The clothes we wear make an impact. Not only in the way we look and feel, but in how we treat the planet, too. The fashion industry is one of the largest polluters in the world, in both the production and the final product, with up to 85% of clothing ending up in landfills. However, change is on the horizon, and we’re proud to say that . We’ll let Bari Shore, our Director of Product (and Head of our Sustainability Process) take it from here.
Why is sustainability important to White + Warren?
Sustainability has always been extremely important to our founder, Susan, and something that she's lived in her own life and shown through example. Now more than ever, it’s important to talk about. For us it's really about the process, not the product. We feel really passionately about improving our processes to make less of an environmental impact. The cornerstone of our brand ethos has always been quality. We're not disposable fashion, our clothes last a lifetime. That's always been who we are, but now we're taking those steps with all of our yarns and processes to be sustainable as well.
What has the timeline looked like?
We're really fortunate to have a team that is so passionate about making change, so we've been able to pivot rather quickly. This process really started for us with Holiday ‘18, when we found the most beautiful source for Recycled Cashmere. It was the first time that we've seen a material that matches the quality our customers expect that also has the right production behind it. Then it was a snowball effect. Now, going into designing our Spring ‘21 line, nearly all of our yarns have a reduced environmental impact. We're chipping away a little bit more every day.
It doesn’t end with the product. We also examined our packaging and shipping methods. As of Spring ‘20, all of our goods are shipped in bags that are compostable and biodegradable. This is huge, and meant that for Spring ‘20 we kept 41,000 plastic bags out of landfills. We're now reevaluating the boxes that we use to ship product.
What White + Warren yarns are produced sustainably?
We've really been able to make a huge impact with cotton and linen. With our recycled bottle cotton, we were able to recycle 2,500 plastic bottles off the ocean floor. We're working with a mill that is literally sourcing bottles from the ocean floor so they can be repurposed into this beautiful, high-quality Italian yarn. We’re also partnering with a mill that works with the Better Cotton Initiative, which offers more sustainable wages for farmers to keep the cotton industry growing. This mill also recycles 60% of the water used when dyeing the yarn.
Linen has always been a naturally sustainable yarn. Compared to other fibers, it uses the least amount of water, the whole plant is used in production and it’s biodegradable. On top of all that, we went ahead and changed our dyeing method for linen, so we're using a natural wash in most colors that uses even less water.
How can W+W customers join us in our sustainability efforts?
The rate in which people throw away their clothes has gone down to just two years, but a cashmere sweater, if well taken care of, can last 30 years. Just by keeping our clothes longer, we keep them out of landfills. Personally, I’m a big proponent of “wear more, wash less” to keep my sweaters in good condition. I encourage everyone to adopt that mentality.
Also, since the polybags our items are shipped in are compostable and biodegradable. You can simply compost at home or Google your local composting facility to drop off any of your polybags along with anything else you need to compost. The bags will also biodegrade naturally, even if you throw them in a trash can, it'll just take longer. Don’t forget to recycle your hangtags too!