What do the buzzwords like zero waste or eco-friendly really mean when it comes to fashion? For our Cambodia partner, it means getting in a tuktuk and going to markets to find fabric that has been discarded from various factories. Several other brands manufacture their clothes in Cambodian factories. Any extraneous or damaged fabric gets sold in giant batches to vendors who then sort it and re-sell it in local markets.
There are giant bags piled under tin roofing sorted by color or texture. We saw camouflage jersey, striped ribbed knits and a truly awesome horse/rainbow print on spandex. There are specific colors we are going for (sadly, the horse/rainbow print is nowhere on the R+L horizon), but you work with what you have. By using remnant fabric, landfill waste is eliminated and the energy and water-intensive manufacturing process for more fabric is saved. You can still make stylish clothing from remnant fabric, like our Pacaya print jersey leggings or dress.
If you are looking for further resources on the fashion industry and manufacturing, our team recommends Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion and the documentary The Next Black. Raven + Lily seeks to not only empower women, but to also be environmentally conscious and socially responsible in how we source our fabrics and materials. As one of our artisans told us on this trip, every stitch counts!
Click here to shop our Cambodia Eco-friendly apparel!