Is Supima Cotton Better Than Regular Cotton and Polyester?

The Shift Towards Sustainable Fashion

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the environmental impact of the fashion industry. As consumers, we have the power to make choices that can contribute to a greener future. One key aspect of sustainable fashion is the choice of fabrics. This article will delve into the world of fabrics and explore why Supima cotton is a superior alternative to polyester or regular cotton, and how it can help us create a more sustainable wardrobe.

Understanding the Environmental Impact of Polyester

Polyester is a synthetic fabric that has become incredibly popular in the fashion industry due to its affordability and durability. However, the production of polyester comes at a steep environmental cost. The primary raw material for polyester is crude oil, a non-renewable resource. The extraction and refining of crude oil contribute to air and water pollution. Additionally, the process of manufacturing polyester releases harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. To put it in perspective, yarn production in the fashion industry now accounts for about one fifth of the 300-400 million tons of plastic produced globally each year

Polyester is also not biodegradable, which means that once it is discarded, it can take hundreds of years to decompose. This leads to a significant amount of textile waste ending up in landfills, further exacerbating the environmental impact of this fabric. 

Last, synthetic textiles like polyester shed tiny pieces of plastic with every wash and wear. These microplastic particles pollute  the oceans, freshwater and land. A few years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey found that more than 70 percent of microplastics found in river water came from fibers. Another study from 2017 found that more than one third of microplastics found in oceans can be traced to textiles, making them the largest source of microplastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

Considering these factors, it is clear that polyester is not a sustainable choice for the environmentally conscious consumer.

So, Why Not Stick with Cotton instead of Polyester?

While cotton has the advantage over polyester in that it is a natural fiber, making it biodegradable, there are a number social and environmental downsides of it too.

Conventional cotton farming heavily relies on chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, which contaminate soil and water sources, harming biodiversity and human health. Pesticides kill beneficial organisms and drift onto neighboring crops, while synthetic fertilizers contribute to water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. 

These practices not only degrade ecosystems but also pose health risks to agricultural workers and local communities reliant on contaminated water sources. Transitioning to sustainable farming methods is essential to mitigate these negative impacts and promote environmental and human well-being.

Exploring the Benefits of Supima Cotton

Supima cotton, on the other hand, offers a more sustainable alternative to regular (as well as other types of) cotton.

First, Supima cotton is cultivated across only around 500 family-owned farms in the United States, many passed down through generations. This cotton is deeply intertwined with the land – a cherished legacy. These farmers prioritize preserving soil health and conserving precious water resources with utmost care.

Their methods not only set global benchmarks for environmental and ethical cotton production but also reflect a profound respect for the soil, seen as their vital asset. They diligently work to maintain soil fertility and boost productivity while minimizing inputs and maximizing yields. 

On the topic of water management, their fields are meticulously laser-leveled to optimize water use efficiency. Taking it even further, tailored irrigation methods are chosen based on terrain and soil characteristics, nurturing soil health and fostering wildlife.

For soil conservation, farmers employ time-tested practices, such as crop rotation, to ensure soil vitality. Regular rotations help balance soil nutrient levels, adapted to local conditions for sustained health.

In sum, Supima cotton is a premium cotton variety cultivated exclusively in the USA. Beyond its environmental and social benefits outlined above, it also stands out with its exceptional quality and durability, which stems from its distinctive extra-long staple fiber. 

How does Supima cotton measure up against other premium cotton variations like Egyptian Cotton or Pima Cotton?

While all Supima cotton boasts premium, extra-long staple fibers, Egyptian cotton’s reputation hinges primarily on its country of origin, without necessarily indicating quality. While a small fraction of Egyptian cotton may feature extra-long staple fibers, the majority comprises long-staple or regular varieties. Further, you miss out on the benefits of the lower carbon impact you get from Supima cotton, which is locally grown in the USA and doesn’t need to be shipped here.

Further, Supima cotton, the branded name for American-grown Pima cotton, ensures superior softness and durability. Pima cotton, a generic term, doesn’t guarantee extra-long staple fibers like those found in Supima. Additionally, only Supima cotton provides the assurance of originating from American farms employing cutting-edge technology and processes, as outlined above, which ensure the cultivation of the highest quality cotton while minimizing environmental impact. This is typically not the case with Pima cotton, which can come from Peru, but also Israel or China – and without those strict and advanced harvesting technologies.

Benefits of Tencel Lyocell: Eco-Friendly Comfort & Luxurious

Introduction to Tencel Lyocell and Sustainable Fashion

Sustainable fashion has been gaining momentum in recent years as people become more conscious of the environmental impact of their clothing choices. One fabric that is making waves in the industry is Tencel Lyocell. Tencel Lyocell is a revolutionary fabric made from cellulose fibers derived from sustainably harvested trees, typically eucalyptus. Its production process is environmentally friendly, using a closed-loop system that minimizes waste and reduces water consumption.

Let’s start with some more background: Tencel Lyocell belongs to the category of rayon fibers, deriving from cellulose, a natural polymer present in plant cell walls. Alongside Tencel Lyocell, two other prevalent types are Modal and Viscose.

