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Dyeing Fabric with Onion Skin Dye

Dyeing fabric with onion dye really eases one into the natural dyeing process. The process is quite simple, safe and results in shades of brown with a tinge of peach. Now, onion dye in this simple guide refers to dyeing fabric with the part of the onion that is usually discarded: the onion peel. While there is several ways to use onion peel dye, this is one of the simplest methods for beginners, though it may seem complicated. In order to improve colourfastness, soaking the fabric to be dyed in 80o C warm water with 5% alum to weight of fabric for 20 minutes is recommended.

 

Materials Needed:

  • Onion peels or skins
  • Access to stove
  • Lidded dye pots of stainless steel or aluminium (preferably ones not used for cooking, after)
  • Long handle spoon for stirring
  • Fabric for dyeing with onion skin dye, like organic cotton or linen
  • Stainless steel or cord drying line with pegs
  • And of course, a lot of patience

 

Forewarning:

Time for some funions

Like with any natural dye, the output varies according to the mordant used on fabric (like alum in this case), pH of the water, variety of produce, the utensils used for dyeing, and so on. Refer to our blog titled Nature of Natural Dyes for a better insight. Only dyeing fabric with onion dye is included here since this blog covers the easiest way for onion skin dye.

 

Preparation:

Make sure to collect enough onion peels over time and to not let them dry out too much under direct sunlight. The best way to store onion peels would be in an airtight container at room temperature.

 

Fabric:

Choose fabric that is not dyed or dyed in light shades like white, off-white or cream. The weight of the fabric decides the amount of onion peel dye required. The heavier the fabric, the more onion peels would be required.

 

Dyeing Fabric With Onion Skin Dye:

To prepare the onion peel dye, crush the dried onion peels into tiny bits. Heat water in a lidded pot until the temperature reaches below boiling point. Ensure there is enough water to fit in all the fabric evenly, and for it to move freely. Add the onion peel, at least 50% of the weight of fabric, into the pot and let simmer for a few minutes until the water absorbs to colour from the onion skin dye.

 

Pre-wash the fabric to be dyed in warm to hot water, in order to remove any starch or coating that it may have. The output will be lighter as a result. Stir the dye pot with the fabric every 10 minutes to ensure that the fabric absorbs the dye, evenly. This would help clear air pockets that may be formed and bring more solid results than a patchy output.

 

Follow this routine for about 40 minutes to an hour, until the fabric absorbs enough colour, as required. A lovely brown shade with a peach hue should be observed. Once ready, remove the fabric from the dye pot, while being careful not to splash warm onion skin dye on your attire. Allow the dyed fabric to cool down and wring out the excess water. Wash the fabric a little more to ensure any excess onion dye is completely removed, preferably with non-ionic detegent. The shade may seem a little darker while wet; however, expect a much lighter shade when dry.

 

For a different shade, the pH level of the water can be played with. Squeezing fresh lemon juice to the water, before adding the onion peels, will increase the pH of the water, giving a much lighter shade. Similarly, vinegar will decrease the pH of water, giving a darker shade. For best results, ensure the pH of onion skin dye remains at 5. The process of dyeing fabric with onion dye may be tiresome, but totally worth it!

 

The pieces handcrafted at zy-lk are hand-dyed using organic dyes made of Marigold petals, Madder roots, Turmeric, Areca Nuts, Annatto seeds or Indigo leaves. These are individually hand-dyed every time after an order is received. Some of the dyes used at zy-lk are GOTS certified. View the entire collection here


For obtaining a pink shade, read our blog on Dyeing with Avocado Dye. Stay tuned for more blogs on natural dyes.

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How COVID-19 Changed Fashion Forever

Fashion is about choices we make in clothing that define how we look and how we feel. It’s a reflection of the times and these are uncertain times, to say the least. Never before COVID-19, did we have to split priorities into essential and non-essential.

Staying-home meant we were no longer adhering to trends or dressing to impress crowds. Sequinned suits, high heels and leather jackets laid forgotten in closets as we eased into this new norm of socialising only through digital screens. Fashion that catered to blurry nights and luxurious five star vacations took a backseat while our favourite pyjamas became an essential. The more the world changes around us, the more we realise that this year is about prioritising our mental and physical wellbeing and just, feeling good inside out. Wellness in fashion begins with sustainability. According to Lyst, there has been a 37% increase in sustainability related searches, especially Slow Fashion. This is the new face of fashion as we slowly begin to step out masked and cautious, for the foreseeable future.

It takes a lot of introspection to contemplate the choices to move ahead in this neo-norm. Makes us realise how at some point, amidst running our everyday fast life, we had lost sight of our innate need to enjoy a slow, conscious life. Somewhere between being forced to cut down on long mindless commutes to work and staying within warm walls of home with family, we all collectively found that connection back. From getting hands dirty with amateur gardening to having home cooked meals three times a day, we slowed down our pace of daily life. This change of pace reflects the change the world needed, making us realise that nature provides us that sense of calm we inherently need. That very shift trickles into fashion as we realise that connecting with nature brings us happiness. Every touch of glorious silk or soft cotton makes us feel closer to nature. It’s quite natural, really. Such global unrest makes us consciously head towards organic comfort-wear. So to speak, this pandemic has drastically changed fashion’s future by slowing it down. Sustainable Fashion is here to stay.

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Different Types Of Cotton Used At zy-lk

But cotton isn’t harmful to the environment right? Wrong.

Cotton causes more damage to the environment than we credit it for. For instance, 99.3% of all the cotton cultivated on Earth represents 10% of global pesticide use and 25% of global insecticides. At zy-lk, we either use the .7% cotton that doesn’t require these harmful chemicals, or we use the recycled version of the 99.3% conventional cotton that would otherwise end up in landfills.

It’s Important To Know
Production of conventional cotton is harmful to the environment plus the people working with it.
Up to 3% agriculture workers die and nearly 1 million are hospitalised every year due to acute pesticide poisoning.
In a study of 97 cotton farmers over 5 months, they experienced 323 different incidents of sickness.
Over 20,000 litres of fresh water are used to produce 1 kilo of cotton.

Different Types Of Cotton Fabrics
Cotton: The conventional kind that we have been using for centuries; the same that has been causing all the damage.
Organic Cotton: The .7% of cotton cultivated worldwide, without the use of harmful chemicals. 
Recycled Cotton: The small part of all the cotton in the world, that actually gets recycled; the kind that saves 20,000 litres of water per kilo.

Types Of Cotton zy-lk Uses
The only types of cotton used at zy-lk are recycled cotton and organic cotton. As a circular fashion brand, zy-lk prioritises recycled cotton, for the fact that it something that’s already in existence. It’s also the most sustainable compared to the other types of cotton. But even under recycled cotton, there are two types: 

Pre-Consumer Recycled Cotton: When cotton yarn is manufactured, there will be wastage. However, these discarded fibres are still worthy and usable. They are usually blended with stronger fibres like virgin cotton or polyester to make fabric. At zy-lk, the pre-consumer (aka post-industrial) cotton used is blended with organic cotton. The T-Shirts are knitted with 30% GRS certified pre-consumer recycled cotton yarn, blended with 70% organic cotton yarn for stability.

Post-Consumer Recycled Cotton: Landfill-bound cotton garments are shredded into filaments, spinning them back into yarns (like they once were) and then weaving it back into fabric is categorised as post-consumer recycled cotton. zy-lk predominantly uses this type of cotton in all the wovens- comprising 100% GRS certified post-consumer recycled cotton.


With recycled cotton, the amount of water, energy used and CO2 / fossil fuel emissions are reduced to half of virgin cotton production.
Are you ready to make the switch?

Sources:
https://organiccotton.org/oc/Cotton-general/Impact-of-cotton/Risk-of-cotton-farming.php
https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/cotton
https://ejfoundation.org/what-we-do/cotton/the-true-costs-of-cotton
https://www.sustainyourstyle.org/en/recycled-cotton-1
http://textileaid.blogspot.com/2019/03/recycled-cotton-benefits-and-challenges.html

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What is Slow Fashion ?


