As consumers, we have to make choices about what to buy every day. We weigh our needs, our budget and our ethical views to find a balance between sustainability and style. Anyone browsing for ethical fashion will have noticed that the clothes cost more, but why? We reached out to London-based Starseeds, a slow fashion brand at the forefront of the ethical clothing movement, to ask: What is it that really defines the price of sustainable clothing? Mateusz Zawada from Starseeds replies:
The fabrics are more expensive
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Wanderlust TV guide, Pip Elysium in Starseeds
“Sustainable fabrics are on average two and a half to four times more expensive compared to more common fabrics. This price increase is partly due to the fact that they are more expensive for manufacturers to manufacture. For example, organic cotton must be grown on soils that have been cleaned for at least three years in order for them to reach levels of biodiversity that allow natural growth without toxic fertilizers. It's hand-picked and doesn't grow as efficiently as the one using toxins, but the quality is much higher and more durable, which should do justice to the rise in price.
In addition, the environmentally friendly dyes and prints are also more time-consuming and costly, which adds up to the price. "
Eco-textiles are less in demand
“Although they are becoming increasingly popular, eco-textiles are simply not as popular as cheaper mass-produced goods such as polyester or (non-organic) cotton. The greater the market demand for a product or service, the more competition drives prices down when manufacturing larger quantities.
The same principle applies to eco dyes (natural dyes from plants, animals or minerals) – the demand is not that high and the manufacturing process is therefore expensive. Natural dyes take up a huge area to be extracted in any amount, and you also need more dye itself (for example, 100 g of wool would need about 50 g of dried madder root to dye it). "
The finishing touch
“One of the many advantages of choosing sustainable fashion is that the clothing is often of much higher quality, down to the smallest detail. In addition to higher quality fabrics and manufacturing processes, sustainable clothing focuses on high quality details such as threads, textile labels, hang tags, fasteners and packaging.
Our clothes are packed in biodegradable films, which are then stored in large cardboard boxes. And as much as possible, we try to reuse all the materials that arise during storage. When posting to you, we use environmentally friendly paper with water-based tape and recycled paper boxes. Our clothes tags are made of reusable seed paper that you can plant and put in your home garden. "
How the pandemic offered silver linings
The apparel industry had a huge impact when the global pandemic hit, and we asked Starseeds founder and designer Natalia Zawada how this era will create a new relationship with clothing for this generation. “During the pandemic,” says Natalia, “people had no choice but to slow down, to turn inward, which of course affects our decision-making process. Together we became more aware and careful about our consumption. The pandemic gave people a chance to care about sustainability.
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Starseeds supplied the clothes for Insiya Rasiwala-Finn for Wanderlust TV's 10-day gentle reset in Bali
On a practical level, being locked up in our homes has made us more aware of the space clothing occupies in our households. And on a global scale, many factories around the world were closed or operated with a minimum of staff, which severely affected the flow of production. Here at Starseeds, our new collection made in Bali has been delayed by months. Import-export became significantly more expensive. The packages did not arrive on time.
However, as a sustainable company with a responsible manufacturing philosophy, we at Starseeds are used to delays as we are used to the inherent limitations that come with ethical and sustainable production. Finding materials and waiting for them to be produced and colored is one. Plus, cutting and sewing at a normal pace – rather than pushing people to work after hours – slows the whole process down compared to fast fashion companies. But for us it is crucial to choose the good of all people in our supply chain.
The majority of consumers have no patience to wait. But we know from experience that our loyal customers can wait for quality products. We really hope that the pandemic has taught consumers a little more patience when buying clothes. "
Before you buy, ask yourself …
We asked Natalia what questions consumers should ask themselves before buying a piece of clothing. "The same questions we ask ourselves before we design a piece:
- How much do I want this item?
- What would I do if I get bored or no longer need it?
- Will it be longer than a season or two? (Note both aspects of longevity: the quality and whether the design can last)
- What functionality and versatility is there? Can I wear it outside of the yoga studio?
- How would i feel (Note some aspects: the fabric, the color and the style)
Yoga beyond the mat
When we asked how the yogic mindset is expressed in decisions we make outside of our asana practice, Natalia shared how yoga has become inextricably linked to her career and lifestyle. “My journey with yoga started about 15 years ago, but it was right after I left Alexander McQueen fashion house in 2010 that I was thinking about improving my wellbeing and studying the philosophy of yoga as a whole. Since then, yoga has been my way of life. Starseed was a natural result of the amalgamation of these two words – fashion and yoga. In my practice, it was no longer just about feeling good in my body, but about finding a healthy and balanced flow of life. Thanks to my daily morning rituals and especially the meditation practice, I can say that I feel very present and guided by my intuition. A few months before the pandemic, I decided to switch our business to e-commerce and move to Bali. This enabled us to slowly relocate our production to Bali. The time has certainly been challenging, especially for niche brands like us, but we've learned that we can survive. I just can't imagine my life without yoga anymore. "
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Natalia Zawada is the founder and chief designer of Starseeds.
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