While Fashion’s Struggling for Survival, Will Sustainability Pledges Stick?

Sustainability can be a hard sell even in the best of times. With brands and retailers scrambling to keep their bottom lines from cratering amid shuttered storefronts and plunging consumer spending, however, the financial pain inflicted by COVID-19 could complicate hard-fought efforts to keep the fashion industry’s massive environmental footprint in check, if not derail…

Is California the Sustainable Fashion Capital of the US?

Allbirds. Levi Strauss. Nike. The North Face. Patagonia. Reformation. Think of an American brand with an earth-conscious bent and chances are it’s from California. The Golden State’s legacy of environmental protection runs deep. For decades, it has led on pollution, chemical, and conservation policies that have often served as proof-of-concept models for other states and…

US Garment Manufacturers Are Feeling the COVID-19 Crunch

Kathryn Hildebrand watched in horror last week as hundreds of thousands of dollars of production orders went up in smoke in a matter of hours. The president and CEO of the Good Clothing Company, a garment-manufacturing facility, in Fall River, Mass., knew it was coming, but she was still shocked when it did. Worldwide, scores…

Is Recycled Polyester Green or Greenwashing?

When Nike feted World Cup uniforms made from recycled polyester in 2010, the idea of melting down cast-off plastic bottles and spinning them into textiles was still a novel concept. Today, just about every apparel brand, from American Eagle to Zara, brandishes the material as evidence it is “going green.” The appeal is clear: Recycled…

In Denim, Investing in Sustainable Technology Is the New Normal

Eco-friendly denim is more ubiquitous than ever, but bringing it to market hasn’t been easy. Nor cheap, for that matter. While planet-pandering technologies—think Jeanologia’s water-sipping denim-finishing systems, Tonello’s bleach-less OBleach or Archroma’s botanically derived EarthColors—are increasingly available, they also require upfront costs from the mills that employ them. “Sustainability is really linked to research and…

Moda Operandi Co-Founder Returns to Fashion With New Low-Impact Label

In a sea of disposable, unsustainably produced clothing, Katla wants to stand out. Launched late last month by fashion veteran Aslaug Magnusdottir, the San Francisco-based brand seeks to be a force for good in the world—one that not only offers people a more mindful way to dress but also informs them about fashion’s impact on…

The Hidden Costs Of ‘Fast Fashion’

I spoke with Lucy Nalpathanchil, host of “Where We Live” on Connecticut Public Radio on Feb. 7, 2020 about the social and environmental impact of fast fashion, and what alternatives exist.

Why Nonprofits Give Away So Much Crap

If it’s better to give than to receive, then why do charities and nonprofit groups insist on shoving stuff in our faces? As anyone who’s jammed yet another stack of return address labels into a drawer or flung a branded tote bag on a heap of other branded tote bags, both direct solicitations and the…

The North Face is the Eco-Friendly Brand You Didn’t Know Was Eco-Friendly

The North Face is sharpening its focus on sustainability, but don’t call it a pivot. The outdoor-apparel maker has considered its impact on the environment from the start, according to Carol Shu, its sustainability manager. It just doesn’t brag about it. “We’ve been doing a lot of things in the background for a long time,”…

Is It Even Possible to be a Sustainable Influencer?

Ellie Hughes isn’t a fan of the term “influencer,” even though she knows she’s one by most measures. On Instagram, Hughes has 10,400 followers, a number that places her squarely in the realm of “micro-influencer”—one step above “nano-influencer,” which influencer-intelligence platform Klear defines as having between 500 and 5,000 followers, but roughly 20,000 influencers short…

Why Ugly Christmas Sweaters Aren’t Very Sustainable

The ugly Christmas sweater has come a long way, but not necessarily for the better. No longer an embarrassing gift from a well-meaning but aesthetically challenged relative, it’s now something many people choose to buy as a source of irreverent holiday cheer. You can purchase an ugly Christmas sweater that shows Santa using a chimney…