As Human beings, we are primarily consumers.

 

This fact, however, does not exempt us from making informed choices of what we consume and how much we consume. This is where the slow movement comes into the picture- it does not propagate anti-consumption, rather it encourages alternative consumption done more consciously. Conscious consumption is what defines this movement.

 

In line with this definition, let’s dive into what is slow fashion- it is not just the opposite of fast fashion, slow fashion is about consuming and creating fashion consciously. Slow fashion is intentionally done with integrity and responsibility. Slow fashion is made with great awareness of the social and environmental impact that it creates. Slow fashion is rewarding to the wearer with lasting love of well-made clothes, in high contrast to the immediate gratification that fast fashion offers.

 

Before the industrial revolution took place, fashion at the time was more custom made and less ready made. They were locally made and locally sold. The consumption was low as people would buy clothes only for occasions- wear them over long periods of time, mend the tears, patch on the holes and then pass them down to the next wearer. The clothes were made with whatever material locally available and heavily integrated the culture of the location. Back then, the art of clothes making was cherished and the skills needed to make clothing was recognised with appreciation.

 

Now clothes are mass-produced and shipped with heavy carbon trails across the continent on constant back and forth trips. In these times, bringing back the old ways of treating clothing better is campaigned by the Slow fashion movement. Slow fashion is considerate of the holistic lifecycle of the product. Across all stages of its production- from design, sourcing of raw materials, the base materials themselves, the manufacturing, the supply chain involved, shipping to consumer and ultimately its end-of-life stage. Slow fashion is conscious. Slow Fashion is mindful. 

 

Now, often the term slow fashion is used interchangeably with Ethical fashion and Sustainable fashion but it is more of an intersection of them all. Ethical fashion is more concerned about animal welfare and human rights- the social sector. Sustainable fashion talks more about the environment, about organic, natural choices of raw materials and reducing carbon footprint and overall negative impacts of the fashion industry. Slow fashion includes all these factors but mostly highlights the importance of better quality.


A few principles that slow fashion promotes are:

  • Quality over Quantity

  • Durability over Discarding often

  • Repair old over Replace with new

  • Green methods over Greenwashing

  • Clean production over Corrupt methods

  • Fair condition for workers over False claims


As conscious consumers it becomes our responsibility to spend on items that resonate with our values, to support brands doing their best in whatever scale possible and to bring long term change in the ways of fashion. 


Be sure to check out our blog on greenwashing and fast fashion to know what slow fashion advises against and reach out to us if you’d like to know more. 



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What is Fast Fashion ?

The term “Fast Fashion” literally has no two ways to it- it simply means fashion that is produced at a grossly fast rate. Under the umbrella of fashion fall not only clothes but also shoes, bags and accessories. All these items are made inexpensively and at high speed to deliver products to the market as fast as possible.


Fast fashion brands retail mass quantities of low-priced styles according to the latest trends or styles straight off the runway. These micro style-high quantity collections are released into the market in closely timed drops. As consumers, we are ready to spend on every collection for two reasons: Ever changing trends creating a need to stay in vogue and deterioration of existing clothes as they are made from cheap quality. Because there is demand, there needs to be supply resulting in clothing production being doubled since 2000. Though 60% more clothes were being purchased in 2014 than in 2000, they remained in use only for half as long as they did in 2000. 

Fast fashion results in heavy carbon emissions. The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of carbon emissions by humans. Now that is more carbon emission than the flights and maritime shipping industries put together. If we keep this up, by 2050 the carbon budget could rise by to 26%, according to a 2017 report from Ellen MacArthur Foundation. That is a quarter of all carbon emissions from the planet. According to the UN, the textile sector alone contributes around 8 to 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The Director of Communications at World Vision Ireland said that the fast fashion industry is responsible for high carbon emissions, water pollution and high landfill waste; emitting 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent every year.

Staying in time with the trends, brands like Zara offer close to 24 collections per year while H&M drops 12 to 16 collections every year. Almost every other label too went from an average offering of 2 collections in 2000 to 5 collections in 2011. More clothes are bought and soon out of use, the discarded clothes end up in landfills. Close to one full garbage truck amount of clothes are dumped into landfills or burnt (carbon emissions) every second! To put a percentage to it, up to 85% of fabrics go into landfills every year. 

Most of the apparel made by fast fashion brands are from polyester and cotton. Polyester releases 2 to 3 more times of carbon emission than cotton and they don’t biodegrade adding to plastic pollution. Cotton and polyester play a major role in the fashion industry’s contribution to being responsible for 20% of industrial water pollution worldwide.

To conclude, what we’re saying is that the grass is definitely not greener on fast fashion’s side. Choose slow fashion brands, brands that have made-to-order business models, buy from charity shops, thrift buy, buy from brands that don’t pollute water, brands that use carbon neutral shipping and so on. The list is endless, all one has to do is look in the right direction.


Click here to read more about slow fashion.

Sources:

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The True Cost Documentary

Over a billion articles of clothing are manufactured every year. Fast fashion has become easily accessible, provides innumerable styles, and most importantly- it is cheap! For a cotton t-shirt, cotton needs to be grown with insecticides and pesticides, fibres processed to yarn, yarns knitted to fabric, fabric cut and stitched, and dyed or printed, and travels across multiple regions for different processes before it reaches your local store. If all this is covered within a mere $3, is it possible that someone whose hand this piece passes through is paying the price for it? Then what is the true cost?

The True Cost documentary was released in the year 2015 and is rated 7.7 on IMDb. This documentary covers everything about fast fashion- the clothes we wear, the hands behind it, and how the fashion industry is impacting the world. As the name suggests, the true cost documentary delves deep into the actual pricing of the garments that are mass produced and available today, and who is paying the price.

While focussing on the true cost, the documentary takes us to several parts of the world showing us what goes on behind the labels that we see on fast fashion stores. From the brightest runways to the darkest slums, The True Cost documentary features interviews from changemakers such as Stella McCartneyLivia Giuggioli (previously Livia Firth) and Vandana Shiva.

It is important to look behind just the designs, styles, labels and prices while making a fashion purchase decision. The kind of impact that is caused is harming the earth in so many ways. With films like The True Cost documentary, we are able to get a visual picture that strongly etches in our hearts about what is actually going on, and it definitely aids people more to make the shift to conscious consumerism.

The True Cost trailer gives a quick glimpse on what the documentary has to offer. The full movie can be downloaded or rented, for barely the price of an average t-shirt in the USA, from the official website

Next time we are about to make any purchase decision, it is important to ask ourselves, “Do I really need this?”, before anything else. The easiest way to adopt sustainable fashion is to- STOP BUYING. If the documentary or trailer brought even a simple thought in your mind, read this sustainable fashion guide to help take your first steps.


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Types Of Buttons Used At zy-lk

In a holistic approach to sustainability, zy-lk is wary about each raw material chosen at every stage. While most sustainable fashion brands adopt a few verticals of sustainability, zy-lk undertakes every vertical possible. For instance, the white threads used for stitching garments are made of recycled polyester, which is currently the most sustainable thread option available in the market. The linings used in jackets are made of 100% recycled cotton. Some of the zippers are made with organic cotton, but not all- as the suppliers providing evidence or certification, are only able to supply in extremely large minimum quantities.

 

At zy-lk, three types of buttons are predominantly used.

 

Mother of Pearl Buttons

These buttons are made from the inner layer of pearl oysters (nacre). The colour is from the real pearl and usually carries an iridescent shine when tilting. Therefore, the colours of the Mother of Pearl buttons can be white, grey, black or any of the natural colours of pearls. The material itself is quite strong, resilient and naturally elegant. Mother of Pearl rates 2.5+ in the Mohs scale of hardness but can be easily scratched with harder material. Among other types of buttons, mother of pearl buttons are one of the most sustainable button options available- as they are otherwise a wasted by-product of the food and jewellery industry. In addition to buttons, zy-lk also uses collar bones made of Mother of Pearl in some of the menswear shirts.

