Fast-fashion isn’t timeless. Fueled by trends and micro-seasons, fast-fashion isn’t built to last. These clothes have a reputation for falling apart after just a few washes. On top of that, fast-fashion is notoriously bad for the planet. And sustainable vegan fashion isn’t always easy to find.
Fossil fuels are used to make polyester, lycra, and nylon. These materials have overtaken traditional fabrics like cotton in popularity among fast-fashion manufacturers. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, global synthetic fiber consumption amounted to 35.8 million tons in 2009, far exceeding 23.3 million for cotton.
Online Australian retailer Velvety was founded three years ago to bring sustainably-made, vegan clothing and home goods to the public.
Better for the Planet
Velvety founder Lorena Estelle wanted to provide a platform where shoppers could find ethically-made products made from the most sustainable and animal-friendly materials available, such as linen and organic cotton.
“As a sustainable business, we believe natural and organic materials are the only option,” Estelle tells LIVEKINDLY. Velvety avoids synthetic materials, such as polyester and nylon for the sake of the planet.
Synthetic fabrics release microplastics—tiny plastic particles—when washed. Eventually, microplastics end up in the ocean and waterways. There are no figures on how many microplastics are in the ocean, but a 2016 study by researchers from the University of Plymouth estimated that the average load of laundry releases 700,000 microfibers—roughly the size of a pack of gum.
“In the end, what we get is a cheap product to supply a society that has been educated under the fast-fashion concept,” says Estelle. Fast-fashion is big business in Australia, the world’s second-largest consumer of textiles. According to YouGov Omnibus research, 75 percent of adults threw away clothing in 2017. Thirty percent threw away ten or more garments. An additional 24 percent trashed clothing after just one wear.
“We support slow fashion, sustainable materials and quality over quantity,” says Estelle. Seaside Tones, one of Velvety’s most popular brands, features ethically-made garments in timeless silhouettes made from Baltic linen. It dyes its garments without harsh chemicals.
Velvety also won’t sell animal-derived materials such as fur, silk, wool, and leather—nor will it stock petroleum-based leather alternatives, like PVC, PU, and microfibers.
“Those materials are good alternatives to leather, but not good alternatives for the planet and the environment, as they are still not sustainable,” Estelle continues. Instead, Velvety only stocks bags and accessories made from eco-friendly materials, such as leather made from cork, pineapple fibers, or leaves.
Better for People
Beyond the notoriously poor quality, fast fashion has a reputation for unethical business practices. In 2012, a fire in the Tazreen Fashions factory in Bangladesh killed 112. Narrow or blocked fire escapes trapped garment workers inside.
Five months later, the Rana Plaza factory building, also in Bangladesh, collapsed, killing 1,134 and injuring hundreds. The plaza housed several fashion factories, some of which produced garments for Western companies. Velvety embraces only brands that are kind to workers as well.
“As a vegan myself, I worry about all those animals used for human purposes but I understand that being an ethical vegan goes beyond the animal aspect,” says Estelle. “It is important to only buy fashion brands that are vegan and cruelty-free but also very important to support those ones that also care about their worker’s conditions and safety. It is all about human and animal rights, all together.”
To learn more about Velvety, visit the website.
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