As life slows down in lockdown, so does the output of the global fashion industry. Faced with this lull, now is the time to cast a critical eye over our favourite brands and be brave enough to question their ethics.
Fast fashion might be cheap and cheerful, but the environmental cost is no laughing matter. In order to thrive, the model relies on low-cost manufacturing, frequent consumption and short-lived garment use. Not only does this guarantee low wages for the people making our clothes, it also means poor quality materials and thus more items ending up in landfill. 92 million tonnes of waste is created by the industry every year – let that sink in.
If we are to re-assess what we want from our wardrobes, it’s important to invest in brands championing supply chain traceability and durable materials that are made to last.
WHAT ABOUT SUSTAINABLE SWIMWEAR?
Sisters Sophie and Georgia Habboo spend a lot of time abroad, but felt that buying a new bikini for every holiday seemed wasteful.
Spotting a gap in the market in 2019, they made the decision to launch eco-friendly swimwear brand, Gi Swim, in May of this year. “Gi is my nickname,” Georgia laughs, “but it means earth in Greek, so we liked it because it meant there was meaning behind the name.”
Known for her role in British reality TV show Made in Chelsea, Sophie Habboo has over 300,000 followers on Instagram and is no stranger to brand deals and partnerships. But Gi Swim is a whole new venture – the sisters stress that they wanted to be mindful when creating the brand, “rather than just contributing to fast fashion and the negative impact it has on the environment,” explains Sophie.
Gi swim bikinis are made from regenerated nylon which is a product of waste, deriving from fishing nets, fabric scraps from mills and carpets destined for landfill. Using regenerated nylon reduces the overall environmental impact of nylon by up to 80 per cent, they claim. Brand packaging and labels are 100 per cent recycled and compostable too.
What inspired them to delve into sustainable bikinis? “Both of our parents live abroad,” says Georgia. “Our dad lives in Marbella and our mum lives in Portugal, so we spend a lot of time there. But the more we started looking into the idea of a bikini brand, the more we knew we had to do it differently.”
“Not many people actually know about the impact fast fashion has on the environment and there aren’t many options for people out there,” Sophie agrees.
For Georgia, getting rid of clothing that she might have worn for just one summer seemed wrong. “What really shocked me was you don’t realise how much people throw away after one season. We used to buy a bikini for one holiday and just get a new set the next year.”
“You get a bit of sun cream on it and you throw it away!” says Sophie.
“We thought it was fine because it’s a cheap £20 bikini from ASOS, but it’s not because that’s really damaging.”
This was the pivotal point when the sisters agreed that using recycled materials would be the best way to enter the swimwear market with an edge. First on their list, finding a fully sustainable factory. “We use a little, ethical warehouse in Bali which is completely sustainable – from fabric printing to eco-friendly packaging.”
Both describe how invested they are in the Indonesian factory and how much they admire the work that they do. “We have a Whatsapp group together, it’s a small team and we speak to them all the time – we’re great friends.”