Sustainability in the textile business: Ground-breaking developments

Marci Zaroff

In a short interview Marci Zaroff, eco fashion pioneer in the US, outlines her personal green revolution in the textile industry, ground-breaking developments such as the Higg Index and upcoming steps in the fashion industry, which will be of interest for the home textiles industry as well.

In an interview you said, your personal commitment is to revolutionize the textile industry. How is the revolution going on?
My mission to ”revolutionize” the fashion & textile industries has been a long & exciting road. Each step of the way, change has been driven by passionate individuals working throughout the supply chain, from farm to finished fashion. A giant web of efforts are now uniting to tip the scale, but for many years, each respective “piece in the puzzle” involved deep commitment & patient trailblazing. Solid certification standards are now launched; innovative fiber & manufacturing technologies to minimize waste, chemical, water & energy use are underway; designers are more engaged in ECOfashion than ever before, especially the next gen; trade collaborations such as Textile Exchange & Ethical Fashion Forum are coming together to leverage & share their collective voices; and finally, consumers are demanding authenticity, transparency & value in the products they are seeking and brands/retailers they are supporting.

What are the most powerful and the most interesting projects/developments in the eco fashion sector right now?
There are groundbreaking developments on many fronts. The GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and new Higgs Index are paving the way to set environmental protocols & compliance metrics. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition now represents over 60 leading apparel & footwear brands, retailers, suppliers, nonprofits & NGOs working to reduce global environmental & social impacts. Ethical Fashionistas are recognizing the need to address farmer & worker livlihoods, including Fair Trade USA’s 1st Fair Trade Textile Certification, which I helped to create. Innovative eco-friendly fibers, fabrics & manufacturing methods, from RPET and Tencel/ECOlytpus to waterless & seaweed based dying, are gaining momentum; new fibers like spider silk & Crailar are getting attention. The Green Way/Green Shows are engaging major and emerging designers on the Fashion Week runways and Source4Style has become a go-to source sustainable fabrics. Suzi Cameron (“Red Carpet, Green Dress”) and Livia Firth (“Green Carpet Challenge”) have launched inspiring & empowering contests to dress leading celebrities in ECOfashion for the Academy Awards. Finally, along with an A-list team, I am producing an upcoming documentary called ”THREAD”, which will unveil the human & environmental impacts of the fashion industry, while highlighting the exciting solutions & engagement worldwide. www.THREADdocumentary.com

What are your favourite Eco Fashion Brands?
Of course I have a bias to Under the Canopy and FASE (Fashion-Art-Soul-Earth), ECOfashion lifestyle brands which I Founded. Loomstate, Kuyichi, People Tree, Linda Loudermilk, Deborah Lindquist, Alabama Chanin, Stewart & Brown and Edun are also well-respected ECOfashion brands. Stella McCartney’s new collections are fabulous and eco-chic and some of the talented emerging ECOfashion designers include Tara St James, Lara Miller, Carrie Parry & Marcia Patmos. Retailers/brands such as H&M and Eileen Fisher have made exciting headway with their sustainable fashion collections as well.

What are the next steps the conventional industry should go to make a change. Little steps – big impact. Do you have some examples / advices for the conventional industry?
As Lao Tzu states “The journey of 1000 miles begins with one step”, and every step in the right direction is a step forward for fashion given how toxic the industry is. Conventional brands & designers need to understand how to think differently at every level of the supply chain: 1) from the way they design (reversible, wearable, accessible); 2) to seeking better quality vs “cheaper/faster” options; 3) to sourcing materials & fabrics that are truly sustainable (Certified Organic vs conventional cotton or wool, recycled vs conventional polyester, Tencel/ECOlyptus vs bamboo or rayon); 4) and to asking questions of their manufacturing partners RE more eco-friendly production options for water, waste, energy & chemical reductions, such as low-impact dyes and formaldehyde-free finishes. Considering that the global fashion industry’s annual use represents over 10% of the world’s total carbon impact, over 3 trillion gallons of fresh water and over a million tons of waste in the landfills, and is one of the world’s leading causes of air & water pollution, every responsible choice is a part of the solution vs the problem. Fortunately today, the resources, networks, information, engagement and support systems are in place to finally affect positive change in the fashion industry. It’s no longer about staying ahead; but instead, it’s about not being left behind. ECOfashion is the future of fashion.

More information about Marci Zaroff: www.marcizaroff.com

Jana Kern


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