From Plastic to Fabric - 8 Sustainable Fashion Brands

In this post, we want to take ocean plastic pollution and it’s management to the next level. We want to look at 8 Sustainable Fashion Brands, who are making a difference and converting plastic to fabric. Why are we doing this? Well, let me summarize the situation briefly.

The Thing is This:

About 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year in one form or another. Out of that, about 8 million tonnes enters our oceans each year. According to the Ocean Conservancy, that’s like dumping one NYC garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute of the day, for 365 days. Quite horrifying if you think about it that way, right!

Here’s The Good News About Ocean Plastic Pollution

With deliberate and concerted efforts, it is possible to reverse the amount of plastics entering the seas. However, this needs to be approached from a multi-dimensional and multi-agency approach, with Everybody playing their part. Individuals, industries, governments and non-governmental agencies all have to get involved in the management of plastic and plastic waste.

The infographic above summarizes what we can do about the ocean plastic pollution problem into three points:

  1. Reduce plastic in the waste stream
  2. Improve solid waste management
  3. Increase capture and reuse of plastic waste

There are ethical fashion brands out there who are transforming plastic to fabric are fulfilling 1) and 2) of the solution to plastic pollution.

 

In our post “Life in a Plastic-Free Ocean”, we really got into some specifics on the effect of microplastics on marine ecosystems. We also looked at 3 organizations that are doing something about ocean plastic pollution, and making a positive difference. These are:

  1. Icebreaker who sponsored Ben Lecomte to do the Vortex Swim
  2. The Ocean Cleanup
  3. Ecoalf – Upcycling Oceans

Now, we’re taking things a little further in this post, by focusing on 8 Sustainable Fashion Clothing Brands who are recycling plastic to make fabric.

1. The Sora Life

Sora Sirkel Mountains Towel

 

The Sora Life is a young brand who have embraced sustainable practices into their processes. Take a look at some of the areas Sora Life is keeping it Eco:

  • Paper packaging – The paper wrapper for their merchandise is Kraft paper, which is made from wheat straws
  • Business cards – made from recycled paper
  • Cotton drawstring bags – These are made from 100% cotton, can be reused for other things and they’re entirely biodegradable.
  • Upcycled Towel made from post-consumer plastic. This is the real Eco attention-grabber. Let me tell you more next.

In their unique plastic-to-fabric initiative, Sora Life has produced a multi-purpose Yoga Towel collection that’s made from reclaimed plastic. These towels are made from 85% recycled material, with 8 bottles being used in the manufacture of each towel.

The Plastic to Fabric Process of Sora Life Towels:

After removing the caps and labels from the PCP bottles, they are washed, crushed into flakes and the flakes melted into pellets. It is these small pellets that are then extruded into yarn, which then makes the fabric of the Sora Towels.

 

When I received my Sora Sirkel Mountains towel, I loved the super-soft feel immediately. I also loved the lightness of the towel. My towel is 78cm by 138cm in size but you can’t even feel the weight at all – so cool!

Tracy in Sora Sirkel Mountain Towel

 

Being the beach lover that I am, I had to take my new towel for a ‘test drive’ to see if it does everything promised on the website. I’m excited to say that the towel did not disappoint; here’s why:

  1. Sand repellent properties: Sora Life towels are “Shake ‘N Go”…. literally! Shake the towel off once, which makes all the grains of sand fall off. So no carrying home grains of sand from the beach – I really like that.

  2. Moisture activated grip: When you come from water and wrap this towel around you, it automatically wicks the water away from your body. This literally feels like it’s hugging you.

 

The Amazing Artists behind Sora Life Towel Prints:

I really like the fact that Sora Life Towel brand involves local artists in coming up with their beautiful prints. The 4 different collections are even themed around the towel prints:

  1. Venice – This print was a collaboration with Filipino artist Chi Gibbs. She was inspired by the colors, shapes and architecture of Palm Springs, California as the basis of the eclectic prints in this collection. Chi shares more about her work here.

  2. Sirkel – Modern, abstract prints in lovely pastels done in collaboration with London-based Kit Agar. Kit’s theme for the Sirkel collection was inspired by mountains, pebbles and the female form. My towel came from this collection because I fell in love with the pastels and abstract print on this design.

  3. The Botanicals – The prints in this collection were inspired by the beautiful flowers and plants found in the Philippines. Artist Mercedes Olondriz is a Manila-based creative, known for her love for nature, which forms the basis of her botanical-inspired prints and murals.

