époque évolution is a new sustainable fashion brand by that aims to combine responsible supply … [+]
This female duo is backing wool as a more eco-friendly material for wardrobes. Perhaps the Allbirds effect?
Nancy Taylor and Hannah Franco set out to create a clothing line that fits into a backpack, can be worn at all hours of the day comfortably (and suitably), and is made from responsible materials and mills. They’re joining a slew of sustainable fashion entrepreneurs in the quest to clean up fashion.
Franco, a yoga teacher, and Taylor, a cycling enthusiast, joke that they “live a 6 am to 11 pm kind of life and needed a wardrobe to could keep with [them].” Not seeing a clothing line on the market that catered to their needs on materials, affordability, style, and performance, they decided to start a new label, époque évolution.
Wool became their go-to material. It’s renewable, stinks less (which means it can be washed less), and is thermoregulating, Taylor and Franco explain. But there’s one more added bonus: it’s hand washable. The two are not fans of dry cleaning, which they say adds to the toxicity of modern-day fashion. Though there have been some concerns about the sourcing of wool, the duo clarify that their wool is non-mulesed. “Basically, that means the sheep are not harmed,” Taylor adds.
Several of the pieces in the collection are also 100 percent wool, which means they can biodegrade or be repurposed easily. The more blending of the fibers, the more complicated recycling becomes later.
“You don’t need more clothes,” Franco says. “Just the right clothing that functions well. We wanted to contribute in an area where we felt the industry could be moved forward — clothing produced more sustainably and offering greater function.”
Several of the designs, from dresses to sweaters, rely on wool.
Funding the venture themselves, with the help of a few angel investors, who are primarily women, Franco highlights, they want to stay focused on the sustainability aspects of the label. Choosing people who supported that vision from the beginning, they say, was an “intentional” choice.
Though the clothes are not inexpensive, they’re set at an increasingly popular mid-range, joining other ethical brands that prioritize the lifespan of the garment and manufacturing practices over the cheapest possible price tag.
Franco and Taylor say that this enables them to work with suppliers in in the industry who are thinking deeply about their carbon footprint.
“Selecting our factories was a big topic of discussion when we first launched,” Taylor explains, “identifying and implementing our parameters for what we have called ‘responsible’ production. This encompasses our raw materials, the factories and the people that produce our clothes, all the way down to our packaging. The hard part was that these choices weren’t always black and white.”
That meant deviated from wool and recycled content for a few pieces in the collection, she says. “For example, our evolve fabric is not a recycled raw material, but the production mill’s best practices are really amazing and include using state-of-the-art, eco-compatible technologies in a fully solar-powered facility. In the end, it was a better choice than working with a large mill using only recycled raw materials (possibly not post-consumer waste) without carefully taking into account their entire environmental footprint.”
That mill, located in Italy, has a slew of eco-friendly attributes, according to Franco and Taylor. It recovers 30 million liters of water each year, which are then reused. And 47,000 kilos of selvage (waste) are repurposed. Plus, they’ve cut down their natural gas consumption at the plant, as well as developed a cooling system that saves a reported 900,000 kWh of electricity per year. Most notably, using solar power, it generates 18,000 kWh. “It’s the greenest mill we have found.”
So is this material more or less sustainable than wool? It’s hard to tell without doing the life cycle analysis of the two in detail. But the manufacturing process behind the material is more eco-friendly than others in the industry, the duo argue.
“We aim to look at the complete picture and tell that story, educating the customer on why her choices matter,” Franco says.
Lastly that also translates to teaching women how to get more creative with their wardrobes. “We show them how to style a piece season after season,” she adds. “When you invest in quality pieces that you wear season after season, you have more time to live your life and focus on better things.”
That change of mindset is probably the easiest, and most sustainable solution, in fashion today: keep wearing the same clothes, over and over.