Nine change-makers in the Netherlands making fashion more sustainable

Nine change-makers in the Netherlands making fashion more sustainable

The Lady in Blu with models styled in re-loved clothing. Photo: Thijs Wolzak, RE LOVE FASHION by RE LOVE Foundation

The fashion industry is the second biggest polluter on the planet, responsible for around 10% of all global carbon emissions and tarnished by a reputation for sweatshops – but it doesn’t have to be this way. DutchNews.nl shines a light on nine innovators in the Netherlands helping to make the sector more sustainable.

Consumers in the Netherlands discard about 210 tons of unwanted clothing and textiles each year, two-thirds of which is incinerated; while the Dutch fashion industry has an annual surplus of around 21.5 million items of unsold clothing, often produced by poorly treated workers and not built to last. Each garment produced has an average carbon footprint of 20kg. Changing practices in the clothing industry is crucial to meeting the country’s emission targets and improving the industry’s human rights record. Here are nine change-makers in the Netherlands leading the way.

Loop.a life

Knitwear brand Loop.a life has abandoned the wasteful model of regularly changing, seasonal collections and focuses instead on creating long-lasting essentials for men and women. The cotton and wool garments are created from recycled knitwear and denim using an entirely circular, closed-loop process. Removing the need to cultivate the raw materials saves around 500 litres of water per sweater for wool and between 5000 and 15,000 litres for cotton. Founded in 2016 by Ellen Mensink, Loop.a life were the first Dutch company to use 100% recycled yarn, most of it sourced in the Netherlands. Similar colours are carefully selected and combined with industrial waste and Eucalyptus wood fibres, which means no dye is needed.

Arch & Hook

It’s not just textiles that the fashion industry wastes. When garments are transported from factories to stores and hung on branded hangers, the plastic placeholders are discarded, condemning an estimated 85 billion single-use hangers to landfill each year. Since 2015, Amsterdam-based Arch & Hook has sought to change this by producing high-quality hangers made from sustainable materials. Previous collections have included bespoke hangers for clients such as Karen Millen and Harrods made out of FSC® certified wood, and last year, supported by Roland Mouret and the British Fashion Council, the company launched BLUE®, the first-ever hanger made of upcycled ocean-bound thermoplastic. ‘​At Arch & Hook, we strongly believe that we are in the early stages of a new industrial revolution,’ says CEO and founder Sjoerd Fauser. ‘Cleaning up what humanity has caused is crucial before eliminating plastics entirely.’

FSC® hangers by Arch & Hook

&Wider

Examining the whole chain of production is crucial to making fashion more ethical. Amsterdam-based &Wider has been helping businesses bridge the data gap on working conditions in the clothing industry since 2014 by providing actionable results to drive material improvements in workers’ lives and in the businesses that employ them. Through their online platform, buyers and employers can gather anonymous data direct from workers, and use this information to implement changes in labour practices along the supply chain. ‘The fashion industry cannot work ethically without hearing from workers themselves,’ spokesperson Sesihle Manzini told DutchNews.nl. ‘The design of our system allows us to hear from vulnerable workers: those who we often hear about, but rarely hear from.’

MUD jeans

Mud, a natural, endlessly recycled material, inspired the name behind this sustainable jeans company headquartered in Laren. Founded in 2013 by industry-insider Bert van Son, who had seen first-hand the unethical practices in the sector, MUD has taken a different tack by producing garments made from up to 40% recycled materials and coloured with Cradle2Cradle dyes. 95% of the water used is recycled through reverse osmosis, reducing water use to about one-third of the industry standard. Clients can rent or buy jeans, repairs are free, and they can get reductions on loans or purchases by cashing in any brand of old jeans with at least 96% cotton content.

The Fabricant

Thanks to Amsterdam-based digital fashion house The Fabricant, the digital dress is now a fact – and sold last year for $9500. The assertion that the clothes with the least environmental impact are those which do not exist is hard to argue with – even if it requires a total rethinking of how we promote fashion. The Fabricant specialises in 3D fashion design and animation, offering an alternative to physical concepts such as runway shows, sample sizes and photo shoots. The potential to try clothes on our digital selves, or create a digital advertising campaign can only cut carbon costs.

United Wardrobe

Founded in 2014 by three students from Wageningen with a mission to make second-hand clothing the buyer’s default, this online marketplace has over 4 million subscribers. From its headquarters in Utrecht, United Wardrobe has now opened its doors to France, Germany and Belgium, allowing users to buy and sell everything from designer shoes to onesies for newborns. ‘People are way more conscious than six years ago,’ co-founder Thijs Verheul told DutchNews.nl. ‘We have already people of age 12 selling and buying secondhand clothes, not because it is cheap for them, but really because they love the sustainable factor.’

Renoon’s webshop makes it easier to find sustainable brands. Credit: Renoon

Renoon

‘I was so fed up with opening dozens of windows in my browser to find sustainable alternatives that matched my style,’ says Iris Skrami, who co-founded Renoon to fill a gap in the market for a curated one-stop online shop for eco-minded style seekers. The app and website, which launched in 2019, feature new and pre-owned items with emerging brands such as Fisch and PANGAIA listed alongside established designers such as Stella McCartney and Filippa K. ‘There are so many brands and products already in the market that we should have easier access to,’ says Skrami.

Fast Feet Grinded

Fast Feet Grinded are urban miners, seeking out wasted resources that gain new value when repurposed. In this case it’s our discarded trainers. Globally, an estimated 12 billion pairs of trainers are produced each year, of which at least 90% will end up in landfill. The Limburg-based company employs workers with a distance from the labour market to upcycle rubber, foam and fibre from unwanted trainers to make spongy surfaces for playgrounds, athletics tracks and sports fields – or materials for new trainers. This contribution to a more circular economy in sportswear has attracted partnerships with brands such as Decathlon, ASICS and Intersport.

