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We need to slow down

WE NEED TO SLOW DOWN

The BBC’s documentary “Fashion’s Dirty Secrets” by Stacey Dooley kick started in many heads a long overdue string of thoughts. But is it a movement yet? And what does it take to become a movement?

Do we consumers think at every purchase about the material our clothes are made from? About who makes our clothes, or what happens after we throw them away? Often the answer is ugly. We all have to contribute by turning our thoughts into values and principles to achieve the needed changes to safeguard our livelihoods.

A study by Ellen McArthur Foundation found that one garbage truck of textiles is wasted every second; the Copenhagen Fashion Summit reported that fashion is responsible for 92 million tons of solid waste dumped in landfills each year. Trying to imagine these 92 million tons of clothes waste in volume surpasses imagination of the many.

The fashion industry is also the second-biggest consumer of water and generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Synthetic microfiber pollution is washing up in our oceans at alarming rates killing around 100 000 marine animals each year by plastic waste including micro fibres.

Brands and consumer have to rethink their business habits and consumer habits – we cannot continue to produce and consume clothes without considering our environment and human rights.

The responsibility lies with all participants of the market, the fashion brands as well as the consumers.

The fashion brands finally have to take responsibility for the waste they are creating as well as taking human rights into consideration during the production process. There is evident urgency in addressing head-on the use of chemicals, waste and bio diversity as well as unfair working environments.

Big players in the fashion industry whose business models were missing the environmental consciousness and fair working environment in production are starting to take responsibility by re addressing their business policies and signing up for Make Fashion Circular initiative. It aims to improve the industry’s record on sustainability and reduce global waste from fashion by recycling raw materials and products.

Recycling is certainly one part of the solution, but by no means is the only solution. It’s a multilevel issue and brings many questions along such as how can we eliminate the need for recycling altogether? How does design add to the solution?

To shift the linear take-make-waste fashion towards a circular model with no waste, everyone needs to be part of the movement to innovate and redesign the industry. We can start by changing the mindset from buying to quickly dispose to buying to keep and build a wardrobe upon. Good design may be minimalist or opulent, basic or fashion forward, but what each character shares is that good design will never be unwearable, out of fashion.

We consumers are the electorate who vote with the wallet. The average number of clothing collections in Europe more than doubled between 2000 and 2011; more clothes were bought and worn less.

It will take time for the fashion industry to slow down. The trend is already set in motion by a variety of initiatives but we all need to play our part. We as a brand take ours with slowing down the relentless pace of production by offering trans-seasonal items designed to outlive trends, product drops when we see fit, sourcing responsibly the cashmere yarn and ethical manufacturing with our partners who share our values and have the artisan skills to produce a mindful luxury product.

As consumers, we at London W11 ask questions each time we purchase a garment and the answers have to be comforting.

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Last season’s waste is today’s luxury; recycled cashmere

Last season’s waste is today’s luxury; recycled cashmere

Warm, lightweight and delightfully soft on the skin, cashmere is the most luxurious material for knitted garments. But in an era where hyper consumption is coinciding with a looming global climate crisis the call for rethinking the design and production process is more urgent than ever. Resources need to be preserved, waste reduced, and mindsets changed to ensure the future of our planet.

London W11 sees recycled cashmere as one answer to preserving the availability of this precious material and reduces the waste produced during the current garment production process. Environmentally friendly and natural resource preservation makes recycled yarn the most sustainable cashmere yarn. The dry mechanical production process and the only partially dyed fibre save large amounts of water and use of chemicals in comparison to virgin fibre. We at London W11 have developed a yarn of recycled cashmere in collaboration with a mill in the outskirts of Florence, matching the high quality and durability of virgin cashmere fibre yarns it is working with since start.

This is how it works:

 

 

The material comes in as bales from post-industrial processes (samples, swatches, leftover yarns).

They vary in colour and need to be sorted in shades.

 

 

 

 

 

Manual sorting process into a large variety of shades.

 

 

 

The next part of the process is the “pulling” of the precious waste, a dry process. The pieces are pulled mechanically from the knitted structure, while making sure that the residual fibre length remains as long as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

This process is repeated several times to guarantee the highest quality possible, ensuring that all of the fabric has been separated back to fibre size. The broken-down fibre, however, will present in a variety of lengths and must be blended with virgin yarn to give it the strength to work into a new garment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To ensure we
achieve the desired heirloom quality yarn we add up to 20% pure white virgin cashmere

 

 

 

 

To achieve the desired colour, as in haute cuisine, it takes a symphony if spices. The knowledge of the artisan blends a variety of different colours of the reclaimed cashmere fibre to get the perfect shade for the new yarn. 

This effort avoids the heavy water consumption of the dying process and the use of chemicals and repurposes the already dyed fibre.  The balance to achieve the desired shade is essential for the luxury quality we aim to achieve.

 

 

Part of the “symphony”  is the blending of the origin fibre with the reclaimed fibre. The more balanced and well-studied, the higher the quality and durability the yarn will be.

After blending, the fibres are further mixed, disentangled and made into a carded web.

The web is passed repeatedly between a series of rotating toothed rollers before producing a web of fibres that is condensed to form a rope-like structure. At the end the web is separated into ca 1 cm wide strands and wound for the next step

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The last steps of the process are the same as for virgin fibre: Spinning, twisting, rewinding on bigger bobbins and delivery to the knitter.

Although this is a labour-intensive process, every effort put into it is well worth it. It enables the industry to keep fibres at their highest value during use and re-enter the economy after previous use. Circular cashmere production lets nature regenerate and preserve natural fibre for future generations. Exciting new business- and job opportunities are a positive by-product of this new approach of the industry and makes this a future proof road to drive on for us at London W11 cashmere.

#circularfashion – #bethechange !