To kick off the month, we wanted to talk a little bit about our sustainability practice and who better to give you the low-down than SÜK Founder, Mimosa. Read on for a deep dive into what drove her to put sustainability at the forefront of her business model and what lays ahead.
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SÜK was created out of a need for fully functional, durable, femme workwear that looked tough and felt incredible. The idea excited me but I quickly realised that in launching a new label, there were problematic environmental factors to grapple with and take very seriously. If I wanted to create something from a place of joy, I couldn’t ignore the huge responsibility that the garment manufacturing process posed. It was daunting to realise that creating a label would contribute to the carbon footprint of an industry that was obviously all the way up shit creek.
I decided at the very beginning that if SÜK was going to exist:
- I wouldn’t make anything that I didn't wear and love myself.
- That the garments would be NEEDED by workers, and be as useful and durable as possible.
- That the manufacturing would be as clean and ethical as possible, and that we would be transparent with our consumers about our processes.
From cloth waste, to carbon emissions, to water-wasting production methods, to shoddy labour rights for foreign factory workers, right down to the farms where the yarn cotton is grown and harvested — it’s incredibly tricky to map, monitor, and devise solutions to improve our environmental impact. Nevertheless we acknowledge that we have a moral obligation to do so, for our customers and the planet.
Mimosa wears Sük Open Front Overalls at the Collingwood Children's Farm.
Our Current Sustainability Model
We are already doing well on some fronts: we use carbon neutral shippers, we have been plastic free from warehouse to the customer since the beginning, and we partner with One Tree Planted to offset CO2 emissions. But we can still do better, and that means understanding where we are in the red.
Waste & Circularity
It’s been essential to our sustainability model to remove plastics wherever we can. Our products are now waste and plastic free from the fabric mill all the way through to the customer. To eliminate plastic in the factory, we worked closely with our manufacturing partners in Pakistan to replace plastic garment bags with reusable and washable cotton sacks. All orders from the Melbourne warehouse are shipped out in biodegradable packaging that can be home composted. We also ensure that all offcuts are saved and recycled onto a second life. We have partnered with Upparel, an incredible local organization, to recycle our unsellable garments. In the last financial year we diverted 3035.8 kg of textiles from landfill and prevented 10,625kg of greenhouse gases from polluting our atmosphere. Recycling garments comes with a considerable expense, but must be factored in.
Throughout our design process, these are some of the questions we ask ourselves: “What if this was your only item of clothing? Is it durable enough to work all day and wash a hundred times? Is it versatile enough to be under the hood of a car AND on top of a bar?”
We take the time to consider the fibers we use. We source responsibly produced and independently certified fabrics. We no longer use rivets, because we discovered rivets reduce the longevity and alterability of garments. We create transeasonal styles that transcend fast-fashion cycles. We keep our production runs small, hence why we are frequently out of stock. This can be frustrating –– we’re still mastering the numbers –– but it ensures we do not create unnecessary waste.
We acknowledge that we work, live and play on unceded Aboriginal land and recognise the significant role traditional owners have to play in the resuscitation of our planet.
We partner with One Tree Planted to regenerate Australian forests. For every SÜK garment sold online we pledge to plant one tree, and we hope to extend this pledge to our customers in the coming months.
This Is What We’re Yet To Tackle
We need more examples of brands owning their mistakes and communicating them — being realistic and honest about where we can improve is the first step. We understand that none of us are free unless all of us are, and none of us are alive unless our planet is!
We are in progress of mapping the CO2 footprint of our entire value chain. To do this, we need:
- One year of utility bills, office/warehouse hours, travel logs (domestic and international) and any carbon positive actions — such as reforestation and using carbon neutral couriers.
- To track our supply chain – which is far more challenging than it seems. While our cotton is certified Fairtrade, it is sourced from many locations. Weighing the emissions of our fabric footprint is an international effort that will take time and continued monitoring. We hope to have an overview solid plan by March 2022.
- Investigating and sourcing recycled fibres, and researching closed-loop garment production…. Watch this space!
This is a lot of work, but we are taking small, vital steps towards becoming carbon neutral. We will be sharing our progress with you in the New Year.
Please Reach Out To Us
SÜK has always seen femininity as strength. As an all-femme team, we encourage communication — even if this makes us vulnerable to criticism. I learnt, when I was out of my depth on worksites, how receptivity to criticism can make one a stronger, smarter, more conscious worker.
Developing sustainable production standards in an industry that is notorious for pollution is really challenging. We are up to that challenge – but we cannot do it on our own.
We are aware that many of you are deeply committed to living consciously and sustainably, and we are ready to engage with questions and critical feedback you may have.
Get involved in our Climate Month
Over the next four weeks, our instagram account will look a little different. You might see some unfamiliar faces or learn a few facts you might not have known. There'll also be an opportunity for you to engage directly with our partner orgs and to share your own insights – Don't be shy! We're always open to chatting with you in our DMs and will share any valuable content you might create.
Keep up to date with the COP26 Climate Conference
If you want to learn a little more about the Climate Conference and it's goals you can learn more on their website. You'll also find a full list of events leading up to the Conference in November, including the Youth4Climate Pre-COP26 that occurred last week.
Watch the inspiring keynote speech by Greta Thunberg below.
Visit the COP26 Website and follow the links for more information.