13 Hot Topics for Sustainable Fashion

  1. What are some ethical and sustainable clothing brands in the United States?


When you buy things made out of recycled materials, you create a demand for recycling. The best thing to do is work with, or support, brands that create things that are recycled, so that more materials get recycled.

Whether you're buying paper towels, towels for your closet, clothing for your home, always look for an option that's made out of recycled materials. 

Then the next best thing to do is find people working with 100% natural fibers. And we love Fairtrade. So brands that do a lot of both of these things include Everlane and Pact.  Those are some good ones.

  1. What could change about the fashion industry?

The industrialization aspect of fashion, which makes people feel as though what they already own is obsolete. 

Fashion really got commandeered by apparel, but fashion is really trends. What the fashion industry does is sell trends, not clothing. 

What I believe is that your personal style is your own special way of communicating with the world. You don't need to be sold anything, you can just be you. The more individualism is celebrated, the less industrialized trends will be. 

  1. Which fashion brands are making face masks?

Zero Waste Daniel is making face masks!

The most important thing I want people to know is that our face masks are double layered. They have a layer of our signature patchwork on the outside, and then they're lined with a layer of cotton. We always look for organic cotton if we can find it. 

So many of our masks are even organic cotton. There is an opening almost like a pillowcase on the side on the inside, so you can put a medical grade mask inside and use it like a mask cover. 

They are also full coverage masks, so you're going to get coverage from the bottom of your chin, all the way up to the top of your nose, and to the sides of your face. They're also reversible, so you can wear them upside down in two ways.

Depending on the size of your nose or the size of your chin, you can figure out which way is most comfortable for you. They also have a stretchy ear loop, so they're very comfortable. 

  1. How can the fashion industry become more sustainable?

Any industry can become more sustainable. It's about making sustainability a goal and understanding what that means. We never achieve goals unless we set them for ourselves. Right now the fashion industry is not interested in being sustainable. Some young people, and some amazing trendsetters, really do believe that sustainability is the future of fashion– and I agree. 


However, until sustainability becomes a major metric of success for every company that produces apparel, it's not going to happen. We need to see the goal of transitioning to renewable energy, to safe and natural dyes, to fair labor and working conditions before we see the benefits of that change. 


We also need to see a transition towards natural fibers and pre existing materials as opposed to focusing so much on the extractive way of making clothes. We use a lot of manmade fibers like nylon and spandex. They're not going anywhere anytime soon. So if we want to have a more circular system, we need ways of recycling those materials, and also more common practices of  working with things that will break down organically is really important.

  1. How is sustainable clothing made?

Sustainable clothing is made in a multitude of different ways. Suffice it to say the most sustainable clothing is always made using ancient practices. People have been making clothing since the beginning of time. We know about so many different amazing plants and natural materials that people have worn around the world. 

Hemp is an incredible fiber, cotton, and flax, silk, wool, and hides go back to ancient practices. There are so many things that can be done with what's already in nature. But the most sustainable clothing is made by hand with no electricity. 

For us in a modern world. Not contributing to the linear way of creating clothing with waste is our position of being part of creating a circular economy. 

Zero Waste Daniel takes material that is falling out of the system, then we put it back in, and nothing leaves our studio until it's part of a finished piece.

  1. Is the custom clothing business model sustainable?


The custom clothing business model is definitely sustainable on a number of different levels. 

Essentially, business is all about weighing your cost to your income. Any business that is making more money than it's spending, is sustainable, in business terms. What the designer needs to figure out is, what is the average number of units that they are selling per-year, then divide that by their overhead--and then that will be your breakeven point. 

If you're able to break even at any cost structure, you're able to have a self sustaining custom clothing business. Remember your cost of doing business should include paying yourself!

For some people, this can mean custom couture, making fewer than 50 garments each year. For others, that means just in time inventory, making pieces as they're being ordered– and maybe specifying them to your customers measurements, but at a lower price point with a much higher volume. 

It's really all about what category you want to be designing and selling in, and then how many units do you need to sell? And what price do you need to charge? In business, sustainability is a math problem!