RE LOVE FASHION by RE LOVE Foundation

Three-year-old creative agency RE LOVE FASHION is an anomaly in the sector: its mission is to reduce consumption. Fronted by the striking blue-haired Antoinette van den Berg, a trend-forecaster and stylist known in fashion circles as the Lady in Blu, the Amsterdam agency is forging a new path in a polluting industry by promoting what she describes as ‘joyful alternatives to enjoy fashion: reuse, retouch, restyle, repair and repeat’. ‘If we really want to reduce the pollution of the fashion industry, the most effective solution is to consume fewer new clothes,’ she told DutchNews.nl. ‘How nice is it to wear something that you know didn’t pollute?’

Writer, Deborah Nicholls-Lee from Dutchnews.nl

 

 


Sustainable Wooden Hangers

SupplyCompass in conversation with Gertjan Meijer, CCO of A&H

Sustainable Wooden Hangers

In Conversation With Gertjan Meijer, CCO of Arch & Hook

Arch & Hook is an Amsterdam based startup providing game-changing innovation in the global hanger industry. A&H believes that the clothing hanger can be sustainable from both an ecological and economical point of view. Arch & Hook hangers are made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood, recycled plastic, and their new BLUE® product is made from ocean-bound plastics, marine plastics and post-consumer plastics. Arch & Hook work with a range of enviable brands including Harrods, Columbia Sportswear and designer Roland Mouret, and have set out to switch the world to sustainable hangers.

SupplyCompass sits down with Gertjan Meijer, CCO of Arch & Hook, to talk about how the company began, their sustainable products, the effects COVID-19 has had on their business, and what sustainability means to them.

SupplyCompass

Tell us about Arch & Hook?

Half of the leadership in our company has a background in retail fixture design – not specifically on hangers, but more holistically around the environment of stores. They found that customers were asking about their hangers – they loved the fixtures, but they wanted something different when it came to hangers. Our Founder started researching the hanger industry to understand how the supply chain works and what types of vendors and products are out there. That ultimately led to the start of Arch & Hook.

CCO Arch & Hook
Gertjan Meijer, CCO of Arch & Hook

At first, our main focus was on quality and design. We wanted to create hangers that would fit within the environment they were placed in, the fixtures, and of course the garments. Sustainability was an important focus in the beginning but it wasn’t at the forefront. We then realised that sustainability and design go hand-in-hand, so we switched that. We realised we needed to educate the world on the fact that hangers are a very polluting element of retailers and other B2B industries, and we needed to come up with solutions. We set out to design, produce and supply clothing hangers with a strong focus on sustainability and longevity.

We now operate across Europe, North America and Australia and serve a global market of retailers and hospitality companies. We don’t just see ourselves as a product – we also offer global logistic services and we are a partner to our customers.

What does sustainability mean to Arch & Hook?

We’re very focused on sustainability, as the world is yearning for solutions that treat the earth in a better way. We commit ourselves to sustainability across all projects we develop, and we like to say that we are the only fully sustainable hanger brand. Other companies have initiatives, but for example, when working with wood, we only work with FSC Certified wood. Even if you’re certified, you don’t always have to supply sustainable products, but we have committed to always supplying FSC certificates with our products.

The same goes for our plastic programs, Mission-E® and BLUE®, we don’t work with short term, single-use plastic; instead, we only work with 100% recycled and recyclable plastic where we can focus on the longevity of our product. We also are continuously looking for new sustainable solutions and put a lot of effort into research & development, as well as working with our partners and universities.

We have wood and plastic manufacturing in multiple locations in Europe and Asia. It gives us a great deal of flexibility. Our European manufacturing has proven to be very beneficial when tariffs were implemented in the United States. Generally, we like to produce where we use, whenever feasible.

What does the Arch & Hook customer look like? 

We’re a B2B business that focuses on retail—this is our biggest market—as well as hospitality. Within retail we work with brands, retailers and department stores; oftentimes they are global companies. In terms of scale, it depends if it’s wood or plastic, but our recycled plastic programs are usually very large scale. Between wood and plastic, we run programs from 10,000 hangers to tens of millions of hangers, and sometimes even hundreds of millions of hangers. The split between our wood and plastic hangers in volume is 80% plastic to 20% wood in terms of volume, but in terms of value, it’s a fairly even split as our recycled plastic products are much more affordable than the wood-alternative.

What collaboration are you most proud of?

The collaboration I’m most proud of is our BLUE® program with Roland Mouret, a French fashion designer. It allowed us to be part of London Fashion Week, where we launched the product and got exposed and connected to a large variety of retailers, brands and designers.

"Hangers in our BLUE® program are made from a combination of ocean-bound plastics, marine plastics and post-consumer plastics. It all started when we decided that there was an opportunity to tackle the plastic problem and all the plastic waste that is floating around in oceans. We knew we needed to do something about that and make our contribution."

Gertjan Meijer - CCO of Arch & Hook

We started working with our supply chain on developing a mix of plastic that would allow us to completely recycle after use—this is something that is very important for us—and add longevity to the product. This is far better than the alternative, polystyrene, which is the material often used for hangers. PS is very brittle, so hangers can easily snap.

The partnership started with a conversation with Roland Mouret, where he shared his frustrations with cheap plastic hangers that his company was using to transport garments. We worked together to come up with a modular hanger with different components that can be taken apart, including a top hanger, a bar, and clips. We launched this product together during London Fashion Week, and are now using the BLUE® concept for custom programs with other customers, including some big, global rollouts.

What are your aspirations for the future of Arch & Hook? Where would you like to see the brand in the future?

We’ve only been around for five years – there is a great sense of ambition within our company. We want to be an industry leader and create more brand awareness, and we are expanding our footprint in terms of presence and visibility. We really want to make sure that our target audience sees us as the go-to company for hangers that represent quality, design and sustainability. We present ourselves as the most forward-thinking hanger brand, and we aim to switch the world to sustainable hangers.

We currently have three main offices  HQ in Amsterdam, NYC in the US, and Manly in Australia. We have smaller offices throughout the US, UK, France and Germany. In terms of footprint expansion, we just opened an office in Mexico, and we see big opportunities in Asia.

