With Trump announcing to the world that he is pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, an immediate reaction reverberated around the globe of disbelief and incredulity that the United States who has for decades been on the forefront of innovation, science and industry has abandoned its leadership role due to the politics of a man trolling the planet.
Some people just want to set the world on fire (with polluted coal).
Luckily the vast majority of countries (and to the contrary the United States) are not dying dinosaurs and have a desire to be on the path to sustainability knowing that it is the future. Cities, governments, corporations, farmers, communities and small businesses have been finding ways to make our future more sustainable and eco-friendly and will continue to do so regardless of Trump’s proclamations.
There are some large retailers known for their eco-friendly stance such as Patagonia, Burton’s and Eileen Fisher. Adidas and Stella McCartney just announced they were debuting collections made from recyclable plastics from the ocean, however there are many smaller and lesser known brands built on their dedication to sustainable fashion. Being aware and shopping these brands will help the planet so The Local Artisan Guide is highlighting four brands in the fashion world that go above and beyond for sustainability and accountability while also creating a stylish, well made product.
Rothy’s is a footwear brand that creates stylish, sustainable flats for women out of recyclable water bottles. Rothy’s has figured out how recycled plastic water bottles can be transformed into a comfortable knitted shoe that fits like a glove and is soft like a sock. Founded by Stephen Hawthornewaite and Roth Martin (two industry outsiders) and based in San Francisco, their goals was to "Create an alternative, versatile shoe: one with the ease of a sneaker but with the polish of a feminine flat. And do it with low-waste, low-impact materials, hand-assembled for high quality and durability.”
Rothy’s shoes are almost like glorified socks as you can wear them, walk in them, spend all day in them then throw your Rothy's in the wash (cold water, gentle cycle, gentle detergent), and let them air dry. They come in an array of colors, patterns and toe shapes (only flats though) and share such qualities as: recyclable, an earth friendly carbon free rubber soul, recycled water bottle construction, washable quick dry technology, flexible sole and upper, blister-free seamless knit, lightweight all day wearability, moisture wicking all weather comfort, reusable packaging plus when you feel they are at the end of their wear you can send them back to Rothy’s to be recycled at their recycling facility.
Rothy’s basically seek to make a comfortable product with the least amount of carbon footprint possible yet still be fashionable and stylish with the feel of luxury.
The name of this vegan brand from Montreal may sound like two friends named Matthew and Natalie (or Nathaniel) getting together and deciding to start a sustainable footwear and handbag brand (that’s what I thought). However Matt & Nat stands for MAT(T)erial and NATure meaning to explore the synergy between the two, the reflection of one on the other.
Established in 1995, Matt and Nat was created with the idea from the start to not use leather or any other animal-based materials or products in their designs. With every passing year they have continued to explore new innovative ways to remain sustainable and eco-friendly. This includes experimenting with different recycled materials such as recycled nylons, cardboard, rubber and cork. Since 2007, they have been committed to using linings only made out of 100% recycled plastic bottles. Matt & Nat have also recently introduced recycled bicycle tires to their collections.
Matt & Nat have also adopted a very eco-friendly production and work environment. Their factories operates by the SA8000 standard and their goals are to make this standard a bigger part of their production going forward. The factories are socially compliant and the brand makes an effort to keep to PU (polyurethane) instead of PVC as PVC is much more harmful to the environment. Not only are Matt & Nat's customers getting the cutting edge of ethical and eco-friendly fashion. Their materials are consistently improved and updated with composites that are less harmful for flora and fauna.
At the office in Montreal, Canada they have made it a ‘cruelty free’ zone with monthly staff celebrations of vegetarian potlucks and vegan cupcakes. They encourage community volunteering for their employees and would like you to upcycle any Matt & Nat product when possible.
However the most impressive feat that Matt & Nat offer is their design aesthetic which will have you not missing leather goods at all. The brand offers handbags, footwear, wallets, small vegan goods and men’s bags. They manage to cover all the latest styles, trends, colors all while putting out their own unique form.