 

Coconut Shell Buttons

As the name suggests, these types of buttons are made from the hard outer shell of coconuts. The hard rigidity of the coconut shells is one of the main factors aiding the use of these types of buttons. The textured buttons give the look of a coconut shell and are available only in the original brown colour. These are also one of the most sustainable button options, however, the brown colour does not make it a great match for most designs. It is mostly limited to use in casual shirts and on cotton pieces with earthy tones of dye.

 

Recycled Fabric Buttons

As a zero waste initiative around design and every day working of the atelier, every bit of fabric is preserved for future use. These types of buttons are made from scratch, in-house, with fabric waste cut from making clothes. Most of our recycled fabric buttons are made from waste generated in the silk recycling process. Shredded bits of recycled silk that cannot be used elsewhere is filled into small bits of recycled silk to make these buttons. These buttons are mostly used in womenswear tops to add to design and conceal zippers, hooks or snap-on buttons.

 

Recycled Tin Buttons Tucked in Fabric

Similar to the previous, these types of buttons are completed in-house with a button press machine. Recycled tin raw material for the buttons are easily available. These are made from bottled soda caps, tin soda cans or packed food tin containers. They usually even carry the labels/prints on one side making it more obviously recycled. The recycled tin moulds (as pictured in the blog cover) are available as separate parts in various sizes comprising two parts: the top covering and the bottom base. Waste fabric bits are tucked into the top part and the bottom part is snapped on with pressure to hold the fabric in place, with the help of the hand machine. The finished button is then matched with garments made from the same base fabric to give it a polished yet hand-done look.

 

For information on other raw materials used at zy-lk, visit the About Us section.

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What is Greenwashing ?

As consumers around the globe collectively grow more eco-conscious everyday, the demand for more eco-friendly products increased in proportion. As supply and demand, the most fundamental concepts of economics, are what every business tunes into, there has since been a relative increase in sustainable “green” initiatives by brands from big corporations to small labels. Now, it becomes the conscious consumers’ responsibility to question if the product that they’re spending their money on is true to its sustainable claims or not. While some brands are genuinely responding to the climate crisis and actively taking strides to become more eco-friendly, simultaneously, there are brands who are only claiming to be environmentally clean by painting a greener picture across the customers’ eyes to appease them.

 

Jay Westerveld coined the term “greenwashing” in 1986, back when consumers relied only on television, radio and print media as their source of information. It didn’t take much for brands to give out selective information and control how often their promotions glazed the paid-for screens. Heavy marketing and advertising combined with limited public involvement channels made it easier for companies to brand themselves as eco friendly despite doing the most harm possible. The harm here was done not only to the environment but also to responsible consumers because they were unknowingly buying into the greenwashing. 

 

Thankfully now, the concept of one-sided story telling is over. We can actively make smart and informed choices. So as responsible shoppers, it becomes important to know the magnitude of the word “greenwashing”. So what is greenwashing in the current day scenario? Greenwashing or green-sheen is to make consumers believe that the brand/company is doing more to protect the planet than it actually is. Greenwashing is when brands use misleading information or false claims of attempts to help conserve the environment whilst still following environmentally unsustainable practices. Deceptively promoting their namesake green credentials with no solid proof to back it up falls into the same question of “what is greenwashing”. Brands greenwash by contributing meagre amounts into small eco causes with no intentions of making any real changes in their functioning practices. Big fashion labels and fast fashion brands release one or two capsule collections with eco-friendly fabrics, chemically dyed into an earthy looking palette, attempting to look like they’re making a big switch into caring about the planet, while actively neglecting their ever-increasing carbon footprint. Greenwashing is where companies spend more money on marketing campaigns and advertising promoting their eco-ness than actually investing money into implementable sustainable practices.

 

The only way to filter out greenwashed campaigns from legit sustainable brands doing genuine work is by good thorough research and understanding. Some of the active steps to becoming more understanding of greenwashing are:

·       Going through the company’s website and reading through their claims.

·       Checking if they’re backed with certificates. A few certificates to look out for are GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), GRS (Global Recycled Standards), Fair Trade Textile Standards and such.

·       Learning and enquiring about the source of materials.

·       Checking for chemicals involved in the products.

·       Pressing beyond publicised claims. Eg., when brands say they are vegan- are they using synthetic alternatives to leather and fur? Because if they are, then synthetic too causes heavy damage to the planet.

·       Ask who’s making the clothes and whether they are treated ethically and fairly. Transparency of supply chain is very important and it shows that the brand is responsible.

·       Checking if the packaging is sustainable/biodegradable/plastic-free.

·       Checking if steps are being taken to reduce the brand’s carbon footprint.

 

What customers spend their money on is what they are casting a vote for. Therefore it’s important to find brands that support causes close to heart and those that share the same values in terms of sustainability and ethics. That being said, it is nearly impossible for a brand to be 100% sustainable, so the safest bet would be buying from brands on a consistent sustainable journey bettering themselves for the betterment of the planet.

To easily identify if a brand is greenwashing, just ask the brand directly (via email or public forum). Brands that are potentially greenwashing will not respond to queries or provide requested evidences. As a sustainable fashion brand, zy-lk undertakes to address queries irrespective of whether it's from a customer, stakeholder or third party. For any queries, start a chat or mail support@zy-lk.com

 

Sources:
https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/greenwash
https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/aug/20/greenwashing-environmentalism-lies-companies
https://www.thebetterindia.com/210776/greenwashing-meaning-sustainable-fashion-reduce-carbon-footprint-eco-friendly-lifestyle-tan42/

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Dyeing with Avocado Dye

Dyeing with avocado really eases one into the natural dyeing process. It's safe, simple and results in a unique pink output which is very colourfast, meaning the colour will not fade for a long time; so all in all the most perfect experience for beginners. Now the main thing to note is that when they say “Avocado Dye”, it’s the seeds, meaning dyeing with avocado pits and the peels that contain tannin which produces the colour, not the fleshy edible part of the fruit. Now, let’s see how to dye with avocado pits:


Materials Needed:

  • Avocado pit dye or seeds 

  • Access to stove

  • Lidded dye pots of stainless steel or aluminium (preferably ones not used for cooking, after)

  • Long handle spoon for stirring

  • Loose weave cloth for straining

  • Fabric for dyeing with avocado dye, like organic cotton or linen

  • Stainless steel or cord drying line with pegs

  • A lot of patience


Forewarning:

Proceed with avocaution.

Like with any natural dye, the output varies according to the mordants used on fabric (if any), pH of the water, variety of fruit produce, whether you use avocado pit dye or just the skin or both, the utensils used for dyeing, and so on. Refer to our blog titled Natural Dyes for a better insight. Only dyeing with avocado pits or seeds are included here since this blog covers the easiest way for avocado pink dye. Make sure to collect a few over time and to not let them dry out. They can be air dried and stored in jars but the most effective way is to leave them in bags in the freezer. Freezing keeps them fresh and results in better colour outputs than an avocado pit dye that has dried out.

 

Pit-pration:

The frozen seeds are going to be hard to crush, cut or peel. It’s best to soak them whole in a lidded pot on a simmer for 1 hour. Turn off the heat, peel them and let them soak in the same bath for several hours or overnight.

Now crush the seeds to release more colour. Add one litre of water to it and bring it to boil to develop the avocado pink dye more. Post that, let it simmer for an hour at low temperature. Since the avocado pit dye still has a lot of colour, this process of boiling the seeds will have to be repeated several times a week to get the most of avocado dye extraction. Strain the dye through a loose-weave fabric. Pour the avocado dye extract into a dye pot.