  1. How can I repurpose my wedding dress?
  Before & After


Well, one thing you can do is contact me! 

If you want to repurpose a wedding dress, of course there's the classic ideas of dyeing it, cutting it short, turning it into other garments, for example, something for a child. What I've done in the past with wedding dresses, is transforming them into wearable pieces!

I took one wedding dress and I made a jacket, a skirt, a pair of shorts and two tops out of just a single gown. This way, the bride was able to relive her favorite moments of her life over and over and over again while carrying those memories through an object memory concept– which is familiar to all of us. I upcycled her actual dress that she [thought] she would never wear again into pieces that she would wear all the time!

  1. What are ways to repurpose old clothes?

Definitely always start with textile and surface embellishment. I love the idea of turning a T-shirt or jeans or towels into strips, braiding or weaving them together to create bath mats or potholders or rugs. 

Fabric also makes phenomenal insulation. Whether it's moving blankets, or putting that into quilting, there's definitely some great circular options. 

And don't overthink it! You know, hair ties, headbands– all the little things and accessories that we want. Even gift wrap can be made from upcycled clothing!

  1. What can I use instead of bleach for upcycling t-shirts?

Instead of bleach dyeing, you can use a lot of different natural materials. If you want to work with bleach, you're probably dyeing things like dark colors, and that's why you want to reverse dyeing them. 

There are a number of different non-toxic chemicals that will react with different pigments. It's hard to say which one to use with which fabric but I always recommend starting with what you have at home. There are some things like spinach, onion peels, and avocado pits and shells that will transform your clothing just by being boiled. 

So all you want to do is look it up, you know, a quick Google will set you free!

  1. How should I wash my upcycled clothing?

The most sustainable way to wash your clothing is to wash it less! Most modern washing machines will offer you an eco-cycle. It's usually on a cold setting, after which I recommend that you lay anything you can then flat or hang your clothing to dry. Where we use the most energy is in heating up the water and air to wash and dry our clothes.

I always recommend a nice gentle soak/rinse kind of cycle with your favorite non toxic, bulk detergent if possible, and then flat or hang to dry  for zero waste daniel products. I use mixed fiber content for my designs, so everything can shrink differently. The only thing that's going to make the textiles shrink is the heat, so I recommend you never wash ZWD in hot water or put any of our items in the dryer.

  1. How can I turn old clothes into more fashionable ones?

A great way to turn old clothes into more fashionable ones is by tailoring them.

Tailoring can look like a lot of different things. It can be as simple as cutting the sleeves off or cropping a T-shirt, or it can be fitting a suit to update it. 

Trends change, so you might want to take in or let out the leg of your trousers, or take up or let down the hem a little bit. Usually when you buy even a very affordable mass market quality suit, the manufacturer is  going to have some room to let the legs up and down, and in and out. Anything looks more expensive if it fits well! It's great to hire a tailor for the expertise to do that because it will make the process easy and it also helps preserve the craft and art of sewing, but it is also very possible to do some simple tailoring by hand or on a home sewing machine with an easy YouTube or TikTok tutorial!

  1. What is the best way to recycle clothes?

The best way to recycle clothing is to go to the local municipal website of your hometown and find if there is a government run clothing drop off site. Anything that can be resold or given to the needy will be, and any leftovers will either be turned into rags or shredded usually. 

The reason why I recommend going through the municipal site is that the organizations who typically collect clothing on a government level are also collecting and analyzing data about it, which is such an important part of us figuring out how to make the industry more sustainable.

  1. What are the disadvantages of up-cycling?

The disadvantages of upcycling tend to be that people have preconceived notions that their clothing will look crafty or homemade. 

If you're someone who loves luxury, high style, or street style fashion, you know, you're concerned with things looking fresh and new, and with your items being durable. 

Some people just have their mind made up that if it is upcycled, it's not going to be those things, but as you know, ZWD is working everyday to prove that you can use sustainable, upcycled materials and look runway ready!

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