The Rise of Eco-Friendly Fashion
With the growing number of people who are interested in eco-friendly fashion, most retailers are forced to adapt in order to maintain growth. Although sustainable clothing is now easier available online and on high streets, the ethical fashion industry is still somehow lacking one of the most important everyday items – vegan lingerie and undergarments.
In fact, the sustainable lingerie market only makes up around 2.4 percent of all sustainable apparel, a study has discovered. In addition, this year it was reported that only two and three percent of sustainable products sold at two well established, ethical retailers, Reformation and Everlane, are undergarments.
However, the oversight of eco- friendly underwear presents an opportunity for sustainable fashion designers and entrepreneurs like Sofie Andersson, CEO of Anekdot Boutique and Daniela Paradeis, Founder and CEO of Daniela Paradeis Lingerie and Loungewear.
Ms Paradeis said: “I believe that sustainability has definitely become more and more important over the years. When I founded my business five years ago most people did not care whether clothes were vegan or sustainable or where the materials have come from.”
Based in Vienna, the independent lingerie and loungewear designer creates 100% vegan and “sweatshop- free” luxury garments using deadstock and leftover fabrics mainly from other larger companies in Austria. Her vintage and rock & roll inspired styles are also suitable for allergy sufferers as zippers and rings are nickel-free and embedded in organic cotton. The cruelty free designer also plants a tree for every purchase.
Ms Paradeis said: “To make the world a little bit better I decided to produce sustainably, simply because I have been vegetarian for twenty-two years and I am now vegan since six years. It is becoming increasingly important to look where materials come from.”
She also cites “the limited access to training opportunities in lingerie design” to be the main reason for the lack of vegan lingerie in the current sustainable fashion industry.
The 34 year old designer added: “I studied fashion design in Italy and chose underwear for my final collection but nobody really knew how to make it, not even the teachers.”
After her graduation, Paradeis “tried out a few things”, including designing handbags and nightwear.
She added: “When I attended a lecture about lingerie design, it just clicked. I fell in love with undergarments because it is not only beautiful but also technically very demanding.”
Based in Berlin, Sofie Andersson’s ‘upcycle’ brand Anekdot also turns production leftovers and dead stock trimmings into high-quality lingerie.
Unhappy with social injustices and environmental concerns caused by the fast fashion industry, the Swedish designer said: “Making lingerie has enabled me to combine all my passions. I can work with high- quality materials while also being able to control each and every step of the sustainability part. By starting my own business I could question all of the things within the fashion industry I did not agree with.”
The label sources its materials mainly from closed down factories, leftover fabrics, cut-offs, production errors or miscalculation and although “most of the products are made without animal parts” the label also processes materials such as silk “which are leftovers and would otherwise go to waste. Instead of throwing them away we find a way to use them.”
After moving from London to Berlin, the young entrepreneur struggled to “find lingerie of high quality”, that is not just “comfortable and stylish” but also “produced responsibly.” The handcrafted lingerie label, founded in 2015, is now offering a wide range of panties, bralettes, matching sets, lounge and swimwear, as well as accessories such as hair ties and eye masks and “aims to give a new life to unwanted textiles that would have otherwise ended up in landfill.”
Ms Andersson also warns of “way too much greenwashing” within the fashion sector.
“It seems that a lot of companies are just claiming to produce their products more environmentally friendly, when really they are not. Sustainability is definitely more popular than it was just a few years ago. These days, consumers are more aware about the environmental impact of the fashion industry and want to make eco- conscious decisions.”
Andersson added: “It is very important for consumers to ask questions and to make sure that it is actually sustainable because a lot of things are not but they are marketing it that way.”