Ecoology

Design and ecology in a single garment

Monday 2 June 2014, by Elisabet Sánchez, Francisco J Román Roig, Lingyuan Jiang

3 inspired

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

After working several years in various companies in the fashion industry and after realizing what she wanted and what she did not wanted, Eva García founded Ecoology together with three partners in 2011.

Ecoology is an eco-friendly fashion company that works with natural, organic and recycled fabrics and places great emphasis on the designs, patterns and finishes.

Ecoology’s fashion collections are made for fashion-loving sensitive women who know who they are and how they fit in this world. Ecoology wants women to feel good and feminine and this is the message they transmit in their designs. They offer clothes that are different, which is why they decided to make very few garments of each model. Both the fabric and the exclusiveness will make women feel they are wearing something very special.

Ecoology is green, digital and design. They focus on selective distribution and online media for their sales and to publicize their business worldwide. They produce in Barcelona, so they control what they do and encourage textile work in their area.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

The main challenges that are being addressed by Ecoology are:

–Overconsumption in the clothing industry

There is an increasing trend towards the consumption of greater quantities of clothing at cheaper prices (Black, 2012), where the habits of shopping are more recurrent and its value has transferred from long-lasting quality clothing to cheap garments that goes aligned to the concept of fast-fashion, an irresponsible philosophy backed and used by large retailers such as Zara, H&M and Topshop.

Ecoology is not focused on mass-producing clothes on the garment industry and become a colossal company that owns sweatshops in order to sustain its economy of scale. On the contrary, Ecoology puts its effort into design and ecological sustainability, into a positioning the ecological fashion next to concepts such as trends, style, glamour, and as its name indicates, cool.

–Waste production (pollution in the garment industry)

The decay of synthetic fabrics posed a serious problem due to its environmental impact. The production of these fabrics creates extensive harm in the atmosphere with the release of toxic and greenhouse gases.

Ecoology works with natural, organic and recycled fabrics. Tencel (i.e. a biodegradable fabric made from wood pulp cellulose), bamboo, and organic cotton are some of the materials used in the confection of the clothes design by Ecoology.

–Disposable fashion

There has been an apparent insatiable need for new clothing, but recently there has appeared movements and trends that try to revert this situation (e.g. slow fashion movement).

The fashion cycle has changed drastically from a seasonal cycle to monthly or to an almost weekly cycle where consumers, particularly in Europe and, to a lesser degree in North America, are treating clothing as disposable goods.

On the other side of the spectrum, we see examples such as thrift shops have enjoyed considerable success in Western Europe and in the United States, and posed a great model to fashion consumers. But its popularity may be a fad, with other trends coming back to the alternative and hippie niche.

Ecoology goes against the buy-and-toss cycle. Their clothes are highly durable and thought to be worn by its customers for several years.

Ecoology poses a different approach in the industry. Its clothes are not as cheap as the clothes offered by the aforementioned multinational companies, as this practice is only possible due to the abysmal wages and conditions of their factories, particularly in the South East Asia region. Nevertheless, Ecoology offer prices more accessible than high-end companies in the fashion industry where posing a restrictive price is part of their marketing mix.

–Constant transportation of goods

The growth the consumption of clothing and the ‘subsequent’ growth of large multinational companies in the textile industry (i.e. some companies have been successful in causing a change in the consumption habits of their consumers) provoke the need for an increased transportation of textile goods. Thus there is an increase in the release of carbon dioxide by transportation vehicles causing the majority of the atmospheric pollution from fabric pollution (Slater, 2003).

Ecoology’s production is local, in Barcelona, where the company can control the production of organic fabrics and encourage the textile production of the region. Furthermore, sustainable textiles are scarce which leads to a smaller production and lower use of transportation vehicles.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

Ecoology’s business revolves around the slow fashion movement. That is, Ecoology’s collections are not the typical seasonal fashion trend that relies on globalized, mass production where garments are transformed from the design stage to the retail floor in only a few weeks. With retailers selling the latest fashion trends at very low prices, consumers are easily swayed to purchase more than they need. But this overconsumption comes with a hidden price tag, and it is the environment and workers in the supply chain that pay.

