Why sustainability matters

Why sustainability matters


The last couple of weeks have been a time of deep reflection and gratitude here at Noir, as they have for many of you around the world. 

We’ve been reminded of the connectivity and love the late Queen had for the great British outdoors and countryside and also the passion she had for supporting British industry. 

One of the big challenges facing us now, is how to build a more sustainable business and what steps we can take, as a start-up, to play our part whilst embracing technology available to us locally on home turf.

But first a thank you

Fashion Roundtable’s recent post reminded us that The Queen has been rewearing and repairing her clothes to extend their lifespan throughout her 70 year reign, all while supporting British brands. We reflect on the life of Her Majesty the Queen, who led by example, a woman who supported creativity, sustainability and craft throughout her reign.

Here at Noir Velocity we strive to make Performance Lifewear products. Our aim is to create apparel with the qualities Her Majesty has always supported:

Durability – with care and love, they can be worn for many years

Functionality   – our base layers are ultra fine and lightweight, yet designed to be keep you warm or cool without compromising movement

Style – our base layers are androgenous and designed in timeless colourways that won’t date

Sustainably made – we aim to design, manufacture and work with the best practice partners here in the British Isles 

Why we started with a Merino wool base layer as our foundation product

Foundation by name, Foundation by nature - everyone loves and needs a base layer as a wardrobe staple, whether out in the elements or simply relaxing at home...

From its moisture-wicking and antibacterial properties to its breathability, softness and sustainable warmth, Merino wool has long been lauded as a wonderful, natural fibre with unparalleled temperature controlling performance.

Because it doesn’t absorb odour, the need for regular washing is far less than equivalent synthetic materials. We’ve actually been carrying out our own research here in London on just how long it can be worn without washing. But more on that later.

 Why sustainability matters

A review of the Fashion Supply Chain (Code and Adjudicator) Bill, due its second reading on 25th November, illustrates why sustainability matters:

"In Bangladesh, where the garment trade produces 85% of export earnings and employs 4 million workers, an estimated 50% of factory owners and managers say they have been subjected to one or more abusive purchasing practices. During March and April 2020, at least 25% of workers in Bangladesh lost their job."

"A recent survey of female garment workers in Cambodia—where 1 million people are employed in the sector—by the University of Nottingham and Royal Holloway found that 85% had been suspended from work by October 2020 and that average take-home pay had fallen by 20%. This disruption drove the problem of food insecurity and exacerbated an existing crisis of over-indebtedness among garment workers."

The victims of these practices are not only workers but small and sustainable businesses that are unable to compete in such an unfair environment. Paragraph 135 of the Environmental Audit Committee’s report identified

“ … concerns about the extra costs and barriers that the UK’s sustainable fashion businesses face. Innovators are faced with competition from businesses who are focused on reducing costs and maximising profits regardless of the environmental or social costs.”

 What we are trying to do about it

The Queen’s long-standing support of companies that manufacture in Britain, such as Harris Tweed and Barbour highlights the rich textile history we have in this country. We at Noir are committed to building on this heritage in innovative ways, and we are committed to designing and manufacturing in the British Isles. 

We visit our UK manufacturers regularly and have picked them on the basis of their sound business acumen, best practice and social purpose, as well as their technological innovation. Our yarn comes from Cotonificio Olcese Ferrari in Italyartisan producers of high-quality yarns since 1904:

“We select raw materials that meet high quality standards and that respect the fundamental principles of environmental and social sustainability. Our goal is to assess and monitor the supply chain to minimise environmental impact. The fibres used in the production of our yarns … are traceable, OEKO-TEX®, FSC®, GOTS and GRS certified, and manufactured with low environmental impact and full respect for workers.”

One step at a time  

As we expand, our intention is to move into compostable plastic bags for shipping. Only yesterday in New York City, 85 businesses across the plastics value chain, financial institutions, and NGOs announced plans to form a Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty, convened by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and WWF. The Global Outcomes necessary to achieve their vision include moving away from single use plastics whenever possible and accelerating the uptake of new business models that reduce the need for single-use and short-lived applications. So it’s a small but important step for us to reassess our packaging and move to greener alternatives as soon as we can.

Good to know

Shopping sustainably can be confusing for conscious consumers. The Green Claims Code helps.

The Green Claims Code was established by the Competition and Markets Authority to help consumers to identify genuine environmental claims about products and services that they are considering purchasing and have created a series of tips.

The tips are designed to encourage consumers to ask themselves some simple questions when they see an environmental claim. Where possible, they would encourage consumers to be wary of vague claims and demand more information from businesses about their goods and services for which they claim environmental benefits. It’s definitely worth having a look at this and applying its advice when making purchases.

We have noticed how many of the companies we admire have become Certified B Corporations, which is good for people and the environment – a better way of doing business.

Naturally these processes cost considerable time and money to put in place, as they are independently verified and the process is not straightforward. Please consider that small start-ups also need your support on their journey. We are aiming for Certified B Corp status, and have taken the first tentative steps in readiness, but certification is still some way off yet.

Keeping it local

So, like Her Majesty the Queen, we are committed to embracing the best of our rich British craftsmanship heritage, starting with wool, combining it with new more sustainable practices, using zero waste Shima Seiki 3D technology, to create something beautiful and timeless.

As always please get in touch if you have any questions on this. We love hearing from you.

Until next time,

Lisa & Bex

PS The photo montage above is an original artwork from @nathaliekingdon

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