Organic cotton is grown from non-genetically engineered seeds and without the use of pesticides, insecticides and synthetic fertilizers. Conventional cotton is one of the most chemically dependent crops in the world, using 16% of insecticides used for global food and fiber production. Cotton’s heavy use of chemicals leads to a degradation in soil fertility and biodiversity. These chemicals cause serious health problems for farmers and seep into run-off water, contaminating local water supplies and affecting neighboring communities.
Often grown in countries with droughts and water shortages, conventional cotton is water intensive to grow (it is estimated it takes as much as 29,000 liters to yield one kg of cotton), whereas organic cotton is mainly dependent on rainwater.
Conventional cotton is often a mono-crop culture, meaning that it is the only crop grown repeatedly in the same field. While mono-cropping is financially attractive to farmers in the short term, it destroys the organic balance and nutrients in the soil. This results in a more fragile ecosystem and a costly increased dependence on pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Organic cotton encourages crop rotation. Rotating organic cotton with food crops builds organic matter and allows forbetter water retention in the soil. This leads to increased food availability for local communities and helps farmers spread the economic risk if one crop fails.
Organic cotton sustains the health of the soil, ecosystem and people.
Raw silk is a durable, renewable material with a low environmental impact. Silk fibers have a high tensile strength, dye easily and are biodegradable.
Silk is the protein fiber spun by silk worms to make their cocoons. Silk moth larvae feed on mulberry leaves, which are plentiful and don’t require the use of pesticides or fertilizers to grow.
Conventional silk is made by boiling the intact cocoons of the larvae, unwinding the silk strands into reels, which are then processed into fabric. Raw silk is made from imperfect cocoons- the silk thread is extracted after the silkworm completes its metamorphosis and breaks the cocoon, coming out as a moth. The brokencocoons are collected and the filaments twisted together in the spinning process, giving the finished fabric its highly textural look, which could be mistaken for cotton.
Linen is a low impact, biodegradable fabric derived from the fibers of the flax plant. Flax grows in wet climates and is predominantly rainwater-fed, as such linen requires 60% less water than conventional cotton which relies heavily on irrigation to grow. Flax is a naturally pest resistant plant, can be grown in poor soil conditions that are unsuitable for food crops, and requires near to no pesticides.
The flax plant is part of the bast family, meaning its fibers run the full length of the stalk. These long fiber staples makes for stronger, more durable and long lasting fabrics – linen is 2 to 3 times stronger than cotton. Linen fibers are hollow, moving air and moisture naturally –keeping you cool in summer and insulated in colder temperatures.
The production of linen is a relatively low energy process. It starts by cutting the stalk at its base, retting the stems either through steaming or allowing them to rot naturally, and then pounding the stalks to soften and extract the long strands of fiber that will then be woven into linen. Linen’s long staple composition makes it inherently strong, which in turn reduces the need for starching during spinning and weaving.
When making linen the whole flax plant is utilized and nothing goes to waste. Biproducts of linen include flax seed oil, paper, soap and building insulation.
The term Deadstock refers to fabric that has no intended or immediate use. Typically deadstock is either excess fabric produced by a mill or left over by a brand as a result of buying too much or simply changing their mind. Mills and clothing companies then sell their excess fabric at a discount to third parties as deadstock. Designers that purchase deadstock make the argument that it is a way to keep fabrics in use, forego the use of virgin textiles and keep materials out of the landfill. In our opinion this is not entirely accurate. Mills intentionally make extra fabric to sell for a profit, and leftover fabric from brands rarely ends up in landfills. Thus the upside of deadstock is somewhat questionable.
While we use "deadstock" we differ from other brands in that we don’t purchase deadstock from a vendor but instead use small cuts of our own left over fabric. During a production cycle we typically end up with small cuts of extra fabric, but rather than throwing them away we hold on to the short pieces and keep a library of what is left. When working on a new collection we look through our library, pull deadstock fabrics that we feel would be a good addition to our collection, and include them in the production run. While working with these small cuts of fabrics requires us to gently persuade our cutter(it’s a bit more work for him) the result is a handful of truly limited edition and special pieces.
Recycled fabrics and yarns are made from pre or post-consumer textile scraps, clothing or waste that would otherwise be discarded in landfills.
Polyester is a petroleum-based fiber, made from non-renewable resources and takes centuries to biodegrade. More than 70 billion barrels of oil are used each year to make polyester.
Polyester production is energy intensive and emits large amounts of greenhouse gases. The process requires harmful chemicals such as antimony, cobalt, manganese salts, sodium bromide, and titanium dioxide, which if released into the air or water can harm local communities.
Polyester’s positive attribute is that it can be recycled or made from recycled plastics. We use Newlife™ polyester, which is made from post consumer plastic bottles. The bottles are mechanically, not chemically, processed into a polymer and spun into a new yarn- the entire process takes place in Italy.
Recycled polyester requires on average 70% less energy to produce than virgin fiber, avoids using non-renewable resources and diverts waste from landfills.
Cupro is a regenerated cellulosic material made from the fine, silky fiber surrounding the cotton seed. A by-product of cotton production, these fibers, called linter, are usually discarded after cotton buds have been ginned (the process that separates cotton fibers from their seeds). Using a closed loop process, the fibers are then dissolved in a cuprammonium solution and converted to cupro.
While cupro drapes like silk, it has similar properties to cotton- it is hypoallergenic, breathable, regulates temperature, and is biodegradable.
Tencel™ is a cellulosic fiber made from wood pulp that is harvested from sustainably managed plantations.
The pulp comes from fast growing trees such as eucalyptus, pine, and beech, which are sourced from plantations certified to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) standards. Once harvested the wood is debarked, chipped, and the pulp is dissolved using a non-toxic organic solvent (amine oxide). The fiber is extruded through small holes, and the water is then recycled with more than 99% of the solvent recovered and reused. The closed-loop process to produce Tencel™ is highly resource efficient and has a low ecological impact.
At SVILU we are committed to protecting ancient and endangered forests when sourcing fabric and support the CanopyStyle campaign. A not-for-profit organization, Canopy collaborates with brands and retailers to ensure that their supply chains are free of ancient and endangered forests.
Cleaning & Care
Cleaning is responsible for two-thirds of a garment’s carbon footprint. Some suggestions for reducing impact when caring for clothes.
Plant Based Detergents
Gentler on the environment and your skin.
Proven to be just as effective as hot water. Ninety percent of the energy used in a wash cycle comes from heating the water.
Air or Line Dry
It’s energy free and prolongs the life of clothes.
Green dry cleaning
We recommend finding a professional cleaner who uses CO2, K4 or wet cleaning and avoiding cleaners who use the toxic chemical perc.
When it comes to packaging we are minimalists.
We use recycled plastic hangers and ship all our garments flat, which allows us to re-use hangers from season to season.
Our clothes are stored in biodegradable corn-based poly bags.
We pack orders in recycled tissue paper and carbon offset our shipments.
SVILU comes from 'sviluppo', the Italian word for development. The name is a nod to the underlying spirit of growth and change that informs our motto, Mindfully Made™. Sustainability continues to evolve and so do we. SVILU relies on a handful of conventional fabrics that we have not yet been able to substitute without compromising quality, but we’re working on it. We are partnering with mills to develop better alternative fabrics and implementing new environmentally responsible business practices with the continuous goal of working towards a more sustainable future.