A smart solution to fashion’s catastrophic overconsumption
You’ve no doubt heard that the fashion industry has some work to do when it comes to its environmental impact. The global clothing business emits more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined. But the tide is turning and instead of having to compromise, the solution seems to be a win-win situation.
Look at Portland's Kiriko, for example. Founded on the values of “mottainai,” the Japanese philosophy expressing regret over waste, the brand upcycles everything from blankets to denim jeans made with imported Japanese textiles. They're known especially for their one-of-a-kind “boro” pieces, made from vintage garments that have been repaired and patched by hand with decades-old fabric.
Just last month, GREATS released the brand's first upcycled sneaker, the Royale High Patchwork. The shoe utilizes scraps from the brand's Italian factory, stitched together for a patchwork design that gives the sneakers a casual preppy-with-an-edge aesthetic.
Indigo jinbei jacket,
from $99 by Kiriko
Denim trucker jacket,
from $35 by Levi's SecondHand
This week, Levi's launched an ambitious new initiative called Levi's SecondHand, allowing shoppers to buy pre-owned jeans and jackets, as well as receiving credits for their own used items. The first-of-its-kind “recommerce” program is part of the company's larger commitment to making fashion sustainable and circular.
How does it work? Levi's is offering $15 to $25 for any denim that can be resold and up to $35 for older vintage pieces. If your jeans are too worn out to be sold, they'll still give you $5 towards a future purchase and recycle the denim. The garments are professionally cleaned and then sold on the SecondHand marketplace, at affordable prices, ranging from roughly $30 - $100. That's a whole lot easier (and more cost-effective) than scouring vintage stores or sites for the perfect beat-up pair. After all, when you think of the perfect pair of jeans, they're always broken-in and a little roughed up, right?
“Repurposing and repairing clothes requires minimal additional energy input, no water, and no dyes to make more jeans,” says Jennifer Sey, Levi's Chief Marketing Officer. “Buying a used pair of Levi's through SecondHand saves approximately 80% of the CO2 emissions compared to buying a new pair of jeans.”
While it might seem like a small gesture, these things add up—and will become even more vital as menswear continues to grow. The Global Fashion Agenda estimates that the apparel industry will expand 81% by 2030 (though the number could be slightly lower due to the pandemic). But if everybody bought one used item this year instead of something new, it would save 449 million pounds of waste. It feels like an insider secret. You're getting more interesting, well-made garments at affordable prices, and on top of that, you can feel good about not contributing harm to the planet. Seems like an obvious way to buy less, but buy better right?
The value of the all the clothes thrown away each year that could still be worn.