Sunday, April 13, 2008

Greening the apparel industry

One of the fun spaces in which Moniker can innovate apparel is in environmental impact.  We've made a great start by making the decision upfront to use only 100% natural fibers in our garments.  Merino wool, cashmere, silk, linen, cotton -- not only are they beautiful to touch and wear, but far more sustainable than petroleum-based polyesters or acrylics.  

The next step is to find (or develop) luxury-grade fabrics that employ more sustainable dyeing technologies.  We're starting up conversations with a few of our fabric suppliers to identify options that we can introduce into our fabric library on a trial basis.  As a side note, it's depressing to discover how little the major apparel brands have done to advance the development of more eco-friendly fabrics.  (The problem, I suspect, is that more and more major clothing brands have become mere 'labels':  they contract manufacturing out to third-party workshops, and they don't pay too much attention to 'how' the product gets made (workplace standards aside -- now that the Nike's of the world have been stung for ignoring that aspect, everybody pays attention to it).  But so long as a product meets the label's demands for quality and cost, environmental factors can be ignored.  

A further step will be to start calculating the total environmental cost of fulfilling each order, including not just materials but also transportation, and make that information available to our customers so that they can bring it into their purchase decision-making.  

I'd like to bring these innovations into Moniker by the end of the year.  I think it's do-able.  

Now if we can just get our governments to put a price on carbon...

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