Behind all of the glitz and glamour of the fashion world is an ugly side. There is an incredible amount of textile waste and pollution produced by the fashion industry. “It is the second highest global polluter of clean water because of its use of toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde, and other toxic compounds” (Sage Larock). In an era of conscious consumers, and a growing movement to pass on plastic consumers are evaluating their consumption habits. Some are becoming more interested in how clothing is made. As a result, they are seeking out sustainably and ethically made clothing. Sustainable fashion is a game changer, it is redefining fashion and redesigning the way clothing is made. In particular, Sage Larock is founded upon being a sustainable luxury line of swimwear and apparel made in Los Angeles, California. The ethos of their sustainable clothing is making beautiful swimwear that is inspired by the sea and designed to be ocean friendly. At the heart of their environmentally responsible approach is reclaiming ocean plastic debris and transforming it into fabric. This application of upclying plastic waste into material for clothing celebrates the call to action for the fashion industry to consider adopting a circular economy approach. A circular economy encourages designers to rethink and redesign the way stuff is made. It allows for a unique opportunity to reconfigure waste into being functional. It serves to make effective use of resources. Taking ocean plastic debris and dead stock fabrics which would have otherwise been discarded and turning it into fabric for clothing is one solution to reducing textile and plastic waste. Plastic never goes away. Even plastic that is said to biodegrade just breaks down into tiny particles of micro plastics, further adding to the problem of ocean pollution. By 2050 oceans will contain more plastic than fish, a disheartening reality. Plastic is harmful to wildlife, marine life and coral reefs. Sage Larock is working to change this by raising ocean awareness and creating sustainable fashion by transforming ocean plastic waste and discarded fishing nets into upcycled fabric.
It All Comes Down To Design
When it comes to fashion, the single most important element is design. Design is everything. Design is what makes or breaks fashion. Thus, innovative design methods, such as ecologically sensible approaches is beneficial in the long term. Sustainable fashion is the way forward, and it just might be at a point in time whereby it is disrupting the fashion industry by making waves resulting in a call to action for change in design and manufacturing practices. A major design flaw in the manufacturing of swimsuits is that new plastic is constantly being created to produce new material for swimwear. Taryn Larock, founder of Sage Larock, took notice of this and made it her mission to make something beautiful from this plastic design flaw and the issue of plastic accumulating in our oceans by redesigning swimwear with upcycled ocean plastic waste. By repurposing plastic debris and ghost nets (discarded fishing nets) into upcycled material creates a solution. Furthermore, it helps create a positive environmental impact as it supports the removal of plastic off beaches and out of the ocean. Her sustainable practices help raise ocean awareness and encourages consumers to be more mindful about their consumer habits. With a love for ocean advocacy at the heart of her clothing line, Sage Larock is proud to partner with NGO HealthySeas.org to give back a percentage of their swimwear sales to help our oceans. Additionally, they support NGO Canopy, “To ensure endangered forests are not logged to make clothing, and to advance visionary creative solutions for the fashion industry that protect key global conservation areas, which millions of indigenous people and many endangered animals call home” (Sage Larock).
Q&A With Taryn Larock. founder of Sage Larock
1. What is your approach to redefining fashion?
The fashion industry is, behind oil and animal agriculture, one of the most polluting industries on the planet, but also it is one of the most profitable and powerful.
I therefore believe that as a designer in the fashion industry that it is my responsibility to create things that are made in a sustainable and ethical manner, which is sadly not the current industry standard. It is insane to me that most swimwear brands use polyester fabric (which is very cheaply made plastic content fabric) when everyone knows one of the last things our planet needs is more highly toxic plastic that will never biodegrade! I think it is equally insane that women’s clothing brands often leverage cheap sweatshop and slave labor to produce their clothing, when most of these workers (almost 80%) are estimated to be women!
So for us, redefining fashion is all about recognizing that the fashion industry has a real power to create positive change for people’s lives and our planet, and then doing our very best to create things with integrity. I personally have way more respect for other women and our planet than to create more toxic junk just to turn a larger profit or to do things the easy way – I believe we all deserve a lot better than that.
We have set a high standards for ethical and sustainable practices in every stage for our sourcing and manufacturing process, that we are constantly striving to meet. We also see redefining fashion as a great opportunity to connect with and collaborate with women such as yourself to raise awareness and work together to create more good for everyone.
2. Why is it important for consumers to be more mindful of their consumer habits and to consider choosing sustainable fashion?
I think the easy answer is that humanity’s actions are killing our planet, and if we are lucky, our children will have a place to live that has enough clean oxygen for everyone to breathe. It really is as simple as that! If we keep producing and consuming things that are made in a toxic manner that pollute our planet, and we don’t utilize what we already have – like the billions of tons of plastic we have created that will never biodegrade – we are going to be very quickly living in a world with more plastic than fish and one full of toxins. And you don’t have to be a hippy or Green Party member to do the math on that. We should all be extremely concerned, as I believe we are the last generation and group of people who can turn this destruction around.
The much more complex issue is that if the junk is what is most accessible – from GMO food, to cheap, toxic clothing – how are consumers supposed to make choices that are responsible? I believe because of this, people really need to re-think what they need and whats worth having, to get educated about whats going on, and start thinking about the costs associated with their choices.
We have all been conditioned to think that if something is made by XYZ brand, that has all these pretty pictures on the social media, the right celeb is wearing it, and everyone is buying it – then it must have been made in a sustainable and ethical way right? Sorry, but the answer is probably no (unless otherwise stated) given the current standards for fashion manufacturing.
Up until the economic recession of late 2000’s, fast fashion was really not that popular, and in an effort to give a boost to the very bad situation at that time with retail and wholesale sales, clothing companies started to create all those $9 t-shirts, $20 jeans and $30 swimsuits to continue to turn a profit and make certain even those of us who were financially suffering could still afford to consume. To do this – they had to start ramping up production in the least expensive way possible – which in the fashion industry means producing cheap things, almost certainly made with toxic chemicals, and paying garment workers as little as possible.
But I think as a society we are quickly going to have to get that if we are to survive and live on a planet worth living on, we will need to come to the conclusion that what we purchase has a HUGE effect on the world around us – either positive or negative.
3. Do you see the fashion industry adopting more sustainable practices and a circular economy?
I believe the power is in the hands of consumers – which are mostly women – to refuse the bad and demand things made without pollution, slave labor, neurotoxins, and heavy metals. Its pretty great to think that its women who ultimately are so powerful that if we really ask for it – that we could make a massive positive shift in the fashion industry – which is currently valuated at 3 trillion dollars!
Its great news too that we are seeing the idea of more sustainable practices and a circular economy become more popular with brands.
4. As design is instrumental to fashion, what is your approach to designing sustainable swimwear?
We begin our process with the most sustainable performance swimwear fabric out there – made from Econyl brand yarn – which is made from upcycled fishing lines and recycled plastic. We definitely hold sustainability and design to equally high standards in our process. But swimwear tends to be something that is tricky to wear for most women – so getting the fit right to be flattering is definitely very important to us and also making sure we produce the highest quality possible is also top priority.
5. What is your biggest takeaway from your journey of creating sustainable fashion?
My biggest takeaway to date is that Sage Larock has been so lucky to provide a sustainable and ethical option for women, and that we hopefully get to help women feel beautiful and empowered in a world that too often tells us we are not. This is really what it is all about for us – offering an option that women can trust and creating a community that supports women in feeling great about themselves and to make empowered and positive choices for the planet and future generations.
Sage Larock: Shop Sustainable Swimwear