Since our inception, creating garments made with care and consideration for the Earth has always been important to us as a brand. We don’t market it a lot (we are still learning and growing to figure out what sustainable manufacturing really means and would never want to greenwash), but in honor of Earth Day we wanted to share a little more about the steps we are taking to reduce our environmental impact.
One of the simplest ways in which we are try to minimize our environmental impact is by producing in fairly small batches (by industry standards), and taking a slow fashion approach to design and production. Rather than following a typical fashion timeline of churning out new styles seasonally that are meant to be trendy one year and out of fashion the next, we create sleepwear and gifts that are made to last. We introduce two new collections each year, selling out of some of our catalog (no inventory is destroyed or discarded) and keeping best-selling designs in our collection for years to come, happily evergreen. We use waitlisting on our site to help establish if it's time to re-order and replenish as there is a need - rather than overproducing.
We’ve also made it our mission to partner with vendors whose environmental and ethical values align with our own. In the years that we have been designing and producing, we’ve made it part of our process to travel to India twice a year. Being there in person has allowed us to really dig into manufacturing, helping us to ensure our production partners share our vision of socially responsible manufacturing.
The factory we work most closely with, located in the Indian city of Jaipur, was founded by Baldev. Baldev loves all aspects of manufacturing and is a wealth of knowledge—he’s an expert on fabric construction, printing techniques and all things textiles! On our last trip he recounted the story of how he got his start in the industry. He described his chance meeting decades ago with a German tourist who was trying to source someone to make Christmas knick-knacks out of metal and fabric. Baldev had experience in metal work, but hadn’t done textile production before. But the tourist saw potential, and they worked out a partnership where he funded Baldev’s first sewing facility in return for managing his production. Over the years, Baldev went from riding a moped around, picking up supplies and shipping all of their goods, to running multiple factories.
Baldev recently built the factory where our sleepwear is cut and sewn, with the goal of creating a state-of-the-art, green facility. It boasts many modern sustainable practices, complete with solar power as well as onsite water recycling. It is spacious, well lit and organized, and is always a pleasure to visit. The facilities where our fabric is screenprinted is located in a printing district, situated a few miles outside of town. Water waste is a major concern in the apparel manufacturing process, and Balev, along with a group of neighboring facilities, founded a private water plant of their own that is able to recycle about 80% of the water used during manufacturing (about 20% evaporates in the process). Some of the recycled water is even returned to the factories in a drinkable form, although most is reused for future printing.
Not only is Baldev committed to environmentally sound and ethical business practices, but he also focuses on preserving Indian craft and hand-printing techniques. Jaipur is known for its block and screen-printing, but many artisans gave up the craft when manufacturing scaled and digital and rotary printing became more popular. Baldev has worked hard to give these artisans the opportunity to focus on their craft, which dovetails nicely with our own desire to have our designs lovingly screen-printed, layer by layer. Recently, Baldev fulfilled one of his big dreams of creating an incredible, light-filled block printing studio. There, master printers hand-carve wooden blocks and carefully stamp fabric, preserving this ancient tradition (a technique that we are working with him on for our sister-brand, Voloshin).
This year we are implementing several new eco-friendly initiatives, one of which is tweaking our packaging to make sure everything is easily biodegradable or made from 100% recycled materials. Some of you may have already received our first round of test mailers which are made from 100% recycled content—50% of which is post-consumer waste. We are so happy to have found EcoEnclose, and just put in our first order for branded packaging. While we were previously using recycled paper mailers, after a tremendous amount of research we learned that recycled plastic mailers have the added benefit of a lower carbon footprint, as they take up less space in delivery vehicles throughout the shipping process.
Even more exciting, we are currently working on switching from premium 100% cotton to GOTS-certified organic cotton for all of our sleepwear! It takes time to source, test and finalize new fabrics, but we’ve committed to making the leap in the beginning of 2021. As we get closer to a release date, we’ll be sure to share more about that process.
We are so grateful to have such amazing vendors working with us, and are looking forward to continuing to share our journey as we become a more sustainable brand in the years to come.