The fashion industry is contributing to today’s sustainability challenge in a number of ways. It currently uses a constant flow of natural resources to produce ‘Fast Fashion’ garments. In the way it operates, this industry is constantly contributing to the depletion of fossil fuels, used, for example, in textile & garment production and transportation. Fresh water reservoirs are also being increasingly diminished for cotton crop irrigation. The fashion industry is also introducing in a systematic way, and in ever-greater amounts, manmade compounds such as pesticides and synthetic fibers, which increases their persistent presence in nature.

As a result, some natural resources are in jeopardy and forests and ecosystems are being damaged or destroyed for such things as fiber production, leading to issues such as droughts, desertification and not least, climate change, that are affecting society at large.

If the consumption behavior of the larger fashion industry, including consumers, keeps increasing at the current rate, the impact on the social and ecological environment will also increase. This leads to a very limited space for the industry to handle these impacts in the future and resolve the issues society is facing today.

Slow Fashion represents all things “eco”, “ethical” and “green” in one unified movement. The term was first coined by Kate Fletcher, from the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, when fashion was compared to the Slow Food experience. Carl Honoré, author of “In Praise of Slowness”, says that the ‘slow approach’ intervenes as a revolutionary process in the contemporary world because it encourages taking time to ensure quality production, to give value to the product, and contemplate the connection with the environment.

Apart from Ecoology’s commitment to follow Slow Fashion Values, Ecoology’s is an activist in defending them. They have lately participated in the Fashion Revolution Day Sustainable fashion show in Barcelona and they collaborated in the launch of the first PopUp Shop of Sustainable Fashion “SlowFashion Dressing Room”, among other events.

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

They have selected customers (mainly urban and young women) who have a great consciousness about the environment and can afford the slightly higher price of Ecoology´s products. This company is one of the most notorious representatives of the slow fashion movement in Spain and clearly embodies the values of ecological sustainability in the textile industry.

However, big multinational companies such as Levi’s, Nike, Zara, and H&M are beginning to use organic fibers and launching eco-clothe lines to target the same consumer niche as Ecoology. In the near future, this may pose a barrier to companies and designers who want to be part of the slow fashion movement. On the long-term, and with the support of its mammoth spending in advertising, these companies will try to blur the distinction between the companies that have been created with this ecological consciousness in its core and the ones that are doing it as part of their PR campaign and the profitability of the market.

Ecoology may face stiffer competition and a price war against the big brands or against the big fashion companies. This means that the company may have to achieve better efficiency or to enhance its current competitive advantage, hence achieving sustainability in both the economic and the ethical sense.

In order to reduce their cost, Ecoology may also collaborate with charities, NGOs, or smaller enterprises such as thrift shops, social enterprises that sell used goods donated by public members and sell it at very low price, but once they have covered all their fixed costs (i.e. utilities, local rent and staff salaries) or they use the rest of their profits for charity proposes; so the company can acquire used materilas as plastic, or used clothes to produce their ecological garments.

Fashion trends, their product positioning is a high quality garment that last for years in your wardrobe, helping reduce the need to buy new ones often. This positioning looks like controversial to the actual concept of fashion where the tendency change not every year but according to each season. Their main challenge is to change consumers’ purchase habit, which is one of overconsumption and fast fashion. They have to make consumers more aware of all the social problems present in countries where these companies take advantage of the exiguous regulations and the exploitation of its workers. Emissions of toxic gases, contamination of water employing chemical products, sweatshops, and child labor are some of the execrable practices that textile companies performed around the world. Hence, it is not just about employing organic fibers and recycled materials to produce their garment, its function in the society may expand towards the awareness of the textile production chain, promote the transparency of the practices of the company: the product they are acquiring, how is the product elaborated, who supplies the materials, its workers’ labor conditions. Making consumers take responsible and respectful decisions in a social and environment sense.

Bibliography

Bernstein, N. (2014). Ecoology - Sustainable Clothing based in Barcelona. Relevant BCN. Retrieved 2 May 2014, from http://relevantbcn.com/index.php/style/articles/item/4083-ecoology
Black, Sandy (2012). The Sustainable Fashion Handbook. New York: Thames and Hudson.
Slater, Keith (2003). Environmental Impact of Textiles. Boca Raton: Woodhead Publishing.
www.ecoology.com
www.ecouterre.com

Location: Barcelona (Spain)

Sector: Wholesale and retail trade

Official website: http://www.ecoology.es/

Nbr. visits: 500

Nbr. inspires: 3