Time to go beyond lip service and embrace eco uniforms

shutterstock_351648032Incorporatewear’s head of design, Paula Cannon, explains how eco fabrics can play an important role within corporate uniforms.

From recycled materials to fabric made from milk, eco-friendly technology has been available in the corporate clothing industry for a few years now. As you would expect, the idea of green corporate clothing still attracts a lot of attention from organisations that buy uniforms for their workforces.

We’re now taking things one step further as we continue to expand our sustainable uniform solution offerings. Bamboo and bamboo charcoal are some of the green fabric developments that we are making available to our customers.

Eco developments

Bamboo charcoal is the latest in a string of eco developments, following fabrics made from seaweed, hemp, milk and coffee. Its yarn is extruded from burnt bamboo known as the black diamond; the fabric combines fashion with function as well as meeting client needs, such as superior washing and durability, fast absorption, deodorisation, and anti-microbial qualities. Bamboo charcoal also offers the wearer natural protection from electromagnetic rays.

Another example of an eco-fabric that we offer for casual polos is a coffee drop needle fabric, a mix of polyester and coffee yarn made from used coffee which would otherwise end up in landfill. This environmentally friendly textile is durable, sustainable and fast drying.

We have also supplied fleeces, trousers and various other garments to customers using a fibre made from recycled PET polyester, a type of plastic that is used as a raw material for making packaging materials such as bottles and containers.

Other fabrics emerging as more popular products include organic cotton, which is very similar to traditional cotton, expect the growing process focuses on reducing the environmental impact and it contains few to no pesticides.

Companies are forward thinking in their contribution to reducing their carbon footprint and improving their public image. Yet too often that initial surge of interest falls away when the reality of pricing comes into the equation. Eco-friendly solutions in corporate clothing do come at a premium so embracing the idea requires not only a desire to go green but also a willingness to pay for the privilege.

At the forefront

At Incorporatewear, we have been at the forefront of introducing eco concepts into uniform sourcing and supply from providing customers with the opportunity of nearshore manufacturing to ensuring our teams are knowledgeable and experienced in what is available and how to use it.

The drive for sustainability is already affecting the whole process of producing and delivering a work wardrobe with many organisations concerned about ethical sourcing, and the technology-driven move towards paperless trading. That’s why we joined the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex). This is a supply chain monitoring system that helps companies monitor and maintain ethical and responsible business practices.

While we already pride ourselves on our supplier relations, our membership to Sedex further improves these relationships as we continue to push the boundaries of corporate clothing design, manufacture and supply.

The cost of uniform is always one part of the equation in any corporate clothing negotiation but we firmly believe there are big commercial benefits, as well as ethical reasons for going green. The technology is there, the sources are there, and our team is ready to deliver. All that is needed to make concern for the environment a linchpin of specifying new uniform is for buyers to recognise the benefits and to embrace the idea.

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