  4. Flow and Flow-Ruby – These two collections are inspired by female beauty and form. Sora Life designed these towels to appreciate women and their amazing capabilities. This fun brand has taken design a step further, in honor of women.

These multi-purpose yoga towels combine good looks and functionality, in a wonderful sustainable design. There’s so much to love about these products and I highly recommend that you give them a try.

Giving Back/ Supporting Communities:

This is a spin-off from the concept behind Sora Life’s Flow towel design. To support girls and women, Sora Life has committed to donate 10% of the sales proceeds to Girls Opportunity Alliance. This is a program that seeks to empower girls around the world through education. Find out more about this program here.

2. Ecoalf – Upcycling the Oceans

Ecoalf is another fashion brand that’s making a big difference in the war against ocean plastic pollution. This brand is a Certified B Corp, and is actually the first fashion brand in Spain to attain this certification.

Ecoalf Yoga Collection - Basic Legging Venice

Sustainable fashion can either use organic materials or recycled materials.  Ecoalf have decided to use recycled post-consumer plastic, upcycling it into fabric and fashionable clothes.

This Spanish brand started this ambitious project in 2015. Today, they are working with about 3000 fishermen in 40 ports over Europe to retrieve plastic debris from the oceans. The plastic debris is sorted and classified for recycling later.

Ecoalf then converts the PET bottles into flakes, then pellets, and finally into the 100% polyester yarn that makes fabric. By turning recycled waste into raw materials, Ecoalf significantly reduces their use of scarce, natural resources.

It’s not just PET bottles that Ecoalf uses as raw material;

They also use recycled:

  • Nylon waste from discarded fishing nets (from the ocean), carpets and fabric scraps
  • Cotton (recycled cotton saves 2500 litres of water per t-shirt)
  • Wool
  • Tyres (recycled to make Ecoalf flip flops)
  • Paper waste is recycled to make their packaging.

This means that their production processes effectively reduce the amount of plastic waste in the environment, making their products more sustainable. Ecoalf’s raw material methods are a low impact means of achieving sustainable fashion.

A woman in Ecoalf Yoga Collection doing yoga

Seriously, I could go on and on about Ecoalf, but you need to check out their site and clothes to see how they do what they do. There’s so much to choose from, in their selection for women, men and kids.

They’ve even put together sustainable accessories collections, consisting of backpacks, caps, suitcases, and ladies’ handbags. Don’t forget to check out their fun ‘#Because’ collection, featuring clothing with the tagline ‘Because There is no Planet B’. Buy Ecoalf products directly from their online store, or from Amazon US and Amazon UK.

3. Girlfriend Collective

Girlfriend Collective were among the first brands to start Plastic to Fabric Sustainable fashion. Take a look at the leggings that started it all; Compressive High-rise leggings made from 25 recycled water bottles.

A woman posing in the Girlfriend Collective's Compressive High-Rise Leggings

With 1000s of 5-star reviews and counting, just for this particular design of leggings, there’s got to be something this brand is getting right.

I love the fact that Girlfriend Collective utilizes only post-consumer PET water bottles in their recycling process. The bottles are sourced from Taiwan, and taken through a regulated process of transforming them into fabric, all within Taiwan.

Credibility and transparency during transformation from plastic to fabric is very key for Girlfriend Collective. They go to a lot of depth to explain their recycling processes and principles here, and we encourage you to judge for yourself after reading. This is the reason why the brand is loved and trusted the world over.

If there’s one category of clothes that is considered ‘tricky’ to fit, it’s maternity wear. With Girlfriend Collective, their maternity leggings seem to be pretty comfortable and good fits for those who have bought them. 

I really like the fact that they had real mums model their maternity leggings, making them more relatable. Coupled with quality finishes, fantastic colours, trendy but functional styles, these athleisure clothes are definitely “All That” among sustainable fashion brands.

4. GoLite Activewear

This sustainable fashion brand makes activewear for outdoor activities, such as hiking, trail running. With their priority mission being to keep plastic out of landfills and the ocean, GoLite is also keen to produce durable and outdoor-functional clothes.

Each garment on GoLite collections will show you the number of post-consumer recycled bottles that went into making it. For example:

  1. Leggings – 18 bottles
  2. Tee Shirt (Mens) – 5 bottles
  3. Ladies Shorts – 10 bottles
  4. Men’s Eco Jacket – 28 bottles

So with each item you purchase, you get to know how many bottles were prevented from going to landfills and to the ocean.

