Fashion brands that sit at the table with Men of Orange, almost all want 'something' with sustainability. However, they often don't know where to start. Koen Ellerbeck and Eefje Witvoet give tips on what to look out for. "We would like to let you know what is possible at all if you want to have collections produced in a sustainable way." It has almost become a standard question in the Men of Orange showroom. Fashion brands want to know what they can do in the field of sustainability. But where do you start?
What do you pay attention to if you want to produce sustainable clothing? There are many aspects that you can pay attention to if you want to have a collection produced sustainably. For example, on the raw materials, the painting technique, the social conditions in the factory, the packaging material and also the logistic footprint.
The raw materials Anyone who is just getting into sustainable fashion will probably think of organic materials quickly, say Ellerbeck and Witvoet. For example, the cotton can be BSCI certified, but also GOTS, which goes a step further. Polyester and other synthetic materials can generally be recycled well. For the trimmings – buttons, labels, tapes – you can generally also use recycled material. Witvoet: "Our customers usually want to produce as green as possible. Then we will look together at how far that is possible. There are also limitations to working with recycled materials. Not every fabric is available in every material or in every color. That does not mean that we do not opt for a sustainable option, but that we have to look smartly at the best solution. For example, for recycled nylon the minimum purchases are high, then it is better to choose recycled polyester." Witvoet and Ellerbeck believe that many more developments will take place in the field of sustainable raw materials in the coming years. "We are already seeing small brands experimenting with raw materials such as algae and shells. The technology for recycling is also getting better and better, so that the quality of the fabric remains better." To paint There are also sustainable options in the field of dyeing the fabrics. Materials can be painted in different ways. Think of: water-saving techniques, biodegradable dyes and even dyes made from plants and herbs. The Nomad hoodies, sweatshirts, polo shirts and T-shirts are an example of this. The collections are made of 100 percent organic material, GOTS certified, are not dyed with chemical materials, but with pigments from herbs. Ellerbeck: "We do that in India, a country with a polluting image in the field of textiles. It is precisely there that it is great to develop green initiatives.
The working conditions All suppliers that Men of Orange works with meet at least the international guidelines. In addition, many manufacturers go one step further. They are GOTS certified. Witvoet: "That means that they have to meet all kinds of requirements in the field of the environment and the social aspect. So they pay close attention to the working conditions. The packaging materials Sustainability goes further than just the collections. The garments must also be packed. In addition to the usual recycled plastic polybag, several of Men of Orange's customers are already working with recycled paper bags. The footprint When choosing a manufacturer, in addition to the certification, the location is also a point to consider. Many fashion brands like to produce close to home, so that their ecological footprint remains as small as possible. Transport prices also play a role, because they have risen extremely recently, explain Ellerbeck and Witvoet. Anyone who wants to do good for the environment will soon end up with production in Europe. "Then the collections come by truck and not by plane," says Ellerbeck. "But wherever we produce in the world – also in countries such as India that are known to be polluting – we always try to find the most sustainable solution with our customers." Going through the options together A question that always comes up during conversations with fashion brands is: how far do you want to go? “There are so many flavors and options when it comes to sustainability,” Witvoet says. “Our customer Blueloop, for example, goes very far. Their goal is to make high-quality new clothing from collected clothing. For example, they collect old clothing for recycling, make their own yarns from it and produce high-quality articles from it. We always look for the best options for each customer.”