Velvet: Sustainable or No?
You may find yourself craving a hint of velvet in your winter wardrobe this year – this is to be expected as it has been all over the runways and featured in all the popular fashion magazines and blogs.
But is velvet sustainable? Velvet itself does not exist on its own in nature. It is a fabric that has to be produced by other materials. When velvet was first created it was made100% from silk. Although it commonly gets referenced back to European nobility, velvet is believed to have been originated in Eastern culture; China Iraq and Egypt being some of the major players in the beginning of velvet production. The product back then was pure and handmade to perfection. Fast forward to modern day velvet and you may notice that a lot of it no longer says “made from silk” on your tag. This is because, in order to get costs down and to be able to mass produce for our fast fashion stores, the silk has been replaced with polyester. Polyester in essence is melted down plastic.
There is not a simple Yes or No answer to the question “Is Velvet Sustainable”. The answer is… it depends! If your new blush velvet blazer is made from silk which was ethically and sustainability sourced, then we want you to rock it all the time! It may be more expensive, but investing in a timeless piece that you love is worth it (think about it…velvet has had a moment in the 20s, 40s, 70s, 90s, and now)...this piece will come back around! You may also have a velvet dress that is made from polyester – but the polyester is made from recycled plastic bottles. This would make the dress sustainable and we would totally dig it. However, if your new favorite velvet piece is made from newly created polyester, this means that new plastic was created to manufacture it (which by the way takes a ton of oil to do) and when you no longer want to own this piece it sits in a landfill and does not decompose for at least 200 years – there is nothing sexy about that. When shopping for velvet try to look for items made from silk or recycled materials, this helps keep your carbon footprint down and our oceans cleaner – win win.
Now you know how to determine what velvet is sustainable. Let's find sustainable velvet.
Here are our picks for the 2018 season.
So if you have been following our blog for a while you already know that we seriously crush on The Reformation. All of their clothes are made in-house at their LA factories. They know what is happening in their supply chain. (You can even tour The Reformation's factories) They value carbon off-setting and limit how much water is used in their denim. They make their clothes from deadstock which gives old textiles new life.
You can not talk about sustainable fashion without mentioning Eileen Fisher. She is a pioneer in the field. The brand achieved B-Corp statues in 2015. Achieving B-Corp status for any business is not an easy task. The high standards ensure that the people in the supply chain are taken care of and there is a high accountability for environmental performance. Eileen Fisher achieved the award based on their vision for 2020 to improve the company's conscious business practices.
G-Star Raw focuses on sustainability through a responsible supply chain, sustainable products, sustainable operations and the GSRD foundation. Clothes are made in with a circular approach, which reduces waste to almost nothing. G-Star partners with The Better Cotton Initiative, an organization that exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future. The organization works with farmers to take specific measurable actions to reduce the impact on the environment and communities. One clear example on the organization's website is banning pesticides listed in the Rotterdam Convention. The velvet blazer above is made of 98% cotton.
*This post was updated to reflect the 2018 season.
P.S. - If you are building your sustainable collection or just buying new clothes for fun, please consider going through the links in this blog post. It helps keep the website going, community supported, and the information free! Plus, it doesn't cost any extra. Win-win!