Sustainability is it a buzz word?
Sustainability is fast becoming a buzz word throughout the design and fashion industry. Fashion and Ecology is a paradox in itself, where the demand for fast-fashion life cycle clashes with production traditional need for a slower production cycle.
Fast Fashion – Mission Impossible? The designer is not free to choose the best option we want to better adhere to the sustainable concept. Small companies can create fashion following Still, small changes on a large-scale can create an impact. Also, small grass-root movements and designer-owned companies can create a fashion-following and perhaps a model for larger companies to inspire themselves by. This way we know Buddha Jeans can add to a positive development towards sustainability in fashion and in this case jeans and T-shirts specifically
Happiness and positive values
Human Values are new drivers in a modern economy where the bottom line and now, more and more needs to include the impact a product makes on the environment as well as the workers involved in the production. Buddha jeans™ tell stories and designers need to design from a core set of Values “Design Inside-Out”.
Buddha Jean’s philosophy based on the concept of Design Thinking vs Design. Design Thinking is when designers get to take part as a central part of an organisation to combine different solutions and to connect new materials, technology and processes together. The Design is no longer separate but integrated into all operations of a product’s lifecycle. The designer can join the human experience with a product and engage the consumer in new ways. Therefore “Design Thinking” is more than employing a designer to create attractive shells or “skins” for new products, but to be part of the planning and execution stages and influence manufacturing in a new sustainable way. “Designers are becoming more integrated into companies than 10-20 years ago as real decision-makers who know how to connect with technology and new products”.
Core brand values are essential guidelines
When the designer asked to design from a core of Values instead of only visual aesthetics and to design from the inside out and make the Buddha jeans tell stories we have “Design Thinking” replacing just Design. Human-level – engage – include – a brand with a cause. “Design Thinking” will join the consumer on an emotional and rational level. Even with a stronger “Partnership-approach”, we can create products which have the greater good as its core concept, and to engage the consumer, and a product needs to be authentic and original. Yves Behar puts it. Advertising is a price company has to pay for being unoriginal”.
Cradle to grave impact
As a Jeans or T-shirt travels from “Cradle to Grave”, its effect on the environment be tracked as the product leaves various “footprints” from waste-water, pesticides, chemicals, dyes and inhumane treatment or workers as well as child-labour. Pollution of jeans manufacturing is immense: Production of jeans is polluting due to various manufacturing stages, can be improved by making different choices, but the impact of the consumers after once the product has left the store is even a more significant issue. Washing and drying the Jeans and T-shirts at home accounts for 60 per cent of the product’s total environmental footprint.
Educate the consumer, is where the saving of carbon footprints most visible. Buddha Jeans will make a special effort to educate and encourage the consumer to a better approach when washing and wear, such as NO wash or low-temperature washing/ rinsing, use of natural soaps, line-drying and repair/customising once worn in
Wear-IN don’ Wear-OUT
Promoting the concept of “Wear-IN doesn’t Wear-OUT” is a mission for Buddha jeans. By merely using quality fabrics and ethical manufacturing we want to create a longer-lasting product which the consumer will love more after Wearing-IN as opposed to quickly a cheap product and discard to replace with yet another inferior product. Longer lasting – better looking. Customising personal worn-IN jeans in creative ways is a way to extend a jeans life cycle, and is a fun way to communicate your style. Buddha Jeans wants to use customising in its Marketing and PR as well as branding and labelling package. Denim Jeans – Hard Facts Blue Jeans accounts for a large percentage of manufacturing across the globe. Globally, the jeans industry turns over 60.000.000.000.000 US$ (60 Billion). Large quantities of Cotton, water, and chemicals used to make these jeans and satisfy the ever-growing demand for the iconic Blue Jean.
People simply buy too much stuff
In 1996 a survey revealed that in the US each woman-owned seven jeans and nine other items made of denim. As the market polarised into a premium segment of $150-250 jeans, a mid-market of $40 jeans and a lower end market from $21-30 the market exploded in terms of the measure of items needed to sustain the demand of cheaper low-quality jeans. In 2006 in the UK alone 81 Million Jeans sold. And the market is ever-growing! Low price jeans are pollution far more because people just buy more and more.
Each jean made accounts for the variation of environmental impacts as they travel through a very complex supply chain. From cotton farmers in China, US, India, and Africa who often grow Cotton just to keep themselves from starvation and have no choice but to use chemicals and get ill from exposing themselves to contaminated Cotton as they pick the Cotton.
We have to understand that other cultures might have no options
The Cotton travels to Mills and manufacturers in Turkey, Japan, US or Asia where the spinning and weaving, cutting sewing takes place in factories employing workers to do automated tasks in noisy and often dirty conditions for low pay. Too many steps in production make the local water system poisoned. The next step is laundering or “finishing” where jeans washed with chemicals and pumice stones to do a “worn look”. These processes create tons of waste sludge from the pumice stones and wastewater containing chemicals and indigo dyes which are entering into local water systems. Organic is original.
The Blue Jean made initially from organic, unbleached Cotton or Hemp. Sold in the raw (unwashed) state to poor miners and workers who wore these pants until they fell apart, often using older pairs to patch up the newer ones and thus extended their jeans life further.
