Designers + Brands ecogearwomen

Published on February 4th, 2010 | by Delia Montgomery

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Ecogear Praises Recycled and Nixes Bamboo

Ecogear apparels are made from 100% recycled material. The company was founded early 2008 by Robert Hii, who is a 25-year fashion veteran with a passion to create clothing with only slight impacts on our planet.

Robert says it took more than a year to complete their ecowear collections as the most eco-friendly clothing in existence. His team went through lots of different materials and processes to conclude one without a cesspool of chemicals to produce and dispose. Besides the usual organic cotton and hemp, they investigated bamboo.

Bamboo could be grown without the need for clear cutting or chemicals, but high energy costs are required to melt that very tough fiber into a pulp. Then authenticity is a concern with bamboo.

Bamboo manufacturers never did certify their products as made from bamboo pulp, ‒ at 100% or less. Suspicion grew by touch alone because bamboo felt like rayons made from other cellulosic fibers.

Following EcoLogo™ Program standards for no bleach or dye, Robert sought alternatives for a long time. His work team thought the best option was bamboo in its greige form, which is undyed.

Then the Competition Bureau and its US counterpart, the Federal Trade Commission, came down on bamboo textiles in 2009. Faced with a huge consumer protest against the claims made by brands and companies that sold bamboo textiles, the Competition Bureau adopted standards that forced these companies to show proof of bamboo’s claims to be eco-friendly or antibacterial. Those businesses were unable to meet the requirements to make their claims.

In conclusion, none of the natural fibers were chosen. The bleach and heavy metals used to strip them of their naturally occurring oils added to Robert’s dismay. He didn’t like the amount of drinkable water used to clean raw fibers, nor the addition of chemical dyestuffs and formaldehyde to promote color fastness.

So Robert’s attention shifted to recycled fibers. Excitement grew, but they couldn’t get the rough coarse texture out enough for clothing comfort. Frustrations mounted for months. Then miraculously, Robert was introduced to a knitter in North Carolina who had been experimenting with European recycled yarn. The texture was soft and manufacturing standards for durability and consistency were high.

Ecogear landed some contracts with environmental groups and government departments to produce t-shirts. Now they sell their recycled finished goods to Sears.ca, who features the brand on their website. Impressive sales at Sears enabled Ecogear to expand beyond t-shirts to yoga wear, athletic apparel, and other market segments.

Ecogear promotes eco-friendly lifestyles and offers newly added items like bar soaps, wooden cutlery, biodegradable bags and jewelry made from tree nuts and seeds. You know there’s no green-washing in this brand of goods, so check ‘em out and let me know how that recycled material feels.

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About the Author

I am Delia, d/b/a Chic Eco on www.ChicEco.com, and established myself as an eco fashion guru by learning "who makes what in the world of environmental fashion and design." Enjoy reading some of my freelance writing about environmental design, fashion and art -- from both consumer and supplier perspectives. You may notice I focus most on individual eco designers, movers and shakers. From sustainable fashion apparel to paint and flooring, discoveries are a rush. I get my kicks this way. I also offer sales representation of earth-friendly designed products for wholesale buyers. Retailers may take advantage of my services with factory-direct pricing. Spend less time sourcing and prevent green-washed purchases! My other forte is connecting suppliers with business-to-business tools. Aspects of my business vary with consulting services while I'm proud to be the aide that embraces unique and innovative gigs. I'm originally a Kentucky Blue Grass gal who relocated to Maui early 2006 and the tropical Puna District of Big Island, Hawaii late 2007. Walk the talk is my motto here. Early 2009 I constructed a yurt home office in a semi-urban setting on a tiny lot. My water comes from the sky, contained in a catchment that's not likely to dry in this rain forest. The electric is designed for solar conversion. I grow about 30% of my food organically, compost, and recycle to the hilt. Permaculture with a full eco system is my gardening style. In fact, gardening is my ultimate joy. I seek gigs like design, weeding and planting between other jobs. My love is Hawai'i which has more climate zones than any state. There are frequent earthquakes here, typically under a 3.0 magnitude, and I happen to dig the vibrations. It's a wonderful simple life in paradise. As I grow older and wiser, I become more and more grateful.



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