Los Angeles restated its commitment to being a sustainability leader last month with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s announcement of LA’s Green New Deal.
Meanwhile, local brands are quietly making progress in one of the largest polluting industries in the world: fashion.
As a fashion mecca, the culture and leadership of LA’s fashion designers and boutiques are important influencers. However, the fashion industry has many long-rooted unsustainable practices that continue to drain the earth of premium resources and add to its pollution problem.
Most significantly, Global Fashion Agenda predicts that the industry’s water consumption will grow 150 percent to 31.7 trillion gallons per year by 2030 and its carbon waste will balloon to 148 million tons.
The overarching problem is complex and deeply rooted in existing production, sourcing, and purchasing patterns. Since the fashion industry is one of the largest in the world, it also has one of the longest supply chains, generating more pollutants and waste. Many industry leaders question the viability of a large-scale sustainable fashion enterprise in the context of the success and popularity of the fast fashion industry (Zara, H&M, Forever21, and the like).
In response, several fashion brands have emerged in LA with a focus on sustainability. They aim to become leaders in changing the fashion industry’s longstanding practices.
Celebrity stylist Dechel Mckillian created GALERIE.LA in 2015 to curate brands that create “fashion with integrity.” Mckillian has used her clout from working with the likes of Drake, Nicki Minaj, the Black Eyed Peas, and more to bring an focus on sustainable fashion into the overall industry without sacrificing style and design. Around 40 percent of the products she carries are sourced from LA.
Christy Dawn is one of the most well known LA sustainable fashion brands on Instagram. Not only does the brand — the namesake of its creator — exemplify the essence of LA fashion, it is also completely transparent about its sourcing, design, and production processes. Because they use a local supply chain, it’s easy to follow. All of their pieces are made in LA from deadstock fabric (surplus or incorrect fabrics from other brands that couldn’t be used).
“Textile production and printing requires the use of hundreds of toxic chemicals. We couldn’t in good faith create our own fabrics knowing that we’d be adding to an already alarming environmental problem. We all have a responsibility to ask ‘How can we minimize our impact on the environment?’” Dawn said in an interview with Forbes last year.
Similar to Christy Dawn, Reformation uses deadstock fabric and recycled fabrics to produce all of their pieces. The brand puts “sustainability at the core of everything,” which is why they publish annual sustainability reports for the public to see. The reports include their carbon footprint and progress the business has made to improve sustainability from year to year.
The name of this quaint looking shop in Venice says it all. Alternative Apparel offers more universal sustainable fashion for men, women, and children. They focus on producing comfortable, casual fashion basics like t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jeans — anything that’s a staple of your wardrobe. To minimize their waste packaging waste, they use biodegradable mailers for their online shop. The practice also reduces water use and minimizes C02 waste.
Lacausa puts their money where their mouth is when it comes to sustainability and support the local LA community. After all, “La Causa” is Spanish for “the cause.” In addition to practicing sustainable production right in LA, Lacausa donates a portion of all their sales to various charities. Rebecca Grenell started the brand in 2013.
“We’re very serious about working with fair factories and vendors,” Grenell said to Racked.
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