Speaking out about Sustainability
Welcome to the first installment of our two part series on sustainability.
Having a consistent conversation about sustainability and what it means is part of how we will hold ourselves accountable as a company. These articles are intended to be a conversation starter. The more we talk about it the more it becomes a part of our daily lives, and ultimately a part of the fabric of the brand.
The apparel industry is the world's second-largest polluter, second only to oil. What drives this waste is an overflow of clothing production, major shifts from natural fibers to synthetics, and the fuel used to facilitate the process. Beyond the material, there are aspects of durability, repairability, style, and design that contribute significantly to the overall environmental impact of a piece of clothing.
Because our industry creates a physical product, the first place to start in curbing environmental impact is the raw material.
Green materials and their challenges
Many of our fabrics are either recycled, natural, or otherwise environmentally friendly.
If they're not, we chose them because they were the best available for the job, and will continue to press our mills for greener options in the future. Organic, natural materials minimize water usage in the growing process. Keeping post processing to a minimum saves water after the fabric has been created. Most of the recycled fabrics we're working with come from post-consumer plastic bottles that would otherwise end up in a landfill or incinerator.
We also believe that by using a wide range of available materials, we can spread the impact over a wider range of sources.
There are instances when choosing to produce organic or recycled can be cumbersome for a small business.
The biggest barrier is cost. There is a definite increase in price for green material over its identical (but not green) counterpart. Along with higher costs, often comes higher minimum yardage required to order. This can force a small brand to make choice between making a significant investment far in advance of when they'll be making sales, or going the more budget-friendly route of ordering the cheaper fabric with (often) lower minimums.
Higher costs affect both the brand and the customer by leading to higher retail prices. As production and material costs go up, those costs are multiplied in relation to the final retail price. The business has to be confident in the value of its product and the customer has to be willing to pay for a clean, well-made garment. The prices will be higher, but the impact will be lower.
Good clothing is rarely cheap.
Durability & Repairability
In developing countries, fabric mills and sewing factories are working overtime to keep up with increasing demand for cheap clothing.
These factories are often unsafe, have poor working conditions, and pay very low wages. A survey by McKinsey & Company found that the average consumer bought 60% more clothing in 2014 than in 2000, but kept each garment half as long. Add to this that the average U.S. resident throws away 70 pounds of clothing per year and we've got a serious issue.
A product's full life cycle should be considered as important as its initial production impact.
We have a guideline when choosing fabrics for development: Strive to utilize organic or recycled materials unless we firmly believe that by using virgin materials the product will last longer and serve its purpose better.
If we can build a product that lasts twice as long, but to do it we have to use a virgin fabric, then we believe it's the right choice to do so. By buying once and buying for life, we're able to consume less.
Clothing can be repairable as a function of its design. We're designing our products so that when life happens and they inevitably deteriorate, they can be repaired easily. It's not hard to design this way, but it takes an intention. An intention to put in a little more effort in support of a common good.
We want you to put our clothes to the test, and we're prepared to stand behind them with a full warranty under our Fair Deal Guarantee.
Style and dynamic use
One aspect of clothing not often discussed in relation to sustainability is style. Our way of approaching sustainable style is to use classic silhouettes, refined and tested materials, and clean, modern fits.
For the majority of our line, we are using versatile colorways such as navy, khaki, olive, grey, and white to make it easier to pair pieces in multiple ways. That's not to say that there isn't a place for more flamboyant pieces (and we'll probably release some wild combinations in the future) but the majority of the time, high quality and understated wardrobe offers an incredible range.
In keeping with this, our branding and style elements are kept minimal and tasteful so as not to overwhelm the piece or draw undue attention. Our idea is to look good, not flashy, from across the room. To become more interesting as you step closer, noticing that there is something inherently nice about the piece as you pick up on details that are understated on purpose, but functional by design.
We want you as the wearer to feel special, but not to call attention to it.
When we say we are designing dynamic clothing, we mean we're intending for the piece to be usable in a wide range of activities.
We approach this with the intention of avoiding the classic jack of all trades, master of none outcome. There are differences in what's needed on a hot sunny day vs what is needed in a winter storm. What we want is for you to be able to wear LIVSN clothing to the trail, to the pub, or to the (casual) office and not look out of place. It's a target often aimed for, and sometimes hit, but it's not easy.
When we use technical fabrics and construction, we work to hide those details in a casual look. When we are making a casual shirt, we look to include just one detail that gives the wearer away as an outdoor native.
The end result
We hope to come out in the end with something that is inarguably unique, but also familiar. A refined collection dedicated to the highest standards of craftsmanship and mindfulness. We hope you share our values and will help us in our journey to keep what matters and create essentials, not basics.
Thank you for your time, we recognize how valuable it is
Looking forward to your launch and hope to see clothing items for ladies. Love the sustainable focus!
I love the fact that you are concentrating your efforts in the clothing’s longevity and repairability, too many times have I had my favorite clothes not last as long as it’s like them to.
I have been following the LIVSN brand since it became public, and words can’t express how excited and grateful I am. Not only for a local small business and to see entrepreneur’s rising within The Natural State, but for that same small business to be making such a bold stance and impact on our natural environment. Thanks for all you do, and I look forward to following and being as involved in this as I can!