Everlane is the latest fashion brand to announce plans to remake its supply chain in a more sustainable way.
At an event on Tuesday evening hosted by Everlane founder Michael Preysman, along with investors Natalie Massenet and Nick Brown, the brand announced that by 2021, it plans to completely eliminate the use of all non-recycled plastic in its products.
As reported by Women’s Wear Daily, the event was also an occasion for Everlane to show off its ReNew blankets and fleeces, which are made with recycled plastic.
Renewable and reusable materials are a common theme in the world of sustainable fashion. Brands like Outland, which Meghan Markle is reportedly a fan of, make their products with recycled plastics and other materials to reduce the overall impact fashion production can have on the environment. Brands like Finisterre, Outerknown and Veja sneakers all make partially or fully recycle goods. On the luxury side, sustainable fashion icon Stella McCartney has made recycled plastics in polyester and nylon goods a central part of the brand since its inception.
That impact can be significant. The fashion industry emits more greenhouse gases than the international shipping and aviation businesses combined, according to a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Fashion is a major contributor to the world’s waste, filling landfills with synthetic materials that can take centuries to biodegrade.
“The numbers are staggering,” Maurizio Donadi of Atelier & Repairs told Glossy in September. “The industry produces 150 billion finished garments a year for a population of 7 billion people on earth — and probably one-third of those 7 billion cannot afford one item a year anyway. And then because of seasonality, you keep that overproduction going. Every six months, something new.”
Plastic in particular is a major problem. Greenpeace estimates that 10 percent of the 260 million tons of plastic produced each year ends up in the ocean.
Some fashion brands, now including Everlane, are making reducing plastic pollution a priority. Net-a-Porter’s Lucy Yeomans spoke earlier this summer at the United Nations about the importance of reducing plastic waste in the ocean’s today. H&M, which is currently the world’s second largest producer of fashion goods, is hoping to use only recycled materials by 2030.
Many of Everlane’s products, particularly those made from nylon and polyester, use virgin plastic, or plastic that has not been recycled or used for anything previously. In the next three years, the brand is hoping to completely phase that out in favor of only using plastic that has been recycled from things like water bottles.
In the wake of a bombshell UN report on the urgency of action on climate change so that the worst of its consequences can be avoided, consumers are more aware than ever of what their choices and the practices of big fashion brands have on the environment. This is evident in their shifting relationship with ownership. As circular fashion companies like Rebag and Rotarity have demonstrated, customers are fine with renting and reusing fashion goods rather than buying new things constantly only to throw them away.
“Everlane’s commitment to be completely free of virgin plastics by 2021 is socially responsible, and it aligns well with the growing population of environmentally conscious consumers,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “Many of these consumers are very passionate about the negative impact we are having on the environment.”
As customers become more conscious, brands that flagrantly disregard concerns for the environment risk appearing ignorant at best or callous at worst. Reducing fashion’s frankly terrible impact on the environment is not only a moral and ethical obligation, it can also be good business sense.