How have you or your customers been impacted by COVID-19? What are you doing differently during this time?

We’re in the lucky position that we’re still a relatively young company—even though that can expose us to risks—but, we don’t have massive overheads. So for now, it’s still manageable. We’re also fortunate that we don’t have to lay off anyone on our team. We are seeing some clients are heavily hit, and they are responding in different ways. Some of our retail customers are responding to the COVID crisis in a paralysis, where they ask to reboot the conversations we’re having at a later time, whilst others continue our conversations and they are still preparing the projects for the next 6 months.

"Some of our retail customers respond to the COVID crisis in a paralysis, where they ask to reboot the conversations we're having at a later time, whilst others continue our conversations and they are still preparing the projects they are foreseeing for the next 6 months."

Gertjan Meijer - CCO of Arch & Hook

n terms of our team, we are all working from home and connecting in different ways. I see this as an opportunity to take a good look at our travel policies.  We now have calls between Europe and the US that we might not have been able to due to travel affecting availability. It’s both internal and external communication – it’s also about connecting with people in more sustainable ways. We don’t have to take a flight anymore, and we can just communicate via videoconference. It’s not so difficult to have a half-hour conversation – previously, we might have taken a flight for two or three meetings.

We are speaking to our customers about creative solutions, flexibility, and rethinking existing patterns into better ways of working.

We’re also developing a range of online talks called ‘Sustainability Salon Series’, to bring people from different industry backgrounds together to talk about how they tackle sustainability, with the aim to share inspiration and best practices. This will be a monthly event – we originally wanted to do this series physically in our New York City office and our Amsterdam office, but with that, we had the logistical limitations in terms of the presence of people. Our first event will be run virtually, so we can combine the European and North American audiences. I don’t want to make everything positive as there are a lot of negatives and a lot of hardship, but we are trying to make lemonade out of lemons.

What has been your biggest learning along the way?

My biggest learning has been that nothing is the way it appears. It’s a wrong assumption to think the status quo is right – it’s actually a missed opportunity to think that way. We’ve had discussions internally where we challenge how the industry is operating and think: maybe that’s not right, maybe we can operate in a different way. It’s very easy to assume all these companies, suppliers and clients have thought this process through, so there must be a reason for that. I’m sure there were reasons, but it’s important to think outside of the box and to research and analyse data and information that can lead you in the right direction to create better solutions.

FIT BLUE Window

What are your company values?

Our values include transparency, sustainability, integrity, passion, education, commitment and partnership. We invite our customers to come with us to visit our factories and see our processes. Ultimately, it really boils down to the fact that we believe in partnerships, and to be a good partner, you need to be honest, you need to be transparent, you need to collaborate and you need to be committed to one another. That really ties everything together, and when you feel passionate about what you’re working towards, you’re able to transcend that message better. It also helps with getting people to commit to your cause.

"I can really see with the customer base that we have grown over the past few years that there's a true commitment and shift in terms of responsible business. There's a desire and need to do better, and there's the push from consumers and media to do better."

Gertjan Meijer - CCO of Arch & Hook

We see it as our responsibility to create affordable alternatives. If we do something that is three times the price, then it’s never going to work. At the same time, it’s really important that everyone accepts that convenience is not always the best indicator of value. We have to make this world a better place, and sometimes there won’t be a convenient alternative, but if we collaborate on trying to find new solutions, we can create a new, convenient status quo.

What advice would you give to other brands trying to be more responsible?

It’s about pushing the boundaries, making clear choices, and being unapologetic about those choices. You should make the choices that you really believe in.

"We have had opportunities with big programs where we have respectfully declined requests for quotations (RFQ's) because a customer requested polystyrene. We decided that we wouldn't supply unsustainable materials, including polystyrene – it doesn’t have a long life as it’s a brittle plastic and it has great limitations in terms of recyclability. This is not acceptable to us, so it's fair and important for us to stay true to our ethos."

Gertjan Meijer - CCO of Arch & Hook

We also believe in education and helping our audiences with solutions. We really try to be the expert in what we do as industry leaders in the sustainable field. It’s important to come up with solutions that our prospective customers may not have thought about to really create an alternative.

Words, Margo Camus from SupplyCompass
Photography, Arch & Hook

Hangers - the detail that keeps the fashion up

You can find them hanging in almost all wardrobes – the hangers. Although hangers have been with us for quite some time now, it took some time before it was noticed, at least as a designed object.

Two worn hangers hang outdoors.

Before there were hangers, people hung garments on knobs and hooks, put them over rods or stored them in chests, cabinets, and drawers. These were the most used methods people used during most of the 19th century. But as fashion evolved, so did the way clothes are stored. Whoever invented the hanger prevails on shared opinions, but it is clear that it was invented during the mid-1800s when it began to become more common and various patents on hangers began to be taken.

Today, hangers are an obvious part of closets at homes, as well as the fashion industry. It is estimated that around 85 billion hangers are thrown away around the world each year. This has led to voices being raised that the plastic hangers should be recognized as an environmental problem just as plastic straws and bags.

In this week’s Style, we call Sjoerd Fauser who is the CEO of the Dutch hanger company, Arch & Hook. The company says it wants to shift the world to sustainable hangers, especially the fashion industry. When garments are transported from factories, it is often done on cheap plastic hangers which are discarded once the garments are in the store. The company has developed a new type of transport hanger made from recycled plastic, which has been collected in some of the world’s most polluted rivers.

We also look more closely at the hangers as a symbol. When supermodel Gigi Hadid appeared in a hoodie with a small hanger print on the front, the Norwegian fashion creator Holzweiler, who designed the garment, received international attention. They had chosen the hanger symbol from a tattoo, and such a tattoo has become, in another part of the world, a symbol of the political struggle for the right to free abortion.

Hangers are also an object that has been represented in a variety of clothing brands, hotels, and different kinds of companies. There’s a huge number of unique hangers with all kinds of prints.

