Trees, Water, Humans | How TomboyX Makes Underwear

TomboyX is proud to be continuing in the nearly 50 year-long tradition of celebrating Earth Day by promoting the idea that every decision matters. No person, no action, no brand is too small. In this big, wild world it can feel like our choices don’t matter. But at TomboyX we say that’s bull. The only way we’ll change the world is by working together, valuing the small choices, and celebrating every stride forward to reduce our environmental impact.

When TomboyX was founded we knew that making sustainable clothing and eco-friendly fabrics were of the utmost importance. And that being anything but a sustainable clothing company was folly given today’s climate. We wanted to give our community clothing that made them feel seen, and that gave everyone a chance to shop green. Below we’re detailing how we make our awesome underwear with sustainable fabrics. Because we believe transparency is damn important, and you deserve to know the details behind our sustainable underwear and bras.

Trees as a Fabric

When you think about the material you’d like your underwear made out of lots of options probably come to mind. However, we’re guessing you wouldn’t assume that wood would make for luxuriously soft underwear. Well, we’re here to tell you you’re wrong. Not only is the wood of beech trees the key ingredient in MicroModal—one of the softest fabrics known to humankind —wood is a renewable resource that operates on a closed loop system, meaning it makes highly sustainable and environmental clothing.

MicroModal as a luxury and sustainable fabric has myriad benefits. First, MicroModal is hella comfortable. It’s highly absorbent so it wicks moisture away from the body, dries quickly, and isn’t prone to wrinkling. Aside from the feel benefits of MicroModal, TomboyX chose the fabric because it’s a 100% natural fiber that is extremely environmentally friendly and sustainable. These eco-friendly fabrics are farmed from environmentally and human-friendly tree nurseries. And since it is a natural fiber it will break down over time and not sit in a landfill forever. Making underwear from trees means using a renewable resource, one that can be planted, harvested, and planted again. And finally, MicroModal has a long wear lifetime meaning that it will last for years and years.

The process to turn trees into underwear starts on Lenzing’s sustainable beech tree nurseries. These nurseries do not require artificial irrigation and grow on land that can’t underwise be used for human food production. Lenzing’s nurseries operate on a closed-loop system, meaning that wasted water is minimalized and the byproducts of production are collected so that they can be used by other industries. Sodium sulfate—which is one of the main byproducts of MicroModal production—is collected during the process and is then used as an ingredient in detergents and soaps.

TomboyX chose to source all our MicroModal from Lenzing of Austria. Lenzing is an internationally recognized producer of sustainable, environmentally beneficial fibers. Lenzing also certifies all factories that work with their fibers to ensure they are held to equally high sustainability standards. Yes, you read that right. TomboyX basically had to prove that we were a sustainable and ethical clothing brand before Lenzing would let us work with their fabrics.

Water During the Manufacturing Process

Every step of textile manufacturing uses water. From water required in growing the cotton and trees that make the basic fibers, through the dyeing process for our Signature Prints which use a water-based, earth-conscious method, recycling water well above the standards required. Once the raw materials are in the garment factory they are pre-washed and all trims and elastics are all steamed before the manufacturing begins. At the end of the manufacturing process, all our products are steamed and pressed before they are shipped to the fulfillment center and eventually to Tomboys the world over.

TomboyX ensures that our printmaking uses less water by using newer technologies and machines in our factories making our water-based printing. All of our fabric printing factories are located in China, which has stricter government regulations on water waste than the US does. In China there is a mandatory 50% water recycling law; with most companies recycling well over 50% of their water to insure compliance. Enforcement of these standards are strict, and the punishments heavy-handed. A factory can be shuttered for failing to comply with sustainability standards.

In addition to that TomboyX only uses vendors who are Oeko-Tex 100 certified—a highly-regarded international standard for non-toxic fabrics and raw materials. Meaning that our products are free of the 100 most toxic chemicals to humans which keeps these chemicals off our bodies and out of the water system.

Humans as the Heart of our Company

With 7.5 billion humans crawling across the face of this great blue dot we must accept that our volume and our consumption qualifies us as a major factor in the environment. Caring for our employees both at TomboyX HQ in Seattle, and in our factories in China is of utmost importance. How can we expect TomboyX employees to make the best possible environmental choices if we’re not fully supporting them with time off and fair pay?

When we tour a factory we are always looking for smiling faces. We want there to be a vibe that people want to work there, want to take responsibility for their work, and are given the tools to do their jobs. It is important that our factories are full of windows and light, cleanliness and order from the front door to the bathrooms, to the bicycle parking area. There need to be green areas for employees to relax in. All of which is above and beyond the basic standards like posted safety rules and certifications. Furthermore, both at home and our factories abroad we look for women empowerment and diverse workforces for fair labor opportunities. We never work with factories or vendors that use child labor. Everything we make is ethically produced and sweat-shop free. And we ensure that our workers are paid a living wage for the important work they do. At TomboyX, we want to be the very best in the industry and set an example for all other ethical brands. As a sustainable fashion brand, it is our job to provide our consumers with the very best fabrics and materials in our clothes—ones that are free of toxic chemicals, pesticides, or harmful allergens.

At TomboyX we believe that every decision matters. That no person, action, or brand is too small when it comes to protecting our planet. When we set out to make underwear we didn’t want to fall into the trap of fast fashion but instead decided to only produce sustainable clothing and eco-friendly fabrics that could last the test of time. Clothing that we could stand behind and that our consumers could be proud of.