The Brands That Have Changed The Fashion World


Portrait of Tammy Strobel
"Thirty-two renewed plastic bottles went into this Renew Puffy Puff."
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Founded by Michael Preysman (above), the eight year-old Frisco brand built its rep on the idea of “radical transparency”. For each item it sells, it reveals and breaks down the cost of materials, labour, transport, and markup percentage, winning over the new gen of consumers who are shopping more cautiously and consciously. Now, its goal is to reduce its environmental footprint and normalise choosing eco among consumers – the same way it did for pricing transparency.

No Virgin Plastic

• Everlane has made a commitment to use no virgin plastic in its entire supply chain by 2021, which includes its products, warehouses, offices and stores.

• The first step in this commitment is Renew, a collection of outerwear made from three million recycled plastic bottles.

• It will reduce single-use plastic waste by 50 per cent in its offices and stores by March 2019, and by 100 per cent by 2021.

• It introduced renewed alternatives into its product lines in 2018. By 2021, it will redevelop all its existing yarns, fabrics  and raw materials that contain virgin synthetic fibres with renewed alternatives.

•  Starting this year, all its products ship in 100 per cent post-consumer recycled plastic poly bags.

Clean Denim

• When Everlane wanted to make denim jeans, it found Saitex, a denim manufacturer in Bien Hoa, Vietnam, that aims to be the cleanest, most sustainable denim manufacturing facility on the planet. Saitex runs on 45 per cent alternative energy like solar power, reducing energy usage by 5.3 million kilowatt-hours of power a year, and lowers CO2 emissions by close to 80 per cent. It also plants   trees to off set emissions. To further save energy, Saitex air-dries its jeans with air recycled from hot factory machinery, skipping electricityguzzling traditional driers.

• While typical manufacturers waste up to 1,500 litres of water for one pair of jeans using “belly” washing machines, Saitex recycles 98 per cent of its water using a unique closed water system, efficient jet washing  machines, and a five-step filtration process to ensure the water is so clean that it can be drunk. Just 0.4 litres of water is lost for each pair of jeans – and it’s due only to evaporation.

• Denim production also creates a toxic by-product called sludge. To prevent it from leaching into the environment, Saitex sends  its sludge to a nearby brick factory to be mixed into concrete, which is then made into bricks to build affordable homes.


The Swedish outdoor brand is best known for its Kanken backpacks, but it should also be better known for its sustainability efforts.

• It provides accessible and comprehensive care instructions for its products to help customers extend the life of its apparel and gear. Fjallraven’s website offers advice on washing, storage, fabric waxing, and how to care for its wool and down items and Eco-shell tents, bags, and sleeping bags.

• When deciding on materials, Fjallraven refers to its own Preferred Materials and Fibres List that grades materials by their impact on the environment. The list is constantly updated to reflect new research and materials. The brand prioritises traceable natural materials and uses organic, renewable and recycled materials wherever possible. Materials and fibres are classified as follows: excellent, such as recycled wool, organic hemp and Tencel; good, which includes recycled polyester, G-1000 Eco and traceable wool; okay, like polyamide, cotton, and metal buttons; and those the brand does not use, such as PFCs, PVCs and angora wool.

• It does not use fluorocarbons. Favoured by the outdoor industry for water- and dirt-proofing gear, the chemical compound is harmful to  the environment as it does not readily break down in nature, can be transported over large distances and held in living organisms, and eventually works its way up the food chain, affecting reproduction and hormone production in mammals.


Calling itself The Activist Company, the outdoor apparel brand from the US has amplified its involvement in political activism since the start of the Trump administration. In 2017, it gave away its Black Friday profi ts – all US$10 million (S$13.6 million) of it – to hundreds of grassroots environmental organisations. In December that same year, it publicly sued President Donald Trump for reducing the size of two national monuments in Utah. Last year, Patagonia launched Patagonia Action Works, a website that helps people to find environmental activism opportunities near them, and also endorsed two Democratic Senate candidates, who the company says will “help protect natural resources in Nevada and Montana”.

The surprising outcome: Taking a bigger stand in the political arena has positively impacted Patagonia’s bottom-line, proving that staying neutral is no longer the best strategy. In today’s political climate, it is the companies that show they genuinely care about issues bigger than themselves that will win the support – and money – of consumers.

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"Everlane found its best partner to produce the cleanest and most eco jeans: Saitex in Vietnam."
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"Levi’s saves water by sometimes washing its jeans with a thimble of water and ozone instead of detergent."


The denim industry is notorious for polluting the ecosystem. Once a hardy uniform for America’s working class, denim jeans are now treated as fast fashion – which means they are produced in large quantities every year – and are one of the most polluting categories in textiles.

The lack of adequate regulations has led to denim factories in places like Xintang, China and Bangladesh (two of the biggest manufacturers of denim in the world) dumping untreated toxic waste water from dyeing denim directly into rivers. This pollutes the world’s rivers and oceans, wiping out marine life and affecting the local population who depend on the rivers for water to drink, to wash their clothes, and to bathe in.

What we can do: Support brands that make jeans with cleaner methods – like Everlane – or brands that transform and upcycle vintage or used jeans into new, one-of-a-kind designs, such as Atelier & Repairs ( and Re/done (

Or stick with your Levi’s. Since the ’90s, the US brand has been using organic cotton. It also launched a green collection in 2006. In 2010, it banned sandblasting of denim. In 2011, it introduced the Water‹less collection – jeans made with up to 96 per cent less water. It has since developed more than 20 techniques to use less water. For example, to soften jeans, Levi’s tumbles them with bottle caps and golf balls instead of washing with fabric softener. By 2017, 55 per cent of all Levi’s jeans were made with Water‹less practices.
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1 & 2. By keeping the lines of its designs straight, Fjallraven’s Kanken collection ensures almost no waste when the pattern parts are cut from the fabric. 3 & 4. Swedish artists Erik Olovsson and Cecilia Heikkila designed nature-inspired prints for the Kanken Art collection. A cut of the sales proceeds will go to Kanken’s Arctic Fox Initiative, a springboard for new projects and ideas to help protect the environment.