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The Sustainable Material Debate, Explained Via Zoolander

Much like the rivalry between our old pals Derek Zoolander and Hansel, there’s a heated debate in the fashion industry over which is more sustainable: natural materials, or recycled ones. 

When it comes to natural we’re talking grown from the ground (think cotton and hemp), whereas recycled materials mean using something existing and giving it new life (think plastics and fishing nets).

You may have heard that those natural materials are so hot right now... but after a little digging we realised that there was a whole lot more to consider, and this choice was going to be as complicated as turning left.

While our preferable method to settle this would’ve been a good old-fashioned walk off, with Covid shutting down runway shows around the globe we decided a basic pros and cons list would have to do. It went a little something like this...

 

Natural Materials

Pros:

  • Can be compostable
  • Sometimes absorb carbon
  • Super durable
  • Don’t involve plastic

Cons: 

  • Only compostable when untreated
  • Often require a lot of water
  • Usually need pesticides
  • Traceability is tough so modern slavery can be an issue
  • High demand means land clearing

 

Recycled Materials

Pros: 

  • Rescues old materials from landfill
  • Doesn’t require land & resources to grow
  • More stain resistant
  • Easier visibility over supply chain

Cons: 

  • Most fabrics aren’t made from 100% recycled materials so still uses a percentage of new materials
  • There can still be toxic chemicals involved
  • Will end up in landfill if not recycled again

 

Ultimately the decision came after we met with Mugatu (Samuel Baruch), a designer dedicated to sustainability and inventor of the piano key neck tie (founder of his own brand Igwe), when he said something that struck a chord with us: 

People are going to continue to make stuff at a rapid rate, and if you can save that stuff from landfill by recycling it into your shoes, then you’re doing the world a solid. It’s as simple as that.

Turning trash into trend? Our decision was made... and our very own Derelicte collection was born. And it was really, really, really, ridiculously good looking... if we do say so ourselves.

In a perfect world, people would be making a whole lot less stuff, and then maybe natural materials would be our preferred choice. But in reality, while most things are mass produced, land is being cleared every day to make room for more farming, and billions of tonnes are being sent to landfill each year... this makes the most sense to us. 

And we’ve realised that at the end of the day, there’s no one look that suits every brand, you’ve just gotta go with your gut and figure out what your Blue Steel looks like. 

Now that that’s sorted, let’s all go get orange mocha almond milk Frappuccino’s. 

Jess & Stef, TWOOBS Founders

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