Ethical and Sustainable: Textiles blog from designer maker.


When I created Urban Chintz® sustainable practice was at the forefront of my mind and a world away from fast fashion.

 As a designer I believe I have a responsibility; printing must be carried out with the least environmental impact, fabrics chosen with care and consideration to the environment, manufacturing/ sewing is carried out ethically, unnecessary packaging avoided and packaging use must be environmentally friendly.

 If my pieces are treasured and made to last they have a greater chance of a long and valued life. Not heading for landfill or dumped on the developing world.

 By choosing quality natural fabric, careful sewing and gentle care will enable a garment to last for years and when it does reach its end it will break down naturally. I won’t expand on sustainable fabrics and yarns as this will become a thesis, but there is a great deal of excellent research and publications if you are interested and I can recommend Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys By Kate Fletcher.

However all yarns and processes have pitfalls some larger than others, but remember washing your textiles can have a larger impact on the environment that the material itself.

At present the majority of our textiles are printed digitally, I do hand-print some samples and workshop pieces but I do not have the specialist print studio required for quality textile print nor do I produce very long print runs. Digital print is perfect for limited production runs and reduces wasted dyes. All the digital printing is with specialist textile printers in Britain this reduces the fabric’s journey, supports 'made in Britain', and enables us to have greater control, knowing each garments story.

 By using specialist British textile printers I am reassured that European legislation on waste pollution is strong and enforced.

 All of our garments are made by hand and many are hand sewn, with the majority of garments sewn by myself in my workshop/ studio, occasionally receiving help from local seamstresses.

 Packaging, a delicate balance between cost, practicalities, design and ethics. I use tin packaging for the majority of scarves and pocket squares and I love the industrial feel and strength of the material it is a great way to present and protect my pieces. Tins are more likely to be kept, if recycled they are the only material that does not degrade when recycled and can be recycled over and over again and not lose quality. However it is not perfect and I will use different types of packaging for different uses, avoiding unnecessary packaging and ensuring it is environmentally friendly.

 

References:

http://www.telio.com/pdf/Organic.pdf

http://www.rapanuiclothing.com/ethical-fashion/tencel-lyocell-eucalyptus.html

http://www.the-eco-market.com/tencel-fabric.html

http://www.naturallifemagazine.com/0908/ecofiber_or_fraud.htm

http://www.enjoybamboo.com/News/Bamboo-fiber-has-lots-of-advantages.html

http://eartheasy.com/blog/2010/05/lets-keep-clothing-out-of-our-landfills/