Thursday, April 21, 2011

Studio Update: Sustainable Plant Fibres

Photo by emrank

Hama Hama Top by Smoking Lily

Here at the Smoking Lily headquarters, we have been hearing the buzz from our customers that sustainability and ethics in the clothing they choose to purchase is equally as important as design and aesthetic.

Our creations are cut, sewn, and silk-screened in-house, right in our hometown of Victoria, BC. We are very consious of sourcing our fabrics and supplies locally, within BC, or within Canada (in that order!) whenever possible; "shop local" applies to us, too, and is always at the forefront of our minds. With more suppliers and mills offering eco-friendly fibres, more and more green choices are becoming available.

Recently, some of our favorite fabrics to use are hemp, organic cotton, and bamboo. Hemp is sustainable in that it is fast growing and requires very few pesticides and no fertilizers. Organic cotton comes from non-genetically modified plants, grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, so there is no contaminated surface run-off, and, post-harvest, yields thicker topsoil with higher organic matter content, thereby considerably reducing soil erosion.

Bamboo is one of the most prolific and fast growing plants: it can grow up to one meter per day!! It regenerates on its own quickly after harvest, requires little irrigation, and no pesticides or herbicides (partly due to its naturally occurring anti-microbial and anti-fungal qualities). It improves soil quality, minimizes CO2, and generates up to 35% more oxygen than an equivalent planting of trees. Because bamboo fibres are short, however, they do require processing similar to rayon to be turned into fabric. This process does involve chemicals, but the market is starting to demand cleaner practices, and a handful of companies have led the way into the future by switching to a closed-loop process which captures and reclaims nearly 100% the solvents used; it is only a matter of time before other factories adopt this model, or are left behind.

Some of our current creations that include these sustainable fabrics are: Hama Hama Top, English Bay Dress, Garden State Dress, Suzuki Garden State, Suzuki scarves, Men's Suzuki Shirts, and some of our Onezies and Baby Hats.

Stay tuned for many more of the eco-friendly pieces we are working on for Fall!

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