Why Amsterdam is at the forefront of eco-friendly fashion
When we think of climate change and the detrimental effects that certain industries have on our environment, the first that comes to mind is oil. We rarely think about the second worst industry in the world, possibly because it’s too close to home: we’re wearing it!
Effects of the fashion industry
In a capitalist economy, consumers have delved into the realm of buying throw-away clothes: if it’s out of season, it’s out of fashion.
From pesticide use to high water wastage and toxic dyes that leak into our river streams, the carbon footprint of a single garment can come at quite an environmental cost.
For example, according to Waterfootprint.org the cotton industry alone uses on average 3 percent of global water use. To put that into perspective, it takes on average 2.495 litres of water to manufacture a T-shirt of 250 grams.
Dutch organisations that work towards change
The good news is that as consumers, we can use our spending power to evoke change, and luckily for us, Amsterdam is making that a tad bit easier by being at the forefront of ethical fashion.
› Organisations such as Made-By, an award-winning NGO that works with brands to improve the production and distribution of clothes, are working towards making the industry more sustainable. They release an annual report that tracks a brand's progress.
› Similarly, Shuttelar and Partners’ Sustainable Fashion Advice, work together with the Dutch Fashion Action Plan, a coalition between the Dutch government and the fashion industry, to offer consulting to fashion brands in an effort to increase transparency of their environmental efforts.
› Amsterdam also hosts various eco-friendly fashion events throughout the year. MINT, for example, is part of Modefabriek’s annual fair, which selects brands based on their level of sustainability.
› Then there’s the Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week, which conveniently offers downloadable maps of ethical fashion outlets in various cities across the Netherlands.
Top eco-friendly fashion stores in Amsterdam
If it’s a topic close to your heart, why not start by shopping at five of Amsterdam’s most eco-friendly fashion stores:
› Elsen Gringhuis
Winner of the Green Fashion Competition and Fair Luxury Award, Elsen Gringhuis produces clothes with minimal waste by using natural fabrics like organic cotton, bamboo, wool and silk which are certified by Fairtrade and the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
Stylish and sustainable, Hoodlamb uses hand-picked hemp, the strongest natural fibre on earth, along with organically grown cotton, to create strong, insulated and element-resistant coats. With a focus on craft, each garment is hand-sewn.
› MUD Jeans
After witnessing the effects of fashion on the environment, founder Bert van Son, came up with no-waste solutions in the niche of jeans.
Having won several awards, MUD offers free repairs, tips on how to keep your jeans for longer, and an exchange programme where unwanted jeans are returned, and resold as vintage items.
The company claims to save 50 percent of water that would normally be wasted on buying a new pair, thus allowing for guilt-free consumerism.
Another gem, Päälä offers hand-made screen-printed fabrics that use special inks which are water based, and therefore more environmentally friendly. Their clothes are intended for women using GOTS certified cotton, hemp, linen, and bamboo, along with sustainable viscose blends including Tencel Lyocell and Modal Viscose by Lenzing.
Production is local in Amsterdam and all their suppliers are members of the Fair Wear Foundation, which works to improve work conditions in the fashion industry.
› Studio Jux
With its flagship shop located in Amsterdam, Studio Jux offers sustainable, ethical and beautifully designed fashion at fair and affordable prices.
Working with numerous sustainable organisations both in the Netherlands and abroad, the founders of Jux, aim to make their production 100% transparent, offering customers insight into how their label benefits both people and the planet.
And last but not least, LENA, coined The Fashion Library, is a garment sharing start up that offers high-end pieces including the work of upcoming designers and sustainable labels. Items are swapped out under a fixed subscription that is based on a point system.
You trade a certain amount of points in for a particular garment, keep it for however long you like, and then when you hand it back, you replenish your points. This way you only borrow clothes, or leen as they say in Dutch, which essentially is how LENA got their name.
So, if you genuinely care about the planet, shopping for clothes in Amsterdam is not a bad place to start.