Green, green, green is the colour I like to wear the most! Sustainable fashion for cyclists
We are cyclists. We love being outside on our bikes. The next “outdoors” event is already waiting for us between the urban jungle and the remotest corners of the planet. As a result, the weather conditions and appropriate clothing play a very important role: Functional, breathable and waterproof is a MUST. At best, “our second skin” will find a balance between sporty-functional and stylish. But: How functional does it have to be? How sustainable is fashion for cyclists?
Bike Citizens provide an overview of the topics of sustainability and cycling clothing. On the one hand, author Juliane Schumacher will concentrate on outdoor fashion as a whole. On the other hand, a fashion designer from Berlin who enjoys cycling takes a comprehensive look at cycling clothing and fashion for cyclists.
Sustainability is a trend! Is it?
The most important eco-label
Environmental, fair, vegetarian, vegan, as high-quality as possible and as sustainable as available. More and more people in our world of fashion are choosing a more conscious lifestyle, even when it comes to buying clothes. Many fashion corporations are attaching importance to the sustainability “trend”. Green and fair every day and outdoor clothing create a good image for the company. However, ecologically produced textiles are considered to be niche products.
The upsurge is made difficult by decreased availability, low prices of conventional clothing and rapidly changing fashion trends. Furthermore, the various different eco-labels cause for more misunderstanding than clarification. There are currently more than 100 labels, which can be divided according to different strategies and objectives: Health label, environmental label, social/fair-trade label, disposal/recycling label, sustainability label and so much more! The two most important labels: Oekotex and bluesign®
“Do textiles have to travel around the world three times, before we are able to wear them?” Markus & Daniel Freitag
FREITAG: The Swiss Upcycling Pioneers
The Swiss duo, Daniel und Markus from FREITAG, are pioneers and sources of inspiration for sustainable accessories and they have been manufacturing bags out of old truck tarpaulins for more than 20 years. These bags quickly became very popular among cyclists. The robust material is not just recycled but also upcycled by means of conscious and lovingly detailed processing. The bag is more valuable as a finished product than as its raw material and can be used for many years. Today, their portfolio also includes numerous bicycle accessories!
In addition to bags, FREITAG also started manufacturing textiles from regional raw materials. The pieces of clothing made from it that are suitable for everyday use, including their “ingredients” are non-hazardous and manufactured in Europe. The design is classic urban and timeless. The items are durable and robust: can be used for cycling, strolling through the park, business and everyday life. This is sustainable! But wait: What does sustainability mean?
But wait: What does sustainability mean?
We think and act in cycles: Sustainability is “not a new coat”
The sustainability concept is more than just an advertising promise or a “new coat” that you can just throw on. A sustainable approach satisfies the demands of modern life and thus, takes the coming generations into consideration. The behaviour, production and business management of a sustainable company primarily orients itself towards three pillars. These should work together and not contradict one another:
- The ecological factor – the conscious use of chemicals and materials, such as natural, renewable raw materials or recycling materials
- The social factor – fair production conditions, fair payment
- The economic factor – future-oriented business management
Do I dress myself in cheap fast fashion every season or would it suffice to buy a timeless piece for many years to come?
Sustainability starts with the purchase decision
The clientele is also in demand. Purchasing behaviour and requirements determine the market. Customers must ask themselves: what do they actually need? Ergo: Do I need this high-tech jacket with a 10,000 mm water column, 20 pockets and 100 functions in order to wear it once a year for a hike or to simply where it on walks through the park? Do I actually leave the house when its pouring down with rain?
Incidentally: According to EN standards, material with a 1300 mm water column is considered to be waterproof. According to the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (EMPA) in Switzerland it starts at 4,000 mm.
This is followed by the questions: How durable are the products? Do I dress myself in cheap fast fashion every season or would it suffice to buy a timeless piece for many years to come? Keyword: Slow Fashion
Bicycle fashion between urban chic and practical outdoor clothing
In the last decade, the “outdoors” – i.e. being outside in nature, has become trendy. All-weather jackets with many functions were also seen in cities when there was a light drizzle. Design and marketing were adapted accordingly. In doing so, special bicycle clothing is of particular significance. It must meet specific requirements, such as optimal ventilation and freedom of movement.
Bicycle fashion should also provide sufficient cover at the same time. You never want your backside to be exposed when leaning over the handlebar on the bicycle seat. The gap between moveable-function through to visually appealing and suitable for everyday use is slowly closing. The new bicycle movement in many parts of the world and increasing acceptance of bicycles as a vehicle for everyday use and for all weather conditions will no doubt result in changes to “bicycle” fashion.
What characterises bicycle clothing as functional?
It is often the small details that increase cycling pleasure and safety. For example, ingeniously attached, reflective elements that are not immediately recognisable as such are practical. While cycling, trousers are significantly more comfortable, if the cut is well thought-out and nothing rubs or pinches.
Do urban cyclists need functional clothing?
