"buy clothes. not very many. made mostly from plants and animals.
then cherish and care for them. "
- Melissa kwasny
"putting on the dog : the animal orgins of what we wear" 2019
Justine sources all of the leather used to make our products from suppliers in Oregon and California. They are informed on where each hide comes from, so she can make the right decision. Dead stock pallets, which are discontinued, left over or mistake batches that will otherwise go to a landfill, are her favorite buys. We also use a large amount scrap leather, and are very strategic about utilizing all parts of each hide to insure the least amount of waste.
TYPES OF TANNING
BRAIN OR SMOKE TANNING is one of the oldest and greenest ways to tan leather. Originally used by northern Native American tribes, the Zulus of Africa, the Sami of Scandinavia and other smaller groups in Asia. It uses the brain of the animal to emulsify the skin, and the smoke as a means to preserve. It's the least common way to treat leather now, however we think it's definitely the most beautiful!
BARK TANNING also known as vegetable tanning, is a technique that uses the tannins from local tree bark to tan and preserve the
raw hide. This is where the term 'tanning' comes from.
CHROME TANNING is the most commonly used technique today making up around 80-90% of all leather production worldwide. It's also the most toxic and environmentally harmful. Using a solution of chemicals, acids and salts such as chromium sulfate and aluminum.
Not sure how your leather was tanned? Burning an edge or tiny piece will tell you!
If the ash turns a blueish white color - its chrome tanned. If the ash turns black, it's tanned naturally.
In 2018, Synthetics made up around 60% of all textile production. It's no surprise that industry brings widespread pollution to our waterways, soils and air. But the issue here isn't just in the high volumes of precious resources needed to produce these materials. Every time you wash a synthetic garment, microscopic plastic particles release and are absorbed into our waterways and oceans - this is called microfiber pollution, and it's important because it's devastating our flora and fauna, one example is coral bleaching. It's also troubling because Synthetics require more washing, and are less durable, so they end up in the landfill or the ocean faster than more durable materials ( like leather ).
Natural polymers such as viscose, Lyocell and Acetate are all naturally derived from wood fiber like Bamboo, and beech bark. But they are not carbon neutral, which means they rely on acids and sulfates that create harmful carbon emissions and are directly linked to human induced climate change.
The most troubling is Cotton. The most produced non-food crop in the world, it requires a tremendous amount of water.
It takes on average 5,300 gallons of water to produce the fabric for a single t-shirt or pair of jeans.
If you think vegan products are more ethical... think again. Vegan products may have an adverse effect. The manufacturing, disposal and slow decay creates a new footprint almost identical to plastic production.
It's important to remember every material has a footprint. Limiting the carbon admissions involved in the chain of transportation is a huge way to support our planet health. When you buy local and domestic products, you support your community, and can keep yourself informed on the manufacturing details of each product - while limiting your consumer carbon footprint.
S0 , WHY LEATHER?
The first physical archeological evidence of clothing, accessories, or footwear dates back to 1300 BC. Made mostly from leather ( and plants too), it proves it's incredible longevity to last through the ages without harming or polluting the earth. Studies show we've been making leather clothing for almost 170,000 years. Bringing modern design elements and contemporary influence to a material so ancestral is very powerful.
" Every time I pick out a hide, cut it and sew with it, I have this incredible feeling unlike anything I've experienced with
fabric. I feel connected, appreciative, and thankful. I can see traces of the life of the animal like bug bites, scars, and the natural texture left behind. I feel an immense amount of respect and gratitude. This material is a beautiful and natural resource that we should value and utilize - just like the animals it comes from. " - Justine
It is our responsibility to educate ourselves and understand the impact we have, both physically and metaphysically.
Textiles, tanneries, plastics, and mass product manufacturing are among the highest polluting industries in the world.
EDI : The Environmental Democracy Index; is an online platform that tracks 70 countries' progress in enacting national laws that
support the well being of our planet, and its people. But, even if countries register strong laws, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are
adequately enforced. Some are open to irresponsible tanning practices which include improper disposal of tannins, chromium and
aluminum. These chemicals are extremely harmful to us and our environment. Please consider that not all leather production is
toxic. It's up to us to seek out industry transparency and protest by not supporting those for-profit businesses who don't care for the health of our planet. There are several ways to identify clean practices, tan leather, and dispose of the waste in a humane and health conscious manner.
Ethical fashion may be unidentifiable, and mean different things to different people.
It's important to realize that our creative and innovative nature comes at a cost.
As a globalized society of carnivores, leather will most likely continue to be a by-product. Roughly 121 million pigs and 35 million cows are harvested for meat every year in the US ALONE. If unused, All of that would be dumped right into the landfill.
( 65lbs for every untreated cow hide... YIKES! )
We should use what is naturally given to us, and relinquish our need for synthetics.
Ultimately, the garment industry is pretty bad. We are living in a dangerous time of incredible demand and mass production. Most of the products made today are for seasonal trend value, and with the intention of disposing quickly to make room for the next and most current product. Investing in quality made products, and taking care of them is the smartest and most ethical choice we can make. If you can't financially do that, buying second hand and vintage from your local neighborhood is a great way to decrease industry demand.
" We have to face the complexity of our consumption. "
We must practice reciprocity towards our planet, other countries, communities and each other.