Eco Fashion Sotela

What Makes Clothing Eco-Friendly and What Does That Mean for Sotela?

What Makes Clothing Eco-Friendly and What Does That Mean for Sotela?

Doing a wrinkle test 😉

As a designer, one of the most important questions I have to answer is what type of fabric I will use. The answer would be so much easier if I were designing conventional clothing that didn’t care how it was harvested or what harmful environmental consequences it caused.

Manufacturing eco-friendly clothing is important to me because I don’t want to harm people or the environment. I want to make sure that I’m creating a product that will benefit customers instead of harming them, which is why I want to remain transparent.

I want Sotela to be a conscious clothing line that is eco-friendly, essential and ultimately benefits you.

Choosing fabrics for a clothing line can be tricky because you have to take drape, feel, durability, function and care into consideration. Certain dresses only look good with silkier fabrics, but those slinkier fabrics may feel too thin. Durability, function and care are essential and the reason why customers decide to buy a product. I don’t want to design a dress that will fall apart after several wears or only has to be dry cleaned. 

Apart from the actual feel and durability of the fabric, I have to decide what environmental factors are more important to me. Some eco-fabrics are better than others because they are produced more naturally without chemicals, but may use more resources such as water. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as 100% sustainable. There will always be an environmental impact when creating new products, but it is up to the manufacturer to determine what is acceptable for their target audience.

Here is where it gets confusing- eco-fabrics break into natural fibers or man-made fibers. Natural fibers such as organic cotton, bamboo, hemp and lyocell use less chemicals to create, are biodegradable and don’t contain carcinogens. Man-made fibers consist of recycled PET (recycled plastic water bottles), vintage and deadstock, which are considered eco because new resources aren’t being used.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I’m not a fan of plastic and try to minimize its use. There haven’t been any studies on the effects of wearing fabric made of plastic, but I didn’t want to risk it. Deadstock is leftover fabric from clothing manufacturers, which is a great option for reducing what gets thrown away in landfills.

The question is, do I want to use resources to produce a fabric that won’t be harmful to my health, or recycle a fabric that has already been produced, but may have pesticides or other chemicals?

I sometimes go back and forth between the two fibers because I try to live a lifestyle that is more natural and free of toxins, but I also like recycling and reusing. Every person has their own idea of sustainability, and it is beautiful to see so many clothing companies making an effort to be more eco-friendly with their fabric choices.

Even though there isn’t a 100% sustainable option for clothing, I’m pretty damn happy we are moving towards it by either considering more natural fibers or reusing leftover fabrics, which also lessen environmental impacts. I’m still undecided in my fabrics, but I’ve narrowed it down to several such as organic cotton, modal and tencel.

For the sake of not being totally redundant, Cara of Bien Faire posted an extensive fabric guide on her blog. Check it out here. You can also see the breakdown of natural fibers on The Notepasser Blog.


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  • Jessica Maynard

    Thank you so much for the resource. My definition of eco-friendly has changed over time too and that is okay. I also think of people and the evolution toward cleaner food, they do it on levels. They start local then maybe move to organic then maybe move on to vegan. The same with clothing; maybe they start concerned about fair labor and only buy from countries that don’t have notorious sweat shop practices, then move into greener fabrics then they want to combine both of those. All points on that spectrum are good in my opinion!

    • Hanna Baror-Padilla

      I totally agree with you, Jessica! There are so many varying levels of sustainability when it comes to clothes. What is important to me may not be important to the next person, but it doesn’t mean their efforts should be belittled. Any move towards sustainability should be applauded because it is not easy!

      One of my favorite brands is Everlane because their clothes are minimal and affordable. Their clothes are ethically made, but usually with man-made fabrics that have a negative environmental impact. It’s hard to always choose ethically made clothes that are manufactured with eco-friendly fabric, but knowing that it can be better for my health makes me strive towards it. I constantly remind myself to strive for progress, not perfection.

      Thank you for your support!

  • stephaniegbeaumonde

    Enjoyed finding you today via Ethica and also finding this post. Even though I may wish that my life was 100% organic and eco-friendly, it’s not always possible, so it’s about balance. It’s also about becoming aware and informed, so thanks for adding a bit more info to get out the good, eco conscious word!

    • Hanna @ Gold Polka Dots

      So glad you found us through Ethica! I always remind myself that I’m striving for progress, not perfection. It can be difficult trying to always live an eco-conscious life. I’ve probably caused myself more stress this year by constantly thinking of ways to be more eco-friendly, which isn’t exactly healthy. I’m learning to let go and try to find a balance. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Stephanie!

    • Sotela

      Thanks so much, Stephanie! You are so right. It really is about finding the right balance because it is impossible to do everything all the time. The most important thing we can remember is to strive for progress and not perfection. The only way we can do that is to be informed!!

      So happy you stumbled onto my site. Thanks for your support!

      • stephaniegbeaumonde

        Great to make that progress with you and other mindful designers and consumers! Thanks, Hanna!