Why is sustainable fashion important? Why not fast fashion? How do our buying decisions effect the planet?
Recently, I spoke with Shamini Dhana, the Founder and CEO, to learn more about Dhana Inc.’s unique approach to sustainability. Through combining creativity and a Zero Waste model, Dhana Inc. is changing how we look at fashion.
The Circular Memory Jacket
Why is Dhana Inc.’s clothing different? Dhana has created a completely customizable “memory jacket”. Anyone can design the inner layer with 10 of your favorite T-shirts. For example, this could be T-shirts from your school’s sports team, a favorite concert you went to, or a memory from a favorite trip. All of those memories are waiting to be a part of a greater story on the inner layer of the jacket. Also, you have the choice to design the jacket through a special online software.
In addition, Dhana Inc. makes the outer layer from reclaimed fabrics also called “deadstock”. They save and redirect unused clothing, usually sitting in fashion warehouses, into new clothing. Currently, over 70% of all clothing is considered waste and ends up in the landfill or is burned. By creating a new system and recycling the fabric, they give the item a new life. In sum, they are helping the environment through a new circular model.
Creating a Brand
Following the ideals of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation for a circular economy, Shamini Dhana created a sustainable fashion brand. She launched the certified B Corp and Fair Trade company in 2008. Over time, it moved from an organic cotton company to completely Zero Waste in 2017 to address the environmental impacts of the fashion industry.
Why is Sustainable Fashion Important?
So, why is sustainable fashion important? If you look at the data, it becomes obvious why we as consumers have the power to reduce environmental impacts through our buying choices.
According to data from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) :
- Every second, a garbage truck of clothing hits a landfill or is burned.
- $500 Billion worth of textiles is lost every year due to it being thrown in a landfill.
- The average American throws away about 81 pounds of clothing every year.
- Fashion industries emit 10% of carbon emissions more than all international flights and maritime shipping. At this pace, the emissions would rise to more than 50% by 2030.
- Every year the fashion industry uses huge amounts of water, 93 cubic billion meters, enough to meet the consumption needs of 5 million people. At this rate, by 2025, 2/3 of the population will face water shortages.
As a result of these findings, it points one to move away from fast fashion to circular fashion.
What is Circular Fashion?
Circular fashion is a commitment to creating clothing designed without waste and pollution. Further, the goal is for an item to be circulated for as long as possible and then returned safely to the earth. It is connected to the model of reduce, reuse, and recycle, which creates a closed loop system for textiles. Moreover, the idea is to extend the life of the clothing so that the value is captured until the end of its lifecycle.
In contrast, it responds to “fast fashion”. A term that journalists coined in the 1990’s, “fast fashion” was the industry’s shift to creating new fashion every 2 weeks. The fashion industry released fast fashion in stores such as Forever 21, H&M, The Gap, and Zara, quickly responding to the latest trends. This move to more production started in the mid-nineteenth century with the mass production of clothing that no longer required fitting. It pumped up mass production, a hugely wasteful cycle of throwing away or burning unsold items. Not only does fast fashion have immense environmental effects, but also creates a system of negative human impacts including cheap labor, poor working conditions, and child labor.
Solutions to Fast Fashion
As a response, the UN Sustainable Development Goals are creating standards for the industry through education, responsible production, and climate action. Many fashion brands are looking to these models to create a more environmentally and socially responsible fashion industry.
Shamini Dhana has created a business that is in-line with a movement towards a more sustainable fashion industry. As a response to the UN SDG’s and the circular economy movement led by the Ellen MacArthur foundation, she has committed to a sustainable business model.
In 2017, they signed the 2020 Fashion Commitment and adapted to the 4 principles outlined in the commitment:
- Design for cyclical fashion
- Take back clothing
- Resell clothing as a new item (Upcycling)
- Use it as feedstock for new fiber
What is New to Dhana Inc. in 2021?
New technology is creating a space for digitizing fashion. Not only can one search for vintage clothing through AI, but anyone can also design clothing for virtual reality. What’s more, Dhana Inc. is using technology in new and interesting ways so that you can have the ability to design your own clothes. You can become the next co-creator of fashion through this process. It’s exciting what possibilities could come through partnerships with new designers. Anyone can customize their own fashion through their platform.
How You Can Create Your Own Design
In the past, a customer interested in a Circular Memory Jacket would send in their favorite T-shirts ready to be recycled. Dhana Inc. would assemble it and send it back. They would redesign the shirts on the inside with recycled fabric on the outside.
Now, anyone can completely customize the jacket. You can now upload photos of the shirts and choose where you want those panels in the jacket in an easy design, drag, and drop manner. Also, there will be other options to design a dress or other fashion items. Now you are the creator of your own unique fashion.
As well, with its values for Zero Waste, they offer to take the material back once it has gone through its lifecycle. They can use it for accessories or recycle it into feedstock, used for new fiber.
Dhana sources the inner layer of the memory jacket through customers submitting vintage materials. In addition, if someone is looking for vintage fabrics, Dhana has a materials library. Also, they’ve partnered with Queen of Raw who also showcases their vintage materials. Even more, they will have an AI personal assistant that will source materials for you to cater to your specific needs.
What Can You Do?
Overall, there are many ways to help improve the environmental and human impact of the fashion industry. We can all move towards a circular fashion model. Here are some things you can do as a consumer to create solutions:
- Support Circular Fashion Brands- Dhana Inc. , Queen of Raw
- Buy Second-Hand Clothing-Thred Up , ebay, Etsy and Poshmark
- Recycle-recycle jeans through Blue Jeans Go Green
- Donate Clothes-Dress for Success, St. Anthony’s, Goodwill
- Reuse- do a clothing swap, repair, or repurpose materials
Whatever you decide to do, let’s help to be part of the solution. We can all create a more sustainable world through supporting circular fashion and the circular economy.
About the Founder and CEO, Shamini Dhana
TRANSFORMER I ENTREPRENEUR
Circular Economy | Zero-Waste | Innovator | Founder
Dhana Inc., a Certified B Corp, was founded in 2008 by Shamini Dhana, a former Silicon Valley investment banker turned entrepreneur after witnessing firsthand the impact of the true cost of fashion on children and environment. One of the founding signatory brands of the Global Fashion Agenda 2020 Circular Fashion Commitment and 2020 Circular Fashion Pledge, Dhana’s vision is “Uniting Humanity Through Fashion” with the mission of “connecting people and planet through the medium of fashion”.
Dhana Inc. is a fashion tech company, transforming customer experience from zero-waste designs to social and environmental impact through Circular Fashion. Dhana’s new innovative tech platform will transform the fashion industry by empowering the customer to co-create with brands to repurpose and recreate new garments from their existing wardrobe, used clothing and reclaimed fabrics. Dhana is leading the charge in the next frontier of fashion – committed to ethical and sustainable practices, investing in people and jobs in the fashion industry, while giving the tools to customers to be the solution to climate change by tackling global textile waste.