Deadstock fabrics will include natural (cotton), regenerated (viscose, rayon) or man-made (polyester, nylon) fibres. Where possible we try to only use natural fibres, but in some cases will use regenerated or man-made fibres where these may suit a particular garment style. We recommend that any man made fibres are washed in a way that captures any microfibres, such as these fabulous Guppyfriend Bags.
The procurement of all our materials includes selecting products that have as little environmental impact from their raw source, through production and their lifecycle in the garment. Not only do we want more environmentally kind products, but we need to be sure they are of a high quality to ensure the longevity of your garments. We balance this with what we are able to source as a boutique business, to ensure we are not ordering unnecessary high quantities.
Our garment labels are woven cotton. We would love these to be organic cotton, but to date we have been unable to source organic cotton. We choose to use woven over printed labels due to their longevity, as the writing on printed labels fades over time.
We source our zips from a local Melbourne supplier who are certified Oeko-Tex Standard 100. We have been unable to source biodegradable or recycled zippers to date due to the large minimum quantities required. This is one of our 2020 improvement goals.
The majority of our buttons are Tangua Nut, a palm tree nut that is harvested from the seed of the tree. It can be easily dyed and at the end of its life is biodegradable, forming part of the circular economy.
We also source hemp, recycled paper, coconut, wood (FSC) and metal buttons if they meet our quality criteria.
We choose not to use shell buttons, as we think these should be left in the ocean.
Any of our other trims, including shoulder pads, fusing, buckles, eyelets etc. are all sourced from our local suppliers. We have developed a wonderful relationship with each of these people, who are always on the hunt for more environmentally friendly options for us. Improving and expanding our range of sustainable trims is a 2020 improvement goal.
We currently use polyester thread on all our garments, as it is stronger than traditional cotton thread and a common thread for our manufacturers. This is not ideal, and we are looking into acceptable alternatives to source. As part of our 2020 improvement goals we will be looking to source sustainable, biodegradable thread to use across all our garments.