Viscose undergoes a chemical transformation from wood pulp into a soluble form, followed by extrusion into fibers. Subsequent treatments eliminate chemicals and solidify the fibers.

Modal follows a similar production process to viscose but utilizes different cellulose types and processing conditions. It’s frequently blended with fibers like cotton for enhanced properties.

Lyocell, a rayon variant, employs a closed-loop process, deemed more environmentally friendly than traditional viscose. Wood pulp dissolves in a non-toxic solvent, extruded into fibers, with the solvent recycled for reuse. Tencel Lyocell, produced by the Lenzing Group, utilizes Eucalyptus wood and Lenzing’s production processes, resulting in the most durable and eco-friendly fiber.

Tencel Lyocell is not only eco-friendly but also offers a range of advantages when used in boxer briefs. In this article, we will delve into the benefits of Tencel Lyocell in boxer briefs, including its environmental benefits, comfort and breathability, durability, moisture-wicking properties, hypoallergenic nature, and ethical production practices. By the end, you’ll understand why Tencel Lyocell is the fabric of choice for a sustainable style revolution.

Advantages of Tencel Lyocell in Boxer Briefs

Environmental Benefits of Tencel Lyocell

One of the primary advantages of Tencel Lyocell is its minimal environmental impact. The production process of Tencel Lyocell involves using a closed-loop system, where the solvent used to dissolve the cellulose is recycled and reused. This significantly reduces water consumption compared to other fabrics, such as cotton. Additionally, the trees used to make Tencel Lyocell, such as eucalyptus, are sustainably harvested, meaning they are grown and harvested in a way that promotes forest regeneration and biodiversity.

Comfort and Breathability of Tencel Lyocell Boxer Briefs

Tencel Lyocell boxer briefs offer exceptional comfort and breathability, making them perfect for everyday wear. The fabric has a smooth and silky feel, which is gentle on the skin and provides a luxurious experience. Tencel Lyocell is also highly breathable, allowing air to circulate and regulate body temperature, keeping you cool and comfortable throughout the day. Whether you’re lounging at home or engaging in physical activities, Tencel Lyocell boxer briefs ensure maximum comfort.

Durability and Longevity of Tencel Lyocell Boxer Briefs

Another advantage of Tencel Lyocell boxer briefs is their durability and longevity. The fibers used to make Tencel Lyocell are exceptionally strong, making the fabric resistant to wear and tear. This means that your Tencel Lyocell boxer briefs will remain in great condition even after multiple washes and wears. The longevity of Tencel Lyocell boxer briefs reduces the need for frequent replacements, contributing to a more sustainable wardrobe.

Tencel Lyocell Boxer Briefs and Moisture-Wicking Properties

One of the standout features of Tencel Lyocell is its excellent moisture-wicking properties. The fabric has the ability to absorb moisture away from the skin and release it into the air, keeping you dry and comfortable throughout the day. This makes Tencel Lyocell boxer briefs ideal for active individuals or those living in hot and humid climates. Say goodbye to sweaty discomfort and hello to a fresh and dry feeling with Tencel Lyocell boxer briefs.

Tencel Lyocell and Hypoallergenic Properties

If you have sensitive skin or suffer from allergies, Tencel Lyocell boxer briefs are a great choice. The fabric is naturally hypoallergenic, meaning it is less likely to cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. Tencel Lyocell is also free from harsh chemicals and toxins often found in synthetic fabrics, further reducing the risk of skin irritation. With Tencel Lyocell boxer briefs, you can enjoy all-day comfort without any discomfort or skin issues.

Tencel Lyocell Boxer Briefs and Ethical Production

Ethical production is an essential aspect of sustainable fashion, and Tencel Lyocell excels in this area. The production of Tencel Lyocell involves strict regulations and certifications to ensure fair and safe working conditions for the factory workers. This includes fair wages, reasonable working hours, and compliance with environmental standards. By choosing Tencel Lyocell boxer briefs, you can have peace of mind knowing that your purchase supports ethical and responsible production practices.

Tencel Lyocell Compared to Other Sustainable Fabric Options

While there are several sustainable fabric options available, Tencel Lyocell stands out for its unique combination of environmental benefits, comfort, durability, and moisture-wicking properties. Compared to organic cotton, Tencel Lyocell requires significantly less water to produce, making it a more water-efficient choice. Unlike bamboo, Tencel Lyocell does not require extensive chemical processing, making it a more environmentally friendly option. When it comes to sustainability and performance, Tencel Lyocell takes the lead.

SVAKI DAN MAN: Gio DeVal

You’ve most likely seen him a time or two on our website and social media, but we’ve never properly introduced you to Gio (our original campaign model). In this interview, we delve into the creative journey and daily rituals of Gio, a multifaceted artist, actor, and model. Gio shares his experiences, inspirations, and aspirations, offering insights into his diverse career path and passion for storytelling.

Tell us about yourself.

