How are 3 startups preventing fast fashion from destroying the planet?
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A few days ago, I was watching Minimalism, a documentary about the important things on Netflix. During the show, they said something that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about-
We are too materialistic in the everyday sense of the word, and we are not at all materialistic enough in the true sense of the word. We need to be true materialists, like really care about the materiality of goods.
You see a new piece of clothing in a fashion event. Fast forward 15 days, you have a lookalike available in the stores. This process of clothes moving quickly from the design stage to the stores gave birth to Fast Fashion.
Let’s see how Cuyana, TrusTrace and The R Collective are building innovative solutions to slow this down-
1️⃣ We need fewer, better clothes
I’ve nothing to wear...The demand for cheap garments has taken a toll on humans and the environment. Workers operate under inhumane conditions to manufacture clothes for major fashion brands. This cheap clothing is worn by the customers just a few times before being thrown away- ultimately ending up in incinerators or landfills. Moreover, pesticides, dyes, plastics used in the industry are polluting the environment.
Clothes that last…At San Franciso based Cuyana, Co-Founders Karla and Shilpa are co-creating products with small family-run businesses instead of sweatshops. Having raw material suppliers and manufacturers in the vicinity brings down their logistics’ carbon footprint. Their timeless, functional and versatile design and high quality of the products ensure that customers can wear the same clothes year after year.
Second life...When customers decide to revamp their wardrobes, their Cuyana collection doesn’t have to end up in a landfill. It is donated to organizations like H.E.A.R.T. that help women healing from abusive situations. Also, with their resale partners, they resell these clothes, giving them a second life. By providing store credits, Cuyana incentivizes the customers to resell their collections instead of discarding them.
2️⃣ Where are my clothes coming from?
I know someone who knows someone...Apparel brands have a global supply chain that is an intricate network of raw material providers, manufacturers, warehouses & shipping companies. As you keep going down the value chain, it’s common to find that the supply chain processes are still paper-based. This makes it increasingly difficult for companies to trace their supply chain beyond Tier-1(thereby restricting them from making sustainable decisions).
Building Traceability as a Service(TaaS)...Childhood friends Hrishikesh, Saravanan, Shameek and Madhava understood these challenges while working in the biggest textile hub in Asia. At TrusTrace, they are redefining traceability using tags and blockchain technology. With their technology, apparel brands can identify suppliers beyond Tier-1, trace material movement and visualize each product’s journey.
Customers are asking for it...A BCG report states that 75% of consumers view sustainability as extremely or very important. The product level information provided by TrusTrace helps brands build an ethical and sustainable supply chain and effectively share evidence-based sustainability claims to their customers.
3️⃣ Challenging the way fashion is made
I don’t know what to do with it...Luxurious brands are always looking to get rid of their fabrics for various reasons- out of season or fashion, wrong material & wrong quantities are some of the common ones. In a linear fashion system, this is the end of life for these excess fabrics which are otherwise perfect to use. The most convenient way to get rid of them- incinerate them or dump them in a landfill.
Upcycling...Hong Kong-based The R Collective rescues these excess fabrics and include them into the circular system by upcycling(creating a product of higher quality) them into clothes. As the colour, type and amount of fabric keep changing, founder Christina Dean and her team have to deploy different design approaches to create timeless designs and reduce waste.
Made on Demand Clothing...Taking the circular fashion system a level higher, they have recently launched Refashioned, their made on-demand collection. Only after the customer chooses the style, fabric and the type of the rescued fabric, the brand manufactures the cloth. The water-soluble hangtags and zero-waste product labelling further solidify their sustainability efforts.
📄What can I do as an individual?
A lot actually. You can start with these three simple things-
Just ask yourself…If I buy this new piece of clothing, would I wear it at least 30 times. If you think an app can help you keep accountable, here is one.
Back to basics…While it’s nice to dress in current trends, you are less likely to wear it once the trend changes the next week-invest in basic clothing.
Cost per wear…A higher quality product would last longer. Although you might pay higher initially, think about it in terms of cost per wear.
📹 Epic conversations
Watch my conversations with founders in Canada who are thinking beyond fast fashion-
Maison Tess- In the world of fast fashion, Laura has built an ethical supply chain for this home textile brand.
KOTN- A sustainable clothing brand bringing the farm-to-table concept for clothes.
⏮️ From the last edition
In the last edition, I wrote about the problem of Plastic Pollution. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, here it is. A few days ago, I saw A Plastic Ocean on Netflix. Before watching this, I knew about plastic pollution, but after watching it, I could feel it. Here are some of the quotes from it that stayed with me-
Plastic is wonderful because it is durable. And plastic is terrible because it is durable.
The one that will solve the problem of plastic pollution is the behaviour of the people.
Every other species on Earth works towards the benefit of the ecology and the environment that it lives in, but us humans, we just seem like passengers on this Earth.
Do watch it and let me know your thoughts on it by just replying to this mail or leave a comment below