Bringing the polo and jacket to life : three rules we followed for sustainable clothing production
To be very transparent with you, we were worried about joining the fashion industry. It made a lot of sense in terms of the Untraced vision (see previous articles) but we were wondering if the world needed more clothes and the carbon footprint that came with it…
Even if we chose not to use cheap cotton, even if we chose not to produce in Bangladesh, having a clothing brand still sounded like it would be very damaging to the environment.
We researched for days and days to find different options and we finally decided to go with our initial vision under the following conditions:
- We treat every Untraced initiative as an experiment to find out if we can make a positive change while working in the fashion industry. If a positive change is achieved, we will keep going. If this is not the case, we will stop producing clothes and move onto something else.
- We respect the following three rules no matter what:
1. Source low-impact materials: We will source materials that have the lowest impact on the planet. These materials will be made of recycled materials, and we will look for Bluesign® approval as much as possible. We will only ship materials by boat, never by plane.
2. Manufacture locally: We will manufacture in Australia, with partners who respect healthy practices and offer ethical working conditions.
3. Distribute safely: We plan for the most sustainable delivery service while only using recycled materials in our packaging.
We knew that our priorities would make our costs higher and our timeline longer but we didn’t care. It was non-negotiable for every member of our team.
Five months later, it’s time for a review to find out if we’ve respected our own three rules.
1. Source low-impact materials
It was shocking how hard it was to source sustainable materials. We looked all over Australia with no luck. We expanded our search and landed on suppliers in Japan, Thailand, and China.
To make matters worse, the entire sourcing and shipping process had to be organized over Zoom calls during the Covid-19 crisis in 2020.
It was a very long and expensive process to get the materials to Australia. All raw materials were shipped by boat and everything arrived piece by piece in Brisbane where our factory is located.
In the end, we have created products we are very proud of. Every single one of our fabrics and trims is made of recycled materials and/or is Bluesign® approved.
We are happy with our efforts, although of course there are still mountains of improvement to climb. To stay on track, we have signed the Responsible Shipping pact. This organization is keeping us posted on new ways to reduce our carbon footprint and we are very appreciative of their work. You can learn more about this organization on their website.
2. Manufacture locally
We needed to manufacture our jackets and polos locally in Australia but it was quite difficult to find a good factory that was willing to produce small quantities.
Local factories are generally used to working with larger brands and they prefer to produce larger quantities. We looked everywhere in Australia before finding a factory that would work with us.
The factory we ended up working with is in Brisbane, Queensland, and the team is amazing.
3. Distribute safely
At the time of writing this article, our jackets and polos are still in production, and we are currently developing a sustainable distribution strategy. It is also a no-brainer that we will be using strictly recycled materials in our packaging although the supplier of these materials has not been chosen yet.
We are currently researching different options so if you have any feedback or awesome opportunities, we would love to hear from you.
In conclusion, we’ve been following our rules and trying to make good choices every day, but we are fully aware that we are not quite perfect yet.
We have not saved the planet but we are working on it and we think that our processes and priorities are already a good start. We intend to keep working hard to create a better future and to create clothing in the most sustainable way possible.
*** What does "bluesign® approved" mean?
"Bluesign" comes from bluesign®technologies and is an independent chemical auditor which works with producers, factories and brands. Bluesign experts monitor the origin and the journey of materials from the factory to the final product. Choosing a bluesign certified material means that it has been manufactured in a safe way for the environment, for workers and for consumers.
Want to know more? Check out this video.
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