Gio: Well, I spent a lot of my adolescence around my sister, who was a huge movie buff and an episcopal priest. We would bond over movies, and creatively, I think that planted a seed. It wasn’t until I took improv in college that I got started, leading me to acting, writing sketches, and eventually directing. 

While directing a show in college, a mentor suggested I learn all aspects of theater to communicate better with designers, sparking my journey as a hybrid artist. I started light designing, then writing plays and sound designing in grad school. 

It’s funny, leaving grad school, I thought I would solely be working as a sound designer. Mostly because I had a great mentor, Tei Blow,  but the pandemic shifted my focus, as I was also exhausted spending so much time in front of a screen. Now my primary focus is performing, whether that be acting or modeling.

What are your creative roots? What inspired you to pursue acting and playwriting? 

Gio: I watched a lot of movies growing up and often visited my older siblings at the movie theater where they worked. I remember reciting the lines to Batman in a packed theater once and everyone was just laughing. 

The first movie I ever saw in theaters though was with my older cousin. He was babysitting me when I was five years old. He was the cool, more creative cousin and the movie ‘Friday’ had just come out. He really wanted to see the midnight release but the issue was I had insomnia and he couldn’t leave the house if I was still awake. So he took me with him. 

And there I was, watching this Rated-R movie at age five and I just thought it was the best thing in the world. A group of strangers sitting in darkness, laughing, giving commentary, talking back to the film. There was this sense of community with strangers that stuck with me.

So, I think it was those formative memories of watching movies with family that sparked it.

What made you take that step from watching the movies to to actively participating in the creative process? Were there art classes or offerings at your school?

Gio: Quite the opposite. Where I’m from  in Virginia, there was no arts department. Which is probably why I didn’t do so well in school haha. But when I moved to Maryland you had to take an art class to graduate. And the only art class I could take was theater. In fact, I wanted to take photography, but that class was already full. And so, theater it was – I ended up loving  it. 
 
Yet, after that class, I avoided doing theater for a very long time. I just felt that theater was too unpredictable, and so it wasn’t until my senior year of college that I pivoted away from psychology and decided that I wanted to do something in the creative field.

Did you have a specific vision when you entered the creative field? Were you going in with the dream of becoming a big movie star…

Gio: … No, it was nothing like that at all. What I’m doing right now still surprises me, honestly. I love experimental theater. I always loved improvisation, specifically long form improv. Doing the things most people would shy away from – I love that stuff.  

When I was in college, I  remember looking up to everyone at the Maryland Ensemble Theater. They were just awesome people. And I wanted to be like them. The ensemble was making theater in this tiny basement, yet creating a whole world  – and I was all about it. And so no, it wasn’t wanting to be a movie star or anything like that, I was more fascinated with how they could transform a tiny basement into entire worlds. 

For me it’s like this: You read a play or a story and there are pictures in your head. And I’ve always just wanted to be able to share those pictures. That’s what led me to grad school – I just want to tell stories.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have  imagined that I’d be working for brands I begged my parents to buy or being on the networks I would watch as a child. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just getting started, but I’m incredibly grateful.

How did modeling fit into your journey?

Gio: Great question. You know, I was really bad at modeling in the beginning. 

Did I tell you the story when we first met about how I initially got into modeling? It was back when I used to work in production management: I would schedule productions for the students, and occasionally sound design some of the plays, but the job included setting up the student’s  headshot sessions. And so, one day, the creative director asked for someone to just stand in so  they could test the lights… and so I did. And I remember her looking at me and shaking her head saying: ‘You’re too handsome to be bad at this.’ I couldn’t even smile right and that really irked me. Whenever I’m bad at something, it really irks me. So, I started practicing. I would turn my camera on a set timer, take 10 photos, and just practice modeling for hours and hours at home. 

Fast forward to my first modeling gig a few months later, which was also on my 30th birthday. And I was nervous! I knew I wasn’t as good as the other models so I just watched everyone else work and stole little bits and pieces. Of course, it wasn’t enough,  I was so bad that after the first day they  said: ‘Thank you. Happy birthday! We don’t need you for tomorrow.’ Haha! I just continued practicing and a few months later I was signed by two agencies, quit my job in production management, and started booking more and more.

And then modeling became the gateway that led me back into acting.  As a model, you often don’t know what’s going to happen on set. Is it just pictures? Will you be on video? You just have to improvise and figure it out. So, a couple of times I would show up to set and would say: “Okay! We’re doing video today.” The director would  say ‘Action’ and ‘Cut’… which is kind of like acting. I started booking more commercials, then got a theatrical rep. And when I started auditioning theatrically I realized: Okay, I’ve got to practice to get better at this too.

In describing your current mix of work, do you feel like this is where you want to be?

Gio: There’s a lot of things I want to do in addition to building on what I’m doing now. The biggest one is, I want to direct and teach. Actually, let me start there. I’ve had some amazing teachers in my life that sparked a fire in me and were so generous with their gifts. I feel a certain responsibility to do the same for the next generation or  anyone who’s interested honestly. 