The answer is “Yes and No”. A high proportion of cyclists in cities such as Amsterdam or Copenhagen are often seen wearing clothing suitable for everyday use. Feel-good factor and the freedom of movement have the utmost priority. The decisive reason as to how “functional” the clothing must be is usually the length of the route and one’s personal activity behaviour, i.e. how “comfortable” is the style of cycling. A garment that covers the body such as a sporty and functional jacket or waterproof trousers is often sufficient when cycling in everyday traffic in the city. Young, new labels however, have made it their goal to create urban cycling clothing for everyday use.
Super Vision. #absolute #sleek #progressive #honest
Super Vision is a new sustainable label that creates urban streetwear worn on bicycles. The creators of Super Vison are fashion-conscious and passionate about getting around on bicycles. The streetwear created in their company is for style-conscious, urban cyclists. The message: Bicycles are the vehicle of the future and clothing for cycling is suitable for everyday use, modern and functional. Sustainable production takes place in cooperation with the Fair Wear Foundation and their own Evolution3 factory in Vietnam. Environmental-friendly materials are processed. What’s special about it: The CO2 value for each item in the collection is taken note of. In order to balance out this value, the distance that needs to be cycled for it is stated on the item.
A sector in which accessories and clothing are developed and produced so that they can be worn in nature must be aware of environmental values. Wrong!
Sustainability and Functional Clothing
Durable, functional, able to defy the elements, freedom and one with nature – there are a few characteristics that are written on the flags of outdoor fashion. A sector in which accessories and clothing are developed and produced so that they can be worn in nature must be aware of environmental values. Wrong.
Synthetic fibres, which are mostly petroleum based, are used for the manufacture of functional clothing. These synthetic fibres, or the processed material thereof contain harmful substances and are not biologically biodegradable. Particularly some of the practical functional membranes used in rain gear contain critical materials that are persistent such as PFC (perfluorocarbon).
Greenpeace writes: “PFCs were identified as the cause for fertility disorders and growth of tumours in animals.” This mainly concerns the DWR (Durable Water Repellents) coatings. They also ensure that dirt and water simply drip off the material. Meanwhile, there are environmentally-friendly alternatives such as Nikwax or Bionic-Finish® Eco.
Shocking: PFC items are now found all around the world. Even in uninhabited regions of the world. On top of everything, these textiles are hard to dispose of.
New raw materials do not always have to be used (and wasted)
for a new piece of clothing or accessories.
Make something new from something old: Recycling is trendy!
In a world full of plastic oceans and countless disposable products, which often only decompose after many hundreds of years, the reduction of waste has become essential for a future-oriented way of life. Even old bicycle parts or accessories for bikes can do more than end up in waste. New raw materials do not always have to be used (and wasted) for a new piece of clothing or accessories. “Sometimes a materials simply complicate the re-use of a textile: Individual components are very difficult to separate. At this point “single origin” products are better”, explains Ralph Beppler in the current Spiegel Online article (04.02.2019). Intelligent recycling is the solution!
Bicycle tubes and the Cycled brand
Disused bicycle tubes are given a new life as bags, and tyres are turned into belts. This can also become a corporate philosophy: As is the case with the Italian brand Cycled, which uses the disposable product found in bicycles, the tyres, to manufacture one-off handmade belts in the studio in Venice. Their products are also packaged in recycled cardboard. Sporty, classy, sustainable. Their claim: “We transform the only thing that pollutes in a bicycle: The Tyre!”
PET bottle recycling is good but not key:
Even the upcycling of old plastic requires a lot of energy and chemicals.
PET bottle recycling is not key
Plastic is also a valuable material that can be recycled. According to manufacturers, the use of recycled synthetic fibres from PET bottles or old clothing for new textiles saves both energy and raw materials. It is a start but not a permanent solution for the problem posed by plastic. This is because even the upcycling of old plastic requires a lot of energy and chemicals. Furthermore, the recycling plants are often based in Asia and the PET bottles are often first “supplied from Europe and America in a CO2 intense manner.” (Spiegel Online; 25.06.2017)
“PET recycling from a purely economic point of view is not worth it”, says Jean-Claude Würmli, director of PET-Recycling Switzerland. “However, PET recycling has environmental benefits because you can save around 50 percent energy when compared to new materials.”
Nevertheless, the most sustainable path is still the reduction and/or prevention of plastic. And here’s how:
The future is “No-Plastic”: Fibres of nature
On the face of it, the outdoor fashion world appears only to be composed of synthetic high-tech functional textiles. Far from it – there are many natural alternative that have excellent characteristics for outdoor use. A few of them have already been used for hundreds of years. Right at the forefront is fashion made of (new) wool such as loden but also alpaca, linen or hemp.
Loden is a very resistant, course wool fabric made of pure new wool. Its use is particularly popular when it comes to costume fashion. The milling of the woollen material for example, is a felting process, which results in a type of sandwich effect: “The outer layers create a barrier against wind, water and dirt, while the inner fabric provides stability and the spaces in the fabric create an insulating effect.” (Source: Steinkauz.com)
Perfect for cycling, hiking and enables you to be outdoors in almost all kinds of weather. The material does not get covered in dust at all. Moreover, it is a smart alternative for all those that are no longer interested in synthetic materials and do not want to forego the importance of function. On top of it all, loden is very robust and can – when well maintained – be an investment for life.
