unspun’s mission is to permanently alter how garments are made with technology used for good.
Our mission is to make the design, manufacturing, and consumption of fashion intentional. We aim to reduce global carbon emissions by 1% (no small feat, we know) using our tech and vision because we know the earth needs some serious TLC if we're going to continue enjoying it. At unspun we recognize that each piece of fabric and all garments are made from finite resources that should not be wasted.
to be clear: we are not zero waste (yet!) and actually, no one is.
However, we don't have inventory and we’re implementing the most sustainable practices available to us to ensure we’re reducing and reusing to the best of our ability. This looks like: localized sourcing, low impact fabrics, and on-demand manufacturing for now but, we’re creating a future of closed loop, zero-waste supply chains where jeans can be disassembled and assembled again. (more on that later)
how traditional methods fall short
Resources are precious that’s why we use ours with utmost intention. Typically, water is used to grow the raw materials, chemicals are used to dye and finish the fabric, large amounts of energy are consumed by spinning the yarn, weaving the fabric, and transporting it to sewing facilities, sometimes across the globe. A garment passes through many hands and labor conditions before it arrives at the doorstep. With such a depleting process, you’d think we’d preserve our clothes. Instead, garments become waste through traditional manufacturing models, ending up in landfills or burned, never used, never making it to a consumer.
Ever wonder what happens to garments from the sale rack after the sale is over? Brands struggle with leftover inventory and in some cases are even found destroying them by fire. Goodwill in the SF/Marin/San Mateo area has 50,000 lbs/month of unsold clothing donated to them and around 60-70% they’re unable to sell. We focus on designing timeless garments that won’t go out of style, and are made only once it has a home. We've gotten rid of inventory all together.
zero cutting waste
Traditional methods of garment manufacturing for pants create approximately 15% cutting waste. So when you use 10,000 yards, at least 1,000 yards of that are destined for landfills in the form of cutting waste. This got us thinking. We use so many precious resources to create fabric that wasting at least 10%, even before garments are made, seems insane. To address this, we have an entire team at unspun dedicated to developing a weaving machine that will create woven garments to shape without creating cutting waste. No wasted fabric. Until we get there, we are collaborating with Blue Jeans go Green to turn cutting waste into denim insulation for homes.
We aim to reduce global carbon emissions by 1% through automated, localized, and on-demand manufacturing.
where we are at today
Based off of this LCA, our jeans use 24% less CO2 to produce than traditional jeans. The dissolvable thread collaboration we launched with Resortecs paired with a 3D weaving project (not yet released) gets rid of cut waste entirely and allows us to dismantle and reuse the denim material. In the future, these innovations will reduce the CO2 impact by 53% according to the LCA. That’s over half the CO2 per jean, which gets us really excited.
Our products are centered around “wear more, keep longer, and buy less” principles. They’re custom-made using the highest quality materials so that they last. If each person doubled the amount of times they wear a garment, GHG emissions (82% carbon) would be 44% lower, which saves 36% of carbon per jean. That’s why quality and longevity of our garments is a high priority. We also offer repairs and alterations to ensure the longest wear.
Traditional retailers that may claim they are sustainable compare product to product. While we believe every detail does make a difference and every effort has value, a lot of the talk feels like marketing. Individual products are not the problem. Incremental material changes are not what the world needs. The world needs us to completely upend the way that we do things, to change the whole process and model, to forget what’s been done before. And that’s why unspun is here.
can’t stop won’t stop: future vision
We’re focused on creating a localized and regenerative system for future production. Using 3D hardware technology, we’ll be able to get rid of all cut-waste. We strive for global change and massive impact to ensure the planet continues to self-regulate and support all life. We collaborate with other brands (see: H&M collaboration) to achieve this. Our technology is versatile, which allows many larger corporations to institutionalize new methods. This collaboration is imperative in making the necessary changes in manufacturing. We’re confident through this technology and partnerships we’ll achieve our 1% goal.
how our process aims to push us well beyond 1% reduction in the global carbon footprint
In total, we humans emit 36 Gigatons (1 Gigaton = a billion tons) of CO2 through our activities each year. The annual carbon emissions from the clothing industry is 3.78 Gigatons [according to Quantis' environmental impact of fashion report.]
If all clothing were made using unspun's current technology, the industry's carbon emissions would be reduced by 20% (this is with the safe assumption that 20% of clothing produced becomes excess inventory, and this is also based on Quantis' environmental impact of fashion report.
If all clothing were made using unspun's future technology, the industry's carbon emissions would be more than halved, see below. Numbers are based on Quantis' environmental impact of fashion report. The units for the numbers used below are Gigatons of CO2 emitted annually.
Covid-19 has been a rude awakening for many fashion brands, especially those that have millions of dollars worth of inventory in production. Some are cancelling their orders, which puts the factories and garment workers at a huge loss. Others are going through with those orders, and now have thousands of pieces of excess inventory to deal with. Our goal from day one has been to fundamentally change the production process and life cycle of the garments we create. That’s why we aren’t just focusing on the impact of our own brand, but also partnering with others to help get this industry on the right track. At the end of the day, we’re truly all in this together.
We make jeans that are particular to your shape and your desired style so that you don’t need to buy more. Similarly, our jeans are made with durable and responsible materials that work best with certain styles to ensure a long and comfortable life cycle. We advocate to wash less to maintain the fabric. We try to make a special bond between our jeans and the wearer, by having them choose aspects like the thread color and by putting their name in the jean, so they keep them for longer and wear them often.
We know that a package's journey doesn’t end once the jeans are delivered, so our packages are 100% compostable. Additionally, label stickers are from 100% recycled resources.
