Backgrounder

Introduction

DyeHard is a clothing label founded by recent New York University graduate Leanne Dyer. Dyer and her team create clothing geared toward young professional women. The clothing is business casual meets boho-chic and incorporates pops of color and intricate designs into classic silhouettes. DyeHard is committed to only using fabric and materials that are sustainable and do not harm animals. Sustainable clothing choices refer to both what the clothes are made of and how they are made. The DyeHard clothing line and flagship store in New York City are a part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Textile Exchange.

Key players

  • Sustainable Apparel Coalition
  • Textile Exchange

Sustainable Apparel Coalition 

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition was founded by the CEOs of American retail giant Wal-Mart and progressive retail chain Patagonia in 2009. They “invited chief executives of some of the world’s biggest clothing companies to join together and develop an index to measure the environmental impact of their products.”[i] Within three years of the initial proposal that was made by Wal-Mart and Patagonia’s chief executives to other companies, the Higg Index was created. The purpose of the Higg Index is to measure and score products, factories and companies. Higg Index 2.0 is currently out and can be viewed by the general public by downloading it in Excel from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition website.[ii] The Sustainable Apparel Coalition currently has more than 60 members from brands, retailers and suppliers. The members in the Sustainable Apparel Coalition currently account for more than a third of the global apparel and footwear industry. [iii]

Textile Exchange 

The Textile Exchange, originally the Organic Exchange, was founded in 2002. Like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the Textile Exchange is a group of companies dedicated to making the textile industry more sustainable. They “identify and share best practices regarding farming, materials and processing so we can reduce the impact on the world’s water, soil, air and human population.”[iv] The Textile Exchange helps companies trace their materials and become more familiar with the manufacturing processes they employ so that textiles can be properly labeled.

Sustainable Textiles DyeHard Uses

  • Organic cotton- Cotton is currently one of the world’s most widely traded commodities. Cotton is the best-selling fabric sold in the United States and one of the best-selling fabrics worldwide.[v] Non-organically grown cotton is grown with the help of toxic pesticides and herbicides that can be detrimental to the environment.[vi] Organic cotton is also more likely to be free of chlorine bleaches and synthetic dyes. [vii]
  • Hemp- Hemp is a traditional fiber that went out of style in the 1930s and is now starting to come back in style. Contrary to some reports that surfaced during the 1930s, the hemp plant that is grown for fiber is useless as a narcotic[viii] Hemp is naturally an eco-friendly crop: it requires no pesticides to help it grow and needs little water. Not only do hemp’s long roots help to retain topsoil and prevent erosion, the plant actually renews the soil with each growth cycle.[ix]
  • Linen- Linen is made from flax. Flax, like hemp, is a traditional fiber crop that needs few chemical fertilizers to help it grow. Flax also needs fewer pesticides than cotton to grow successfully.[x]
  • Recycled polyester- Patagonia, a leader in sustainability practices, currently has outdoor fleece products that are made from recycled drinking bottles. Other companies such as outdoor gear company VauDe have lines that are from recycled materials.[xi] These companies, like DyeHard, are committed to using materials that are both recycled and completely recyclable in the future.

Materials DyeHard Does Not Use 

  • Rayon and viscose- Rayon and viscose come from dissolvable pulp from wood. Around 30 percent of the rayon and viscose that goes into clothing is being sourced from endangered and ancient forests.[xii] Both rayon and viscose are man-made cellulosic fabrics and trees are being cut down exclusively for the dissolvable pulp found in their wood.[xiii]
  • Nylon and polyester- Nylon and polyester are inherently unsustainable because they are made from petrochemicals and are also non-biodegradable. It takes incredible amounts of energy to produce both nylon and polyester. Manufacturing nylon creates nitrous oxide, an incredibly potent greenhouse gas, and manufacturing polyester requires large amount of water and lubricants that can be a source of contamination.[xiv]
  • Leather- There are several options for leather in the fashion industry that are kelp or cork based and are relatively eco-friendly. With that being said, skinning animals for leather is inhumane and unfortunately most “vegan” leathers are even less eco-friendly than sustainable ranches that tan and dye their leather naturally.[xv] Most vegan leathers are made from materials like polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane and textile-polymer composite microfibers. That essentially means they reek of petroleum. The manufacturing for both vegan and non-vegan leather can be extremely harmful to the workers. The processes used for both include toxic, harmful chemicals and practices from the beginning of manufacturing to the dyeing at the end.[xvi]
  • Silk, wool, cashmere and any other fabric that comes from animals