Listen to the interview here.


Plastic Hanger

Kleerhangers van duurzaam hout of gerecycled plastic

Kleerhangers van duurzaam hout of gerecycled plastic

Groen doen Elke week gidst NRC je richting een duurzaam leven.Niet duurzaam kleerhanger (Plastic)

De rietjes van de modewereld worden ze genoemd. Volgens onlinemodekrant Business of Fashion worden jaarlijks miljarden plastic kleerhangers weggegooid. De meeste nog voordat een kledingstuk in de winkel hangt.

Vanaf het moment dat een kledingstuk een fabriek verlaat worden steeds plastic hangers gebruikt om te voorkomen dat de kleding kreukt. Bij het vervoer naar een distributiecentrum, bij het transport van het distributiecentrum naar de winkel. Soms wordt kleding rechtstreeks uit de doos opgehangen, soms worden de plastic hangers vervangen door chiquere, eventueel houten exemplaren. En dan zijn er nog de stomerijen.

De meeste plastic hangers zijn zo goedkoop dat het eigenlijk niet rendabel is om er een recyclesysteem voor op te zetten. Toch zoeken steeds meer modebedrijven naar milieuvriendelijkere alternatieven. Zara is begonnen om weggooihangers te vervangen door hangers van gerecycled plastic die teruggaan naar de fabriek. Van kapotte hangers wordt het plastic gerecycled. Voorlopers zijn het Amerikaanse Target en het Britse Marks & Spencer. De laatste heeft de afgelopen twaalf jaar meer dan een miljard hangers opnieuw gebruikt of gerecycled, Target hergebruikt, repareert en recyclet al hangers sinds 1994.

Dit zijn natuurlijk grote ketens, met grote budgetten. Maar kleinere bedrijven kunnen ook gemakkelijk overschakelen op een duurzamer alternatief. Het bijna vijf jaar oude Nederlandse Arch & Hook noemt zich ’s werelds eerste duurzame hangermerk en schat het aantal per jaar weggegooide hangers zelfs op honderd miljard.

Oprichter Sjoerd Fauser hield zich eerder bezig met de inrichting van winkels. Hij kwam op het idee voor Arch & Hook nadat zijn klanten klaagden over het feit dat de kwaliteit van de hangers achterbleef bij het interieur. Hij besloot het duurzaam aan te pakken.

De hangers van Arch & Hook zijn gemaakt van duurzaam hout dan wel gerecycled plastic, al dan niet van plastic afkomstig uit Chinese rivieren. De plastic hangers zijn te recyclen, en gaan veel langer mee dan wegwerphangers en kunnen qua vorm, kleur en grootte worden aangepast aan de wensen van de klant. Onder meer Vetements, Roland Mouret en het Britse Harrods werken al samen met de Nederlandse start-up, die inmiddels kantoren heeft in Amsterdam, New York, Londen en Sydney en meer dan honderd miljoen hangers heeft verkocht.

English Version: 

Clothes hangers from sustainable wood or recycled plastic

Doing something green Every week, NRC guides you towards a sustainable life. Plastic Hanger

Clothes hangers are being called as the plastic straws of the fashion industry. According to online fashion newspaper,  Business of Fashion, billions of plastic hangers are thrown away every year. Most of them don’t even reach the stores where the garments are displayed.

From the moment that a garment leaves a factory, plastic hangers are always used to prevent creasing during transportation:  from the factory to a distribution center, and from the distribution center to a store. Sometimes the garments are hung directly from the box, and sometimes the plastic hangers are replaced by more chic, possibly wooden, hangers. Let’s not forget, that there are dry cleaners as well.

Most plastic hangers are so cheap that it’s actually not profitable to set up a recycling system for them. Yet, more and more fashion companies are looking for more environmentally friendly alternatives. Zara has begun to replace disposable hangers with recycled plastic hangers that go back to the factory. The plastic from broken hangers is recycled. The forerunners are the American Target and the British Marks & Spencer (M&S). M&S has reused and/or recycled more than one billion hangers for the past twelve years. Target has been resuing, repairing, and recycling hangers since 1994.

These are of course large chains, with large budgets. However, smaller companies can also easily switch to a more sustainable alternative for hangers. The almost 5 years old Dutch company, Arch & Hook, calls itself the world’s first sustainable hanger brand and even estimates the number of hangers thrown away every year at one hundred billion.

Founder Sjoerd Fauser was previously involved in retail and design production. He came up with the idea for Arch & Hook after his customers complained that the quality of the hangers lagged behind the interior. He decided to take a sustainable approach.

The hangers from Arch & Hook are made from sustainable wood, high-grade recyclable plastic, and plastic originating from Chinese rivers. The plastic hangers are recyclable and last much longer than disposable hangers. The hangers can be adjusted in shape, color, and size to the wishes of the customer. Vetements, Roland Mouret, and the British Harrods are already working together with the Dutch start-up, which now has offices in Amsterdam, New York, London, and Sydney, and has sold more than one hundred million hangers.

 

Words, Milou van Rossum
Photography, Getty Images


Dan Walker & Louise Minchin

EXPRESS – Dan Walker: ‘Made me rethink’ BBC host shocked at plastic waste revelation

Dan Walker: ‘Made me rethink’ BBC host shocked at plastic waste revelation

DAN WALKER – BBC Breakfast host – was left shocked during the show’s report about plastic coat hangers, saying it “certainly made me rethink things”.

Dan Walker, 43, admitted he will “rethink” all his plastic waste after a BBC Breakfast report yesterday morning touched on the number of plastic coat hangers we throw away.

Dan and co-host, Louise Minchin introduced correspondent, Ben Thompson, who informed viewers that we throw away around 100 million plastic hangers every year and they all end up in landfill, part of the ongoing problem multiple environmental campaigns are trying to abolish.

He went on to explain that because of the duel material used to make hangers, they can take up to 1,000 years to break down, according to hanger recycling company, First Mile.

