Hey! Looks like you care about sustainability as much as we do! Whew, because we love talking about it, but it’s a little too complex for a blurb. Much like our fashion, we care about getting it right, not getting it over with. We’re going to take some time to answer some frequently asked questions around our sustainability efforts, and the industry’s challenges. We’re all part of the same big picture, so to understand what we’re looking at we have to look at, well, a lot.
At the end of the day, we believe that high end fit and feel is not a matter of cost, it’s a matter of time. We take the time to make sure every single one of our designs is so beautiful that you won’t cycle through it the next time you look through your closet. We’re so glad you’re here.
What challenges are the fashion industry facing around sustainability?
What challenges isn’t the fashion industry facing? As we all know, global warming and climate change are both real and immediate threats. With the US pulling out of the Paris Agreement, the onus falls on us to pick up where our government is failing us. No pressure, right?
Fast fashion produces 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, and is the second largest consumer of water. Beyond that, from 2000 to 2014 consumers were buying 60% more clothes but keeping those pieces for half the time. That means most of these clothes end up in landfills, and since so many synthetic materials aren’t recyclable, they stay there forever.
Ouch. It’s grim, we know. And the supply chain doesn’t make doing better a whole lot easier. The production cycle is spread out all over the world, and the human impact of fashion is large as well. It’s a common misconception that clothing made in the USA is ethical, whereas clothing made overseas is not. However, most ethical factories that produce high-end knitwear are found in Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe. Interesting, right?
For the fashion industry to truly change and make a lasting impact for the Earth, we have to get past a lot of stereotypes, and a lot of dishonesty. From water usage, to carbon emissions, to making sure that our fabrics are sourced sustainably, to making sure our pieces don’t end up in landfills, we have a long way to go and we’re already on our way. So let’s dive in!
How do you define sustainability?
I know we’ve talked a lot about the production cycle in terms of waste and environmental impact, but that’s not the whole picture (we told you it was a big one). At the top of our list is making sure we not only reach zero waste, but also that every person involved in our supply chain from the factories to the office is taken care of. In short?
Sustainability means that TomboyX reduces our environmental footprint throughout our product development, distribution, and lifecycle, while supporting our community and employees through good work and fair labor practices.
What is TomboyX doing right now around sustainability?
A whole lot! And we’ll be doing a lot more! One of the reasons we wanted to write the Infinite Jest of sustainability FAQs is because we’ve asked these questions of ourselves. We’ll get into the nitty gritty as we go along, but just to give you an overview of what we are currently doing we’ll start here. We try to source our fabrics as sustainably as possible. Even our anti-microbial coating on our swimwear is chitosan, a sustainable and natural coating from crab shells abandoned by the industrial fishing industry.
Does Chitosan smell like crab? What if I have a shellfish allergy?
No we promise you won’t smell like a crab boil. And even the most sensitive of allergic folks won’t have a reaction to it.
No crabs are harmed or killed or even bothered to make Chitosan!
OK back to what you’re doing about sustainability!
We make sure our fabrics, factories, and anyone involved in our supply chain has the best labor practices possible, and creates the least waste possible, including waste reduction measures. We have a long ways to go, both at TomboyX, and at every clothing manufacturer. Let’s get into some details.
Why aren’t you manufacturing in the USA?
Remember way back up at the top when we talked about the lack of high-end knitwear factories in the US that also operate up to our ethical standards? It’s all true, we looked really hard. So many of the skilled people that mill and sew the highest quality fabric and pieces are located in Asia and South America, and we’re so glad we’re in business with them. Factories all around the world are innovating the supply chain so that you, the gorgeous person reading this, knows exactly where what you’re wearing came from and that every part of the process of getting it to you makes it easier to sleep at night. Though we know our comfy clothes make that pretty easy, too.
How sustainable is your packaging?
Pretty darn! Right now our cardboard packaging is recyclable, and our product bags are both reusable and landfill biodegradable. We’re always tweaking our packaging to make sure it’s the best and most sustainable it can be, while still making sure your TomboyX favorites arrive perfectly.
Why don’t you use organic cotton?
We are always looking to do more for sustainable fabrics, which is a pretty nuanced topic when you get into it (we have gotten extremely into it). A lot of companies have switched to organic cotton, and while we love to work towards fewer harmful chemicals in our ecosystem, organic cotton isn’t a win-win for the environment.
Vogue did an excellent job reporting on the complexity of organic cotton, and it’s a fascinating read. CLICK HERE
As for us? We are starting to source our cotton in India, which is the premier source for cotton and it happens to be close to the rest of the production line which means it cuts down on our carbon footprint significantly. Organic cotton is so important that we are committed to not just getting the buzzword right, but getting the process right.
What about your other fabrics?
We are looking for ways to do even more, but we’re doing a lot as it is! Our cotton is OEKO-TEX certified, a global standard certification that ensures eco-friendly production. We also use TENCEL™ Modal, a supersoft fabric made from biodegradable natural materials. Our swimwear is manufactured at a mill that uses renewable energy and recycled water to stay at the forefront of sustainability. We mentioned Chitosan a little farther up, but just to recap; Chitosan is our anti-microbial coating on our swimwear, a sustainable and natural coating from crab shells abandoned by the industrial fishing industry.
Why are your products so much more expensive?
There’s a saying about fashion - if you don’t see the cost on the price-tag, then someone else is paying it. We are not only committed to the quality of our clothes, so you don’t have to cycle through your closet as quickly, we are committed to the quality of our production chain. We want to make sure we are using the best practices and best materials so what we send to you is even better than you expected.
Did you know microfibers are released when we wash synthetics?
We absolutely know this, and we wish more people did. Every single synthetic fiber sheds in the wash, from your yoga pants to your 70s polyester button-up that you found thrifting. We recommend buying a filtration bag for all your synthetics here...GUPPY FRIENDS.
How do you care for things so the lifecycle is as long as possible?
Great question - keeping clothes out of the landfill is one of the easiest and best ways to help the planet. For all of our pieces we recommend hand washing or washing on a gentle cycle in cold water with like items, and then line drying.
What are your next steps in sustainability?
When we say we are committed to growth, we really mean it. We are currently working on getting involved in carbon offsets, so we can work towards being net zero in carbon emissions.
As we talked about above, we’re also excited to explore more sustainable fabrics, and move toward using natural dyes in our products.
We are also developing a plan for our products at the end of their life cycle so they don’t end up in landfills.
Sustainable practices are always evolving and growing, and our commitment is to continue to grow as well.