A few years back, there were very few brands who could call themselves sustainable. But now it is a key characteristic for any label that wants to be considered serious in the saturated fashion market.
There has been a significant increase in sustainable products over the last 12 months. Many brands are trying to be more eco-friendly, including Levi’s which is reducing H2O consumption and reusing water throughout production. Louis Vuitton is focusing its efforts on a France-based assembly to reduce its CO2 emissions.
Although some people are still skeptical about sustainability, someone I know said to me recently that she would not buy trainers made of recycled glass. “These trainers won’t last …”
The Swedish brand Axel Arigato has dispelled such claims. The Reinvented trainer is exactly what the name suggests: a reinvention, or reworking, of an older design that works just the same and is as durable as the original, but it is also very much sustainable.
Arigato Cap-Toe trainers are a popular style within the Swedish brand’s core products offering. They now have more sustainable materials than any other shoe in their vast catalog. The toe is made of recycled PET bottles taken from the ocean, and the upper is made with vegan leather.
The design was made using recycled polyester fibres. The lining and laces, which are 100% composed of this sustainable alternative to cotton, were also created with this in mind. Details such as the lace eyelets were updated with recycled metal, and the soles are made of 20% recycled rubber. Max Svardh, Albin Johansson, founders of the company, explain that suppliers are becoming more sustainable. “If you look back at a year ago it was different,” they say. “We have done the best we can so far. But, we are determined to find a quality material that is worth recycling trainers at 50, 60 and 70 percent. At this stage, we are not willing to compromise on quality or design.”
You can’t be sustainable if you don’t know where each component of your product was made. Svardh says, “We have this traceability mapping coming, where you can view every factory that we work with, whether or not they make our laces or our soles, and you can also see information about them.”
Arigato’s guys know that sustainability doesn’t stop at a pair of trainers. They also make a lot of effort to be a sustainable brand. Johansson says that these changes are not just a marketing tool. They must be authentic and be visible to the customer as well as back of house.
“We are trying to obtain a complete picture of our carbon footprint. We’ll then develop a plan to reduce it. These changes are needed throughout the organization. We are looking at the entire office to determine what type of electricity we are using and what kind sourcing our landlords are using. For example, we have changed the packaging. Every shoe box is made from recycled materials.”
With sustainability becoming more important, brands are doing more. From big brands like Arket with its swimwear line made entirely of recycled materials to small start-ups like Haeckels that mainly uses ethically and locally sourced seaweed in their products. Is there enough? Svardh Johansson and Johansson say no. Johansson says, “What I found in the fashion industry was that it is at the forefront in the world and is key to embracing the sustainability movement.” “We are not yet there as an industry. But again, we cannot expect everything perfect immediately – it will take some time and we won’t quit.”