There have been many reports and warnings from scientists that global warming will soon have an irreversible impact on Earth and that we only have a few years left to turn things around.

But there are lots of people doing their bit to help save the planet and reduce their plastic waste dramatically, including big chain stores cutting down on all unnecessary plastic packaging and opting for sustainable materials that can be recycled easily.

"Bruno is not alone. Thanks for all your comments on this today. Certainly made me rethink things"

Dan Walker

Speaking to fashion designer, Roland Mouret, the report looked at how he is actively trying to implement recyclable hangers into fashion stores with the help of Dutch firm, Arch and Hook, calling original plastic hangers the “plastic straw” of the fashion industry and “unacceptable”.

"I think it's stronger than a normal hanger, but at the moment, if you break it, it's completely recyclable,” Roland said.

The ongoing problem has got a lot of people thinking and provoked Strictly Come Dancing judge, Bruno Tonioli, to respond to BBC Breakfast’s tweet about the report.

“I never even thought about this type of plastics waste,” the judge said honestly.

Although cutting down on plastic is becoming easier, there are still some things that we don’t realise are damaging to the planet, coat hangers being one of them.

Dan Walker: BBC host left shocked at plastic waste admission

Dan Walker: ‘Made me rethink’ BBC host shocked at plastic waste revelation

Bruno’s admission prompted Dan to respond: “Bruno is not alone. Thanks for all your comments on this today. Certainly made me rethink things #BBCbreakfast,” he said.

The BBC host looked shocked during the report as Ben joined him and Louise on the sofa to show them Roland’s new recyclable hangers.

“Something we all use,” he commented, listening intently to Ben’s analysis.

Users were quick to agree that the plastic hanger has to go. “I always decline the hanger now I have a wooden hanger dating back to my time in school in the late 60s,” one user said.

“I have plastic hangers that I have had for ages. Shops need to stop giving out hangers or impose a price on them like the plastic bags.”

“Brilliant idea - agree we have to change,” another quipped.

Dan Walker was shocked during the report about plastic hangers

A third said: “Great idea - I personally use wooden ones and always hand plastic ones back to the store for reusing. Would be good to see all plastic ones in stores replaced by 100 percent recyclable ones though definitely.”

“This @RolandMourethanger seems good plus has trouser clips on too so multi-purpose unlike other hangers. Well done!” Someone else praised the designer for his efforts.

But the report also left many viewers confused as to why so many hangers thrown away by stores coudn't be reused instead.

“Surely the existing hangers go back and be used though? I always turn down a hanger at the shop and assumed the shop would send them back to be reused?” One user asked.

Another said: “Maybe I missed something, but as much as this is an improvement, what's the issue with reusing hangers that have already been made? Recycling still uses a lot of energy. This only seems like part of the solution I think.”

BBC Breakfast airs weekdays at 6am on BBC.

Words, JESSICA WILLIAMS from BBC News

Photography, BBC


BLUE hanger & normal plastic hanger

BBC Breakfast – Hangers are 'fashion industry's plastic straw', says designer

A recyclable clothes hanger has been developed by a fashion designer in an attempt to end the use of plastic ones.

Roland Mouret says plastic hangers are the “plastic straw” of the fashion industry and has developed what he says is the world’s only sustainable brand.

They are made out of 80% recycled plastic recovered from the sea and 20% recyclable plastic, and they also feature aluminium hooks.

Current plastic hangers are hard to recycle because of how they are made.

They can include a combination of up to seven different plastics as well as metal, and many hangers end up in landfill where they can take up to 1,000 years to break down, according to hanger recycling company First Mile.

Mr Mouret offered 300 of his new hangers for free to most designers at last month’s London Fashion Week. However, only about 20% accepted them.

Coat hangers

Mr Mouret, who created the hangers in collaboration with the firm Arch and Hook, told BBC Breakfast: “A beautiful garment has to be hanged on a hanger and has to be carried by van to the store.

“In that travel, we use single use plastic hangers that we throw away straight away after, and they’re all polystyrene and polystyrene is not recyclable.”

Mr Mouret says his hanger is “fully sustainable”.

“I think it’s stronger than a normal hanger, but at the moment, if you break it, it’s completely recyclable.

“You can have something that becomes so circular that nothing goes back to the sea.”

There has been growing concern about the environmental cost of continuing to use plastic hangers.

Over the summer, Labour MP Angela Smith said shops should be banned from giving them out, while John Lewis is inviting its customers to bring in old hangers for reuse or for in-store recycling.

And an Aberdeen shopping centre has created a scheme where customers can leave plastic hangers in a designated area in its car park entrance for others to reuse.

Mr Mouret also blamed the desire for fast fashion for environmental problems.

“One of the trends of the 90s was the must-have [item of clothing], and the must-have was treated as an addiction,” he said.

“Every time if you don’t buy it, you’re going to be unhappy and if you buy it, you can throw it away.

“We thought it would carry on, it fell apart. It’s falling apart now and that’s why we have to make a change.”

 

Words, BBC News


Wooden hangers in bulk

INDEPENDENT – DESIGNER OF 'FULLY SUSTAINABLE' HANGER SAYS PLASTIC VERSION IS INDUSTRY'S 'DIRTY SECRET'

Designer says hangers are the 'plastic straws' of the fashion industry (Stock)

DESIGNER OF 'FULLY SUSTAINABLE' HANGER SAYS PLASTIC VERSION IS INDUSTRY'S 'DIRTY SECRET'

fashion designer who created a recyclable, sustainable clothes hanger has compared the plastic ones, which are difficult to recycle, to "plastic straws".

Roland Mouret designed the new hangers out of 80 per cent recycled plastic that has been recovered from the sea and 20 per cent recyclable plastic.

According to the designer, he was motivated to create a sustainable hanger brand because he believes plastic coat hangers are the "dirty secret" of the fashion industry.