Merino wool: Trendy sustainable fabric
Clothing made of merino wool is very trendy among the natural materials available. Popular in all types of sports whether pure form or merino in combination with synthetic fibres. This does not come as a surprise because the wool has fantastic properties. The textiles can be simply “aired” and rarely need to be washed. They are breathable, and help regulate temperature and moisture. It is important to pay attention to the origin of the wool. Similarly, only merino wool from mulesing free production should be used.
“Our Vision: “We will continue on our green path – it is environmental and fair.”
Antje von Dewitz, CEO VAUDE
Which brands offer sporty, sustainable cycling fashion?
VAUDE – Sustainable clothing and support for urban cycling and the outdoors
Vaude is also a pioneer: Approximately 80% of the clothing is marked with the strict bluesign® label. Recycled materials such as plastic from old PET bottles or fishing nets (Econyl) are used in the new collections. Vaude created its own standard for this purpose and it also takes social standards in production into consideration. Furthermore, the company is also a member of the Fair Wear Foundation and attaches a great deal of importance to fair production conditions. The popular cycling bag collection is created in Germany.
We make BIKEWEAR. Eco & Fair!
Triple 2. Love nature, act ecological, live green!
The German label Triple 2 not only manufactures clothing made of recycled plastic but also creates sporty and beautiful cycling jerseys with merino wool. The Triple 2 outdoor fashion label from Munich produces cycling clothing for sports and everyday use. It mainly uses bluesign® and Ökotex 100 certified fabrics and recycled polyester fibres from old fishing nets. Mulesing free merino wool is used for jerseys, t-shirts and accessories. Manufacturing takes place in Croatia and the materials mainly come from Europe.
Sustainable and useful: Accessories for bikes
A lot of things are also going on in the area of accessories. The topic of recycling is particularly popular in this area and even the smallest bits of fabric are reused.
Brooks – Durable bicycle seats
For generations, Brooks has stood for the highest quality bicycle seats made of leather. The long-standing English brand put seats made of natural rubber on to the market – and a new era of bicycle seats was born: The Brooks Cambium is comfortable from the first day of use onwards – it does not need to be broken in and it as durable as the “leather veteran”. Individual components can – if faulty – be exchanged and replaced. Cambium Organic is covered with a coated cotton canvas made of organic cotton.
Lumabag – bags made of old pieces of sports equipment
Uwe Arndt aka Lumabag manufactures individual items by hand using old air mattresses, gymnastics devices and bicycle tyres in this studio in Bremen. With loving attention to detail, he creates durable unique items that are also created on a contract basis. Upcycling deluxe.
Fahrer Berlin – Recycling and upcycling from old tarpaulins
For more than 10 years, Fahrer Berlin has been manufacturing advertising banners and boat covers, bags and ball holders from recycled, high-quality and durable materials. Many accessories are produced in cooperation with workshops for people with disabilities.
Why is fair and environmental-friendly production so expensive?
Why are ecologically and fairly produced textiles niche products?
The value of sustainability
Why is fair and environmental-friendly production so expensive? Why are ecologically and fairly produced textiles niche products? Cheap mass production is obviously much more appealing for your own wallet!
The product price is composed of different factors such as development, material and production costs, personnel expenses and profit margin. The higher the production quantity, the less the individual, final product actually costs at the end. Therefore, it is particularly difficult for small businesses to request such low prices like the fierce competition. Generally, the costs are higher if production takes place following more ecological, sustainable guidelines and fairer conditions.
The social and environmental components are often pushed into the background due to economic reasons. Cheap and lots of it might be sexy but not smart. In the end, there is always someone who pays the “actual” price. Whether its low-wage workers, the environment and animal kingdom or our children.
And now it’s YOU!
How often you “actually” have to buy something new?
Where do I shop?
Can it perhaps be a second-hand item?
It should go without saying that it is important to pay attention to good quality and fair working conditions, provided this is traceable. Even if the selection of brands and products is still small, it is a place where it is easier to consume in a more sustainable manner. Even large companies are following suit and committed to avoiding the use of toxic chemicals in their products, e.g. the Greenpeace campaign “Destination Zero”.
Attention: Abstaining from fast fashion can “sustainably” change your consumer habits!
Abstain from Fast Fashion
A simple rule on how to redesign your own consumer habits is made possible with the Abstain from Fast Fashion for beginners. Satisfying your shopping desires by following a specific %-based rule and giving yourself plenty time to experiment with this rule. Attention: Abstaining from fast fashion can “sustainably” change your consumer habits!
5% Fast Fashion
95% Slow Fashion
– – 45% new – fair
– – 20% second hand – fair
– – 30% second hand – normal
Online Campaign #wornsince
The Oma Klara vintage shop started a great campaign, where the participant has to post of photo of themselves wearing their oldest piece of clothing that is still worn using the hashtag #wornsince on the Instagram social media platform. Furthermore, a sign with the year of purchase is held in front of the camera. Come take part!