A balanced textile diet.
Why no fabric is perfect, but we balance what we use, for better consideration of people and planet.
Something that we often struggle to articulate online is the feel of fabrics. If you're a seasoned Birdsong customer or slow fashion fan, you'll know the difference. Knowing your fibres is a brilliant step to shopping better, slower, and more considerately.
Do you prefer a stretch fabric, to support and cradle your frame? Or something more rigid and long lasting, easy to chuck in the wash? Is softness important to you, or breathability? Are fine fabrics, easily layered, better for temperature changes and multi-seasonal dressing? Are you in love with wool, or is it too much for your senses?
Sometimes, a hard working polyester is a desired design function for a garment. It can be water resistant, long-lasting, good for high performing outerwear.
But too often, brands manufacture in virgin synthetics out of cheapness. These are the bulks of fabrics manufactured in fossil fuels, that end up as clothing contributing to landfills. Overrun, slow to decompose, emitting long lasting chemicals. The kind that go bobbly in the wash, release static shocks to the touch, and make you sweat buckets if you're running for the bus.
The experts are pretty damning about the use of fossil fuel fabrics, too:
"Fossil fibres are a key enabler of the fast-fashion business model, and their production already requires more oil than the annual consumption of Spain. Produced and sold cheaply, these items are often discarded after just seven or eight uses, ending up in landfills, incinerators or dumped in nature.
Cheap synthetic fibres not only facilitate the production of low-quality clothing that ends up as waste but also perpetuate the fashion industry’s dependence on continued fossil-fuel extraction in the midst of a climate emergency.
While other companies and sectors are decarbonising and aiming for a circular economy, it is clear that, given its addiction to synthetic fibres, the fashion industry is heading in entirely the wrong direction."
- Changing Markets Report: Synthetics Anonymous
Unless made from, compost, no fabric is truly sustainable. Each and every fabric has pros and cons, and environmental impact. We prefer to use fabrics that can return to the earth, like organic cottons and Tencel, but sometimes we also use polyesters that are reclaimed, and would otherwise go straight to waste or landfill. This is what we now see as the "varied diet" of fabric consumption as a clothing manufacturer. Thanks to Joss Whipple of The Right Project for teaching us this concept this summer Lisbon, as part of the Small But Perfect programme we're lucky to be on.
For our next pieces, we chose a luxurious, drapey, Tencel crepe. The subtle bark texture felt like a nod to recently deceased icon Issey Miyake, and made perfect sense for staple pieces. The interest of the texture transforms them into hard-working statement garments. These pieces will serve you and your wardrobe, day in and day out.
Tencel is made from beech, but chemically treated. Though still technically a viscose, our suppliers use factories and processes that catch the solvents used, so that waterways are not polluted or effected in the first instance. This closed loop process reassures us that the environmental impact is limited.
Though we know that only 1% of garments are recycled currently, monofibres (made from one fabric, not blended), are in theory much easier to recycle. Tencel is also compostable and biodegradable, within 28 days according to ocean floor testing, and in home composting conditions too.
Together with these considerations, we knew we have to choose our latest fabric because it felt so good to the touch. The swishy, liquid like softness against our skin had us sold.
Our clothes are made for joy, and the feel of this fabric was joyous. The luxurious Tencel Crepe fabric we've carefully chosen for our next pieces is as comforting, luxurious and soft as more responsible fabrics get.
If our choice of fabrics is part of a more conscious, balanced, fabric diet, this is the luxurious, all naturally derived, dark chocolate dessert. We hope it brings you as much joy as it does us.