At the same time, I want to continue to grow as an artist myself. I just feel you have to constantly learn and grow if you intend to teach others, that’s why it’s called a process and not an arrival. But in terms of my dream? I’d love to continue working as a performer and one day run an acting studio or theater department, direct every now and again – I think that would be a really cool life. 

Right now I’m just enjoying the journey. I’m enjoying the fact that I get to learn so much about acting, myself, humanity and life in the process. I can tell stories and be part of the stories that I would consume as a child. I think that’s what’s exciting to me right now. So it’s just trying to get better every day and whatever happens later down the road, happens.

This is a slight tangent… but I am curious: Do you have a different mindset on days where you know it’s commercial work for a sock company versus a more creative outlet in theater?

Gio:  My answer to this will be a tangent too…

I was on a set two weeks ago. And as context, before the shoot, they had sent out the stylist’s portfolio – that like never happens. Usually you’ll get a script, maybe a mood board, but the stylist portfolio? That was a first.

After every scene, the stylist wasn’t satisfied with how my collar fell. So, after every single take, she would come to me and adjust it. This process went on for many takes over our two-day shoot. And she said to me: ‘You gotta take every shot seriously, you never know which one they’re going to use.’

And so, I think what I’m saying is: I take them all seriously. That’s why this woman has been styling for 20 plus years at the highest level. She put the little, tiny collar that they would see underneath my sweater at the exact right spot regardless if it was a wide shot where they would barely see it or in the close up. 

And so, I feel like it’s my responsibility as the talent to always bring it – no matter if it’s a commercial for socks, an e-comm parts job, or especially theatrical work… I approach each medium with dedication and preparation. Perhaps I take it too seriously, depending on who you ask.

But you know, what’s funny is I have performance anxiety so the preparation puts me at ease. That’s what I love about theater, it’s all about preparation. Even during the first table read there is a certain level of  preparation expected of everyone. Directors have multiple actors and technical elements to manage – they don’t have time to  show me how to do my job too. So I think it’s that mentality that I bring to everything else.

Shifting gears a bit: How do you stay grounded amidst your hectic schedule and diverse range of projects?

Gio: There’s three things in order of importance: Prayer during my morning walks, daily workouts, and spending time with my dog.

1) I started praying during my morning walks two years ago. It started as a gratitude thing, after I found myself being super negative for no reason. Giving thanks, I found five categories in my life that mean the most to me and that I am grateful and praying for: 

  1. My relationship with God, which is hard to define but sometimes you just hear a whisper, and you know: Oh, this is what I need to do. So, nurturing that is something I pray for. 
  2. My relationship with other human beings. I pray for and I’m very grateful for other human beings in my life. You can’t do this type of work alone. You need a support system.
  3. My creative work. I spend some time every morning grateful for auditions, for being on set, or for this opportunity today.
  4. Finances. You gotta eat after all…
  5. (And this is more fleeting): If I’m interested in someone romantically, I always pray for that. But that always comes last. If I just get four out of the five, I’m happy. (Laughing) 

And I just noticed the more that I say thank you during these walks, the more abundance I’ve been receiving, so it’s part of my daily routine. 

2) 54D, which is the place where I work out. Say, I’m having a bad day or a rough start to the morning, there’s something about going full throttle for an hour and doing something that’s difficult, which helps put things in perspective. There is a whole community aspect to the gym as well, so you’re growing and gaining that sweat equity with people who feel like family. Truly grateful to be a part of the community there. 

3) The last thing is hanging out with my dog. I love that little dude. He’s always just present, you know. And my mind is usually in a thousand places at once. So just playing with him, going on walks, training him – it sort of restores my soul. 

So, I think those three things are my resets that ground me every day.

You spend a lot of time with fashion in the modeling part of your life. Have you always had an interest in fashion?

Gio: Funny enough, it’s much less now than when I was a kid. Back then, I would plan out my outfits for the week and iron my clothes every Sunday night for hours. In fact, being from Virginia, I remember one year there was a big hurricane and we had to go inland to North Carolina and stay at my aunt’s. And when we were done packing, there were too many suitcases in the car – that’s because I packed all my shoes, because I felt I had to save from the hurricane. 

And nowadays, I feel like I have to catch up when it comes to fashion. I’ll watch runway shows on YouTube, because it does affect culture. So, now it’s much more educational, whereas when I was younger, fashion was a life. But my fashion sense swings between Paul Binam when I’m going for a more elevated look and J.Cole when I’m just out running errands.

At Svaki Dan, our brand ethos is “Elevate your every day.” How do you interpret this motto in your own life and do you have any daily rituals or routines that embody this ethos?

Gio: For me, it’s studying at the MC² Actors StudioIt’s an  interesting paradox but as an actor, you don’t actually get a lot of opportunities to act, unless you’re on set. And auditioning isn’t really acting. Training at the studio elevates me as a performer and gives me the opportunity to get better every day so I’m ready when the shoot days come.

Even working out every day and getting stronger. And then, tying it back to the morning walks, which help me ensure I am who I intend to be. 

I’m also a crazy person and wake up at 4.30am everyday. And you might have guessed it, I love Kobe Bryant. That’s why my dog is named Kobe.

