20th of September 2019, Global Climate Strike hits London. Just outside Parliament we see influencers, MP's and of course the younger generations protesting for immediate action on the climate crisis ahead of the UN climate summit today in New York. This is catalysed by the destructive, old fashioned attitude of, 'We've been complaining about climate change for decades. We're still fine, so stop worrying.' That was genuinely said to me just two weeks ago by someone whose daughter will no doubt have to deal with the consequences of this outdated perspective.
'It's a generational thing'
Helz Defined is a company built on actively trying to prove that a sustainable fashion brand can be equally as successful as an exploitive one. Through transparency and promotion, exploitation will hopefully eventually be eliminated. We aim to show that there is a demand for sustainable, ethical clothing and to put pressure on other brands to follow suit.
The talk we attended was hosted by 'Pause Fashion'. They curate pop-up events as a central hub for sustainable designers to showcase their designs and solutions. They also organise panel discussions with experts to help establish the best way forward to ensure a sustainable future within the fashion industry.
The key solution presented through the talk was centred around collaboration. Collaboration between industries, designers and great minds alike with the focus to utilise the use of waste materials in order to create new, useful ones. This will hopefully achieve a circular economy whereby no resources go to waste whilst simultaneously minimising the need for cultivating new resources.
With the focus predominantly being on the fabrics it's easy to forget about the garments afterlife. This is the stage in which traditionally recourses get re-introduced into the ecosystem through decay or passed through the food chain. This is where fashion has a massively unbalanced approach to its production. It systematically takes resources from the environment without ever replacing them, depleting the environment to a unrepairable state.
So what fabrics are considered 'sustainable'?
This will never be a straight forward answer, otherwise everyone would be using the exact same fabric. It's a case of compromise at this moment in time.
Econyl - I (Helz) used this in my final year collaboration project with Gymshark at university. It is a Nylon based fabric where the polymers used within are derived from ghost fishing nets retrieved from the ocean. It's not ideal that it is still a synthetic material that can't be recycled after being mixed with other fibres (in this case Lycra). However it is fantastic for using harmful waste and keeping it out of the environment that little bit longer.
Wool - This takes a nod back in time, but with good reason. Wool is completely bio-degradable, a great insulator and breathable. It is a byproduct of the meat industry that otherwise would go to waste. We understand that the meat industry has a terrible reputation for the environment, but for now it's still a present industry that has this usable waste product.
Muskin - Is a vegetable based “leather” made of mushroom that requires no polluting substances to create. It's softer than leather, water repellent and breathable. Being made of mushroom makes it 100% bio-degradable too!
Peace silk - Is an ethical method of producing silk. Traditionally silk is created by boiling the intact cocoons of the Bombyx Mori silkworms and unravelling the intact silk thread. This method kills the silkworm. Peace silk allows the worm to complete its natural lifecycle whilst removing the waste product of this process - the silk.
Organic Cotton - A fabric we're all familiar with - minus the toxic chemicals. The helpful development of GM crops has allowed farmers to yield more produce, with less water and without the need for pesticides. Conserving the environment, farmers health and the water quality of the surrounding area.
Hopefully Helz Defined will be heading to Barcelona with Pause Fashion for their next exhibition from December 12th-23rd later this year.