As Ethical and Sustainable fashion become more mainstream, designers need to have a better understanding of exactly where their fabric are coming from. Complete transparency when it comes to eco-friendly textiles and manufacturing processes is the only way to insure you are on the right track.
With that in mind, here are 10 questions you need to be asking everyone you plan to do business with.
1. What fibers make up this fabric? i.e synthetic or natural, plant or animal.
2. What makes these fabrics ethical? i.e. organic, low water usage, highly renewable, etc.
3. Where do these fabrics come from? Determining geographic location helps you access the way workers are treated as well as the environmental impact of shipping the goods.
4. Is ethical animal husbandry practiced?
5. Are sustainable practices used in the cultivation of crops? i.e. wastewater recycling, crop rotation.
6. Is the fabric recycled? Can the fabric be recycled?
7. What amount of care is required for this fabric?
8. How is the fabric dyed and finished? i.e. what kind of dyes are being used and what kind of chemicals are used to create the fabric’s finish. ( Sand washed fabrics feel amazing but the chemicals used to make the fabric feel s that way are excessive and not exactly what I want next to my skin.)
9. Do the chemical finishes applied to the fabric in turn help minimize wastage once the garment is made. i.e. stain resistant finishes require less washing allowing for major water conservation over the life of the garment. It’s a “pick your poison” situation.
10. What kind of certifications does this fabric have and to what region do they apply? Do the certifications cover the fiber or fabric?
Check out this video from Berlin’s Eco Fashion Week. The designers talk about the questions they ask suppliers, how they dye their fabrics, and why they do what they’re doing. It’s inspiring.