When I took the step to quit my day job in production management, I had to accept that there was so much uncertainty. When looking at what I could control, I modeled my days after Kobe’s workout schedule. He went to the gym three times a day. For me, one block is studying for acting, for MC². The second block is auditions, and then the third block is working out or more auditions, catching up on my scene work for MC² – it just depends on my workload. And that’s how I show up for my craft.

And so, being in a profession where you never really know when the next thing will come along, having that routine and showing up every day means I feel better and my anxiety about the uncertainties dissipates. Plus, when an audition comes up, I don’t get nervous about it, it becomes like riding a bike. 

Do you have any favorite Svaki Dan pieces, and how do you incorporate them in your daily life?

Gio: You can never go wrong with a white and black shirt showing up to a casting. An all black T-Shirt is the model outfit. Plus, showing up to these auditions, you want to feel good and relaxed. It’s an anxiety inducing event. I have worn my black Svaki shirts so much to castings over the past few months. I love how comfortable and soft they are.  So, it’s really my every day talent uniform.

We just spent the last few hours all across New York: from Harlem all the way down here to Meatpacking… making this the perfect time for an NYC quick fire.

  • Your go-to-restaurant: Sylvia’s is my go-to southern comfort food.
  • Your go-to-coffee spot: Seven Grams Caffe. They have one right by my gym and it’s the best coffee ever.
  • Your favorite weekend activity in the City: I’d actually go outside the City to Beacon and Storm King. If it’s in the City, since we are sitting right near the Whitney, I’d say I’d make myself a good breakfast and then see some art.
  • Your hidden gem for art and culture: Abrons Arts Center. They do great experimental work there.
  • Your escape or feel-good place in the City after a busy week: Kobe (my dog) loves St. Nicholas Dog Park. And I enjoy watching him be happy.

Finally, what can people expect from you next, and where can they follow your journey?

Gio: I’m in some commercials that’ll be broadcasting soon, more modeling work, and I just booked a couple co-star roles for television. The best way to keep up with my journey is my Instagram @higiodude.

The Search for a Business Case for Sustainability Continues

Sustainability is good business, advocates like to say. Yet, recent events like this week’s bankruptcy filing of Renewcell, a leading textile-to-textile recycling company, open the door to some reconsideration.

Two of the big movements that have consistently drawn a lot of attention and funding in the apparel space have been addressing textile-to-textile recycling solutions and innovations for new materials.

In the materials space, new materials like biofabricated spider silk or mushroom-based leather alternatives and bio-engineered beauty ingredients have attracted billions of dollars. Similarly, if the number of press releases for new bio-based materials were a good proxy for the progress of sustainable fashion, the industry would pass with flying colors. And as I had written in a previous blog post, there are reasons to push forward on these innovations: Fashion will need lower-impact materials to meet growing demands from consumers, regulators and investors to cut the industry’s environmental impact.

I feel a spark of excitement whenever I learn about a new creative and courageous innovator and investor leading efforts to develop alternatives. Yet, attempts to scale far-out concepts into market-ready solutions have struggled. Just like press releases for new ideas had been on the rise for the past decade, we now see increasing articles about pauses in investments and bankruptcy filings in the space.

Take Pangaia, one of the hottest start-ups during the pandemic that spun out the material innovation incubator Future Tech Labs in 2019. They saw explosive growth and were backed by the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio. Since then, the company has struggled to sustain momentum – and is still waiting to prove out its broader vision to sell climate-friendly material innovations to the rest of the apparel industry. You can get more background on their $50M reported net loss last year here.

Swedish textile recycler Renewcell files for bankruptcy

In the textile-to-textile recycling space, Renwecell long seemed like the most promising one to reach genuine commercial scale. They had financial backing from the H&M Group and BNP Paribas, as well as brand partners including Inditex, Levi’s and Ganni. Now, the company is filing for bankruptcy. What happened? In essence, they ran into a problem from both the supply and demand side.

On the supply side, their operations relied on a consistent influx of feedstock – used textiles – to recycle into new fiber. These needed to come in predictable and high-enough volumes at an affordable price to produce cost-competitive outputs for brands. Further, these solutions require a specific waste input (in the case of Renewcell at least 95% cotton). 

On the demand side, it became even more complex: Renewcell’s output is not a final fabric, but only a recycled ‘Circulose’ dissolving pulp, resembling pieces of cardboard. These pieces would then be shipped from their factory in Sweden to textile spinners (typically) in Asia, to be rehydrated and released and mixed with other fibers. The combined fibers would then be spun into yarns, before being sent to textile mills to be turned into fabrics. 

The vast majority of apparel brands are not typically involved in all these steps, but rely on their manufacturer to source the fabrics on their behalf. That is, for the model to work, you needed brands to get very deeply involved in their supply chain across multiple continents – and then commit far in advance to using this (more expensive) ingredient. What is more, these commitments had widespread impacts on their suppliers, who operate within a traditional system focused on economies of scale and low costs and were not used to the new input material. 

What are our two cents about it at Svaki Dan?

