How do you take an industry that’s responsible for producing 18,000 pounds of trash a day (in Austin alone) and make it more sustainable? That’s the question local activists, designers, and businesses sought to answer during Austin’s very first Sustainable Fashion Week, held earlier this month.
We attended one of the Sustainable Fashion Week events (a panel discussion with local fashion designer Miranda Bennett and Lilah Horowitz, the creative lead for Eileen Fisher Renew) and recorded a full Facebook live video, which you can watch below.
Don’t have time for a full video? Here are the highlights.
Both Miranda Bennett Studio (based here in Austin) and Eileen Fisher (a US-based clothing company) have tried to incorporate the idea of circular fashion and sustainable design into their companies. Here’s what they’ve done.
Miranda Bennett Studio
Miranda Bennett Studio is a collection of modern, plant-dyed apparel made in the USA and based out of Austin, Texas.
Miranda Bennett Studio naturally dyes all of its clothing. Recently, they even started buying up leftover wood waste (which otherwise would have gone to the trash) from local sawmills and using that to create natural dyes.
Zero Waste Initiative
In order to better account for the full lifestyle of its clothing, Miranda Bennett Studio has started collecting old MBS clothes that their customers no longer wear. If you’re an MBS customer, all you have to do is send back your old clothes and you’ll receive a 20 percent discount off your next purchase. Clothing that is still in good condition gets donated. Unwearable clothing gets sent to to one of three places –
- Incorporated into Miranda Bennett Studio’s Zero Waste product line, which turns the old clothing into pillows, children’s clothes, and fabric boxes for other designers/quilters/crafters
- Sent to their Austin-based textile recycling partner, JOSCO, which converts them into industrial rags
- Donated to the Austin Area Quilt Guild, which then donates quilts to SAFE, an Austin shelter for battered women and children
In producing its clothing, Miranda Bennett Studios works with Open Arms, an Austin-based sustainable apparel manufacturer that empowers refugee women through fair-wage employment.
Eileen Fisher is a US-based clothing company that has made commitments toward circular design and recycled materials.
Eileen Fisher Renew
A spinoff of the original Eileen Fisher clothing brand, Renew is its official take-back and reuse program. Customers can give back their old Eileen Fisher clothes for a $5 gift card and the company will either resell the clothing through Eileen Fisher Renew (at a lower price than the original) or use the fabric to create an entirely new piece of clothing. Even clothes that are badly stained can be re-dyed (using natural dyes) and turned into something new.
Plus, net profits from the sale of renewed clothes go to programs that support positive change for women, girls and the environment.