We've all heard of these big clothing brands scandals in the news at one point or another, but let's be honest, we've all kind of forgot about it after a little while and for the most part, it didn't really change our shopping habits. At least that's what happened to me, few years ago if I had to go to buy some clothes I was heading to the cheapest decent shop possible and I would maximize my few dozens of dollars available to spend on a full outfit. I watched The True Cost movie/documentary on Netflix and it was really interesting, sad, infuriating and moving all at the same time. But to be honest, that didn't convince me that I should not purchase from those big brands, I don't think the customer trying to get their outfit for a cheap price is to blame in that process. The customer is not the one who has asked to exploit people in order to make these clothes available in local and online stores. Neither they asked for pesticides and chemicals to be used to make the articles that will end up in their wardrobe. So this whole situation about unethical practices from the Billion $ industry giants was not making me feel guilty as a consumer, instead, it made me realize how limited the options are when you look for ethical and ecologically responsible clothing. Either the price is outrageous, or it is plain ugly with a fit adjusted to your grand-father's body shape. And have you ever heard of a Sportswear brand that manufactures in North America using eco-friendly fabrics? If there are some others than Outscore, they are very rare to find, and that means there is not enough of us. I then took the decision; rather than just stop purchasing from unethical brands, I wanted to be a part of the change in the clothing consumer habits. Following this revelation I really started to actively research how to manufacture my designs in North America and how we could do so by using fabrics made in the most eco-friendly ways possible. These days you can find anything on the internet, but type 'North American clothing manufacturer' in your google research bar and you'll be surprised to see how limited your options are, only thing missing when you google these four words is the awkward cricket sound. As a result of the non-existing options offered for startups not willing to order by thousands, I decided to buy a sewing machine and started sewing myself. That's how the first Outscore products made in Canada were born. All I did was sewing samples of what I had in mind, I knew that a domestic sewing machine would not provide the high quality that our Outscore community would like to wear. But learning the basics of how to assemble a garment helped me understand the possibilities in terms of combinations of fabrics, labor time and cost and gave me a good idea of what having a production chain would look like. With patience, more research and networking, I eventually started to build a team that would help me achieve this goal. Today, Outscore is rising as a pioneer and leader of the Eco-Friendly Sportswear revolution. We work hard to develop products that provide you with style, comfort and practicality. Each of your valuable purchase has a direct impact on both the local economy and the planet.
What exactly are Eco-Friendly Fabrics?
We prioritize the use of fabrics made from natural fibers such as bamboo, organic cotton or hemp that have grown without the use of pesticides, as well as recycled polyester made from plastic bottles. If you didn't know, polyester is made from a petrochemical process, meaning that every time polyester fabrics are made, petrol is processed and injected in the environment. To make recycled polyester, recycled plastic bottles are sterilized and then melted back into a liquid form that is processed into thin fibers, that is then turned into yarns, and finally the yarns will be knitted into a fabric. So to sum it all up, recycled polyester helps cleaning the planet from plastic bottles rather than re-using petrol. Whether from petrochemical process or recycled plastic bottles, knowing that you put on clothes made essentially from petrol does not feel great, and it certainly cannot be the best option for your skin on the long run. Because we make sportswear garments and this type of fabric is highly used and practical in this industry, for now we are not going to give it up entirely. However, our ultimate goal is to offer garments that are the healthiest for your skin, and we definitely prioritize the use of natural fibers when it comes to our choice of fabrics. In fact, as I am writing this blog post, we have not even started to consider making any products made with polyester yet. We just do not want to close the door to this possiblity for now, but if we see that we can do without, we will be happy to do so.
The effects of pesticides on our health
Pesticides used to grow cotton have negative effects on the consumer's health, but also on the farmers who rely on these crops to survive. Some of these farmers and their families get deadly sicknesses just from living around those crops. Huffington post mentions: "[...] conventionally grown cotton uses more insecticides than any other single crop. Research shows that non-organic cotton farming uses 25% of the insecticides applied worldwide, making cotton production a significant pollution factor for our environment and the eco system. The USDA reported that over 2 billion pounds of synthetic fertilizers are applied to U.S. cotton annually and ranks cotton third behind corn and soybeans in total amount of pesticides sprayed. The Environmental Protection Agency considers seven of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton in the U.S. as “possible,” “likely,” “probable,” or “known” human carcinogens."
This report only mentions the U.S. cotton farming, imagine how many pounds of synthetic fertilizers are applied in India, China, Bangladesh or other countries where the use of these pesticides are not even regulated. ABC reported a study showing possible link between pesticide exposure and farmer health and stated: "In the first study of its kind, the Victorian-based National Centre for Farmer Health tested a group of farmers once a month over 12 months for levels of cholinesterase enzymes, which are needed for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Toxicologist John Edwards said preliminary research results found those enzymes were lower in farmers with high exposure to organophosphate pesticides."
Lastly, contact pesticides have effects on insects that are necessary to the ecosystem, especially bees. The population of bees has drastically dropped over the last 25 years, and although we cannot blame it all on pesticides, it surely cannot be a helper for that situation.
0 Stock + 0 Re-Stock = NO WASTE + UNIQUE STYLES
We refuse to manufacture the same products in bulk quantity. We only produce limited quantities for each release for two reasons:
First, we want our clients to feel unique, and what is going to be unique about you if you walk in the gym or in the streets just to find that someone else is wearing the same T-shirt as you? It all happened to us at some point, and although it can be a fun way to start a conversation, it also makes you realize that you invested money in something that makes you look like everyone else.
Second, keeping low stock ensures our products will be sold and will not end up sleeping in some warehouse or store inventory, as it would eventually become waste material. According to the Huffington post: "In a single year, Canada produces enough textile waste -- clothing and other goods like upholstery -- to create a mountain three times the size of Toronto's Rogers Centre stadium". We cannot defend being eco-friendly if we end up producing waste, we are going eco-friendly on each of our actions.
I totally understand the person living on a budget who will refuse to pay $40+ for a T-shirt, I was that person myself not long ago. But as I became more conscious of the effects of my choices in terms of which clothing brand to buy from, my opinion shifted. Now I much rather put that extra 10$ on a brand that is contributing to fair trade/jobs and positive environmental impact. We are 7 billion people on this planet, and if more people start making a conscious effort when they buy clothes; more brands will start jumping on the trend and will become forced to review the way they operate their manufacturing process.