Our longer term vision relies on progress in the textile-to-textile recycling space, as we are hoping to scale our Swap model. For now, progress in the space remains slower than we’d been hoping – and we continue to rely on mechanical recycling solutions. We are therefore closely tracking the progress of some of the most promising players that remain in the field, with Circ and Infinited Fiber.

In the meantime, our immediate focus remains on selecting the most sustainable materials to achieve superior comfort in our products. This holds for both the 100% American-grown Supima cotton for our T-shirts, as well as Tencel Lyocell for our underwear. You can learn more about both of these on our website on the respective product pages and our materials page.

Cheers,
Ben
Founder and CEO, Svaki Dan
ben@livesvaki.com

Credit: Images by Alexander Donka

Sustainable Materials – High in Comms, Low in Supply

After a lengthy summer break since our last post, a recent publication from the Textile Exchange, an NGO of which Svaki Dan is a proud member, dedicated to driving a positive impact on climate change and nature in the fashion and textile industry, caught our attention. Collaborating with the Boston Consulting Group, their deep dive into the state of the apparel industry was found the following: Demand for ‘lower-impact’ materials could exceed supply by as much as 130 million tons by 2030.

The Issue in a Nutshell

Many large apparel brands have made bold statements outlining commitments to replace some of their existing raw materials with more “preferred” or “sustainable” alternatives, such as regenerative cotton or recycled polyester. But it’s not just about self-proclaimed targets: By the end of the decade, many of the world’s largest fashion brands need to dramatically increase their use of raw materials with a lower environmental impact not just to meet their own decarbonization or broader sustainability targets, but also to comply with incoming sustainability regulations (especially in the European Union).

Breaking Down the Numbers

The report indicates a potential “preferred raw materials gap” of 130 million tons unless substantial changes occur on the supply side:

  • At current investment levels, the report predict an increase in the supply of lower-impact raw materials from 23 million tons in 2021 to 30 million tons in 2030.
  • In contrast, demand is expected to soar to over 160 million tons during the same period.

With all these Commitments by Major Fashion Brands, Why is Supply Not Keeping Pace?

The textile supply chain is notoriously short-term looking, as supply chains are set up for maximum cost and process efficiency. It is all about producing at scale, and the primary focus for both brands and suppliers is to ensure they can fulfill each upcoming season. Making big changes is therefore incredibly difficult, which means conventional raw materials are entrenched for a reason.

Consider cotton, a staple raw material: Organic cotton production is actually slightly down from a decade ago and remains a tiny fraction of global supply, accounting for under 1 per cent of total cotton production.

  • Changing systems require time and investment on almost every level, and this transition period is a key hurdle for farmers.
    In order to become an organic cotton producer, a farmer needs to abide by organic regulations for three years before they can get a certification.
  • For farmers (and their communities), changing practices is costly, with new equipment and other upfront investments, without the ability to charge the premiums associated with organic during the transition.
  • If a farmer tries a new, organic method of pest control and it fails, that can wipe out an entire year’s crop – a risk most small-scale farmers simply cannot afford.

Similar barriers exist for other “regenerative” material investments. For instance, when looking at developing manufacturing capacity for new material and textile-to-textile recycling innovations. The math is almost always the same: Lower-impact materials are typically more expensive than their conventional counterparts, and long-term ambitions to increase supply are running up against a near-term economic reality that favors low-priced, easily accessible options.

While brands like H&M Group and Zara-owner Inditex put investments behind their claims, those often don’t flow to farms but into local start-ups. One example is Inditex’s $75M dollar commitment to buy recycled polyester from US recycled polyester start-up Ambercycle, as well as by H&M’s investment in Swedish textile recycler Renewcell. Still, most of these investments and partnerships result only in small lines or PR-focused capsule collections. In fact, Rewnewcell recently made headlines with plummeting stock prices. The reason: as production at its new textile-to-textile recycling plant has increased, the demand it had expected hasn’t materialized leading to the departure of their (now former) CEO. You can read more about it here.

The current global economic situation further slows down progress. As a result of uncertainty in the market, companies are resetting climate targets. The report quotes a raw-material producer: “It is increasingly common to find brands reneging on sourcing commitments, cutting orders, changing their sourcing strategies, or retracting their commitments as a result of challenged margins, limited budgets, and an ever-changing market.”

It’s no surprise that most raw material producers are therefore inclined to decrease their (often more resource-intensive) production of preferred raw materials to sidestep losses.

What’s next?

In essence, the report emphasizes the importance of brands providing long-term commitments to suppliers, enabling them to invest in expanding the supply of lower-impact materials. Since this is not just about self-proclaimed sustainability targets but also has $-implications due to the incoming sustainability regulations, the report further highlights the need to approach the topic of materials not just within a brand’s sustainability department. Sourcing teams and senior executives must align with long-term goals that may take time to materialize.

