Basel Entrepreneurs Kick Fast Fashion to the Curb
11 May 2021 - Carrie Aikman

I’m sure many of you out there are familiar with the term ‘fast fashion,’ and perhaps you know, too, just how devastating the fashion industry is not only to the environment but to human rights as well.

Here are some “fun facts” you may not have heard yet:

  • 24,200,000,000 – that’s 24 billion, 200 million! – pairs of shoes are produced every year;
  • there are 40 million garment workers globally and they are deemed one of the lowest paid workers in the world;
  • cotton farming uses 2.5% of land, yet uses 16% of global pesticides;
  • in total, up to 85% of textiles go into landfills each year. The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second.

Clearly, there is an urgent need for change across the spectrum, from material suppliers and garment workers, to designers and consumers. And while you and I have so little control over most of that, we have perhaps the most important role – as consumers. As I like to say, we get to vote with our dollar. Supply is only there because we demand it.

So, what if we demand something different?

Recently, I joined Impact Hub Basel’s online event, “Future Wardrobe: Slow & Circular Fashionand met some truly inspiring and innovative local entrepreneurs who are working towards positive change in the fashion industry. To be the change you wish to see in the world (thanks, Ghandi!), support these businesses by following them on social media, telling your friends, buying from them, and encouraging others to do the same.

And without further ado, meet the changemakers…

Catherine Meuter and Stefan Mathys, founders of VYN, have years of experience in the fashion world. Together, they have designed over 40 collections for various brands in Italy, the UK and Norway. They recognized that multiple seasonal collections with a short lifespan, sold cheaply (but at what real cost?), has led us to a disposable mindset, with huge impacts on the environment. The sneaker industry is one of the most polluting in fashion. As an answer to this, VYN was born. With their repairable sneaker – the first of its kind – VYN’s goal is to encourage the customer to re-evaluate their spending and move away from a disposable mind-set to one where they take care of their sneakers and enjoy them for longer.

T2RIFF produces sustainable sports clothing according to GOTS and BIO guidelines. Items are fairly produced, in Europe, using organic cotton and recycled materials whenever possible from PET bottles or old polyester. Their practices result in much less impact on the environment, for instance:

  • reducing left-over waste by over 90%;
  • 75% fewer energy resources used;
  • saving 60% of greenhouse gases, to name a few.

They’ve thought of everything so you can look good as well as feel good while sweating it out…

ID Geneve created the most eco innovative watch, and of course, with Swiss, high-quality standards! In addition, their materials are sourced as locally as possible. The watches are made from 100% recycled premium 4441 stainless steel collected in Jura; the straps are made with 80% recycled residue of grapes after vinification; and their packaging is recyclable and compostable thanks to the incredible mushroom. What’s more, the watch’s modular design makes it easy to repair (which makes it last longer and uses local services), and they completely dismantle and clean used watches for resale – guaranteed to be better than new!

SHAREaLOOK was created in 2019 with the mission to offer conscious consumers a sustainable, yet fun and affordable way to consume fashion. Their online platform enables users to easily rent out their own clothing or rent from others. With ever-changing options and new looks, this means members can have fun in fashion without the environmental impacts of traditional consumer ways. Why contribute to the horrors of fast fashion when you can do this?

Manusia was founded by two best friends after they became increasingly aware of the fashion industry’s consequences. They try to find the best way possible to deliver clothing with a positive impact, both on community and environment. One way is by using 100% GOTS certified organic cotton for the entire collection, to ensure there are less chemicals and less water consumed in the agricultural process. The clothing is produced in Izmir, Turkey – from cotton bud to woven material – by Orimpex, a factory that uses organic textiles, has a certificate for “Equality for Women at Work” and is part of the Fair Wear Foundation. Manusia uses packaging that is 100% recycable (they do not use any prints on the covers and keep paper use to a minimum), and partners with One Tree Planted.

During the event, I also met a new startup yet to hit the market. Baby Come Back is a company that sells children’s clothing—but then buys it back from you! They are in the early stages so keep an eye on their website for the full story…they are launching in August 2021!

Please help in supporting these social entrepreneurs! And thanks for reading – you can also listen to this segment on RadioX I did following the event.

 

-Carrie Aikman