Direct emissions include our office space and the energy it takes to power it. There’s also direct emissions when we send our jeans to folks, as opposed to them picking up. We have made a commitment to only move future fabric orders by boat or low impact options to factories over flying, by buying fewer fabrics in larger quantities with more lead time. Indirectly, we know there are emissions through the supply chain and machinery used in the factories.
analysis and reporting
Here is our latest LCA comparing our current jean vs traditional jeans.
We’re writing short and long term goals for a zero-waste and low impact supply chains. We are setting science based targets to minimize GHG emissions to the lowest possible output in the next year.
chemical + water use
We require all facilities to have the relevant certifications in oeko-tex® or ISO standards, and where organic fibres are being used, to be GOTS certified. We choose fabrics that use dye reduction processes (ex. nova blue, fuel black, mercury blue, and natural pocketing fabric that is undyed). Any new mill must have initiatives and research in house to address less water and toxic chemical usage (ex. candiani's kitotex, evlox's total care campaign).
Our fabrics are carefully sourced from some of the most experienced denim mills in the industry, who know how to balance quality and sustainability into the fibres and all along their production processes. All mills that we work with are required to have in house initiatives and ongoing developments to address their chemical, water and energy management systems as well as all waste streams.
The cotton in our jeans are all Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), GOTS certified organic Cotton or GRS approved recycled Cotton.
We have high contents of post-consumer recycled Cotton and Polyester in some of our fabrics. [Check out Space Blue, Nova Blue, Glacier Wash, Mercury blue and Cosmic black.]. We carry only one fabric with 21% virgin Polyester, which is assessed and approved by Bluesign, and we will phase out of the use of any virgin polyester within 2021.
We also avoid waste by eliminating some industry standard denim finishing processes. At unspun the RAW denim fabric ranges undergo only a quick rinse wash to soften it before sewing, avoiding any harsh chemicals or processes and the energy that goes along with them.
For our washed look jeans [see Glacier / Nova / Midnight wash] we use a Tonello® machine with the ALL-IN-ONE Metro system, which avoids workers from being exposed to any chemicals during the washing cycle whatsoever, it also cuts water consumption by 95% and chemical use is cut by 80% [by the way, we only use GreenScreen®-certified chemicals]. We do NOT use stonewashing, Potassium Permanganate, bleaching nor other harmful processes or chemicals. To replace regular sandblasting and spray we use laser technology by Jeanologia.
Evlox fabrics use all recycled denim and BCI cotton; their processes use less dye while reusing materials that already exist.
GRS certified + [BCI] cotton.
Their facility saves 93% water 15% energy 30% CO2 and 22% chemicals as compared to traditional dye and finishing facilities.
They even have a [evlox total care] campaign that evaluates all processes from raw to final fabric.
Is a vertically integrated mill in Italy. We love them because they've signed the greenpeace detox commitment and run a home grown business with all 650 employees originating from Robecchetto where they continue to pass on their expertise. They use SAVEtheWATER-kitotex® clean dying.
kitotex® clean dying
- salt & micro-plastic free
- 100% biodegradable polymer obtained by recycling food waste
- deep color penetration for denim that does not fade
- uses 30% less chemicals and eliminates hydrosulphites + fixation agents
- for every pair of jeans, you save 2.565 liters of water
Ideal earth Zipper
recycled from repreve PET bottles and other post consumer materials such as yarn waste
the zipper teeth are made from raw brass without any electroplating, saving water, chemicals and energy.
even our removable buttons do their bit for the circular economy, and can be removed for easy recycling at the end of use.
Made from a raw zinc alloy and does not involve an electrical plating process. This technology eliminates the very polluting conventional process of traditional plating, thus saving 50% of water, 60% of electricity and 80% of chemicals.
our pocket fabrics are made from 100% organic unbleached cotton. No extra processes needed for these
[american & efird]
Our thread is made from 100% Repreve® recycled polyester. A mix of pre-consumer fiber waste and post consumer plastics.
for the love of animals
We don’t use leather, fur or animal based textiles (except for exoskeletons of shrimps from food waste for one fabric, fuel black).
We employ small facilities that we work with closely in an on-going, open relationship. Our policy when looking for suppliers prioritizes social responsibility and the people involved. The people come first.
We vet our facilities based on cleanliness, humanity toward employees, and quality of product produced. We visit multiple times a month to audit, say hello, and pick up orders. Because the factories we work with are small, they don’t have official certifications yet due to cost. However, we have created a code of conduct and endeavour to help them grow their businesses in a sustainable way. Our goal is to help the factories we work with to eventually become certified fair trade.
Our product is completely custom and high quality so we consider our sewers artisans, preserving the skill and craft of smaller production.
- people first
- safe channels for workers to communicate grievances
- promised safety and wellness
- women’s empowerment and equal opportunity
- personal betterment opportunities
Continental Factory is located on Dongguan City, established in 2009 and now employs 50 workers. They have 56 holiday days off, plus time off for the Chinese New Year. Most of the workers are paid a salary and do not work by the hour or piece. Additionally, internal training to develop the potential of the workers is highlighted, which results in high loyalty and retainment.
raw material goals
phase out of all cotton not recycled, organic, or BCI (currently we do use a percentage of conventional)
double our amount of recycled cotton
phase out all virgin poly in our fabrics
decrease dye use by using fabrics with less dye dips
use more color from upcycled yarns to avoid dying whenever possible
eliminate electroplating processes from zipper, which is the last electroplated processes in our supply chain
ship all fabrics by ocean or low impact transportation (instead of air)
access exact quantities of direct and indirect impacts and set scientific based targets for the company
calculate physical and emotional durability of our products and repair programs lasting longer = buying less
social responsibility goals
conduct internal reports for all mills and factories
have factories agree to take steps towards creating a living wage that can be proven through certifications or policies
code of conduct signed by all factories
become a b-corp certified company (application in progress)
it starts with you