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Article: Planet VS Plastic: Earth Day 2024

Planet VS Plastic: Earth Day 2024

The theme for Earth Day in 2024 is “Planet vs. Plastics”. The topic aims to raise awareness of the harms of plastic pollution for human and planetary health. Although plastic has been a buzzword for quite a number of years now, we are still seeing a huge increase in the use of polyester used in clothing, so much so that it has taken over from cotton and doesn’t show to be slowing down any time soon.

The theme is central to swimwear due to the content of nylon and polyamide. Plastic is required in swimwear due to its nature, which requires the garment to stretch and not hold water. Natural fibres therefore cannot be used because they are too absorbent, and become misshapen when wet.

Many swimwear brands are consciously moving towards using fabrics using sustainable yarns, such as ECONYL®. These are typically made from marine debris such as ocean plastics, nylon scraps, and ghost fishing nets. This yarn is then used to create the luxurious, soft and durable fabric, which is used to make Capri Swimwear. As well as being a solution on waste, ECONYL® regenerated nylon is also better when it comes to climate change. It reduces the global warming impact of nylon by up to 90% compared with the material from oil. Isabelle says:

I love the story behind our fabric and that we proudly have a transparent supply chain at Capri Swimwear, which is incredibly rare within the fashion industry. However, using sustainable fabrics is just the start of the brand tackling plastic. Throughout every part of the business I continually have asked myself ‘what’s the waste in this process’ and built systems to eliminate them.”

With a background in fashion buying she also spotted that unsustainable business practices were hard for customers to spot – so decided to do something about it. Upon entering the industry Isabelle worked as a Fashion Buyer and saw first-hand the lack of sustainability and drive to produce more at a lower cost. This opened up the idea of sustainability going beyond what is traditionally known as eco-fabrics, packaging and ethical manufacturing. In fact there are far more things to consider, such as supply chain transportation, design waste, garment quality, recycling, surplus stock and returns.

Since launching the brand in 2020, Isabelle has designed her collections, managed sourcing and production and oversees the marketing and website. By personally sourcing all the components and working directly with suppliers Capri Swimwear can guarantee a fully transparent supply chain, which is rare when some womenswear brands have been accused of overlooking shady practices by suppliers and sub-contractors.

Capri Swimwear has built multiple sustainability initiatives within the brand and raises awareness on what they do and why it’s important. Here’s a few of the initiatives that remain to be different from the rest of the industry:

Fashion is the third most polluting industry and produces about 10% of our annual carbon footprint – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined! The fashion sector creates millions of tons of plastic and other waste that pollute our air and oceans through washing garments and disposal. Capri Swimwear operates on a no wastage policy throughout production by committing to recycling all of the fabric scraps into eco-carpet underlay and sports insulation filler. The brand also offers customers to recycle their end-of-life swimwear from any brand to be added into the fabric wastage. Isabelle adds:

Offering our customers the chance to sustainably dispose of their old swimwear is really important to ensure that they don’t go to landfill. However I must say that the transparency of this is crucial as fast fashion brands are now offering clothing recycling but this is still very limited and only a small percentage of garments are actually recycled. The concept of having these recycling banks in-store also influences the customer to buy guilt-free fast-fashion as they feel positive about the act of recycling.”

1000’s of products are being put into skips or destroyed by retailers every week, with a lot of these products that are often new and unused. The brand has made a pledge with Buy Me Once on their Love Stock, Hate Waste mission to never to purposely damage stock. All of their usable, returned or surplus stock will be donated, resold or recirculated in some way which benefits society. This has called for multiple sample sales, which has resulted in fully usable items being worn instead of being left in a box. Furthermore, the brand makes its items exclusively in London on a limited-edition basis to avoid over-production.

A garment is normally worn for an average of seven to 10 times before it is discarded. This extremely low number can be due to a number of factors, such as trends moving on and the quality of items not being high enough to withstand a longer period of time. However, Capri Swimwear creates styles that are made to last summer after summer and therefore takes the time to educate its customers on how to care for their garments. This is crucial in order to make pieces last longer and therefore stay out of landfill for as long as possible.

Sustainability in 2024 is continuing to become a non-negotiable for brands as more consumers are actively seeking information about what initiatives businesses have in place to reduce the damage to the planet. The concept of ‘greenwashing’, although complex, is becoming more considered by consumers and they are no longer simply accepting sustainable marketing without backing these claims up. However, there is still a huge amount of work to be done within the industry and the transition of prioritising people and planet over profit still has a very long way to go. The small yet significant steps that Capri Swimwear is making highlights the importance of considering waste and unsustainability at every step and decision that is made within the fashion industry.

Together if we consciously look at these, we could make a huge difference to the planet, for the better.

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