Friday, December 9, 2022

Why Sustainability Is a Non-Negotiable for Fashion Label Oliver Logan

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Oliver Logan is known for its sustainable denim made with certified materials and a slow fashion ethos. But founder Oliver Timsit wants to see the whole industry make that shift, too.

While there are tremendous burdens on the fashion industry to become more ethical and sustainable, Timsit wants the consumer to be engaged in the discourse, too: what we wear matters, after all, and taking charge of our own wardrobes doesn’t just reduce our own closet’s carbon footprint, but it helps the fashion industry to become that better version of itself, too.

That’s important in a number of ways: the fashion industry is still a leading producer of emissions. It’s a leading contributor of wastewater, accounting for about 20 percent globally. It’s also one of the biggest industries routinely accused of human rights violations due in large part to fast-fashion operations like Shein, which is now producing as many as 10,000 new garments every day. Conventional fashion is unsustainable in every definition of the word.

Oliver Logan Denim
Oliver Logan Denim | Courtesy

If you’re still in the camp that believes slow or sustainable fashion means a compromise on style, Timsit’s also ready to bust that myth. The Oliver Logan collections are effortlessly chic, designed to stand the test of time and help ease you out of the fast fashion seasonal swings many of us fall victim to. From its classic denim to its buttery soft linen dresses, outerwear, and more, when its time to update your wardrobe, Oliver Logan helps you bring sustainable style to staples and statement pieces alike.

Ethos caught up with Timist about the brand’s sourcing, how to be a sustainable consumer, and how greenwashing campaigns impact our purchasing decisions.

This interview is edited for length and clarity.

Ethos: Can you talk about why sustainable/slow fashion is so important to the brand?

OT: Sustainable fashion is vital to our brand, but our focus is environmental importance, and we use the Oliver Logan brand to drive that message home. Slow fashion and slow denim is thought of in such a way that we want big fashion to “slow down,” but what we are really asking is for them to stop overproducing, which is a natural by-product of slowing down production.  

When it comes to sourcing fabrics, we start with what we already have (leftover textiles) and then aim to buy only what we need. If we overbuy a little, then we incorporate that unused material into our next collection or make a gift for our community, like a dog toy, a denim face mask, or a dad hat (coming soon).

One of our non-negotiables is that we only use recycled yarn, recycled cotton, or cotton sourced from the Better Cotton Initiative. We use recycled polyester and deadstock denim as well. Basically, everything we use either had a past life or was ethically sourced. 

We have some hard and fast rules regarding certifications, too, meaning we only work with facilities that meet our standards. Fair Trade, WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Program), and the GRS (Global Recycle Standard) are our big three. Though other certifications exist, we find these to be the most thorough when it comes to treating workers and sourcing textiles. Fair Trade ensures wage equality, WRAP provides standards for the safety of workers in a facility, and GRS certification means the supplier is allowed to work with recycled materials. 

Oliver Logan Denim
Oliver Logan Denim | Courtesy

Ethos: Are some of your products more sustainable than others? Which ones and why?

OT: Since we’ve grown and the sustainable technology to produce garments has grown too, we’ve been able to expand our sustainability efforts in recent years. For example, not everything is designed with ozone laser technology simply because some of our denim does not require it. That said, everything we make comes from recycled materials and is sourced ethically, so there aren’t any “dirty jeans,” so to speak. 

Ethos: There are a lot of denim brands touting their sustainability efforts. What should consumers look out for when buying jeans/denim products?

OT: Yeah, greenwashing is such a bummer. Every brand represents its efforts differently, so I always recommend reading the fine print. If you notice that the company is making sweeping statements like ‘Go Green’ or ‘We Love the Planet’, just–look into it a bit more. There are a lot of unsubstantiated claims a brand can legally make without getting in trouble. If the company is a genuinely sustainable brand or makes efforts towards being one, chances are they will tell you the facts. 

We use GreenStory, an organization that quantifies the efforts of our brand. This technology is ever-updating on our website, so you see our impact in real-time. It’s really awesome, actually. 

Ethos: Can you talk about your manufacturing? How are your values reflected there?

OT: Certifications are the number one thing we look for with manufacturers. For a manufacturer to obtain the level of sustainable compliance we require, chances are they share the same value system that we have. The relationships we have with our suppliers are intimate and we are in constant communication with them to ensure our vision and values are in alignment with one another. 

Oliver Logan Denim
Oliver Logan Denim | Courtesy

Ethos: There’s so much greenwashing these days. How does Oliver Logan stand out from the sea of misleading claims?

OT: We stand out because we are transparent about our practices. Our entire Instagram is dedicated to our efforts and values, constantly reminding our audience what we are all about; we genuinely walk the walk. Customers are free to ask and challenge us, and we are happy to answer them as best we can. We are transparent about where we are and where we want to be when it comes to our efforts and aren’t shy in owning that there is always room for improvement. 

Ethos: Do high-profile greenwashing campaigns help draw more attention to your authentic work in the space?

OT: Honestly, I’m not sure. I think these incidents are eye-opening and bring attention to the greater problem that is fast fashion, and for that reason, it’s a good thing! We’re in an interesting time right now, and people have a lot of power.

Combine that power with the media, and we could make some fundamental changes here. It’s a double edge sword because something like the [Kardashian-Boohoo campaign] sheds light on a problem that has been happening for years, and the environmental damage has already been done. So the hope is that as we gain awareness as a society, prevent future damage and reduce harm for the next generations. 

Ethos: What should she have done differently/better?

OT: The short answer is that she shouldn’t have participated in the company. A public figure as big as herself, it’s her responsibility to speak up and speak out. She could have used this opportunity not only to turn down the partnership but also to start a movement and use her following for good. 

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