Clothing That Doesn’t Suck (At All)

Last month Greenpeace threw my minimal-impact (minimal shopping, minimal fashion, minimal thinking) clothing strategy into chaos by calling Levis out regarding hazardous chemicals.

This was a problem, because until then my entire wardrobe was based on Levis jeans, hand-me down clothing from various relatives, and free sailing apparel (which is one of the many perks of writing about the sailing world–though my wife does get embarrassed that most of my shirts that have boat names like “Tsunami” stitched on them).

I didn’t have to think about what to buy or wear. I was happy. But if I couldn’t wear my jeans in good conscience, what could I wear? Happily, the folks at Repair The World, which makes Earth-friendly clothing from recycled cotton scraps and recycled plastic bottles, stepped forward to help me resolve my clothing crisis. (You can read more about Repair The World here).

They took pity on me, and offered to send me one of their shirts, for a test run. So I selected a long sleeve t-shirt, not really knowing what to expect.  I was fully prepared for a scratchy, ill-fitting, shirt that might melt if I got too near a lamp. Instead, I opened the mailer to find a shockingly soft, well-made, long-sleeve shirt. Exactly the sort of thing a lazy environmentally conscious person could rely on day after day.



I’ve been wearing it for a week now, and it even (unintentionally) went through a full wash and high heat dryer cycle. Came out fine. (No, I haven’t grown a tail as a result of wearing the shirt; I guess the dog didn’t want to be left out of the photoshoot).

The material is quite thin, so it will be interesting to see how long the shirt lasts. As you can, see I am sticking with my Levis down below (no Anthony Weiner pictures for me; and Levis has agreed to address the problem of chemical release). But it seems that there just might be an ethical clothing solution for those in search of one. And you have to admire the ingenious effort to come up with a clothing fabric that tries to address the environmental shortcomings of cotton (even organic cotton), which takes huge inputs of water and energy to produce and process.

I don’t know if it is something that the mass market will go for (because the mass market is not really that concerned about the future). For anyone who thinks about what they eat, and what they wear, though, Repair The World just might have some clothing for you. If necessary, you can stitch boat names on it yourself.

Can Clothing Save, I Mean Repair, The World?

In response to my lament about Greenpeace’s charge that Levis jeans are not environmentally friendly, I received an e-mail from Lukas B. Snelling, who thought he might have a solution for me (and anyone who would like to find more environmentally friendly, sustainable clothing):

I thought you might be interested in our company, Repair the World® apparel. We produce feel good, do good apparel that is both eco-friendly, and people friendly. We make all of our apparel from a unique fabric that is 100% recycled. We estimate this saves over 160 gallons of water per-product from entering the waste stream.

Sounds promising. And any company that claims to make clothing from a combination of recycled cotton scraps combined with recycled plastic Coke and Pepsi bottles, is definitely worth checking out.

Here’s some press release info:

“What really makes Reparel™ fabric special is that we’ve created a 100% recycled fabric
that does not sacrifice comfort. This is quite possibly the softest, most comfortable fabric
available on the market today.” said Alan Brown, Repair the World® Co-Founder.

Brown continued, “Organic cotton is great for some applications, but it still involves a
massive amount of energy and water to grow, harvest, and process. With Reparel™, we have eliminated much of that energy and water from the process and are left with a fabric that stands above organics for its environmentally friendly qualities.”

Reparel™ fabric also contains no additional dyes, as the recycled color cotton scraps are used to generate color. All water used in the finishing process is also treated on-site to assure that no hazardous effluents are released into the environment.

Repair the World® developed Reparel™ fabrics because of the company’s commitment to doing business in a socially and environmentally friendly manner. In addition to utilizing Reparel™ fabric in all of their available products, Repair the World® apparel also donates a portion of their profits back to the communities that help produce their clothing to provide individuals with opportunities for growth and self-sufficiency.

So what doesn’t it do? I have to say, I love the ambition and the vision. But will I love the clothing (I am reminded of the time my friend Kelley bought his wife a handbag made from recycled tires–it didn’t end well)? I’ll let you know.

Is Nothing Sacred?

Damn, Levis are just about the only thing I wear. And Greenpeace says they are screwing up the environment by using hazardous chemicals in their supply chain. I’ve got to have pants, so if this is true Levis better sort it out. After all, I’ve been wearing Levis happily based on the fact that Good Guide says they are, well, “good.”

At least it looks like a fun protest.