At Svaki Dan, our advantage lies in our foundational commitment: ‘Superior comfort through sustainable materials’. For us, the materials have been the centerpiece of our entire strategy from day one. Our t-shirts are made 100% from Supima cotton, which is grown and harvested from American family-owned farms. Instead of using pesticides, these farms leverage satellite technologies to address soil health and their fields are laser-leveled to maximize water use efficiency. Similarly, our boxer briefs are made from Tencel Lyocell and organic cotton. The main ingredient (Tencel Lyocell) is made with tree pulp from certified and controlled forests and turned into fibers through a closed-loop production process. You can learn more about our materials and partners on our website.

Cheers,
Ben
Founder and CEO, Svaki Dan
ben@livesvaki.com

Ten Years after Rana Plaza

Last month marked the 10-year anniversary of the event that triggered my initial interest in the world of fashion. It was not the anniversary of a piece of clothing or a designer though – it was the 10-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse. On April 24, 2013, the eight-story factory complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed, killing 1,134 workers (most of whom were young women) and injuring another 2,500. Notably, less than half a year earlier, more than 100 workers had lost their lives in another tragic accident, trapped inside the burning Tazreen Fashions factory on the outskirts of Dhaka.

About five years ago, I went to factories in India and Bangladesh myself – as part of a work trip for my job back then. While we were likely shown some of the “best” factories as examples for Western visitors, seeing the people entering and working in the factories (many of whom at least seemed very young…) brought the Rana Plaza pictures back to my mind.

Relevancy Today

Now, a decade after the Rana Plaza collapse, there have been some improvements made in direct response to the catastrophe, particularly as it pertains to making factories safer (Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety). That said, the overall structural issues underpinning the global fashion supply chain have very much remained. Brands are continuing to hunt for the lowest prices to fulfill continuously increasing demand for new clothing (see our blog post from last month, where we showed global fiber production being forecasted to grow from just over 100M tons in 2020 to 150M tons in 2030). As a result, manufacturing practices have become even more fragmented as brands outsource more and more of their production to sprawling networks of suppliers in developing countries. With that, the number of factories has mushroomed, along with unauthorized subcontracting.

One prominent example receiving a lot of recent news coverage in the sphere of our global supply chain is that of Uyghur forced labor. Acknowledging that this topic is also politically charged, I am linking several sources throughout for further reading. In a nutshell, Chinese authorities have imprisoned thousands of people from the Uyghur ethnic minority and other turkic muslims in Xinjiang and coerced thousands of them into state or factory jobs to: “Break their lineage, break their roots (…) and break their origins” – Maisumujiang Maimuer, Chinese religious affairs official, 2017. An official UN report in 2022 summarized it as: “The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups (…) may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity (Reuters). I am linking two more really good articles on it here for background:

Exposed: China’s Operating Manuals for Mass Internment and Arrest by Algorithm by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian

“Break Their Lineage, Break Their Roots” China’s Crimes against Humanity Targeting Uyghurs and Other Turkic Muslims on Human Rights Watch 

How does this tie to the fashion supply chain?

Over the past ten years, the Chinese government has encouraged the vertical integration of China’s garment manufacturing sector closer to the cotton production centered in Xinjiang. As of 2018, the Chinese government has documented the employment of 450,000 new Turkic Muslim workers including impoverished household members, struggling relatives of prisoners and detainees, and political education camp detainees in the cotton and textiles industry (see this Wall Street Journal article from 2018 or this BBC article from 2020 on the matter). The official party language of the Chinese government on the matter is that these camps are “vocational training schools” and the factories are part of a massive, and voluntary, “poverty alleviation” scheme.

While the U.S. has very stringent laws to protect against the importation of goods made with forced labor (see the Tariff Act of 1930), it is generally difficult to enforce it. The main reason being that it is hard to get full transparency across all steps of the supply chain – and evidence is therefore generally very hard to verify. Also, as with most laws, there are loopholes.

Bloomberg has recently reported on the world’s largest fashion retailer, Shein, having found one such loophole. To quote: “Laboratory testing conducted for Bloomberg News on two occasions this year found that garments shipped to the US by Shein were made with cotton from China’s Xinjiang region. The results bring new urgency to concerns about the retailer known for its TikTok “haul” videos with young customers showing off their purchases.” The trick they use is simple: Shein is shipping directly to individual customers. Therefore, their shipments fall below the $800 value threshold that would trigger reporting requirements to US Customs and Border Protection. It does not stop with Shein, however, as still many western brands are tied to Chinese cotton (FYI: around 85 percent of Chinese cotton comes from Xinjiang…). And all that said, the problem of horrendous labor conditions remains a daily theme also beyond the Chinese Xinjiang region.

Is there a solution?

The question, therefore, is how to “resolve” it. Most large apparel brands have great teams working on ways to improve things – no doubt about it. In upcoming blogs, I aim to incorporate some innovators who work on developing new solutions to increasing supply chain transparency. Stay tuned on that.

As for the way we try to approach it at Svaki Dan: We stay close to our supply chain and work with partners we know. For instance, for our tees, we are using 100% Supima Cotton grown in the United States. We are working with a mill in North Carolina and a small manufacturing partner in Pennsylvania.

You can learn more about our materials and partners on our website. Please note that we are continuously working to get even better here – so stay tuned and join us on our journey. 