Fabric:

Because the avocado pit dye already has a high amount of tannin content, the fabric to be dyed needn’t be mordanted. The output will be lighter as a result. Only pre-wash of the fabric is needed, as hot as possible to remove any starch or coating. Wet the fabric right before dyeing with avocado dye as well.


Avocadye:

Add enough water to fit in all of the fabric evenly and for it can move freely. Lower the wet fabric into the avocado dye bath and bring the temperature to below boiling. Stir the dye pot to agitate it every 10 minutes so the avocado dye can enter into folds of the fabric and has an even reach. Steer clear of air pockets as they’ll create uneven patches on the fabrics.

Keep this routine up for a minimum of 1 hour, the colour will continue to develop overtime. After one hour, remove the fabric. Allow it to cool down and wring out the excess water. Let the fabric dry a little before rinsing with cool water.


A lovely peach to pink shade should’ve developed by now. Air dry the dyed cloth with pegs on a line. Iron them out once dry and there is the result of your perfect avocado pink dye. The avocado dye preparation wait can be tiresome, but totally worth it.


The pieces handcrafted at zy-lk are hand-dyed using organic dyes, in-house. Organic dyes presently used at zy-lk include Marigold petals, Madder roots, Turmeric, Areca Nuts, Annatto seeds or Indigo leaves, some of which are GOTS certified. View the entire collection here. Stay tuned for more blogs on natural dyes.


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Polyester Made Sustainable: With Recycled Polyester Are Oceans Now Polyester Safe?

Polyester, polyethylene terephthalate, is a synthetic fibre man-made through a high energy process of chemical reactions using a combination of coal, ethylene (from petroleum), air and water. Every single element involved in this process involves heavy exploitation of natural and human resources. Beginning of the polyester lifecycle, two to three times more carbon emissions than cotton are emitted and then at the end of their lifecycle end up accumulating pollution as they don't biodegrade, posing a threat to wildlife in the form of consumption and entanglement.  

There are different types of polyester ranging from soft polyester material to varying density of polyester made products but the one with least environmental impact is recycled polyester. Widely classified under sustainable fabrics, recycled polyester synthetic is the only synthetic fibre we agree to be used in the apparel industry. Even though it requires energy to convert old plastics into new recycled fibres, the energy consumption is nowhere close to the huge tonnes required in producing virgin polyester made fabrics. There is no need for more coal and petrol to be extracted from the earth and it saves already existing plastic from going to landfills to remain there for hundreds of years.

Around 10-12 PET bottles are recycled and 2,700 litres of water are saved in each recycled polyester made t-shirt. Recycled polyester made from PET bottles are shredded into flakes, flakes then melted and converted to yarn to be knitted, cut and sewn into a sustainable article of clothing. Sustainable, up until, a customer buys it and washes it; releasing hundreds of thousands of microfibres which are very small pieces of plastic that never biodegrade. Washing clothes releases 500,000 tons of microfibres, approximately 50 billion PET bottles, into the ocean every year. 35% of all microplastics originated from the laundering of synthetic textiles according to a 2017 report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUNC). They come off of synthetic clothing, mainly from polyester made hot off the washing machine, and get released with the water.

An estimated 31% of plastic pollution is said to be microplastics in the total plastic pollution in the ocean. Microfibres exist alongside microbeads but they pose a stronger threat to fish and other aquatic animals. Studies show that in the Ottawa River, 95% of microplastics were microfibres.

These stats really break down how polyester made fabric, a revolutionary fabric that plays a major role in every industry, serves as the biggest hazard once discarded into the ocean in both, pre-consumer and post-consumer stages. Not only do they affect the toxic levels of water but also emit an odour similar to some species’ natural food. The fishes and other marine wildlife either eat them and die or have health issues from their consumption. The microscopic plastic fibres end up in their stomachs and stay there, often giving the impression of a full stomach to its aquatic consumer, whereas they do not receive the needed nutrients and eventually starve to death. The fibres dangerously toxic to any creature that consumes it, due to natural food cycle, end up in our plates as seafood; with the toxins now residing in our bellies. 

So, answer to the question: With Polyester made sustainable, are oceans now polyester safe? The answer is no. Until we find a feasible and widely applicable way to keep microfibre making its way from our washing machines to the ocean - the oceans, marine life and human life aren’t safe from toxic plastic consumption.


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Sustainable Textiles for your Apparel Collection

“You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.” Ziad K Abdelnour


First step to choosing your textile with care is knowing your options. In this blog, we’ll go through a few renowned ones that could set your sustainable textiles apparel game on point.


Sustainable Textile 1: Organic Cotton


We proceed with heavy emphasis on the organic part. It isn’t commonly known in but the textile conventional cotton is very harmful to the planet as a water intensive crop plant requiring multiple fertilisers and pesticides resulting in heavy degradation of the soil quality where it is grown, harming the environment and life quality of its farmers. These chemicals involved are classified as one of the most harmful ones by the Environmental Protection Agency. But we agree- the coziness and comfort of cotton apparel is undeniable and it’s the wardrobe staple of many. 

That’s where organic cotton textile comes in. Organic cotton is naturally cultivated without the aid of chemical fertilisers on soil or pesticides on the crops. The methods and materials involved in organic cotton textiles production have a low environmental impact making them sustainable textiles preferred in vegan clothing. In fact, the regulations around organic cotton production aim to replenish the soil fertility and maintain it. 


Sustainable Textile 2: Bast Fibres


Organic and biodegradable fibres in nature, Linen and Hemp textiles come from the bast family. They are an excellent alternative for comfortable sustainable apparel as they are not only widely grown but also do not require fertilisers, pesticides or any harmful chemicals to aid their growth. With the least impact on the environment amongst all natural textiles, Hemp is even grown by farmers to improve the quality of soil. Both linen and hemp are known to sprout easily with reduced water usage and high proficiency in speedy growth; and qualify as vegan clothing.


Sustainable Textile 3: Organic Wool


By nature, wool is renewable and biodegradable, automatically categorising it under sustainable textiles. But why we emphasise on organic wool is because there are more factors which influence its sustainability. They become certified sustainable textiles, ready to be used in apparel with respect to how the material is farmed. Organic sheep are reared with well-being and minimal animal stress in mind. They graze organic feed on organic soil and the farmers take preventive approach to diseases so avoiding antibiotics, wormers and pesticides. 


Sustainable Textile 4: Recycled Textiles


Recycled fabrics are one of the most sustainable fabrics to be produced, despite using up energy to convert old fabrics into new fibres-it’s still nowhere close to how much energy and resources are used in the making of virgin fabrics. The most common examples of textile revival are recycled cotton and recycled polyester. Recycled Cotton is made by recycling old cotton fabric into cotton fibre to be remade into vegan clothing. There are two main divisions of source: Pre-consumer waste and Post-consumer waste, both resulting in good as new textiles ready to be made into apparel. Recycled Polyester is the only man-made fabric to make it to this list because it contributes to around 10-12 PET bottles and 2,700 litres of water being saved in the making of just one tshirt. It's only drawback is that during consumer care and wash, the fabric will emit microfibres(tiny synthetic fibres) from the poly filaments which are harmful to the environment. One solution to that is to purchase collector balls for washing machines to mitigate the microfiber pollution from the process.


Sustainable Textile 5: Innovative Textiles


The previous four categories of textiles are a breakdown of what come to mind easily as “Sustainable Textiles” in the apparel industry. With more research, we found some excellent innovative, eco-friendly, ethical, animal-free options that add much needed flavour to saving the planet! There is Vegan Leather, the most popular one among vegan clothing, being made from pineapple skin. There is TENCEL which is a lyocell fabric made from cellulose fibre by dissolving tree pulp with dry jet-wet spinning. Bamboo fibre makes for an excellent vegan clothing alternative to cotton with almost the same hand-feel and properties except for the high water usage and lack of harmful chemicals. Banana fabric, made from the stalk of the banana plant which is usually discarded after the fruits have been cut off. Orange silk is made from orange skins that come from the juice industry waste. Lotus fabric is made from the fine fibres of the lotus stem. Milk fabric is made from discarded spoilt milk waste, does not qualify as vegan clothing however. Similarly, vegan clothing uses Corn silk, Soy fabric, Eucalyptus fabric to name a few. These textiles are usually more expensive as the production process to make them is more labour intensive. 


