My feelings about clothing are closely aligned with that of the Fashion Revolution movement, which says, “We have lost the connection with the clothes that we wear.” As a result, we’ve glossed over the many levels of suffering woven into our apparel—from the unsustainably produced raw materials to the polluting fabric mills to the oppressive sweatshops to the community-blighting big-box stores.
Treading lightly on the earth has always been a part of my artistic and personal philosophy. Since my family went zero waste in late 2013, I’ve focused on keeping my work process out of the landfill.
There are many different “eco-friendly” fabric options out there, none of which is perfect. Cotton is the largest contributor to the garment industry’s carbon footprint, and organic cotton uses twice as much water as conventional. Hemp is coming along, but only as it’s combined successfully with other fibers. Bamboo and Modal (from the beech tree) both come from renewable resources, but the process that transforms these wood fibers to fabric is chemically intensive. Tencel and Lyocell are versions of Modal that are created using a “closed cell” process that recycles or reuses 99.5% of the chemical solvents. That’s why I use a broad spectrum of these fabrics, all surplus and salvaged.
There is no right answer, but I’m constantly looking for a better one. My line evolves with sustainable technology as lighter-impact fibers and more ethical manufacturing processes are developed.