Finding the right fabrics for the first season of Jackalo has been a bit of a journey. I’ve settled on a premium, highly traceable organic cotton, but it took a while for me to get there. Here’s why…
When I began thinking about the first pair of pants I’d develop, I was stuck on technical fabrics. These are the fabrics used in mountaineering, climbing and the like. I even went to the biggest fashion trade show in Europe and focused exclusively on the technical fabrics section. I was, admittedly, wowed by the performance capabilities.
I noticed however, that a lot of the technical fabric manufacturers rely on synthetic fibers. More often than not, these fibers are sourced from non-renewable resources. For example, polyester is a petroleum product. And all of these synthetics shed very small particles when you wash them—often referred to as microplastics—that end up in our food systems (and ps- I’m doubting they are tested for food safety!)
As you may have read in one of the past posts, there’s so much innovation happening in the world of fabrics right now. There are creative means of recycling fibers and plastics into new fabrics and high-tech production of highly sustainable materials. I’m a firm believer that all of this creative thinking is critical to bringing fashion into a new era that is more conscious of the impact it has on the environment.
But for now, I have concerns about these microplastics in our oceans. I ultimately felt like I needed to see more progress on solutions to that problem before I could use a polyester (even a recycled one) in our products. One day I hope that technology for keeping these plastics out of our waterways improves to that I might incorporate these recycle fibers in our clothes. But for now, I felt like I need to start elsewhere.
I thought a lot about a conversation I’d had with my brother. We talked about old-fashioned work clothes—the denim coverall that every farmer wore—and how those provided great durability but, initially, not-so-great comfort. I began to think that with the right woven cotton I could achieve both durability and comfort, without having to rely on synthetic materials.
With my focus narrowed to natural fibers, I found that the next challenge was traceability. Where does the fabric come from? Who made it? How were they treated in the production? Even if you get an organic fabric, employment standards are different everywhere and it can be hard to determine if the workers were treated fairly. So for me, that meant that not all organic or sustainable options are created equal and I couldn’t just pick any organic product off the shelf. I had to find one with the highest certification level and a commitment to transparency.
In months of searching, I was lucky enough to come across a textile manufacturer in Germany that produces only high-quality, fully traceable, cotton with the highest level of organic certification (IVN Best) and Fair for Life fair trade certification. So for me, this is the proverbial fabric jackpot. In the samples, the fabrics look great, feel super strong, wash wonderfully, and are soft enough for kiddos.