Can resortwear ever be ETHICAL?
Sometimes when I tell people about CRUZ&PEPITA and our ethically elegant resortwear, I can sense Greta giving me the stink-eye. Have you seen our Instagram feed? It’s all about beautiful beaches and glorious hotels in faraway lands, better reached by planes than by trains or zero-emission automobiles.
I can sense Greta giving me the stink-eye
Resortwear is meant to be destined for vacations in sunny climes – often reached by long-haul flights - which account for 40% of the Global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions attributed to the world’s pre-pandemic travel industry. Even staying in an eco-lodge leaves a sizeable carbon footprint, unless you have enough time (and Dramamine) to make your journey by trans-Atlantic catamaran.
Creating a sustainable fashion brand is an ethical minefield. Creating one intrinsically linked to jet-setting, even more so. So how can CRUZ&PEPITA claim to be ethical? Here’s how.
Sustainability means different things to different people
When I first embarked on this journey I was introduced to Dax Lovegrove, sustainability czar extraordinaire and among the first of his breed. His words of advice continue to resonate: Sustainability means different things to different people, so choose what sustainability means to you. Is it zero waste? A circular economic model?
For CRUZ&PEPITA, sustainability – in environmental terms - means minimising waste and maximising utility. (Oddly enough, that didn’t become our strapline.)
By using deadstock (the end of series fabrics left over by big fashion houses after a season) we effectively repurpose perfectly good material that was destined for landfill instead of developing and dying our own fabrics; a process which nips at the heels of petrochem as one of the most polluting businesses around.
We also stick to silks and cotton which won’t shed synthetic microplastics in the wash and out to sea. Plus we minimise our production waste by using zero or minimal waste patterns, sharing our off-cuts with other up-cyclers, or repurposing scraps ourselves.
Sustainability is as much about people as the planet
As vital as it is to minimise environmental impact, sustainability is as much about people as the planet, and my top priority for CRUZ&PEPITA is the creation and preservation of manufacturing jobs in France.
While many countries have seen their garment sectors eroded by cheap labour abroad and are clamouring to bring it back, the loss of this industry in France is akin to a cultural calamity. This is, after all, the home of Haute Couture and was served by the Silk Road for centuries. The making of beautiful apparel is stitched into the nation’s history. The fact that so many leading French fashion brands discreetly manufacture elsewhere while flying the Tricolour makes my blood boil.
So let’s put it this way: Nurturing and celebrating French savoir-faire is at the heart of CRUZ&PEPITA’s mission. Doing this in an ecologically sound manner is our modus operandi. Being sustainable as a business (by building a great-to-work-for company that creates fairly paid jobs over the long term) is the goal. That’s what makes CRUZ&PEPITA an ethical business.
A ride on a big jet plane
As for those resortwear wearers taking big jet planes to the world’s greatest resorts, I’ll stick my neck out and say it’s arguably unethical to stand between them and their flights.
Keeping our ethical compass pointed towards people, just think of all the communities that have literally been starving as they’ve been starved of tourist incomes during the pandemic. In countries like Morocco, where a single hotel worker may be the sole breadwinner for a large extended family, those silent skies have been devastating.
That’s not to say that everything’s hunky dory when it comes to the travel sector’s environmental policies. The entire industry should work much harder at reducing its environmental and social impact. All industries should. But until planes can be properly propelled by renewables, let the jet-set pay for their carbon offset and pack their cases with - you guessed it - CRUZ&PEPITA.
Our super lightweight pieces fold into nothing and can fill a carry-on with enough frocks for a fortnight, keeping luggage weight – and fuel consumption – to a minimum. And our clothing is designed to be versatile - as wearable back home as on one of the tropical beaches you’ll find on our Instagram feed - which reduces the risk of making a last-minute lobby shop purchase that never gets worn again.
So how ethical can a brand of resortwear really be? I think I’ve made my case. Now you tell me.