By Paula Cocozza
Innovative small labels are at the cutting edge of ethical fashion, and the wider industry is taking note
Globally, nearly three-fifths of clothing ends up in an incinerator or landfill site within a year of being made. Shopping for clothes is no longer a harmless pastime; it is yet another painful frontier between desire and conscience. No wonder so-called “sustainable fashion” is popping up on retail sites from Boohoo to Bloomingdale’s. But Orsola de Castro, co-founder of Fashion Revolution – a nonprofit movement campaigning for a more socially and environmentally responsible fashion industry – dislikes that term. “I just call it good design looking for solutions,” she says.
Econyl – the brand turning old fishing nets into swimwear that can be endlessly recycled.
But follow the stories of all these labels and you will arrive in the same place: at Econyl, a recycled nylon fibre that its Italian manufacturer claims is “infinitely recyclable”. “At the beginning, many people were laughing at me,” says Giulio Bonazzi, CEO of Econyl’s parent company, Aquafil. An average of 64,000 tonnes of fishing nets are left in the ocean each year, and these were the first nylon items that Bonazzi’s company collected for recycling, initially from the fish farming industry in Scotland and Norway, from professional divers who spotted ghost nets, and now from “all over the world – Japan, Australia, south-east Asia, north and South America”.
No wonder small fashion brands are not the only ones to love Econyl. Gucci adopted the fibre in 2017. Stella McCartney has pledged to stop using virgin nylon by 2020, switching to Econyl (she makes bags with it, too.)