This year, I've had the honor of participating in an interview with Anjali Purohit from Variously about the innovations being made in the lingerie industry around sustainability and ethics, and how the COVID-19 situation is impacting and may continue to impact the future of fashion. This interview and many other virtual events for the week can be found here!
At Supernatural we pride ourselves on carrying sustainable brands and running a sustainable business. We use eco-friendly toilet paper, have outfitted our store with vintage furniture and art, repurposed piping for fixtures, & we recycle all that we can. Carlie, our founder, stays away from fast fashion and picks out brands and designers that align with her own vision of ethics and sustainability.
Here is what some of our brands are doing to make change and make a positive impact:
- Swedish Stockings: Probably one of our most committed brands to sustainability, Swedish Stockings has made fascinating innovations in hosiery. Their mission is to change and influence the entire hosiery industry. Nylon yarn, which is currently used to produce most modern pantyhose, is created from an environmentally harmful petroleum-based manufacturing process that leads to damaging carbon emissions. Furthermore, modern pantyhose aren't made to last. These harmful practices in the fashion industry are all too common. They create their pantyhose from both pre and post-consumer nylon waste. The production process is a lot less harmful to the environment than traditional nylon production and they are consistently looking for innovative and cleaner ways to produce - conserving or reusing water, decreasing emissions, reducing and recycling waste. They also have a recycling program where thousands of stockings have been recycled and made into sewer pipes & furniture. Read more here.
- Yolke: Yolke is just starting off on the sustainability path, but their goal is to be 100% sustainable in a few years time as they are adding new sustainable fabrics each season. They have even introduced a recycling program. Flax, from which linen is made, is one of the oldest continuously cultivated plants in the world. The fabric's ability to absorb water and conduct heat make it ideal for hot climates. When grown in its ideal geographical zone as their specifically sourced linen is, the cultivation of flax produces no waste. All parts of the plant are used with the long and short fibers being made into textiles. After the plants have been harvested, the root remnants fertilize and clean the soil, thereby improving the productivity of soil for 6 to 7 years. Growing flax does not require irrigation, fertilizers, herbicides nor pesticides, and therefore does not pollute rivers or groundwater. Read more here.
- Dora Larsen: Dora Larsen Lingerie is a small family-run company committed to responsible business practices. Their China based factory and local mills abide by REACH standards. REACH is EU-regulated and promotes human health and the environment, as well as promoting alternative methods for assessing substances. The factory also follows the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), an internationally recognized set of labour standards highlighting freely chosen employment, the right to collective bargaining, and health and well-being. Read more here.
- Opaak: Designed in Germany, Opaak is developed in close collaboration with experienced suppliers, pattern cutters, and manufacturers from the luxury segment. The Opaak collection is produced with a luxury manufacturer in Romania, following EU legislation regarding ethical, social and environmental standards. Paying special care to operate eco-friendly and through ethically sustainable supply chains, Opaak sources all of its materials and services from European partners. Ranging from regenerative and recycled materials to GOTS-certified organic cotton, Opaak continually researches innovations within the sustainable material industry too strike a balance for a sustainable product offering with uncompromised design and quality. Read more here.
- Bordelle: They champion the idea of buying less and investing in high-quality pieces that last. They combine craftsmanship with unique and proprietary techniques to create a Signature style, designed to be seasonless and made to stand the test of time. The adjustability of Bordelle’s pieces guarantees an individual fit which can be altered to the wearer over time to further extend its life. They produce their collections in small batches and their innovative adjustment feature across only five sizes keeps stock to a minimum, limiting over production across multiple sizes. Their low-waste approach to manufacturing means they avoid over production of materials and garment stock. They also believe in reducing waste at every step of the process; through intuitive design, sustainable production practices and re-usable packaging. Read more here.
- DSTM: Made in Europe, each of their pieces is ethically produced by family-run ateliers in the heart of Sofia, Bulgaria. Long term partnerships with them enabled them to develop special techniques and finishings unique to the brand. They aim to produce garments of the highest quality while ensuring the quality of life of each person that is involved in making our pieces. Read more here.
