Pursuit talks fast fashion vs slow fashion, microplastics and the future of sustainability
- What inspired you to become an environmental and ethical brand?
We both met at university where we studied a BA Hons Fashion Buying Management degree. This was a comprehensive degree and included modules such as fashioning the future where we studied future macro trends and shifts in the fashion industry. Sustainability was a big topic as we quickly realised that that the planets resources were depleting due in part to the habits of the wasteful fashion industry. This was more than a trend, it was a shift that needed to happen now. From our research we found out that each year up to 12 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into our oceans. On average, there are 46,000 pieces of plastic present every square mile of ocean. Not only this, when we were at university, we both gained vast industry experience within styling, PR, buying, sourcing, merchandising.. we witnessed first hand what happened to the unused fabrics and unsold garments – much went into landfill. This was one major part of the problem. We didn’t see the point in creating another fashion brand contributing to the problem, we wanted to be a part of the solution for a better, cleaner fashion system.
- What impact do you hope your brand will have on consumers?
Before creating Pursuit, the mention of ‘sustainable fashion’ made us think of very unfashionable, minimalistic clothing and we wanted to change this image that sustainable fashion often evokes. We want to show our customers that you don’t have to settle when buying eco fashion, you can wear stand out clothing that is made responsibly. Not only is all of our swimwear made from recycled waste from the ocean all of our pieces are made responsibly in an ethical London based factory where the workers are treated and paid fairly. Pursuit means Purpose and Swimsuit.
- What do you think about fast fashions input towards microplastic pollution?
Micro plastics are the tiny bits of plastic that get released into the ocean. One example of how this happens is when washing your clothing. These micro plastics are something that still not many people are aware of. Fast fashion companies are often the first to create garments from unnatural/synthetic materials as these are much cheaper and allow them to sell at very competitive prices. The rate that these microfibers get released into the ocean from synthetic materials intensifies for a few reasons. For a start there is far too much fast fashion clothing being sold globally due to the rapid expansion of online shopping and the need for instant gratification. Secondly, fast fashion clothing isn’t as well made, less time is taken on spinning the fibres when manufacturing therefore this may lead for them to be shed more easily. The problem is that these micro fibres are being consumed by fish and therefore entering the food chain. It has now been found that they now make up 85% of human made waste on shorelines.
- How do you source your recycled polyester? Do you have a supplier that collects the plastic, or have you collaborated with any charity organisations to retrieve the waste?
Currently, we are partnered with Aquafil, an organisation that manually collect the waste from both land and sea. Aquafil set up a waste collection network in collaboration with institutions and public bodies. This enables them to collect large amounts of waste from various countries including USA, Egypt, Egypt, Pakistan. Aquafil have 15 factories in total that take care of the process from collecting the waste to the final creation of the sustainable ECONYL® fabric, which is a 100% regenerated nylon 6 Yarn made out of nylon waste, 50% post-consumer and 50% pre-consumer waste.
We also believe that even outside of Pursuit, it is within all of our interests to act in the least wasteful way possible. We are delighted to see that supermarkets such as Waitrose now refuse to serve takeaway coffee in single use cups and also other shops making the steps to elimite all plastic packaging!
- By using recycled polyester, does this still release micro plastic in to the ocean?
Unfortunately, with all fabrics made from recycled materials you still have the problem of microplastic pollution, because recycling the material doesn’t stop that. One of the solutions that exists to avoid the microplastics being released currently is to use a filtration system when using the washing machine such as using a filter bag that you would put your swimwear or clothing in that stops microfibers being released. Guppy bag’s are great for this. On the plus side, big companies such as H&M are working in collaboration with Swerea (a Swedish research group that’s specialises in material development) to look at technical solutions to help the fashion industry reduce microfibres released from clothing. The project will also investigate how washing machines are designed and if a filter that could reduce the emissions of microplastics could be implemented.
6. What do you think about slow fashion movement rather than fast fashion? Do you think this will make an impact on micro plastic waste if consumers stop buying new clothes?
I personally have always respected slow fashion far more than what you might buy with fast fashion brands. For a start, more time is spent on the development and production process to ensure a product is made responsibly and that it is made to last. It is tough to think about the labour making fast fashion garments, these machinists are worked tirelessly in poor conditions and earning very small sums, which not many people consider when buying the latest trend! On the other hand, if consumers do purchase fewer pieces of clothing and spend on quality (investment pieces) as opposed to quantity (fast fashion pieces), they will essential wear more of the same pieces which will need to washed more frequently rather than alternating between fast fashion outfits. Now that innovative fabrics have been introduced that are incredibly made from recycled waste, I do believe the next step for protecting the oceans will be research and innovation against micro plastics.
- Who do you think is up to, to really make a difference in plastic pollution? The consumer? The government? Or the brand and buyer. Why?
Largely, plastic pollution is a man made issue due to our nations waste culture. We consume too much, we buy more clothing than we need and we throw far too much into landfill. Until now, supermarkets have always used plastic packaging and thankfully now the government have begun to make big changes against plastic packaging. (ex: Brown bags for fruit and veg, removing plastic straws). The truth is that brands will go where the consumers are. Before sustainability became known, it was cheap and fast fashion. Now, consumers are beginning to see the harm and are taking actions to consume more responsibly. Brands are witnessing this and are following suit. Essentially, we as consumers have the purchasing power and influence what is on the market.
- What advice would you give to fashion brands or buyers to reduce their impact on micro plastic pollution?
Although we are still evolving ourselves as a brand and finding ways to improve our sustainable efforts, one of the things that I would advise for brands is to use natural fibres as much as possible as these are less harmful when and if released into our oceans. It isn’t always possible to buy natural fibres as these are not suited to swim or sports, however investment in recycled fabrics from companies such as Bionic, ECONYL and Seaqual who regenerate post consumer waste into sustainable fabrics all contribute towards a circular system. This reduces the impact on the planet as this uses less of the planets resources.
Our advice to consumers wanting to reduce their impact on the environment would be to buy less and to buy quality. Always research where your clothes are coming from and who is making them. If a company is responsible, they will be proud to shout about their credentials. Finally, when it comes to micro plastics, the fewer washes the better and otherwise on a slow cycle which uses less water.
We hope you enjoyed reading our views and if you have any further questions or would like to interview us, please leave a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org