Ethical Fabrics And Why We Need To Use Them

with our industry experts

This Masterclass is all about fabrics, led by founder of this The Sustainable Fashion Collective and our sister business Offset Warehouse. We'll dive into the world of ethical materials, and specifically why we need to be using them to create our responsible products.

"For me, working more sustainably means combatting fast, disposable fashion. To make a product that transcends seasons and is cherished for decades to come, it needs to stand the test of time in a way that doesn't harm the environment or the people who make it."

The production of textiles is a vast subject, so this topic will be an overview of the facts in order to give you the general picture of what’s going on and, how it affects the planet and people. If you’d like to read about any of the issues in more depth, there are lots of links to useful and interesting articles at the bottom of this section.

In this Masterclass you will learn:

  • Introduction To Why We Need To Be Using Ethical Fabrics

    with Charlie Bradley Ross

    This 3 minute introduction to the full Masterclass on Why We Need To Use Ethical Fabrics includes a roundup of the issues that conventional textiles cause.

    For me, Charlie Bradley Ross, working in a more sustainable way means combatting fast, disposable fashion. And if you're going to make a product that transcends seasons and will be cherished by your customer for years (if not decades) to come, then it needs to stand the test of time and do so in a way that does not harm the environment or the people who make them.

  • The Environmental Impact of Textile Production

    with Charlie Bradley Ross

    This is a 23 minute Lesson that looks at the environmental impacts of textile production, to help you understand what you need to consider when sourcing and using materials for your products.

    Did you know that an estimated 20,000 litres of water are required to produce just 1kg of cotton fabric – that’s enough for just one t-shirt and a pair of jeans? Or that an estimated 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used worldwide to turn raw materials into textiles, many of which will be released into freshwater sources? Staggering! 

    In this Lesson, we take a look at the jaw-dropping effects that irresponsible fashion production has on our planet. Once you have the knowledge, you can empower yourself to make more informed decisions on the best textiles to choose for your products.

  • The Social Impact of Textile Production And A Fabric's Effect On You

    with Charlie Bradley Ross

    This is a 22 minute Lesson that looks at the social impacts of textile production, and how these issues extend to you and your customers as the wearer.

    Bangladesh’s textile industry is worth $28bn a year to the country – it's virtual lifeblood. So employees are trapped between potential poverty and a dangerous working environment. They have no choice but to endure whatever conditions they are given. In the full Lesson this clip is from, we learn about the social cost of textile production; from raw material to end product, how does it affect the people who produce it? Social impact also encompasses animal welfare. So the animals that create or contribute to the raw materials, how have they been treated?

    In the second half of the video Lesson, we take a look at how fabrics can affect your health and your customers’ health, as the wearer, too. We discuss some of the nasty chemicals to avoid. We’ll also take a look at some the companies and organisations doing amazing things.

  • How To Choose Ethical Fabrics Guide

    with The SFC Team

    As we have already discussed in this Masterclass - How To Source Ethical Fabrics - the reasons to use ethical fabrics are numerous and obvious. But, how to do it in a way that is ethical, while also viable for your business? 

    It is best to look at your choices on a case-by-case basis. As we have discussed, there are positives and negatives for all materials, which is why some designers find it so difficult to find the perfect, ethical fabric. Each fabric brings with it its own environmental or social impact, and it can be worrisome to find a fabric that is protecting the environment, without, at the same time, jeopardising human rights or health.

    This downloadable guide and toolkit will help you identify what your priorities are as a business owner, and help you find the most suitable fibre choices and subsequent fabrics for your products.

  • Increase the Lifespan of Textile Products

    with Charlie Bradley Ross

    Did you know, extending the life-cycle of a garment by nine months, can reduce their carbon, waste and water footprint by 5-10%? Here, we share our tips for extending the life cycle of your products, both at the manufacturing level, and tips to share with customer to help at the consumer level.

  • How To Source Fabrics: Toxic Chemicals Guide

    with Charlie Bradley Ross

    Understanding the chemicals used in the production of textiles and in clothing manufacturing is central in the debate around sustainable fashion. In this handy downloadable, we list the toxins to watch out for primarily in your fabric production, though also relevant to garment production for example with certain denim processes.

  • How To Source Fabrics: The Big Eco Textile Supplier List

    with Charlie Bradley Ross

    We are delighted to present The Big Eco Fabric Supplier List.

    This ethical textile matrix contains our personal team research spanning over a decade. We are sharing the contacts here because of our commitment to helping designers and makers across all industries source all the ethical textiles, materials and fabrics they require.

    Please read and respect the terms of use before contacting these producers. 

  • Why We Should Use Natural Dyes For Fashion

    with Raaja Rajan

    We were joined by Raaja Rajan, Chief of Operations for Natural Dye House, to learn more about the environmental and social impacts of using chemical dyes for textiles and fashion as opposed to natural, plant-based dyes. In an honest and eye-opening interview, Raaja explains how designers, brands, and consumers can all contribute to a less-polluting and more socially engaged fashion industry in India.



Technical Tutorials

Past Events

Additional links:

Textile Exchange's 2019 Preferred Fiber and Materials Report - market shares of all materials, their social and environmental impacts and innovative material science companies you can read up on

Labour Behind The Label Reports - up to date reports on supply chain news, tools for checking up on brands, and explanations on production routes for fashion items

Systain Report (referred to in video two)

Love Your Clothes

Cottoned On

Greenpeace’s Detox Campaign

The Higg Index from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition

Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals’ Roadmap to Zero - a collaboration between key industry stakeholders to reduce hazardous chemicals in the entire supply chain. The ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (ZDHC MRSL) is a list of chemical substances that you can use to up your knowledge, but also as a tool when working with textile suppliers.

Clean By Design led by NRDC

Waste Resources & Action Programme (WRAP)’s Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP)

Follow on Masterclasses:

Sourcing Sustainable Trims And Haberdashery

Working With Sustainable Cellulosic Fibres

Recycled Fabrics: The Social, Economic and Environmental Impacts

Ethical Ways To Work With Leather

Fighting Poverty With Fashion

Additional Reading