- Else: They consider it their mission to empower not only the wearer, but also the maker. Every ELSE piece is handmade by women in their Istanbul-based atelier. They educate these artisans in the latest lingerie-making techniques, helping them gain valuable skills to earn their own living. They’re similarly committed to giving back to Mother Nature and keeping their footprint as small as possible. They have a recycling program for responsible disposal of atelier wastes, and use sustainable lace created from regenerated yarn using solar energy. Read more here.
- Fortnight: Motivated by exceptional quality and craftsmanship at every step, they use soft, long- lasting materials that are both delicate and functional. Investing in carefully sourced, high-functioning fabrics – such as light-weight Italian jersey or lace from a family run mill in France – ensures longevity and enduring comfort, so garments retain their precise fit and contour, wear after wear. Producing in-house has allowed them to expand Fortnight consciously, reducing waste wherever possible and encouraging the careful consumption of fewer made-to-last pieces, worthy of care. Read more here.
- Kent: KENT collections are created with certified organic silks, organic and low impact dyes, and a fair and transparent supply chain. The strongest natural fiber, organic silk is a breathable, natural temperature regulator. It’s also hypo-allergenic and perfect for sensitive skin. Plus - all of their underwear feature organic cotton gussets for extra comfort & care. Read more here.
- La Fille d'O: Fast fashion brands drop about 50 collections a year. La Fille d'O makes 1 lingerie and 1 swimwear collection a year. The designer, Murielle, highly values her energy and the energy of everything that surrounds her. She hates to see a good thing go to waste so she thinks before she makes. This means she designs less things no one will want. This means less unwanted stuff ends up in land fill. In a circular economy, waste is the byproduct of bad design. The samples they make during the development of a new designs are not thrown away, but we sell them during their sample sales. Read more here.
- Lonely: In 2017, they gained accreditation from Child Labour Free, an external organization which works to detect risks of child labour and other labour infringements in various layers of the supply chain. As part of the accreditation process, full audits were completed at all their manufacturers by third party inspection teams. The CLF principles go beyond minimum legal requirements, ensuring fair and safe standards across areas including; child labour, working hours, wages and benefits, labour practices, health and safety, hygiene and waste management, and environmental impact. Read more here.
- Marieyat: The label focuses on seamless knitwear made from natural materials such as cotton and silk. Consciously made in China, elected for excellence, ethics, and in line with the brand's origins. Read more here.
- Only Hearts: Only Hearts is ethically manufactured in New York City using local, deadstock, organic, recycled, and certified made in green textiles, keeping their footprint gentle and light. Read more here.
- Paloma Casile: The pattern and the sizing are hand-made in her atelier in Paris. The fabrics like Calais lace, silk and microfibers are selected from French and European suppliers recognized for their expertise and technique. All metal components are eco-friendly, being made from a material that requires a lower melting temperature and therefore requires less water to produce.
- Ruban Noir: The technical materials come mostly from Italy; they are laser cut and feature a heat seal for support and longevity. The fabrics are hypoallergenic and do not contain any potentially toxic substances. The quality of the materials complies with OEKO TEX standards and gives assurance of client safety.
- Studio Pia: Studio Pia is always looking for ways they can minimize the environmental impact of their products, and support the ethical treatment of workers in their supply chain. They've scoured Europe to bring together materials of the highest quality, with the lowest environmental cost. They only use GOTS certified peace silk, a type of real silk made without killing the silkworm. The silk is dyed by hand using non-toxic dyes. They also use deadstock fabrics where possible, usually in less visible areas of garments. They ensure living wages are paid to all of their machinists and high standards of working conditions are maintained both at home and overseas. Overseas standards are monitored during bi-annual factory visits. Read more here.
Brands need to be responsible for their use of water, fabric waste, use of synthetic fabrics that the earth can’t break down. They have a long way to go, large companies produce 70% of the worlds pollution, where private citizens produce about 30%. Here are some steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint:
- Shop from local shops. Local shops often carry smaller brands, or brands that align with their own sustainable vision. Local artisans or makers, and thrift stores are also excellent sources of style.
- Cut down on washing your clothes, not everything needs to be washed every time it's worn.
- Buy organic fabrics or natural fabrics such as linen, silk, cotton, rayon, hemp, wool or bamboo.
- Buy less, take better care of the things you already have. Find a good tailor and shoe repair person, you will be supporting small businesses!
In Intimate Detail by Cora Harrington