Head over to 2020 Collection to check out some of the mentioned sustainable textiles used in our latest collection.


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Life, Death and Rebirth of Silk | Circular Fashion

For a relatively new term that emerged only in the last decade, “circular fashion” has been well-received and garnered exponential reach in a short period. Circular fashion, as the name suggests, focuses on recycling and creating a circle of life for all things fashion. The main concern that circular fashion addresses is the industry’s landfill problems; where clothing are discarded in an average of 3 years.

 

Silk has been around for centuries with references found in medieval and ancient manuscripts. But what goes on BTS of manufacturing a silk garment?

 

Silk is primarily a fiber made from natural protein composed of fibroin, which is produced by insect larvae to build their cocoons. There are many types of silk produced by various insects and arachnids but the silk from moth caterpillars reared in captivity undergoing complete metamorphosis are the ones preferred for textile manufacturing. Even though there are several types of wild silk, they aren’t used commercially as they differ in colour and texture and in most cases, the pupa already emerges from the cocoon making for shorter strands obtained from them. Thus the most commonly used variant is silk obtained from cocoons of larvae of the mulberry silkworm known as the Bombyx mori. 

 

The reared silkworm pupae, emit a white coloured silk thread which make for the most perfect commercial silk as they can be dyed more uniformly. The process begins when eggs laid by silk moths hatch and the caterpillars are fed fresh mulberry leaves. After 35 days, the caterpillars now 10,000 times heavier are ready to begin the spinning of their cocoon. By moving their heads in a particular pattern, liquid silk is produced through two glands from openings in their heads called spinnerets. This liquid protein is then covered with sericin which acts as gum by solidifying in air. Sericin which binds the cocoon together is water soluble in nature. Now within 3 days, the caterpillar is done spinning around 1 mile of filament to form its cocoon where it's ready to move into its next phase of life, by undergoing metamorphosis, developing beautifully patterned wings and flying into its evolved identity as an adult moth.

 

At this very stage is when the pupae are killed by either dipping them into boiling hot water or piercing them with a needle. Boiling water softens the sericin which allows for the cocoon to unravel into one long continuous thread which in turn allows for a stronger fabric to be woven. A single silk fiber is too fragile to be used on its own and so as many as 3 to 10 strands are spun together to form a commercially usable single yarn of silk. By this we see that anywhere between 3 to 10 silkworms lose life to make for one single yarn.

 

Though sericulture is heavily criticised for cultivation of silk and killing them, possibly painfully, by animal welfare and rights activists, it is also the bread earning way for hundreds of thousands of farmers and weavers around the globe. In India alone we can find over 20 different types of silk weaves being converted into sarees - a traditional attire of unstitched fabric ranging from 6 to 9 yards in width that can be tied and draped in nearly 80 recorded ways. In a small town called Kanchipuram in southern India, there are more than 5000 families that work on silk weaving as their only means of income. The Kanchipuram sarees are woven from mulberry silk and metallic gold and silver zari threads. This silk art of weaving is a hand skill passed down generations and followed as a close to heart profession. Such beautifully crafted sarees that go through the hands of silk rearers, spinners, dyers, weavers and many more are ultimately worn occasionally and discarded over stains or minute tears. Though the fabric is biodegradable, it still adds to the landfills in huge numbers on the regular and quite frankly, it is heart-breaking to see such a coveted and worked on textile being trashed for the silliest of reasons.

 

Around 60,000 silkworms are used to manufacture a silk saree, but with circular fashion, millions of these landfill-bound sarees could be reborn as a new garment. zy-lk follows the circular fashion model and collects landfill-bound silk sarees and brings them to a design unit to sketch out their new life. Silk is upcycled by hand and find new life as embroidery on garments or as an accessory. zy-lk strongly believes that circular fashion by textile revival is the only way to keep the craft alive in a way that is environmentally friendly.

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Save the Environment with Ethical Brands | How Fashion Brands can Aim to Sustain

With the Earth healing while we all rest at home and all of us slow down our pace of life, everyone comes together to agree upon the fact that our society needs to grow into renewable and sustainable techniques that endorse ethical brands; from every step through how people produce to how they indulge in accessories, shoes, clothing, and other fabrics. Leading the way are all virtual clothing businesses in Sweden with their strong purpose: to boost recycling and reuse; one of the few ways to save the environment. As for the rest of the clothing businesses- sustainability and CSR managers publicly talk about how they work to restructure their business units, store notions, and production procedures more towards sustainability and protection of the environment.


But regardless of the increasing interest in sustainability there aren’t many clear definitions of sustainability and the environment. Some say that they are drastic measures, some say they are small measures to be taken and some say that it is a lifestyle to be adapted. But for now, let’s get into the theory of it.


Ethical fashion can be defined as accessories, shoes, and clothing that can be manufactured, promoted, and found taking into consideration both socio-economic and ecological facets with utmost importance to the environment around us. In training, this indicates constant work to enhance all stages of this item's lifecycle, from design, raw material production, manufacturing, storage, transport, promotion, and last selling, to use, reuse, repair, remake and recycling of this solution and its components. By an ecological perspective, the target must be to reduce some unwelcome result to the environment by this product's entire life span from: 

  • assuring efficient and careful utilisation of natural resources of the environment (energy, water, soil, land, animals, plants, and biodiversity, ecosystems, and so forth)

  • selecting renewable energy sources (wind, solar, and so forth) at every point, and also

  • refining repair, remake, reuse, and recycling of this solution and its components.

Additionally, ethical brands run directly under designers, should subscribe to encourage sustainable consumption of patterns, washing and affectionate approaches to methods like zero waste and designing the waste out of fashion within the initial brainstorming stages, with innovative techniques.


Ethical brands take into consideration the work environment and several workers that work behind the scenes to produce the clothing industry potential; from who grow the materials, to the garment workers sewing pieces collectively. Some brands state that they do good but don't place their money where their mouth is. For all of us, this really goes deeper compared to some other brand's image that is general. Good trade certificates and fair wages show a purpose into a new outgrowth in sales and profit but towards the development of ethical brands who produce the newest trends in fashion.


Sustainable fashion is about creating clothing, accessories, and shoes in ways that are friendly to the environment and socio-economically sustainable. Green Strategy has identified seven kinds of sustainable consumption from a manufacturer and user perspective. This strategy, which is also implemented by zy-lk, is a universal guideline that allows us to follow a structural business model that is completely in sync with ethical brands policy and ideologies. But that's not nearly enough, is it? We ensure to make it a point that the regulations and rules are followed above and beyond needed, in order to be categorised under “Ethical Brands”. These principles are not followed out of just necessity, but out of passion by every single employee in the workshop.


Design and fashion brands have a responsibility to improve their supply, production, and advertising techniques and strategies to make sure that we, as an entire industry, come under the huge umbrella of sustainability. If innovation for sustainability isn't something that a brand can adapt immediately, then big organizations have the possibility to donate to sustainable consumption patterns. Some ethical brands offer fashion or possess pioneered systems for accessories and leasing clothes. Some ethical brands focus chiefly on creating fashion that's of premium caliber and ageless structure, i.e., of long-term style and endurance. Other ethical brands have put up recycling and collection systems, which affirms increased fabric recycling. To produce clothes with fabrics that are certified (according to ecological tags and reasonable commerce) is just another strategy to advertise higher sustainable consumption patterns. 


