Not all Fabrics are Equal
The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry to date, following close behind fossil fuels. As studies bring to light the toxicity of the chemicals used to dye, tan, grow cotton and produce textile products, and we become aware of the excessive waste created by fast fashion, there is more room than ever for an open discussion on what we wear and how it effects the environment.
If fast fashion is a new term for you, lets look at the facts. In America, we consume 400% more clothes than just ten years ago, and we create 11 tons of textile waste a year. The clothes are cheaper and more accessible than ever. We have to wonder how this is happening. If the fibers themselves aren’t getting any cheaper, where is the cost being cut? The answer is in the process used to make the textiles and the labor force who cuts and sews your new favorite $1 T-shirt.
The American Apparel and Footwear Association says 97% of clothing manufacturing is outsourced. Developing countries compete with one another, lowering their prices to keep major brands in their factories, often times paying textile workers less than a living wage. In Bangladesh, garment workers are making 14% of a living wage. This is a problem when 1 in 6 people on the planet work in the textile industry.
Another place that textile manufacturers cut corners is in the textile itself. Dying and processing textiles can be toxic, and laws that protect individuals at risk of exposure do not exist in many developing countries. Leather tanning facilities can be so toxic that leather tanners have a 20-50% higher risk of cancer from exposure to chromium 6. Also, laws that prohibit disposing toxic waste in residential waterways do not exist in many developing countries. Fabric dying facilities can scar the land, making it infertile to plant life.
All of this said, there are sustainable and ethical alternatives to fast fashion. Many apparel brands are focused on creative fashionable products that leave the lowest carbon foot-print possible. Our brand Naz&Court is committed to just that. We have sought out fabrics internationally that are safe for the environment and have created a work force local to Los Angeles where we know each of our sewers personally.
We have outlined the difference between traditional fabrics, and the fabrics we have chosen for our Legacy Collection.
Regular Cotton is not eco-friendly. More chemicals are used to produce cotton than any other crop in the world. Cotton uses about 3% of the world’s farmland and accounts for 25% of worldwide pesticide use. The EPA has determined that many of these pesticides cause cancer.
Naz&Court Organic Cotton
Naz&Court uses certified organic cotton; harvested from crops free of pesticides, synthetic chemicals and herbicides grown pursuant to the rules outlined by The National Organic Standards Board and Organic Foods Production Act.
The process for producing & dying regular silk is toxic to the environment often requiring the use of chemicals like Aniline that are carcinogenic, or even explosive.
Naz&Court Ahimsa Silk
Ahimsa means “non-violent, cultivated” - a term by popularized by Gandhi who developed the ethic during his political movement which led to India's independence.
Naz&Court Ahimsa silkworms are cultivated laying hundreds of eggs which then feed on mulberry leaves that don't require pesticides or fertilizers to grow. Textile manufacturers are contracted with local South Indian silk mills to save their breeder cocoons which are collected, spun and woven in small local mills which are often no more than village homes with limited electricity and using hand looms.
It takes about 1,500 gallons of water to produce the 1.5 pounds of cotton used to make a single pair of jeans. These cotton crops are drenched in pesticides and the fibers are later stained with toxic dyes, sandblasted and chemically softened. Additionally cotton yarn is starched to increase its strength for weaving, bathed in oil-derived paraffin to smooth and lubricate it, and, in some cases, "mercerized" in caustic soda giving it the popular “worn look." Pesticides, dyes and related chemical mixes are killers.
Starch biodegrades, but when dumped in waterways the microbes that eat it also consume oxygen wreaking havoc on local aquatic life which depends on that oxygen. Caustic soda, a key ingredient in Drano, can also kill aquatic life and burn the workers who handle it.
Naz & Court Denim
Naz&Court Denim is a thick,mega durable yet biodegradable, organic,denim twill which uses very little water in it’s production. N&C uses only azo-free dyes. The spinning, weaving and dyeing of N&C denim is done by hand in cooperatives’ certified as Fair Trade by the WFTO. The process uses virtually no electricity.
Turning skin into leather is an absolute environmental nightmare requiring massive amounts of energy and dangerous chemicals such as chromium, formaldehyde, arsenic, coal-tar and cyanide based derivatives which are pasted on to the local ecosystem as waste products. Ironically,chemical “tanning” literally pulverizes the collagen rich protein fibers in skins so that they actually stop biodegrading.
Synthetic Leather (Pleather)
Synthetic Leather, vinyl and other petro-chemical based materials take centuries to decompose. Pleather is essentially made of fossil fuels and its popular cousin polyvinyl chloride, better known as PVC is considered "the most damaging plastic on the planet,” releasing dioxins when produced and toxic emissions when it’s discarded and burned as rubbish.
Naz&Court Vegetable Tanned Leather
Naz & Court vegetable-tanned leather is made from free range skins. Vegetable tanning is an old world craft utilizing the tannic acids found naturally in plants, using bark, branches, leaves and even fruits. Vegetable-tanned leather is stronger and more durable than the majority of the synthetic materials and is ultimately naturally biodegradable.
Naz&Court introduces Pisces Leather
Naz&Court and Open Blue, the global leader in open ocean aquaculture aka mariculture, have become real time collaborators in sustainability. Open Blue provides skins from a delicious, nutritious fish: COBIA that they sustainably “farm” in huge floating “soccer ball” spheres called aquapods moored 8miles offshore in clean ocean currents.
Naz&Court have incorporated the unique vegetable-tanned sustainable Cobia-Fish skin leather into many of their designs both in their runway and legacy collections. Naz&Court has given Open Blue the opportunity to now literally “Walk the Talk” on fashion runways across the globe.
Naz&Court’s soft, breathable, wrinkle-resistant, luxurious Lycocell fabric is an environmental dream come true. It’s made from a naturally occurring cellulose fiber found in eucalyptus trees. The amine oxide solvent used to break down the wood pulp is non-toxic and can almost be completely recovered and recycled during the manufacturing process. The fiber will customarily degrade completely in a short time with no harm to the ecosystem in which it’s properly discarded.
As a brand, we hope to combat poverty and textile pollution by creating sexy, safe alternative apparel for everyday wear. We will continue to educate consumers where ever we can. The more you know, the more power you have to shape the world.
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Courtney Barriger & Naz Harounian