A woman in GoLite Women’s ReClipse Half-zip Top with hands on zipper

One similarity they have with Girlfriend Collective is that GoLite also sources their post-consumer PET bottles from Taiwan. They have partnered with a Taiwanese non-profit who handle the plastic-to-fabric process, right from sorting of the plastic bottles to weaving of the fabrics.

What else makes GoLite a sustainable brand in their end-to-end processes?

  1. Use of low-energy production processes
  2. Manufacture their products in fair-wage, responsibly run factories.
  3. Clothing labels and tags are made from recycled fabric
  4. Packaging and shipping materials are made from recycled, biodegradable and compostable

The details of how they achieve all these are here.

Giving Back/ Supporting Communities:

Beyond making high performance clothes, GoLite is also involved in giving back, by supporting Medical Teams International. MTI is a non-profit offering health treatment, and education to communities in need, such as refugees in Africa. I’m happy to buy from any brand that gives back to environmental or humanitarian causes.

5. Picture Organic Clothing

Picture Organic is a French clothing brand, who use recycled polyester for their  technical clothing, that’s used for skiing, skating and snow-boarding. That includes clothes like snow pants, ski and snow jackets, just to name a few.

A person wearing a Ski jacket

The traditional way of making a ski or snow jacket requires extraction of petroleum, leaving a devastating effect on the environment. Use of recycled plastic bottles (recycled polyester) has changed all that. Plastic to Fabric recycling results in 30-50% less energy utilization for the process than conventional methods.

From the outset, Picture was committed to producing clothing through sustainable, Eco-driven design. In fact, 69% of the materials Picture Organic uses in technical clothing is from recycled bottles.

The material scraps left from making the technical clothing are then reused in other items such as jacket linings and sleeping bags. This zero waste approach lives up-to the company’s mission to maintain sustainable processes.

Picture Organic, a Certified B Corp., uses Teflon EcoElite to make their technical clothing water-proof safely. Teflon EcoElite is a PFC-free water repellent treatment that Picture Organic adopted in 2017- 2018. You can read up on the details of their PFC-Free transition here.

Giving Back/ Supporting Communities:

Picture Organic uses its resources to support different environmental and humanitarian initiatives. These are some of the involvements and partnerships Picture Organic is part of.

  1. WWF – World Wide Fund for Nature works with Picture Organic on their missions to reduce human impact on the environment.

  2. High altitude garbage cleanup on the Himalayas: One of the things Picture Organic did was to help collect 800kg of trash on the Himalayas, in partnership with Mountain Wilderness International.

  3. Solar Portraits – Working to provide electricity underdeveloped communities with  renewable sources of light.

  4. Beyond Boarding  – A Canadian non-profit who protest about oil and natural gas extraction in British Columbia. This is a new partnership venture for Picture Organic;- we’re excited to see what comes out of it.

  5. Summit Foundation – a Swiss non-profit with a mission to reduce human impact on the environment in high-traffic skiing locations. We’re also watching this space to see what comes from this dynamic duo.

  6. Riders for Refugees – Picture Organic gives warm clothes a 2nd life by donating them  to RFR, who in turn use them to support refugees in France.

6. Outdoor Voices

Producing fun, brightly colored activewear, Outdoor Voices have incorporated recycled polyester (plastic-to-fabric) into some of their collections.

Ladies, if you like fun and flirty, you will fall in love with OV’s Collection of Shorts and Skorts. Made from recycled polyester, these amazing lightweight relay shorts and skorts are a joy to have on. Who would have thought sustainable fashion could look this good!

Recycled polyester fabric is the ultimate in plastic-to-fabric transformation, because of its versatility in fashion. It works well with several garment designs, and is easy to dye into different colors. This comes out clearly in the diversity of colors of the OV Shorts & Skorts collection. I did notice that this is the only collection that incorporates recycled polyester. All the others have different materials including cotton, lycra and spandex.

Beyond producing beautiful activewear, the quality of the finished garments is a core value of Outdoor Voices. That’s not all; OV partners with manufacturing firms who believe in and prioritize human rights and environmentalism.

Giving Back/ Supporting Communities:

Outdoor Voices uses its resources to support different environmental and humanitarian initiatives. These are some of the partnerships OV is part of.

  1. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – supporting education on conservation and sustainabilitity
  2. The Nature Conservancy
  3. CHOOOSE promotes action on climate change, by encouraging individuals and corporations to get involved through paid monthly memberships.

7. Patagonia Outdoor Clothing

As one of the biggest names in outdoor clothing and gear, Patagonia have been on the scene since the 1980s. Their clothing is designed for the outdoors, and for people who love outdoor activities. Whether it’s skiing, mountain climbing, hiking, trail running, surfing, you name it. They design functional gear to suit diverse terrain and weather.