Old vintage denim valuable, and sold on denim-auctions around the world for astronomical prices as the demand for these authentic. Vintage jeans are exploding! Now, in the second Millennium, we have arrived at a fast-fashion culture denim companies pushed twelve deliveries a year; follow the department stores need for “newness” on the shop-floors in a never-ending cycle of seemingly similar blue jeans. What is not purchased ends up in sale bins, and eventually, landfills and the new lower-priced jeans drive over-consumption and throw-away culture, where the greed for newness in the mass-market drowns the need for quality?
Fast fashion changed into a new way of thinking
The fashion industry, designers, and buyers have influence reduce the fast-fashion culture. To become a more slow-paced production culture and help to adjust the principles of jeans consumption by offering better quality products with a longer lifespan and a much lower-impact lifecycle. Small companies are front-runners. Some smaller front-runner companies have developed these new sustainable systems for a few years now and succeeded in stepping up the standards for themselves and others.
Track a product
NGO Solidaridad a group which supports local farmers in Peru, India, and Turkey-based on an excellent social plan to make sure Fair Wages, Clean Air, Clean Soil, Safe and Healthy working conditions, No child labour, exploitation or discrimination. The pioneers are responsible for creating a new organisation Made-By, they track each garment “footprint” with a software system. The garment purchased has a code and, the consumer follows each phase of the manufacturing. The brand has taken the challenge of Sustainability to its last test and has become a beacon of light for other brands attempting to produce sustainable jeans. Levi’s took this serious with Engineered line in 2006 Levi’s Engineered Jeans, European division took a similar step in 2006 and launched an organic jeans line challenging their designers and product managers to create new jeans which be sustainable throughout the supply chain.
Will the price defend the higher quality and environmental effect?
They used no metal rivets and replaced them with re-enforced stitching, used non-galvanized buttons, and non-chemical finishes by using Marseilles soap instead of harsh chemicals. They used Organic Cotton and natural indigo dyes. The price-tag was (not surprisingly) rather high at $250.00 retail, and only 30.000 units produced initially, as lower-priced jeans with a lesser percentage of Organic Cotton launched. These two “case-studies” show how a smaller company can work to inspire and elevate the larger global companies and this way be of more significant impact in what they account for in economic terms. Cotton – a dirty business? Cotton has traditionally associated with words like “pure” and “natural” and the world largest organisation of Cotton Growers “Cotton Inc.” continues to promote it as such. The sad truth is that regular cotton growing is, in fact, a “dirty business“!
Harmful chemicals banned but still find its way
Cotton farming is using vast quantities of water and agrochemicals and pesticides in large amounts. Several dangerous substances prohibited from use in the EU and US still exported to Africa and India where then a large-scale maximise the already low profits of cotton-growing. Workers become ill when picking the Cotton and sometimes residue stay in the products and end-consumers get allergic reactions. We know that the textile industry pollutes on a massive scale and the designers and manufacturer make more informed choices now than ever!
The consumer is key
Equally, consumers have a huge role to play in demanding better products and taking a social responsibility when making purchases and be ready to pay a higher retail price for a better and more sustainable product. Companies must help tell the consumers so they can move towards a sustainable future together. A 5000-year-old industry is ready for a paradigm shift Cotton growing is the most important non-food agricultural product worldwide. The US, India, and China are the largest producers of Cotton, but the US and EU consume 45 per cent of all Cotton but only accounts for 13 per cent of the total population in the world.
Cotton is a dirty business
Cotton is the base for 60 per cent of all clothing produced and even though cotton fields only occupy 4-5 per cent of all landmass it is responsible for 25 per cent of all insecticides and 10 per cent of pesticides. One regular T-shirt uses 150 gr. of pesticides, and just 1 Kilo of raw Cotton use average 10.000 litres of water. This development has escalated since the 1950s when chemicals introduced to the cotton farming methods to boost cotton production. African countries know how to develop organic Cotton in the right direction. In contrast, the last 15 years of organic cotton farming has moved the trend in the opposite direction. In many organic farms in Africa, a farmer only uses rainwater to irrigate the cotton plants as opposed to expensive irrigating systems.
Organic Cotton vs conventional Cotton, organic uses no pesticides, fertilisers, insecticides or herbicides to grow the crop. The soil is fragile and needs care. The ground depleted with traditional cotton growing, but crop-rotation used instead. Organic soil retains water better and demands less irrigation and thus uses less water. The farmers do not get sick, and do not need to buy and expensive chemicals from international companies and paid a higher price for their organic cotton product.
Organic Cotton soil demands a three year transition period, efforts made by companies to support the “transition-cotton” to the farmers in the period. Standards for Eco Cotton varied across the globe. Still, a new “Global Organic Textile Standards” (GOTS) been implemented since 2006 and is helping companies label their products in a better and more uniform way!
When larger companies such as Nike and demand more organic cotton supply is now using approx. 1/3 of the world’s organic Cotton to make white t-shirts) they help improve the conditions for growing ample quantity of organic Cotton by ensuring enormous buying power and stimulating organic-growing on a worldwide scale. How many white t-shirts needed in the world?
Buddha Jeans Mission
Buddha Jeans on a mission to create sustainable Jeans and T-shirt product by employing Design Thinking with positive core values. We want to design from the inside and out, not merely build new jeans in the market Partnership and engaged consumers sustainable fashion design. We want to develop strong Partnerships and engage the Consumers in a fun and positive dialogue on Sustainability. We aim to improve the working conditions where we produce and support organic producers in all areas of production. We want to work with manufacturers who have a social responsibility and high standards for their workers. We want to help change the world one jeans at a time!