‘Sustainable fashion’ can be a confusing catch-all phrase, so here’s what it means to us. Any questions, we’d love to chat, just drop us a line.
If we had to single out one reason for starting Sheer Apparel, it is the desire to ensure that our love of dressing well is not contributing to the poor treatment of the people, predominantly women, in the garment industry’s supply chain.
That’s why we only work with brands that have full knowledge of where and how their clothes are made. No exceptions. Some of our brands produce in the UK or other European countries where we know labour rights are strong and, more importantly, enforced. Those that do produce further afield, do so exclusively in factories that hold independent fairtrade certifications from established and respected international organisations.
We believe strongly in the many benefits that the textile industry has brought to poorer parts of the world and so we are always on the lookout for beautiful brands that produce fairly in places such as India. But we stick to our principles – No certifications? No thanks.
Our brands use fabrics that are less harmful to the environment than many conventional ones. Here is what our clothes are made of.
Cotton is one of the most common crops grown for textiles. Unfortunately conventional cotton uses huge amounts of insecticides and pesticides. This not only means that farmers, most of whom are located in developing countries, have considerable additional expenses to keep the crop pest free. The chemicals can also have significant adverse health effects on farmers, as well as impacts on soil and related ecosystems.
Organic cotton uses no chemical fertilizers, which is better for the health of farmers and enables them to grow food and other crops on the same land. Despite its benefits, organic, just like conventional cotton, is a very water-intensive crop so if you do buy organic cotton garments, choose them well and make them last, as one of our heroes Vivienne Westwood would say.
Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world, and once harvested can replenish itself within a year. It needs no chemicals or fertilizers and very little water to grow, and is completely biodegradable. Fabric made from Bamboo, such as that used by one our favourite sportswear brands Asquith, is incredibly soft and a joy to wear.
Linen is made of the flax plant, which, unlike conventional cotton, needs very little fertilizer or pesticide to grow. The fabric is the strongest of all natural fibres, so produces garments that can become real wardrobe classics. Linen is exceptionally durable and breathable and keeps you cool, and we are excited to be stocking irresistably cute linen cosmetic bags and look forward to bringing you some luxurious linen pieces in the spring and summer.
Lyocell, also called by its brandname Tencel, is a natural fabric made of tree pulp. It is much less water intensive than cotton, can be recycled and is biodegradable. Lyocell fabric is incredibly soft to the touch, produces a lovely drape, wrinkles very little and is generally super easy to look after.
Leftover fabric is a big issue in the garment industry. Especially fashion companies producing at large scale, routinely discard roll after roll of perfectly beautiful fabric for a range of reasons, such as when garments are taken out of collections, poor planning or cutting room waste. Two of our brands rescue pre-consumer surplus fabric that would otherwise be thrown away and make it into incredible garments for you to enjoy. Saving the planet by shopping? We’re on board with that.
There are some fabrics that aren’t very environmentally friendly but have become so integral to our clothes that it is hard to do away with them entirely, such as Nylon and some other synthetics. So our brands rescue discarded Nylon or plastic waste cluttering the ocean floor, have it respun into new yarn and fashion incredible tights and accessories out of it. And the result are products whose soft feel might surprise you. Go on, buy a tote bag, save a turtle!
We try to get your beautiful new clothes to you in the most environmentally friendly way. We use packaging that is both from recycled as well as recyclable material. Please reuse if possible or recycle.
We are also working to find an affordable, fully trash free delivery solution for you, so watch this space.
If we’ve made you curious for more information about sustainable fashion, here are our top resources that are both informative and engaging.
'The True Cost' – An engaging and poignant documentary about the impact of poor manufacturing ethics and conventional cotton on people across the globe. Co-produced by leading sustainable fashion experts Lucy Siegle and Livia Firth, amongst others.
'Magnifeco' – The ultimate reference book by Kate Black for anyone for a desire to make more informed fashion choices, with lots of tips of where to shop for ethical clothing and non-toxic beauty products. All information is organized into chapters on each material or shopping occasion, so there’s no need to read it in one go.
‘To Die For. Is fashion wearing out the world?’ – A smart, compelling account of the major shifts in the fashion industry that have made it what it is today. By one of the most knowledgable and respected writers on ethics in fashion today, Lucy Siegle.