A woman wearing an Insulated Women's Jacket by Patagonia Outdoor Clothing

Patagonia is a brand that’s extremely environmentally conscious, and has invested years of research into finding sustainable materials that work. They use 50% – 100% recycled synthetics for their extensive range of technical clothing, which includes:

  • Insulated Jackets
  • Base layer clothing in the Capilene range of clothes
  • Activewear basics like shorts, skorts and more.

They also use 100% organic, non-GMO fibres such as hemp and cotton. Their wool and down are ethically sourced, and they use non-toxic dyes for their fabrics. All in all, no matter what item you purchase from Patagonia, you’re assured that they have done their best to make them in the most ethical manner possible. 

Giving Back/ Supporting Communities:

There’s so much to love about Patagonia’s activism, and as they aptly put it, “We’re in business to save our home planet”.

They founded 1% for the Planet, a charity that provides support to environmental non-profits. According to their website, Patagonia states that they have given out over $89 million to-date, to various domestic and international environmental groups.

You can find out more about 1% for the Planet here, and see how you, too, can get involved. Patagonia have shared the different beneficiaries of the 1% for the Planet initiative, and details of the environmental projects they supported.

8. Tentree

I heard about Tentree recently, as I was researching sustainable fashion brands. This brand is really making waves in Eco fashion circles because of their plant-a-tree campaign. What they do is that for every garment bought from them, 10 trees are planted.

A woman wearing Women's Destination Mountain Jacket by Tentree in a forest setting

To date, over 42.3 million trees have been planted through financial support from Tentree. I think this is really something! Their target is 1 billion trees planted by 2030 through this campaign. When you think about global warming, climate change and reducing our carbon footprint, this is one of the causes that needs our support.

How are they getting this done? Tentree have partnered with charity organizations across the world, including:

About Tentree’s Clothes

Tentree is a Canadian, Certified B Corp. brand known for their outdoor clothes. They manufacture their clothes with the objective of being inclusive in terms of affordability and size, without compromising on quality.

In upholding their commitment to sustainable fashion and environmental protection, Tentree sources their materials from 4 main sustainable sources.

Tentree’s recycled polyester collections feature casual and outdoor apparel for both men and women, in different designs you will love. Featuring fun, nature inspired shades, and tops with earth-inspired  graphics, these clothes are made from blends of the 4 sustainable materials.

The collections consist of fiber blends varying from 20% to 100% recycled polyester, which are as cozy to wear as they look.  You have every reason to support Tentree; look good in their clothes and support our planet while wearing these trendy designs.

Just A Few more Sustainable Fashion Brands

Plastic-to-Fabric has really picked up as a process for creating synthetic material from post-consumer plastic. We found a couple more brands who’ve incorporated recycled polyester into some of their collections. Take a look at these.

Day Won Inc. Activewear

The bottom half of a woman wearing Aurora Legging, Day Won

Finally a brand that has all-inclusive sizes! This American brand features designs running from size 0 to 32, catering for Everyone’s comfort to workout.

The company was formed by Candice Huffine, a model committed to empowering women to embrace & appreciate themselves as they are.

Day Won has received recognition for having the Best Leggings for Curvy Runners, among other awards. More importantly, Day Won has a strong commitment to sustainability. They incorporate recycled polyester into their designs, produce on demand and use digitally constructed prints instead of water dyeing techniques.

Stella McCartney

A close snapshot of Kids Outerwear Stella McCartney's fun colorful pattern

Since 2012, this brand has been transitioning away from virgin polyester fabric, in line with their sustainability mission.

Apart from lining all their handbags with polyester fabric from recycled bottles, Stella McCartney also uses it for outfits which require polyester in them.

They currently incorporate it partially in their Outerwear collections.

337 Brand

A woman wearing a white Eliza T-Shirt Dress

This New York-based brand features sustainable leisure-wear, designed for women. 337 Brand does not design for seasons, but rather creates styles that can be worn by women throughout the year. By doing this, they have broken out of the mold of ‘fast fashion’ and promote sustainability through durable clothes.

I know I haven’t covered every single brand out there, so I would love to hear from you. What other brands do you know of? Which sustainable brands do you love and support? Please let me know what you think in the comments below?

Let’s look good and keep it Eco with our fashion.

Talk soon.

Tracy

Have you started living consciously? Are you involved in any Eco activities? We would love to know: Drop us a line on any of our Social Media handles, and share your thoughts and experiences with us.

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