How Some Arizona Companies Are Making Fashion More Sustainable


PHOENIX – It’s easy to find inexpensive options to suit your fashion needs, whether online or in a physical store. But most major retailers mass-produce their inventory, making it difficult to find information about where a fabric came from and how it was made.

According to United Nations Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, the fashion industry consumes 215 trillion liters of water per year. Textiles are responsible for 9% of ocean microplastics.

(Audio by Payton Major/Cronkite News)

Most vendors aren’t aware of the impact of the products they sell on the environment, but in Arizona, efforts are underway to establish sustainable fashion.

FABRIC, a Tempe nonprofit, is part of this effort by helping apparel companies produce merchandise and teaching them how to make their businesses sustainable by creating products as they are ordered by customers. and reusing local materials. Its co-founder, award-winning designer Angela Johnson, creates her own cutting-edge products.

“Fashion is the second most polluting industry on the planet,” Johnson said. “It’s second only to the oil industry and it’s probably catching up very quickly, so it’s ready to be disrupted.”

This is why FABRIC is pushing to change the industry through technology and through its annual report eco fashion weekwhich celebrates Earth Day and offers clothing made locally with donated denim scraps.

With its new Kornit Presto printer, FABRIC can create custom prints on a 3D rendering to reduce prototype waste. (Photo courtesy of FABRIC)

Technology to reduce waste

To make garments more sustainable, FABRIC uses new technologies, including a Kornit Presto printer and Gerber Z1 digital cutter, which can create personalized prints in one step.

The printer produces a 3D rendering of the drawings and limits the use of prototypes, which end up in the landfill. The Gerber Z1 uses ContourVision to automatically cut fabric to reduce time and labor costs. All this means that FABRIC can control the provenance of its product without worrying about the honesty of suppliers.

The Arizona Sustainable Clothing Association also pushes to make fashion more sustainable. Stella Abril, president of the group, said greenwashing – when a company falsely claims or gives the impression of environmentally friendly practices – remains a huge problem in the fashion industry.

“Companies say they have sustainable practices, they are transparent, they have traceability. … It’s just a statement,” Abril said. “Not all of us have time to sit here and research everything we buy.”

Her association encourages consumers to do research before buying clothes and to remember that sustainability is not limited to environmentally friendly products – it includes ethics, working conditions and fair wages for workers. workers.

Clothing brands aim for sustainability

LivTall, founded by Angela Zdrale, 38, of Phoenix, is a company that strives for transparency. She discovered at a young age that the fashion industry had limited options for tall women like her.

Angela Zdrale, founder of LivTall, wears one of the wrap dresses she created for tall women. LivTall is just one brand in Arizona that prioritizes sustainable practices. (Photo courtesy of LivTall)

“I knew all the trends, and I wanted to wear them, and they weren’t my size,” said Zdrale, who is over 6 feet tall. “At that time, if it wasn’t at the mall, it didn’t exist for you, sorry.”

Zdrale noticed that many brands classify themselves as “size included” but do not consider size. This inspired her to start a clothing brand for plus size women where she could control the creation and production of her clothes.

“The good news is that the whole industry has woken up,” she said. “They are definitely more aware of how they make the fabrics. Thus, the end product is also more durable.

LivTall, which launched last year, is working with FABRIC to create a sustainable business model. Zdrale makes its clothes to order, donates its extra fabric scraps to a nonprofit, and ships its products in reusable packaging.

“I literally work side-by-side with my modeler,” Zdrale said. “I know I can come in and say hello to the people who make my clothes.”

LivTall is just one brand in Arizona that prioritizes sustainable practices. To learn more, see the Sustainable Clothing Association’s website for a list of certified sustainable brands.


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