The most "sustainable" piece of clothing isn't made from organic or recycled fabric, or sewed with a solar-powered sewing machine. Not to say that better materials and manufacturing don't matter—they do—but if you can reach into your closet to wear something you already own, rather than buying something new, that's an automatic environmental win.
Unfortunately, most clothing doesn't last very long (even assuming it's still in style, or the owner knows how to do things like replace a button or fix a zipper). In some cases, clothing is actually designed to fall apart quickly, Brooklyn designers Flint and Tinder explain:
The Flint and Tinder team overheard a conversation in a factory we were visiting. Someone was talking about using coarse thread with delicate fabric. Doing this accelerates the process of wearing holes into a garment as it goes through the dryer time and time again.It's a common trick of the trade. It's one of several techniques companies secretly use to ensure that if you like what you've bought, you'll be forced to replace it soon.In the manufacturing industry, this is known as "planned obsolescence."
The designers were inspired to go in the opposite direction, and create clothing that could last a lifetime. They've started with a sweatshirt that's so well-constructed they've guaranteed it for 10 years.
Though they're not the only clothing company moving in this direction (Patagonia's also well-known for designing high quality clothing, and ran a holiday ad campaign that actually encouraged consumers to buy less), it's still far from common in the apparel industry.
Flint and Tinder hope that they'll inspire others, saying "It's a battle cry. Not everything should be disposable."
Support the 10-year hoodie project on Kickstarter.
This project will be featured in GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.
Image courtesy of Flint and Tinder.