“A beautiful garment has to be hanged on a hanger and has to be carried by van to the store,” Mouret told BBC Breakfast. “In that travel, we use single use plastic hangers that we throw away straight away after, and they’re all polystyrene and polystyrene is not recyclable.”

Currently, 100 million plastic hangers, which can include a combination of up to seven different plastics, are thrown away each year, according to hanger recycling company First Mile. Each hanger can take up to 1,000 years to break down in a landfill.

In comparison, the new hangers, which were created in collaboration with Arch and Hook, are “fully sustainable” and “completely recyclable” if they break.

“You can have something that becomes so circular that nothing goes back to the sea,” Mouret said.

Despite offering more than 300 free hangers to designers during London Fashion Week last month, the designer said that only about 20 per cent accepted them.

Mouret also blames fast-fashion for the environmental issues caused by the industry, adding that we “have to make a change”.

Earlier this year, First Mile launched a coat hanger recycling service for use by fashion and retail businesses.

Retailer John Lewis has also come up with a sustainable solution to hangers, by inviting customers to bring in old hangers to the chain's Oxford store to be reused or recycled.

Words, Chelsea Ritschel from INDEPENDENT

Photography, BBC Breakfast


BFC CEO and A&H CEO

FORBES – ‘The Penicillin Of Fashion’: A Hanger Made From Marine Plastics Is Addressing Fashion’s Environmental Hang-Ups

‘The Penicillin Of Fashion’: A Hanger Made From Marine Plastics Is Addressing Fashion’s Environmental Hang-Ups

Arch & Hook debuted their 'Blue' hanger at London Fashion Week

The war on plastic has destroyed the reputation of the most mundane accessories to our daily lives. Carrier bags. Plastic straws. Drink bottles. It is a movement that has prompted commercial reform, shifted government policy, and spawned growing industries centered on reusing or producing eco-friendly alternatives.

As we get to grips with the unglamorous side of our consumer habits, the fashion business is among those being forced to respond. Buzzwords like “sustainability” have rocked the industry, uprooted its foundations and jolted it into rethinking its appetite for excess. Implemented correctly, eco-friendly practices look good on the balance sheet, boosting operating incomes by up to 2%, Boston Consulting Group figures suggest. Done badly, firms rightly face accusations of “greenwashing.” With fashion’s impact on the environment no longer a backstage issue, leading brands are switching fabrics to kinder alternatives, using alternatives to leather, or organic cotton. But if they’re taking their environmental footprint seriously, they’re thinking about how their clothes are packaged, too.

“We’re All Guilty”

Founders: Sjoerd Fauser & Anne Bas

As photographers circled a small group of Extinction Rebellion protesters staging a ”die-in” outside the first day of London Fashion Week SS20, one corner room inside a building on central London’s The Strand was abuzz with PRs, reporters and industry insiders surrounding Roland Mouret, the fashion designer, who teamed up with Sjoerd Fauser and Anne Bas, cofounders of sustainable hanger startup Arch and Hook. The Amsterdam-based brand was officially launching BLUE, a hanger created to help combat the billions of pieces of plastic used by retailers that are dumped into the ocean every year.

Figures vary, but the company calculates that 150 billion garments are produced around the world each year, and that of those, two thirds are transported from factory to store using plastic hangers most likely made using polystyrene, widely not recycled, in what is called the “garment on hanger” process. These aren’t the hangers you see on the shop floor, because they are discarded in favour of branded in-store hangers. Although wasteful, the process saves retailers time as it leaves fewer wrinkles on the garment, meaning it is ready to be displayed faster.

Figures vary, but the company calculates that 150 billion garments are produced around the world each year, and that of those, two thirds are transported from factory to store using plastic hangers most likely made using polystyrene, widely not recycled, in what is called the “garment on hanger” process. These aren’t the hangers you see on the shop floor, because they are discarded in favour of branded in-store hangers. Although wasteful, the process saves retailers time as it leaves fewer wrinkles on the garment, meaning it is ready to be displayed faster.

Inspector checking the material quality of some clothing

At the heart of the brand’s mission with the BLUE hanger, nicknamed the “soldier” by CEO Fauser, is to replace this unseen piece of polystyrene used to transport garments from the factory to the shop floor. “Let’s be honest, fashion is terrible for the environment,” Bas told Forbes. “It’s not durable. When something is not hot anymore you throw it out, and we’re all guilty.”

Mouret, whose generation of designers sped up the fashion season cycle from “two collections to six collections” a year, he says, was inspired to sign up to Arch and Hook’s mission after being introduced to Fauser by the British Fashion Council. “What we have created is a monster,” he told Forbes. Mouret labels the hangers the “the penicillin of fashion,” attempting to fight off the industry’s plastic-related ills.

Amid a chorus of statistics warning of fashion's devastating impact on the environment, the company knows how to frame the issue to capture imaginations anew, comparing the scale of the hanger problem to the size of the Empire State Building and the Big Ben in their advertising campaign. The company estimates that out of those billion of hangers, which are only used once, 85% will end up in landfill, “taking more than 1,000 years to degrade.”

https://youtu.be/p1zjsZoE3Mk

The messaging is getting through—the four-year-old company recently came through its Series B funding round, meaning Arch & Hook has now raised “tens of millions” of euros, according to Fauser. Sixteen retailers and designers—who are yet to be revealed—have signed up to use BLUE hangers since mid-September. Retailers are expected to return the hangers to the company to be reused or remade.

Hunting For Rubbish

Arch & Hook, which touts itself as the world’s “number one” sustainable hanger brand, sold its first Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood hanger designed for in-store use, in 2017. After gaining interest from luxury brands including YSL and Vetements, but struggling to meet the fast demand from their clients, the cofounders began to consider new materials they could use, including plastic. “We thought, if we’re going to go into plastics, we can not only on one side of the business sell fully sustainable wooden hangers and then on the other side of the business, partake in what we’re trying to cut,” Fauser said.

Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council, and Sjoerd Fauser. The Council introduced Roland

In June, the company, which hired around 50 people worldwide, launched their “Mission-E” hanger made from recycled materials, before launching BLUE in September following two years of research for it. The hangers are produced from riverine debris from four of China’s largest rivers, including the Yangtze and the Yellow, which is collected before it reaches the sea. The materials are sorted and separated before being shredded and injection-moulded into the modular hangers that can be used for garments including T-shirts and trousers. China, which banned imports of foreign nations’ plastic waste in 2018, has approved Arch and Hook’s unique supply chain while providing the company with the relevant contacts for their recycling and garbage collection efforts, Fauser said.

Stemming The Flow

Disposable hangers are just one part of the equation. A cursory scroll through YouTube (no longer just a video-sharing platform, but also a hub of consumerism) will likely present you with an “unboxing” video of some sort, in which the vlogger will often fixate on the weight and quality of the packaging, giving it almost equal attention to the product within it. PR unboxings generate thousands of views for influencers, pushing brands to create increasingly theatrical packaging.

To attempt to offset this, Delta Global CEO Robert Lockyer, who has worked in luxury packaging for 28 years, consults brands on ways that packaging can be designed for reuse as a storage item, or for recycling. “I think it’s a final realisation that every business has a responsibility to do something about the voracious consumerism and waste we’ve had over the last 30 or 40 years,” he told Forbes. Lockyer counts luxury retailers MATCHESFASHION, Net-A-Porter, Tom Ford, La Mer and Ted Baker among his clients, adding that it’s the luxury brands that allow for more innovation when it comes to packaging compared with cost-conscious fast fashion brands. MATCHESFASHION told Forbes that 65% of their customers “try to live as sustainably as possible,” so making their packaging easily recyclable and free from plastic  was a “priority.” Their signature marbled boxes contain a water-based finish and can be reused.

Coach, Delta Global-designed box

Across the EU, the amount of packaging waste produced each year outpaces efforts to recover and recycle it. And while plastic bags and straws bear much of the backlash where single-use plastics are concerned, throwaway hangers are a more harmful culprit, Fauser says, because they are often made from a mixture of different plastics and therefore harder to recycle. Polystyrene is not widely recycled in the U.K., U.S. and Europe.

Yet, as Arch and Hook tries to stem the flow, the level of waste gushes towards them at a much faster rate than they can clean up. “There’s a lot of plastic in the ocean, so if we can sell over 1 billion hangers in an extended amount of time, we would be cleaning anywhere [up to 2%] of what’s out there," Fauser said.

"There is so much out there, and that’s calculating that there won’t be anymore plastic put into the ocean.”

Arch & Hook’s contribution might be a drop in the ocean yet, if the innovation is adopted widely by the world’s most influential retailers,  it could be one sign that the fashion industry is handling its sustainability problem seriously—not merely as a vanity project.

Writer, Isabel Togo from FORBES
Make-up: Charly W.

Vogue Business – Fashion’s fight to phase out plastics

Fashion’s fight to phase out plastics

Items regularly used in fashion, like hangers, buttons and plastic packaging wrap, are being replaced as the industry works to become more sustainable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key takeaways:

  • Eco-friendly and natural alternatives to plastics like hangers and buttons are in demand.
  • Much of the push comes from public pressure and the rising tide of sustainability goals that companies have committed to.
  • For now, more eco-friendly alternatives still tend to cost more than virgin plastic.

For Roland Mouret, hangers are an opportunity to unify fashion brands in the fight against plastics. “The plastic hanger for [us] is the equivalent of the plastic straw for bars and restaurants,” he says of the ubiquitous item that requires only minimal effort to be avoided or can at least be designed in a less environmentally detrimental way.

The French designer is on a mission to transport and display his garments in stores in a more sustainable way and is now working with Dutch company Arch & Hook, which launched Blue, a hanger made from recycled marine plastics, during London Fashion Week.

CEO of Arch & Hook, Sjoerd Fauser, and creative director Anne Bas.

Blue is part of a growing effort to phase out overlooked plastic parts that have long supported a garment’s functionality or offered finishing touches, like hangers, buttons and sequins. Although brands have worked to incorporate fabrics like Econyl that can reduce their carbon footprint, public pressure surrounding sustainability is also leading many to broaden their focus to include the plastic afterthoughts in the manufacturing or delivery process that even many sustainability-minded consumers may overlook.

It’s a shift that is fuelling opportunity in the eco-entrepreneurial space, but change doesn’t come without cost.

Plastic-free innovation

Bioglitter offers a plant-based, biodegradable alternative to plastic-based glitter, one source of the microplastic pollution found in oceans that has some calling for a ban on the substance. The Sustainable Sequin Company, which launched in November 2017, has already sold recycled plastic sequins to Gucci, Stine Goya and Jasper Conran, in addition to a number of small, sustainability-focused brands. Founder Rachel Clowes is also currently working on a bioplastic, biodegradable version.

Rob Ianelli, CEO of Oceanworks, a US startup that connects brands and factories with suppliers of ocean plastic waste to create buttons, sunglasses, zipper pulls and tape, eyelets, snaps and other types of trim from recycled plastic, views these minute details as “the last mile in sustainable apparel development”. One of the company’s first projects was a button it helped Outerknown, the casual California label helmed by surfer Kelly Slater, create in November 2017.

Despite being a self-described “supply chain matchmaker” and not a button manufacturer, Oceanworks has since received an estimated 500 inquiries about recycled-plastic buttons. “Trims were sort of this overseen line item in materials,” Ianelli says. “[They] weren’t being injected with additional sustainability metrics the way that fabrics were.”

Blue hangers by Arch & Hook are made from recycled marine plastics.

Brands including Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, Banana Republic and Brooks Brothers are among the growing clientele of Corozo Buttons, a supplier of buttons, zipper pulls and tags derived from corozo, a natural material native to South America. The company has seen a definitive uptick in demand in the last year, according to marketing director Raul Calderon. “People are noticing that natural, high-quality materials like corozo are not only better for the environment, but also within reach and their budgets,” he says. (Other natural materials such as horn and mother of pearl cost between 20 and 80 per cent more than the corozo buttons; coconut is 10 to 20 per cent cheaper, but Calderon says its colour makes it less versatile.)