Conclusion

DyeHard is committed not only to sustainable fabrics, but sustainable practices as well. They partner with organizations such as Textile Exchange and Sustainability Apparel Coalition to keep them accountable and also help spread awareness and sustainable business practices throughout the community. DyeHard hopes to collaborate with other local designers and brands that share their values and want to promote sustainable clothing options.

 

**I would send this backgrounder to The Cut, Manhattan Fashion Magazine, The New Yorker and New York Magazine. I would choose these media outlets because they are all based in New York City where DyeHard is based out of and currently has its only store. The first two choices are fashion magazines that could help promote the brand. The Cut especially is known for having the latest trends and can be a little more provocative. The New Yorker is also known for publishing pieces that can be provocative. The bonus for all four publications is that while they focus on New York City, they all get national attention as well.

 

[i] Gunther, M. Our history. Sustainable Apparel Coalition. Retrieved from http://sacoalition.wpengine.com/behind-the-scenes-at-the-sustainable-apparel-coalition/

[ii] The Higg Index. Sustainable Apparel Coalition. Retrieved from http://apparelcoalition.org/the-higg-index/

[iii] Gunther, M. Our history. Sustainable Apparel Coalition. Retrieved from http://sacoalition.wpengine.com/behind-the-scenes-at-the-sustainable-apparel-coalition/

[iv] About us. Textile Exchange. http://textileexchange.org/about-us/#about-us

[v] (June 30, 2014). What are you wearing? A look into the materials in your clothes. AOL. Retrieved from http://www.aol.com/article/2013/06/30/what-are-you-wearing-a-look-into-the-materials-in-your-clothes/20642463/

[vi] Cleaning up cotton in California. Sustainable Cotton Project. Retrieved from http://www.sustainablecotton.org/pages/show/about-us

[vii] More sustainable fabrics. Green Choices. http://www.greenchoices.org/green-living/clothes/more-sustainable-fabrics

[viii] More sustainable fabrics. Green Choices. http://www.greenchoices.org/green-living/clothes/more-sustainable-fabrics

[ix] Hemp clothing. Earth Easy. Retrieved from http://eartheasy.com/wear_hemp_clothing.htm

[x] More sustainable fabrics. Green Choices. http://www.greenchoices.org/green-living/clothes/more-sustainable-fabrics

[xi] More sustainable fabrics. Green Choices. http://www.greenchoices.org/green-living/clothes/more-sustainable-fabrics

[xii] McCullough, D.G. (April 25, 2014). Deforestation for fashion: getting unsustainable fabrics out of the closet. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/zara-h-m-fashion-sustainable-forests-logging-fabric

[xiii] McCullough, D.G. (April 25, 2014). Deforestation for fashion: getting unsustainable fabrics out of the closet. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/zara-h-m-fashion-sustainable-forests-logging-fabric

[xiv] Environmental impacts. Green Choices. Retrieved from http://www.greenchoices.org/green-living/clothes/environmental-impacts

[xv] McCutcheon, J. What the heck is vegan leather? Eluxe Magazine. Retrieved from http://eluxemagazine.com/magazine/what-the-heck-is-vegan-leather/

[xvi] McCutcheon, J. What the heck is vegan leather? Eluxe Magazine. Retrieved from http://eluxemagazine.com/magazine/what-the-heck-is-vegan-leather/

 

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