For now, I hope you have a great week ahead. Get good sleep, eat healthy, work out, enjoy the Spring weather (that you hopefully have wherever you are reading this), and, as always, elevate your every day!

Cheers,
Ben
Founder and CEO, Svaki Dan
ben@livesvaki.com

Sustainability in the Fashion Supply Chain

This marks the first Svaki Dan blog post. In our blogs, we aim to dive deeper into the world of the business of fashion – and particularly the role of sustainability within it.

This week,  I give a more high-level overview of the fashion supply chain, and the role of sustainability within this realm. In future newsletters, I will pick certain themes to dive deeper and link it to recent news from the industry and/or provide other case studies of brands, suppliers, or innovators, who are making an impact.

The Sustainability Problem in Today’s Fashion World

Fashion is one of the most unsustainable and pollutive industries on the planet. 

This does not only stem from significant energy, water, and chemicals usage during manufacturing but also from excessive consumption and then product abandonment into landfills shortly after. 

Worse yet, transportation across global supply chains doesn’t help solve these issues any further.

How do materials play a role in this?

Global fiber production reached a record 113 million tons in 2021 and is projected to only continue growing  (Textile Exchange Program). This increase is particularly bad for the environment since this is newly grown (not recycled) fiber. 

This does not only stem from significant energy, water, and chemicals usage during manufacturing but also from excessive consumption and then product abandonment into landfills shortly after. 

To fully understand the issue at hand, it’s important to look into what fibers are actually made of – and how that has developed over the past several decades.

Two thirds of the fiber markets are made up of synthetic fibers. These overtook cotton and have dominated the fiber market since the late-1990s. And it is easy to see why.  The benefits of polyester are bountiful: Polyester is light, strong and easily dyed, can be woven or knitted and easily blended with other fibers. You can use it to create almost everything from athletic clothes to faux fur jackets or silky dresses – and even better, it is incredibly cheap, which is why fast fashion players love it even more. 

Take the juggernaut of the fast fashion world today, Shein, as a case study: Bloomberg and The Royal Society of Arts recently published a study that found that more than 95 percent of Shein’s clothing contains polyester. But it’s by far not only used by companies like Shein but you will likely also find it in many of your regular or higher-end joggers, dresses, tees, and more.  

But why is the use of polyester such a problem? Polyester (yarn) is made from petroleum. Yarn production in the fashion industry now accounts for about a fifth of the 300-400 million tons of plastic produced globally each year. It has a massive impact on carbon emissions – but the environmental impact doesn’t stop there. 

Synthetic textiles like polyester shed tiny pieces of plastic with every wash and wear. These microplastic particles pollute  the oceans, freshwater and land. A few years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey found that more than 70 percent of microplastics found in river water came from fibers. Another study from 2017 found that more than one third of microplastics found in oceans can be traced to textiles, making them the largest source of microplastic pollution in the world’s oceans. 

This ties to a big topic for a future newsletter: Textile recycling and where our clothes end up. As a teaser: still 85 percent of all textiles end up in landfills or are burned, which is the equivalent of a garbage truck’s worth of textiles per second per the US Environmental Protection Agency. 

So then, why not stick with cotton? Well, cotton comes with its fair share of social and environmental risk unfortunately. For one, producing cotton requires a lot of water and can be very chemically intensive, as pesticides used contaminate the soil and groundwater. We will dive deeper into cotton in a future newsletter in a few weeks. If you are looking for a really comprehensive deep dive on the topic though, the Textile Exchange has some great reports on the issue – see here.

Organic cotton is a more sustainable alternative here. This cotton is grown in agricultural systems that work with nature, rather than against it. How?  Organic farming systems have the potential to sustain and promote the health of soils, ecosystems, and people in communities. Besides using organic cotton (as we do in our Svaki boxer briefs), we also use Supima cotton, which is a cotton only grown on around 500 family-owned farms in the US. You can learn more about their practices around water management, soil conservation and more on the Supima website.

We are going to dive deeper into different fibers and fabrics in the coming newsletters and posts. In the meantime, the below graph hopefully provides a good overview of the make-up of today’s fiber market.

What stands out is the fact that more than 80 percent of all fibers used comes from fossil based and other “conventional” sources (such as non-organic, regular cotton). Just under 10 percent come from some form of recognized renewable source (e.g., Better Cotton Initiative, Organic Cotton, Supima Cotton). Around 8 percent come from recycled materials (almost exclusively recycled PET bottles) and still far below 1 percent comes from recycled pre- or post-consumer textiles.

Mainstreaming the use of recycled fibers or some form of sustainably sourced renewable material will be key for GHG emissions reduction, biodiversity loss prevention, soil health protection, and water consumption minimization. 

In pursuit of sustainability and style, our swap model and diligent choices of materials used and supply chain partners are only a starting point, but the cornerstones of our business model nonetheless. Our core mission is to help you elevate your approach to your every day. And with that, I hope you have a great week ahead! 

Best, 

Ben

Founder, Svaki Dan

ben@livesvaki.com

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