We are all seeing sustainability and living eco-friendly has taken over the internet and our lives rapidly in the past few months.
What we don't see is that the numbers are actually quite worrying. We are all trying to do our best but do we know where our clothes are coming from and is it only enough to put a label "sustainable" behind your brand's name in order to succeed? Are we actually buying from true sustainable brands and are we asking the right questions?
It's a well known fact that fashion is NOT sustainable, but surprisingly despite your expectations it's becoming less so every minute. A report published by the Global Fashion Agenda in Copenhagen and the Boston Consulting Group last year revealed that the apparel and footwear industries’ progress on everything from carbon reduction to ensuring living wages for workers was 30 per cent slower in 2019 than the year before. The sector is also growing so rapidly that its impact on the planet is actually worsening. The volume of apparel and footwear being produced is forecast to increase by 81 per cent to 102 million tons by 2030, according to the report.
So, are we buying a true sustainable fashion and did we actually reduce our consumption for the past 2 years? Well, you as an individual might do pretty well in terms of reducing your carbon footprint and overall consumption, but unfortunately the majority haven't.
I can see a lot of brands fall into the PR trap where they call themselves sustainable just because they have a line or capsule collection made up in eco-friendly fabrics or just because they produce locally. Not only "sustainable" but have you noticed these words used quite frequently lately - "eco" , "vegan" , "conscious". The problem with using the term "sustainable" is that there is nothing specific about it. You can be a high street brand for example and call yourself a sustainable brand just because 70% of your clothing is made up of organic cotton. But is this really sustainable? Or is it just a good PR? People are talking more and more about ethics and traceability too. Very basic and rough example - imagine a big retailer is booking an order for organic cotton tops 10,000units in Vietnam and they are pushing the suppliers for the lowest possible price. At the same time they want their factory to present some kind of certifications that they pay fairly to their workers and the work environment in their factory is to a high standard. So, okay - some of the factories provide those certificates and are ready to start working for the big retailers. The problem is when these factories start taking more orders that they can realistically make and they are forced to give some of the orders to subcontractors. Well, that's an issue and not always the big retailer would find out about it. You might be buying a top from a sustainable brand, made up in a sustainable fabric, but are you actually sure that this garment is ticking all the boxes you would like it to tick? A lot of us have started feeling guilty about the environment and we genuinely care about our Planet and that's a good thing. 2020 made us think even more about the consequences from our daily decisions. We started reading the labels and ingredients of the food we buy, we started using less paper, we've cut down on the time we were taking showers and reduced our consumption. But was that enough? Of course, fashion was next. We started caring more about the clothes we buy, do we actually need this pink shirt, while we have a similar shape in our wardrobe in a very similar colour. Why would we need this? What was next then? We can't quit fashion forever and stop buying forever, can we? So, next on the list was - how can we start producing clothes in a way that it's not harming our Planet and the environment. Ok, so that's pretty much done - you can find organic or recycled fabrics even from stock fabric suppliers. And believe me that wasn't available 3-4 years ago, when I started sourcing sustainable fabrics. The minimums and prices were very high, unreachable for small brands and even for some of the high street brands. But the good thing is - today that's possible even for brands like Mareco. I can use sustainable fabrics for our collections, but is that what makes us sustainable and what really means being sustainability? I think that a straight answer doesn't exist when it comes to sustainability, I think it's a complex of steps you would need to follow in order to be able to call yourself sustainable. And in fact - as a brand I don't need to call Mareco sustainable. In my mind from now on we should start acting more cautious and with care in every aspect of our lives by default, and because IT DOES MATTER. For me there are few points I consider sustainable in the way I handle Mareco. 1) Transparency - this one is number one and most important for me. No matter what I use as a fabric or the place we will sewn our garments I need to be transparent about it. I have to share with you all even the aspects of my business which are NOT sustainable, like the threads we use (they are still polyester) and also the trucks I use for deliveries of the fabric and the garments. Being sustainable is a process and it doesn't happen overnight, but I will keep working towards that direction, protecting our Planet. 2) Made to order (pre-order) - We don't produce garments upfront. Meaning whatever you order from our website will be made especially for you. I urge you and in a way force you to reconsider ordering and spend more time thinking about the purchase you are about to make. 3) Sustainable/Eco-Friendly fabrics - in every collection I'm going to use only sustainable or eco-friendly fabrics from well known sources with a range of specific certificates for quality and traceability. I'm not going to make any exceptions. 4) Small team - Mareco is a very small business at the moment. It's just me, our Freelance pattern cutter and our Freelance seamstress. I'm just starting with our first collections and I think the best way to make sure that the people who produce your clothes are paid fairly and work in a good environment is if I use very close friends in the beginning and very soon I will share with you all exactly how much they are paid for the work they do. 5) Packaging - our packaging is Biodegradable or recycled. Tissue paper made out of 99% recycled pulp fibres and 35% of the electricity used to produce it is from renewable sources. The polybag is made from a strong 60mu recycled plastic and it's 100% recyclable. The same applies for our swing tags and stickers. Please do let me know in the comments section if you have any questions about any of the aspects of Mareco's processes.
Thank you for spending the time to read our Blog post and please subscribe to our website to be the first to find out about our first capsule collection. Love Maria Xx