Sustainability can be found at the very foundation and core of zy-lk, which before it’s inception, laid down all the possible methodologies of functioning and picked the most feasible sustainable consumption pattern for the planet, people, business and the whole environment at large. This is the main reason behind a slow fashion business model where products are manufactured against orders only, neatly wrapped in recycled packaging and shipped. To know of our other sustainable methods, head over our blog on Paradox of Sustainable Fashion or visit the About Us page.

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Banana Fabric | An Organic Fabric from Banana Fiber

Banana fabric is a beautiful, ethical, eco-friendly, animal-free, organic fabric made from the stalk of the banana plant; with almost a negligible impact to the environment.

 

Origins of the Banana Fabric:

As unique as it sounds, it’s not a new idea. The textile has been used in Southeast Asia and Japan since the 13th century. The Philippines is said to be one of the first countries that saw the textile potential of the banana fiber. Being a native to countless banana trees and also housing all the remains of banana stems after the fruit is cut away for consumer use, the indigenous people converted to organic fabric what would otherwise be a waste product. Now India is one of the biggest producers and exporters of the banana fabric with 28.4 million tonnes per year. So for zy-lk as a sustainable fashion brand, this is a core part of our collections as a local source, reducing the amount of carbon footprint generated. 

 

It’s an Organic Fabric:

Banana fabric has made a well-deserved green name for itself having one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly of production processes. The banana fiber manufacturing process is similar to that of bamboo, linen and hemp. The banana fiber is turned to banana fabric in a step-by-step process of spinning, dyeing (if applicable) and weaving by local weavers who carry on these intensive hands-on skills taught by their preceding generations. The Indian manufacturers focus extensively on organic practises and since they are often grown in small farms on tropical locations, free from pesticides and fertilisers, making them the most ethical and organic fabric.

 

The Banana Fiber Production:

The fiber material that makes up this organic fabric has the sheen of silk because it’s as light and shiny due to the inner fine strands of the stalk that replicate the hand-feel of soft silk. This hand-feel depends on the variety of stalk that the fiber is derived from, which goes on to define the type of fabric produced. If you peel open a banana stalk, you’ll see that there are thin strands in the inner layers surrounded by thick coarse outer strands. For clothing fabrics, the thinner strands are processed into yarns while the outer strands are used for coarse count applications like mats, handbags, basket weaving, etc. The high-quality banana fiber procured from the inner lining is generally quite expensive as the production process is more labour intensive with the banana fiber being delicate and silk-like to handle. On the contrary, the outer lining fabric is usually cheaper as it is processed using crude methods.

 

Properties of Banana Fabric:

The banana fabric displays high fabric breathability and moisture-wicking abilities for a no-plastic, organic fabric. Its heat retention abilities are low so it is advised to be careful during dyeing and ironing of the garment. On another plus note, banana fabric is not so prone to pilling or bubbling so the texture of the fabric remains intact.

 

Check out our Mauza Shirtdress made from silky soft, checked-weave banana fabric, dipped into organic dyes to bring out the natural essence of organic fabrics. Now this is an exotic, vegan option that your sustainable wardrobe is going to go bananas for.

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The Nature of Natural Dyes

As the name suggests, natural dyeing is treating fabrics with dyes made from naturally occurring ingredients. This process is as old as textile itself, mostly being used in the East for generations, extending into millenniums. Ever since history has been recorded, man has procured colour from fruits and crushed seeds to face paint, paint on walls and add colour to all verticals of lifestyle. Nature has always provided the ingredients that we could possibly need to produce a brilliant catalog of colours with the only involvement of man being procuring them. When it comes to fabric dyeing, we had to take the process a bit further by first procuring then mixing them in correct proportions into dye baths along with maintaining correct temperature in order to get the desired result. 

Natural dyes also known as Organic dyes or Herbal dyes are usually plant based dyes which are mostly hand done in smaller quantities in comparison to chemical dyes being mass dyed in huge boilers at an industrial scale. Comparatively so, chemical dyes are more definite and apt for bigger quantities. This makes natural dyes more compatible with slow fashion and small scale designs. Apart from their undeniable beautiful results natural dyes cut down the amount of toxic discharge resulting from synthetic dye processes. While synthetic dyes can provide colours with better colour fastness, wider range and tone of colours on a wider range of fabrics, organic dyes deliver exactly what they stand for-a natural result. The colours from nature enhance the richness of natural fabrics like none other, best seen in wool and cotton. Still natural dyeing isn’t as freestyle as it sounds- there are many factors that determine the shade produced with natural dye like pH of water used in the dye bath, material of utensils used in the making (aluminium, steel, etc), type of mordant used and its strength (if any), amount of dye used, fabric used for dye and so on.

Next element that comes to play is- Man. As mentioned earlier, natural dyes are usually carried out in small quantities by artisans. These dyers constantly hone their skill by consistent practice over the years and they’re been producing top-notch quality dye on the daily. For strong colours, active ingredients of colouring components are extracted in concentrated forms, usually in powder form. Made sure that they are highly rich in colouring tannin content and also easily soluble in water.

At zy-lk, we feel the best part about natural dyeing is- once inside the dye bath, the fabric truly behaves like an artist’s blank canvas. It alters and evolves with every dip and every playful twist of fabric into a fantastic cumulation of all the movements it goes through guided by our hands- becoming a masterpiece in all its essence. By this, you can see that every meter of fabric we hand dye with natural ingredients are one-of-a-kind with a personality of their own, very much like art. These pieces of art can only be produced in a creative workshop; not on a desk being pre-defined with high precision by a computer screen to be replicated into thousands of the very same.

Head over to our collection to see the many ways we have worked with natural dyes including tie-dyes like Dazai and stay tuned to upcoming blogs as we dive deep into every single organic colour used and its origins.

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Simple Guide to Adopting Sustainable Fashion

The positive aftermath of the horrific Rana Plaza incident is that it highlighted the dark reality of the billion dollar fashion industry to the everyday consumer. Taking this forward, we bring light to some vertices to consider in order to adopt a sustainable fashion lifestyle.

  • Buy only when needed: The 100 billion new articles of clothing manufactured yearly do not all get sold. What’s left is often discarded by huge conglomerates who rather discard than offer discounted pieces. The most sustainable clothing is the one that is already in your closet. Purchasing more only adds on to the pile of clothing that you already own. Try styling your clothes differently by pairing with different accessories and creating entirely new looks. For instance, a shirtdress can be paired with a pant, tugged-in on another occasion, with a skirt, with a pant and a belt, or pant and a corset. Let your creativity get the best of you and contribute to have the least impact on the environment. With increasing awareness of sustainable fashion, many startups promote second-hand clothing worldwide, offering you the latest and best of trends after intense wash care protocols and sizing customisations.

  • Choose natural/recycled fabrics: Synthetic fibres, such as polyester, are plastic fibres, therefore non-biodegradable and can take up to 200 years to decompose. Synthetic fibres are used in 72% of our clothing. Cotton is the most used fabric worldwide followed by polyester. In India, up to 20,000 litres of water are needed to produce 1kg of cotton while 100 million people do not have access to drinking water. 99.3% of cotton is grown using fertilisers and genetically modified seeds. Cotton represents 10% of the pesticides and 25% of the insecticides used globally. According to the UN, 200,000 people die a year from pesticide poisoning. Every time we wash a synthetic garment made of polyester or nylon, around 1,900 individual microfibres are released into water which are ingested by aquatic organisms, which are eaten by bigger fish, introducing plastic into our food chain. This means, around 190,000 tons of textile microfibres end up in the oceans yearly. These microfibres result in 85% of human-made debris found in shorelines worldwide. Recycled cotton is made of landfill-bound waste and requires no pesticides in comparison to conventional virgin cotton. Other natural fibres such as hemp or orange fabric come from renewable resources, use little or no chemicals at all, and are fully biodegradable.

