The OCEAN TEE ethos is to share new ideas. By being entirely transparent about everything we do, we hope other businesses will take notice and follow our lead. We also want our customers to feel confident that they are making a purchase that will have the smallest impact possible on the planet. We love our Mako polo, but this step into fashion is not just about a polo shirt!
I’ve always had some understanding that chemicals are used in the production of clothing. Images of rivers dyed pink, purple and blue as a direct result of fashion production really stick in my mind as a stark reminder of the visible impact that the industry has. But, when I came across an article recently which stated that an estimated 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used in the fashion, textile and footwear industry just to turn raw materials into final products, I was shocked.
Let’s take non-organic cotton as an example. 16% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of the world’s pesticides are used to grow the crop, along with significant quantities of nitrogen fertilisers, 83% of which end up in the environment. And that’s just the impact from farming cotton. You can also add to that the slew of toxic synthetic chemicals that are required to process conventional cotton including silicone waxes, petroleum scours, softeners, heavy metals, flame retardants, ammonia, and even formaldehyde.
Not only do these chemicals end up in our water systems, they also pose an obvious health risk to the people who work with them, particularly without using protective equipment. Alarmingly, 77 million agricultural workers suffer pesticide poisoning each year. Their health as well as the provenance of the crops, fabrics and the production processes themselves were all considerations I had to make in choosing the partners for our clothing range.
Luckily, for consumers and manufacturers, there are now agencies across the world who check and monitor everything to do with fashion from the origins of raw materials, to employees’ working conditions and business’s sustainable credentials.
We’re urging consumers to research and understand the fabrics and manufacturing processes that are used for their clothing and to ultimately become proud of what they are wearing. A few common certifications which you can look out for – not just in our garments – include GOTS, which comes with a unique identifier number and shows that the fabric is organic and toxin free. OEKO-TEX has a variety of standards that test for harmful substances such as those used in fabric dyes, and bluesign® accreditation which is given in recognition of a manufacturer’s ability to produce textiles of maximum quality by minimizing consumption of resources. For example, in the case of dyeing and finishing, bluesign® certification ensures that a manufacturer has used the least amount of water as possible during production – which is a completely different subject area for us to cover another time!