Production Do’s and Dont’s
Production of textiles can be a pretty dirty business. Individual processes are specific and depend on the base material - everyone simply wants to be treated individually. Natural fibers for example normally must be bleached to remove impurities and to create a uniform white colour to ensure consistent results in the dyeing process, while synthetic fibers do not require a bleaching treatment.
To keep track of what’s going on, we created a guideline, which directs us through this jungle and tells us which processes to go for and which ones to avoid. The information on this guideline is among others based on data such as water consumption, energy consumption, how many auxiliaries’ processes are required and how harmful they are, or if there are any health risks for workers.
We think, local production is essential to guarantee the quality of our garments. In fact, we do not think that locality is an important factor when it comes to transport emissions, because many components of the garments come from far away anyways (e.g. cotton). However, through local production it is possible for us to regularly visit and personally quality check production sites and to establish closer and trust-based long-term relationships with our suppliers – we simply can be more transparent and assure quality standards more easily.
Production Practices - Do's
There is a great variety in production processes for textiles and to choose from them is not always an easy task, since many of them also come with drawbacks. However, we decided in a first step to go for reactive dyeing methods as well as to promote new techniques, like the treatment of the garments with enzymes. Reactive dyeing is the most recent development and the EU considers it – when done in an efficient way – as state of the art technology in textile dyeing. A drawback of reactive dyeing is, that the dyes are still based on petrol.
However, when deciding on how to dye, we didn’t want to go yet for natural dyeing, because many of those raw materials require an incredibly big area for cultivation and therefore sometimes compete for precious fertile land, which would be needed to cultivate basic food for people. Enzyme treatments, on the other hand, allow more efficient fabric processing, whereby water, energy and chemicals can be saved. Afterwards, enzymes can be disposed of more easily than chemicals – making effluents less harmful (a classic win-win, yes!).
Production Practices - Dont's
When deciding about what to do, we thought it would also be helpful to talk about what not to do when producing our garments (sounds logical, right?). Here, we started with crowding out immediately harmful practices during denim production (for example sandblasting).
Production processes setting free heavy metals or formaldehyde are eliminated, as well as traditional bleaching with sodium hypochlorite, because this sodium hypochlorite leads to the formation of toxic and sometimes carcinogenic halogen compounds in the waste water (it even sounds disgusting in this weird technical jargon).