  • Choose organic dyes: Most sustainable fashion brands pay attention to sustainable fabrics but often neglect the dyeing process. According to the UN, 80% of wastewater is dumped into rivers untreated, including in the fashion industry. Nearly 20% of water pollution comes only from textiles treatment and dyeing. 200,000 tons of dyes are lost to effluents every year. Organic dyes are less permanent, more difficult to apply and fade out more easily which is why brands fail to consider this. In some cases, organic dyes may require harmful mordants, which fail to serve the purpose. The organic dyes used at zy-lk are from natural sources and do not use harmful mordants, and therefore do not harm plant life even if discharged in soil. 

  • Care for the workforce: The workforce behind brands are often overlooked. It is important to know who is behind brands to ensure that they are given fair wages, safe working conditions and no child labour is involved. For instance, in Uzbekistan (the 6th largest exporter of cotton in the world), more than 1 million people are forced to pick cotton for little or no pay every year. It is important to select brands that empower labourers who find it difficult to find jobs anywhere else and avoid using it to their advantage. Always remember to ask #WhoMadeMyClothes.

  • Adhere to care instructions: Care instructions are often disregarded and care labels are usually cut and thrown away. Strictly adhering to care instructions reduces wear and tear of the garments, thus prolonging the life cycle. Extended active use of clothes for as less as 9 months can bring about at least a 20-30% decrease each in carbon, water and waste footprint.

  • Re-dye, Repair, Recycle and Donate: Natural dyes are bound to fade after a point, and that’s when re-dyeing can be considered. Lighter shades can be re-dyed at the comfort at your homes by watching YouTube tutorials. Torn garments can be repaired with the local tailor or a new design can be created with patchwork. In the worst case, more tears can be made and styled differently. With the growth of sustainable brands, recycling has become all the more easy. YouTube and Pinterest turns out to be a great source of knowledge for recycling worn out garments and giving birth to entirely new accessories. As the last resort, worn out clothes can also be donated to sustainable fashion brands involved in recycling, many of which can be found online, giving a new life to your old garments without ending up in landfills.
 
Head over to our 2020 Collection to explore sustainable clothing options and stay tuned for upcoming blogs about #sustainablefashion. 

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The Paradox of Sustainable Fashion

The usage of the term "Sustainable Fashion" is almost an oxymoron because of the contradiction in the very definition of the words, individually. Oxford defines sustainability as “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance” and fashion as “a popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behaviour” With sustainability in mind, how can one be expected to appreciate an ever changing industry; season after season, year after year, creating a whole current of latest trends that simply fall out of fashion by the time they reach all corners of the globe. The answer lies in diving deeper into the workings of the industry to figure out how to solve this paradox. As you begin your journey down the path of discovering more sustainable fashion, you will uncover issues over issues and avalanches of information about the industry, examining not only environmental but also social impacts of the clothes everybody mindlessly buys and wears.

The sheer high quantity of mass produced cheap clothing and the amount of over-consumption by buyers, only to dispose of it just as quickly, is the heart of this issue. This new age retail habit affects our planet and also the people living here across the fashion chain: from designers, factory workers, models, journalists and consumers alike. 

Before the rise of fast fashion, it was easy to track down every single hand involved in the supply chain. People owned fewer outfits with the concept of “Sunday Best” which were self mended or handled by local tailors or seamstresses, in case of wear and tear. The same well cherished clothes were passed down and lasted years. But now, the concept of holding onto an article of clothing for long is almost unheard of.

The current generation has amassed nearly 5 times more clothing in their closet in comparison to previous generations. This very demand for clothing has resulted in over 100 billion new articles of clothing being manufactured annually. With the present day average lifespan of a garment being only 3 years, it is observed that an average family discards around 30 kgs of clothing every year, out of which hardly 15% is recycled. The UN Conference on Trade and Development considers the fashion industry as the second most polluting industry in the world. By these statistics we come to the conclusion that sustainable fashion is not about what you wear, but about conscious consumption and the thoughts that go in before purchasing a garment. 

Sustainable fashion is about understanding where a garment comes from, what it’s made of, the hands it passes through, where it ends up and most importantly, the impact it has on the environment throughout its lifecycle. It can be created by use of eco friendly resources or recycled materials, increasing the value of local production and products; prolonging the lifecycle of materials; increasing the value of timeless garments; reducing the amount of waste; and to reducing the harm to the environment created as a result of production and consumption. The traditional “Cradle-To-Grave” business model that is currently mass followed needs to switch over to “Cradle-to-Cradle” model, creating a circular economy. 

Now more than ever, we need to reset the industry by questioning the history behind what we wear and returning to slower fashion. Our brand zy-lk, explores the idea of making the fashion industry more sustainable by using only recycled or plant-based fabrics that are hand-dyed with organic dyes. All products are embellished with silk upcycled from landfill-bound silk sarees by hearing and speech-impaired women. zy-lk goes the extra mile to provide sustainable fashion using
  • recycled polyester threads, the most sustainable thread available at this point
  • mother of pearl buttons and coconut shell buttons, both fully biodegradable
  • organic cotton labels and seed paper tags with hemp strings
  • leather labels picked from landfills, hand-cut and embossed
  • recycled cardboard boxes for packaging
  • recycled paper for printing
zy-lk believes that it is not just the clothes that serve as the variable to be scrutinised on sustainability, but every single step involved right from design to yarn to dye to packaging and this is precisely the need of the hour.

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Fashion Directory | For Ethical, Sustainable, Circular Fashion

Fashion brands that are ethical, sustainable or circular can be easily found with a simple Google search. But with the growing trend of searches for sustainable fashion, there are many brands that are greenwashing to make themselves seem like they too are ethical, sustainable or circular. How does one identify if the brand's claims are genuine?


Earlier, conscious buyers looking to make purchase decisions would study prospective brands through the brand's website, communications, news articles and testimonials. Now, this process is a lot easier, with many reputed fashion directories that research these brands for buyers, verifies their claims of sustainable practises, and rates or lists them in their directories.

While there are many directories that include brands only through paid-listings, there are quite a few directories that list or rate all brands. Here are some places to find reliable information about fashion brands:

With the likes of Emma Watson supporting this sustainable fashion directory, it turns out to be quite well-known in recent times. Available as a website or a mobile app, it is a smooth and easy-to-use interface. A buyer can filter global fashion brands by ratings that are given after extensive research by the directory. zy-lk has applied to be rated on Good On You, and is awaiting a result.

More than a directory, this is a place for the global fashion fraternity to understand sustainable practises and network with counterparts, working towards the common objective of making fashion better for the environment. Brands submit information about their practises, objectives, missions and reports. It can be used by conscious buyers to learn the ethical, sustainable and circular fashion practises that are undertaken by brands.

The website has a directory that lists several brands that follow the basics - Ethical Fashion. Having a handful of fashion brands listed, they take steps to list only the brands that show a commitment to fair trading, organic production methods, recycling, supporting local artisans and traditional techniques.

Their way of rebelling against unethical fast-fashion brands is also by educating fashion buyers about ethical brands. The Ethical Fashion Directory only includes brands that are personally verified by the Founder. While researching brands in the directory, it lets you filter by values you care about the most, and has over 20 circular fashion brands listed.

A blog that works to enforce the shift to ethical fashion, has to make it easy for the readers. Rightly so, Simply Liv have handpicked over 175 ethical fashion brands to list them on the website. It is well-categorised and very simple to access.

"Purchasing with a purpose" is the mission of this blog. For this very reason, Still Being Molly maintains a directory of brands that meet their values- fair trade, ethically made and sustainably made. Apart from ethical fashion, they also have other general categories with sustainable alternatives. 

An eco-fashion marketplace that curates fashionable and modern pieces with every item labelled based on its values. With the goal to make ethical shopping easier, they have an ethical fashion directory that display brands which they study individually and then showcase.

If you're a new fashion brand looking to be listed across the web, here are some websites to consider.
  • Fashion Listings - A basic directory of fashion brands. Not specific to ethical, sustainable or circular fashion, and they do not conduct any background research or require any information.
PS: zy-lk does not endorse any aforementioned brands.