ECOALF is an outerwear lifestyle brand for men and women founded by Javier Goyeneche in 2012 after years of frustration with witnessing the excessive use of the planet’s natural resources and the amount of waste produced by industries around the world.
Absolved to create a fashion brand that is truly sustainable ECOALF states “Our goal is to create the first generation of recycled products with the same quality, design and technical properties as the best non-recycled products. That way we show there is no need to use our world’s natural resources in a careless way”.
ECOALF uses a few key materials while producing their products: recycled water bottles are crushed into plastic flakes which then are processed and spun into a rough polyester and then fashioned into a yarn for the fabrics, straps, laces, etc. ECOALF has used up to 70 million recycled water bottles in their production thus far.
Recycled cottons and recycled wools save water as 1kg of convention cotton needs 2500 liters of water. ECOALF uses the recycled cottons and wools in their outerwear, accessories and knits.
ECOALF also uses recycled fishing nets which are transformed into a fiber used for the swimwear. Used tires are compressed into a material for flip flops, and used coffee grinds are spun into a thread that produces a water repellant fabric used for jackets.
Their store is not only designed to maintain sustainable eco-friendly standards but stands as a place for the community to meet for conferences, exhibitions, screenings, etc. all within ECOALF philosophy.
ECOALF also has started a foundation, The ECOALF Foundation is a non-profit organization whose primary goal is to promote the selective recovery, recycling and revaluing of waste in order to prevent its adverse impact on the environment. This is achieved through the development and application of new scientific and technological advancements – especially with regard to plastic waste products that are found in the marine environment.
For all that ECOALF strives to provide as a sustainable fashion brand, they know if you design outerwear, apparel, bags, shoes, swimwear and flip-flops that its all a waste of time and materials if you produce a product no one finds stylish enough to wear. ECOALF proves you do not have to have a hippie sensibility for sustainable fashion as they create cutting edge fashion with an aesthetic that leans to minimal chic and fashion forward. The brand is growing and starting to do projects outside of Madrid however their online store means ECOALF is available worldwide for those looking to expand their sustainable fashion closet.
The Bottletop Fashion Company is a handbag and accessories brand that sprung from the Bottletop Foundation which was founded by Cameron Saul and his father Roger (Founder of British luxury fashion brand Mulberry) through a design collaboration with Mulberry. From the foundation came a handbag made from recycled bottle tops in Africa that was lined with Mulberry leather in Europe. The bag created a lot of buzz and generated local employment and raising funds for grass roots education projects in Africa.
This bag was followed by another bag designed by Bottletop’s Co-Director Oliver Wayman who discovered the "Bellani", a stunning silver chain mail bag with a distinctly 1970’s feel in Brazil. With the lightweight material, the bag consisted of upcycled aluminium ring pulls held together by crotchet. The bag is made by artisans in Brazil and has lead to the Bottletop Fashion Company being established in 2012 to create a brand that funds the operation of the Bottletop Foundation, which uses contemporary art and music to raise funds and awareness for education projects that tackle delicate teenage health issues such as HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy. The Bottletop Foundation supports young people in Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Brazil and the UK.
As a foundation they frequently collaborate with other well known brands such as Narcisco Rodriguez and Idris Khan. The design and quality by Bottletop are a work of art for the craftsman and consumer alike. Their philosophy is “Blending design with technique across cultures, Bottletop creates collections that celebrate true craftsmanship. A timeless ‘created by hand’ aesthetic. The creation of Bottletop products not only enhance the techniques of some of the most highly skilled artisans from around the world but our training programs enable others to join them, supporting themselves and their families in the process”.
The brand offers handbags, travel bags, backpacks, clutches, accessories, etc. The aesthetic looks and feels luxurious and contemporary even with the aluminum rings pulls. When you chose a Bottletop bag you are not only purchasing a piece of artisan craftsmanship, you are helping the environment by choosing recyclable materials and contributing to a foundation that helps disadvantaged youths with their community and health.
These are four good brands to start your sustainable fashion closet. Larger brands are starting to take notice of the big, innovative ideas these smaller brands are contributing to the world and proving sustainable fashion is not only a real possibility but a stylish option that benefits all.
By Natalie Rivera