In an article by Beth Greer in July for the Huffington Post, it is stated that “poor working conditions, minimal environmental regulations, and child and slave labor are commonplace in the $1 trillion garment industry.” One of the largest problems, perhaps arguably the industry's problem period, is us consumers and our attitudes toward fashion and our apparel. We buy and buy to stay “in fashion” and on top of recent trends. In this way, here at Swish, we have sought to first change our own behaviour on a personal level.
Swish Ladies Take “Less is More” Pretty Seriously
Obviously being an apparel company, us Swish ladies are and have always been pretty into fashion. But being into fashion for us does not always translate to buying the newest Chanel (in fact I have only bought one designer bag in my life, an Louis Vuitton last year), it may be as simple as cutting up an old H&M shirt. One of our most basic concepts is to buy only items that we LOVE in effort to cut down on the amount we own and our closet turnover (using the bag example further, I have literally three bags: my large everyday amazing LV bag, a small dinner or night out over the shoulder Juicy Couture purse, and a super large oversized beach/all around adventure over the should bag recycled from old kiteboarding kites, this one is my favourite actually).
(This bag was a gift from the Pro Kiter, Swish Team Member, and all around cool chica, Jessika Winkler, check her out!)
This “less is more” attitude was one of the founding concepts behind our ONE Line. The ONE Line is aptly named as such as you only need one article of the ONE Line to use in the gym, to grab coffee with your friend, or paddle board in the ocean! By making our ONE Line items multipurpose and high performance, you need fewer items in your closet, and we manufacturers need not make three items where one will suffice. A little more about why we love being eco.
We Love Water
Sadly, it was reported in 2012 that “an estimated 17 to 20% of industrial water pollutioncomes from textile dyeing and treatment and an estimated 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used throughout the world to turn raw materials into textiles, many of which will be released into freshwater source,” The Guardian Sustainable Business. It is an interesting question for us here at Swish though, we are an aquatic company and we are using water to produce products for the water. To combat this, we have taken the following steps within our Swish machine:
1) All ONE Line and Swish Design Studio's (SDS) materials are located produced and sourced, we do not import anything we use in our Playa del Carmen factory.
2) All ONE Line and the SDS's products are locally made by Mexicans, our two factories here are family owned and operated and employ fair trade Mayan and Mexican labour.
3) All hangtags and any printing are made from recycled paper.
4) All wash care/size labels are made from fabric leftovers from other products.
5) The ONE Line principal of you need only ONE means less buying, fewer garments made, less waste produced.
6) Our wetsuits are Yamamoto neoprene which is made to order in Japan, meaning the all orders are custom and there is less waste in neoprene made that may sit there and need to be thrown out.
7) All our YKK zippers on our products are recycled YKKs.
8) Swish does not distribute printed materials of any kind and ALL business is done electronically.
9) Our internal business structure is global without our physical office presence, meaning less waste and overhead. We communicate via Skype and everything is electronic. We have our office headquarters and our business Swish investor Carolyn in Chicago, a fulfillment centre in Rockford, IL, our wetsuit factory is in Vancouver, CA, our SDS's two factories and offices are in Playa del Carmen, MX, our IT and web designer is based in Germany, and my other Swish Business parter, our South Pacific director and Swish Life Blogger Victoria lives in Thailand
Yamamoto Neoprene: Does being made from Limestone make our wetsuits eco?
There is some debate out there about companies calling themselves eco and green, when perhaps they are not fully. We here at Swish think this is deprecating and that all companies making any efforts at all to be more gentle in their environmental impact should be celebrated and rewarded! This leads me to the current debate around Yamamoto neoprene and its being a more Eco-consious choice of neoprene. Most of you out there reading this probably already know that we here at Swish use only Yamamoto neoprene, neoprene that is famous for being made from limestone instead of typical neoprene which is made from petrol. Aside from the irrefutable fact that any product not contributing to the oil industry is inherently more eco, limestone mining still uses oil dependent machines and limestone is still a non-renewable source. As Patagonia and Seventh Wave wetsuits put it, ultimately perhaps just using Yamamoto neoprene does not guarantee you are making a fully green wetsuit, but, we here at Swish sure as h$*$% see it as the only green alternative! A little more about Yamamoto neoprene revels that it is a more conscious choice of wetsuit material than its petrol brother:
- The limestone in Yamamoto neoprene is mined and heated at high temps, however, Yamamoto states that its production process uses one-tenth of the heat used in refining petroleum. Furthermore, this heat used is created by burning old used tires as well as hydroelectrically sourced from several locals dams. All heat waste is reused at a local eel nursery. Cool eh?
- Yamamoto neoprene is also warmer, for example our 3mm is warmer than any 4mm and is often still warmer than many 5mm suits out there. Because of the higher micro cell structure of limestone based neoprene, it means that less limestone and material is used to make the neoprene itself. Now what is not eco about that!
- Seventh Wave Wetsuits, make a great point in that since limestone based neoprene lasts 2-3 times longer than typical neoprene, it lowers wetsuit turnover rates and how many suits end up in landfills.
- Here is a little more about the material we use and love.
Eco is a Form of Love
To us Swish ladies, the whole concept of green and eco lies in our hearts. When you live the lifestyle that will demand the least you can from our earth, being eco is a mode of self expression! I am sitting here at a small family run cafe, I have with me one of my only three purses, my doggie, this macbook that I have had for 5 years, a glass used Voss water container I carry water around in, and my mode of transport which are my sandal-clad feet jeje! There are soooo many wonderful ways in which we can all do more with less, embrace it and get creative. Express your love and concern for our beautiful earth in your own unique way :).
I bought a car this year, but since 2010 I used bike as my only means of transport, I used to bike from fabric market to our factory, to our silk screener a few times a day transporting all our ONE Line Items with me!