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Positive Impact of CoronaVirus (COVID-19)

Even though there is no denying the magnitude of negative impacts that CoronaVirus has had in our lives, let’s not let the overwhelming news push us down a depressive downward spiral. Being locked down, isolated at home has us glued to social media so the constant flow of negativity can’t be stopped from sliding into our phone screens and causing panic, stress and anxiety about the stability of the future. But, despite all this, does the pandemic really have only a negative impact on the world, is something that needs to be a given thought. We didn’t have to strain hard to find the silver lining- it’s clear to see that our planet is using our quarantine period to take a well deserved breather. Here are 7 positive impacts of the COVID-19 to the World.


  • It is restoring humanity and bringing back social presence that was long lost to social media. Lockdowns have enabled family members to spend more time with each other and indulge in productive activities together.

  • This free time is giving a great exposure to acquiring knowledge about the current environmental scenario which did not receive considerable attention in the past. The ozone layer healing itself makes people aware of the damage caused in the first place. Be it the environmental recovery of the Venetian canals or recorded drop in air pollution levels, the harmful effects of human activities on the planet are getting widely exposed.

  • The lockdown has resulted in many factories getting shut, in turn resulting in the increase of fresh air quality worldwide with massive development in Wuhan (China), Northern Italy and several metropolitan areas in the USA. Air pollution kills a total of 4.2 million people every year and over a million in China alone. A conservative estimate states the CoronaVirus has saved 50,000 lives in China alone due to the cleaner air after the lockdown.

  • In the political scenario, we observe opposition parties fully cooperating with the ruling party. The British Prime Minister addressed the nation about the curtailment of liberties and the opposition party offered full support. In any normal scenario, the nature of the opposition is only to oppose. 

  • Many countries have announced a decrease in interest rates for loans, delayed monthly instalments, decreased taxation policies and many other benefits for businesses to continue successfully despite the economic breakdown. The US Federal Reserve, Bank of England, European Central Bank, UAE Central Bank and Australian Reserve bank have dropped their interest rate to 0.25%

  • During the pandemic, the crime rate is decreasing globally on average. Mexican cartels such as La Unión de Tepito involved in counterfeit goods trade are struggling to source illicit items including fake luxury fashion, resulting in massive losses. The Guardian has reported a 20% drop in crime rates in parts of the UK, while The Washington Post has reported at least 18% drop in burglary and violence in New York City. Memphis (USA) saw a 60% drop in crime rate between January and February 2020. 

  • UN Secretary General has called for a cease-fire to put armed conflicts to rest. Shortly after tensions arose worldwide, COVID-19 showed up as a common enemy, enabling nations to cooperate in the fight against the pandemic.


Apart from the positive impact of the CoronaVirus on so many aspects, it has also benefited Sustainable Fashion.

  • The world capital of luxury fashion, Italy, remains paralysed for the longest time. Some of the world’s best luxury brands headquartered in Italy may defer or cancel their drops, giving a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for smaller designers and manufacturers. Fast-fashion brands working out of locked down countries may have their mass-produced collections delayed or called off, thus empowering slow fashion, made-to-order brands. 

  • Fashion weeks which have thousands of people flown to destinations worldwide resulting in increased carbon footprints, just for brands to display their latest collections are getting called off or shifted. London and Paris Fashion Weeks were cancelled, Milan Fashion Week was postponed and the Shanghai Fashion Week was shifted to the most sustainable location - online.

  • Design houses which go on a continuous cycle of producing multiple styles season after season, without any change or review of their current business plans now finally have the forced time on their hands to give their entire production structure a clear breakdown and re-think on the ethics involved in their functioning.

  • Even from a consumer and employee point-of-view, it’s clear to see the divide between brands that genuinely care about their social and eco impacts and the brands that were green washing and falsely reporting their CSR actions to the public under the pretence of care.

  • Now that everyone is locked down at home, and new clothes are not easily available for purchase, people may resort to upcycling or repairing. There is plenty of time for DIYs to be done and for upcycling and mending old clothes, making them last longer. This leads to less buying of clothes later on reducing the demand and therefore reducing the need to supply. Less clothes made=lesser clothes bought=lesser clothing items ending up in the landfills.

  • The World Customs Organisation states that the counterfeit fashion market has cost the fashion industry 400,000 job losses and over GB £5 billion in revenue since 2020. The over $450 billion worth counterfeit fashion market has massive contributions from China alone. The paralysis of the country has led to the suspension of sale and production of unethical counterfeit fashion for uncertain periods. 


As for zy-lk, the pandemic has resulted in a temporary suspension of operations. However, orders continue to be taken and will be manufactured at a later date and shipping will commence once our shipping partners begin operations (Projected 15 May 2020). As a debutant brand that launched this year, the business viability report required sales to kick in by February 2020 to sustain. Due to loss of business opportunities, daily wage tailors associated with zy-lk have been affected the most. We seek the support of our patrons either by simply spreading the word on social media, purchasing or by donating. All monetary donations will be split between daily wage labourers and employees of zy-lk. To donate, visit zy-lk.com/donate

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Hemp Vs. Linen Fabrics And Why You Should Prefer Buying Hemp Clothing Online.

With the recent trends of millennials turning to sustainable fashion, there is a persistent doubt of whether hemp fabric is actually sustainable. Along with this, similar questions arise of how one can tell the difference between linen and hemp since they are very similar and also, if it is better to buy hemp clothing online.


It is factually true, that there are more similarities than differences between hemp and linen, yet the small but significant differences that they do have, weigh the scales in favour of hemp for being far more superiorly sustainable than linen. 


To begin, let’s see the similarities of the fibres first. Both hemp and linen come from the family of bast fibres, therefore organic and biodegradable in nature. The growth of both do not require fertilisers, pesticides or other chemicals and they sprout quite easily in any region. They have the least impact on the environment amongst all natural fibres.


Most characteristics of hemp and linen fabrics are also similar. Be it the fibre strength, ability to absorb moisture or antibacterial properties, they both show the same kind of characteristics. They both wrinkle easily but form breathable fabrics by releasing moisture back into air and not retaining water. They become soft and fluid over use, more with every wear and every wash. Their natural insulation ability makes them the epitomes of sustainable fabrics as they behave cool in summers and warm in winters. They both have antibacterial properties along with being resistant to moths and other insects. Also, they are both aesthetically easy going as they absorb dyestuff readily making them feasible for vibrant colour options.


The differences between hemp and linen lie in the agricultural arena- the reason why hemp is more sustainable is because farmers claim that growing hemp is a much easier and a simpler process with better yields in comparison to flax used for linen. The fibre yield of hemp averages between 485-809 lbs., whilst flax averages to just 323-465 lbs. on the same amount of land. Not only so, hemp is sometimes grown prior to a flax crop because it leaves the land free of weeds and in a better condition than before. Even if it weren’t for its commercial use, hemp is grown by farmers either way because it improves the soil- it catalysts aeration and building the top soil layer, its long taproots grow three or more feet deep into the soil, anchoring it and protecting it from runoff. Hemp can be grown for many seasons, on rotation and successively, with zero negative impact to the soil. 


Despite its higher yielding capacity, the price of hemp is far higher than that of linen in the market and to locate organic hemp is close to impossible. The best version of hemp clothing is to buy online from brands and organic businesses as they are more capable of being certified or at least being able to provide transparent source of the production cycle, than directly from farmers who would otherwise have difficulty paying for the certification process. As an environment-friendly activist brand, zy-lk does the research and clear sourcing for you, to bring about easy access of clean versions of hemp clothing. zy-lk takes it one step further by hand-dying the hemp pieces into vibrant colours with organic dyes comprising of leaves, roots, flowers and seeds. 


Mail orders@zy-lk.com for your hemp fabric requirements or visit zy-lk.com to buy hemp clothing online.

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