By Sonya Prior
Here at SILOU, we consciously seek out and source sustainable materials and methods to create, package and deliver the pieces you know, trust and love. This is often, the easiest part of the sustainability process particularly when creating products which are as sustainable as they are premium. Sustainable fabrics exist, new ones are consistently emerging, demand has increased however, still does not match the demand of ultra-fast and incredibly damaging fashion. This has been an ever-evolving process since day one and we want to share what we currently use to create SILOU along with a few learnings and obstacles we faced along the way.
TRIED AND TESTED
We have tried and tested countless fabrics for our SILOU range. Not everything works for our standards, which is sustainable luxury designed to stand the test of time. Bamboo and hemp, whilst soft and sustainable, breaks down easily and naturally with wear. This is why we choose TENCEL™ and Organic Cotton. Whilst present within the activewear industry, securing recycled materials for our active pieces which are equally sustainable and luxurious has been quite the process. We are small batch manufactured in workshops not sweatshops, which means whilst eco fabrics are available, for those of us who don’t work with mass volumes, comes mass premiums. Premiums drive up our prices and make us inaccessible. We have worked on this for seasons and have found our sweet spot. We are proud to announce the three principal fabrics we use are ECONYL®, a recycled nylon, TENCEL™ and Organic Cotton.
RECYCLED NYLON - ECONYL®
For our latest collection, Selene we use ECONYL®, a regenerated nylon made from landfill and ocean waste from around the world. It's exactly the same as brand new nylon but can be recycled, recreated and remoulded again and again. That means you can create new products and buy new products without having to use new resources.
- ECONYL® has the potential to be recycled infinitely, without ever losing its quality. The goal is that once all products containing ECONYL® are no longer useful to customers, they can go back to step one of the Regeneration System.
It reduces the global warming impact of nylon by up to 80% compared to the - material crafted from oil.
- ECONYL® allows for muscular compression aimed at decreasing the production of lactic acid and boosts better recovery of energy.
- Gentle on the skin, ECONYL® is breathable and highly UV protective (UPF 50+).
- ECONYL® boasts resilient elastic memory meaning it moulds to you and bounces back to its shape more than regular activewear.
TENCEL™ is a high-performance viscose fibre, made from 100% regenerated cellulose from trees in managed forests.
In brief, TENCEL™ is:
- Stronger than cotton when wet or dry
- Easy to care, with very low shrinkage
- Durable and luxurious yet practical
- Very absorbent and breathable
- Completely biodegradable and can be recycled
Not only is TENCEL™ all of the above, it is also antibacterial, odour-resistant and ideal for sensitive skin, making it the perfect material to work out in.
TENCEL™ fibres are certified with the internationally recognized EU Ecolabel, an environmental quality label only awarded to products which have a significantly lower environmental impact throughout their entire lifecycle. Lenzing (the company responsible for the creation of TENCEL™) also received the European Award for the Environment from the European Commission in the category “The Technology Award for Sustainable Development” (2002).
Our cotton is organic and has been approved by The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). The aim of this Standard is to define requirements to ensure organic status of textiles, from the harvesting of raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labelling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.
To obtain the GOTS organic label, a product must:
- Contain at least 95% organic fibre
- Not be treated with bleach, formaldehyde or any other toxic substances
- Be coloured with non-toxic dyes
- Be produced in a mill that enforces strict social and environmental standards, treating their employees and the earth with deep respect
Q-NOVA® is made from materials which were deemed unusable in any other way and would have been disposed of as external waste. The discarded materials are recast using a mechanical regeneration process which does not involve using chemical materials which would detract from the sustainability of the end product. An ecological product in design, Q-NOVA® reduces CO2 emissions, consumes less water and uses renewable energy.
- lightweight with the same qualities as Cotton or Polyester
- boasts excellent moisture control meaning that the skin stays fresh and dry
- Q-NOVA® has the best possible dyeing quality, with colours are bright and bold
- Global Recycled Standard (GRS). Their goal is to increase use of Recycled materials in products and reduce/eliminate the harm caused by its production.
- EU ECOLABEL is a trademark certifying environmental quality and indicating the products with the best ecological performance throughout its entire lifespan.
- Higg Index by the SAC - Sustainable Apparel Coalition. The Higg index enables supply chains to assess the environmental impact of a garment's entire life cycle. Working towards transparency it allows companies to compare materials so they can make knowledgeable, more sustainable choices.
SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED
We sincerely believe that together, our everyday actions can lead us to a more sustainable future for us and our planet. We choose to source materials for our packaging that are fully biodegradable and recyclable. From our everyday packaging, premium boxes, gift cards to the hygiene strips found on our swimwear - nothing gets missed.
Our polybags are made with P-Life and are landfill biodegradable. In short, the garment bags are created with additives that break itself down and can be completely assimilated back into nature. Our hygiene strips are made with 100% bio-based compostable materials. Woven labels such as SILOU neck labels and size tabs are made from recycled polyester and GRS (Global Recycled Standard for Textile Industry) certified. And finally, our swing tags, gift vouchers, envelopes, gift boxes - every bit of paper we use to deliver SILOU are recycled and GRS certified. Every little bit counts and we are part of a wider collective to build a better world through the sustainable choices we make today for tomorrow.
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT
Surplus product and excess fabric consumption contribute to fashion landfill and unnecessary environmental impact. To counteract this and reduce overall textile waste, we are committed to small-batch manufacturing; a sustainable and respectful approach that works for our business, our customers and the planet. We have a strict no burning policy which goes hand in hand with our small batch manufactured method. We choose to work away from traditional market seasons, which allows for greater flexibility when designing and creating collections that truly make sense to our community versus consistently producing and manufacturing simply because that is the way it has been and is still done. We openly challenge traditional practices, when it doesn’t align with our brand philosophy.
CREATED WITH CARE
One of the greatest problems faced by our modern industrial society is the consumption of non-renewable resources. Such as coal, gas, oil and minerals. These will eventually run out. We choose to work with mills that run through renewable energy. Our mills generate all electricity to power looms by solar panels and recycle all waste - including water. Compared to other mills, ours are also BSCI approved. The BSCI works to tackle challenges of code of conduct around different geographical areas. They implement a system to address the complex labour issues of the supply chain.
SILOU is proudly made in workshops not sweatshops. Sustainability for us, naturally extends into ensuring every touchpoint and person within our SILOU ecosystem is cared for and respected.
SILOU FOR YOU, TO YOU
A key component to finding a balance between sustainability, luxury and accessibility comes down to the willingness to consistently assess what, how and why we are doing things. In 2017 we were trying to achieve sustainable luxury through activewear. However, with so many household activewear names, the best way to be accessible was through wholesale. This meant for a new brand, we worked to the fashion industry’s traditional calendar, doing our best to keep up whilst adhering to our commitment to small batch manufactured, slow fashion. Naturally, this didn’t always work. Over the last few years, we worked to build our brand organically through community and in 2020, with our latest collection Selene, we launched our direct to consumer model. This means from design and creation to our workshop and warehouse, SILOU is created for you and sent directly to you. This allows us to be even more flexible with our SILOU calendar, slow down our processes even more and test eco fabrics at more accessible prices because the middle man is no more. We hope you’re as happy as us about this next phase of SILOU.