The growing demand from luxury and mass labels has furthered investment in innovation. For instance, German button manufacturer Knopf Budke now also uses other eco-friendly materials like coconut shells, rice husks, cellulose and hemp.

Swapping these materials for biodegradable, recycled or eco-friendly versions can cost more, however, adding a hurdle to adoption. The Sustainable Sequin Company’s sequins are priced between two and four times more than conventional counterparts largely because of the company’s ethos and decision to manufacture in the UK, where labour and rent are more expensive. “I can make sure everyone is paid fairly, and production is ethical. A higher price is the outcome of that, and I believe it’s worth it,” Clowes says. “Recycled plastic shouldn’t cost inherently more than virgin plastics, and the environmental cost is far lower.”

Demand from retailers

The British Fashion Council uses Arch & Hook’s Blue hangers at its head office and encouraged exhibitors at the Spring/Summer 2020 shows to do so as well. Arch & Hook CEO Sjoerd Fauser says 16 brands are now signed up to implement the programme by early 2020, with Mouret pushing to see that number grow quickly. “Retailers are asking, ‘What are your solutions?’ They are expecting designers to act,” he says. “I need the support of my fellow designers to make it a success.”

https://youtu.be/p1zjsZoE3Mk

While Blue is a basic design not intended to be seen by customers, Arch & Hook also makes a higher-end model, Mission E, which is custom-designed for store displays at retailers like Harrods. Brands have been happy to reciprocate. “These hangers are used only temporarily before they reach the shop floor, so it doesn’t make any sense for them to be made of plastic,” says London designer Phoebe English, who has replaced plastic hangers with cardboard equivalents when she ships clothing.

Braiform, a firm that makes sustainable packaging and materials, runs a hanger reuse system that serves clients like Marks & Spencer. The company claims that reuse generates not only a reduction in plastic waste but also 80 per cent fewer carbon emissions than a new plastic hanger. The reuse programme isn’t new, but vice president of EU sales Christian Capurso attributes a spike in interest in the last two years to public pressure to eliminate plastic waste, and to the rising tide of sustainability goals that companies have committed to.

“They did it because it was the right thing to do, and now they’ve realised they’ve got a challenge ahead of them,” says Capurso, who adds Braiform is now working on a plastic-free version of the hanger to further reduce environmental footprint.

Mouret, for his part, recognises the role that fashion has played in exacerbating the climate crisis and believes that’s all the more reason to act. “I’m part of the problem. If I’m part of the problem, I can play a big role in the solution.”

Writer, RACHEL CERNANSKY from Vogue Business

PhotographyPaar Photography

Make-upCharly W.


plastic hangers

Treehugger – Bet you didn't know about this fashion industry dirty secret

hangers

It's time to talk about ... wait for it ... the problem with hangers.

For all of its beautiful garments and glamourous trappings, in terms of sustainability the fashion industry is largely a giant mess. Problems like pollution from manufacturing and textiles ending up in the landfill are not much of a secret at this point, but oh there is so much more. Alas.

So let's talk about hangers. Most of us buy a set of hangers and install them in our closet where they live a long life into happy old age. If we get wire hangers from the dry cleaners we know that we can return or recycle them. Because of this, rest assured, the green police are not coming for your hangers. Your hamburgers and pickup trucks, yes, but not your hangers.

But there is a whole other world in which hangers are not so innocent, the ol' "garment on hanger" (GOH) stage.

When manufacturers transport garments from factories to retailers, the items are placed on hangers to keep them safe, secure, and unwrinkled. When they arrive at their destination, the garments are removed from the hangers and placed on the store's hangers – and then all those transportation hangers are simply tossed out. As Amsterdam-based hanger company, Arch & Hook, explains, "The cheap, mostly unrecyclable plastic hangers are then discarded for branded front of house hangers, making the GOH hangers yet another single use plastic." How bad is the problem? Arch & Hook explains:

"It’s estimated that 150 billion garments are produced globally every year (source: Journal of Cleaner Production). There are currently no figures available for hanger production, on a local or global level, however if just two thirds of these garments use GOH, this would mean that an estimated 100 billion hangers are used annually for this stage alone. The majority of these hangers are used once and 85% will end up in landfill, taking more than 1,000 years to degrade."

It may seem odd that a hanger company is spilling the beans on the hanger problem, but Arch & Hook is in the business of sustainable hangers. Therefore, yes, they do have a vested interest in exposing the fiasco; but given the scope of the problem, they are also doing the planet a favor.

To raise awareness of the GOH stage, the company collaborated with the Ridley Scott Creative Group to create the short film below. It stars Model Mafia activist Nimue Smit wearing designs by sustainable couture designer Ronald Van Der Kemp.

https://youtu.be/p1zjsZoE3Mk

And now the question of the hour: What do we do about it?

Arch & Hook has launched a hanger called BLUE that is made entirely of marine debris, which the company says "turns the hanger industry on its head by presenting a 100% recycled, fully closed loop alternative to source plastic for hangers."

That's a great start – and an important reminder that every step of the way can and should be considered with sustainability in mind. (To that end, Arch & Hook has started a petition to help send a message to the industry. You can sign it here.)

But we also need deeper, more fundamental change; specifically, we need to address fast fashion and our consumption habits. We need a fashion revolution; a complete rethinking of what we wear and how we get our clothes, that starts with the consumer and reverberates through every stage of the industry.

As consumers, we need to learn how to eschew the great marketing brainwash, and buy quality, slow-fashion garments that are meant to last; and we need to fully embrace the second-hand and consignment market – to name just a few things we can do. But until that revolution takes hold, addressing the dirty little secrets and creating sustainable solutions is crucial. Imagine, if simple hangers that we never see are such a problem, what else is going on behind the scenes?

 

Writer, Melissa Breyer from Treehugger

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