Cutting-edge retailer Zady proves that it is possible for fashion to be local, ethical, and sustainable, just the way it should be.
Zady believes in the power of telling stories. The online retailer realizes that a compelling story can sell a product all on its own, by drawing in clients, teaching them about the true value of a product, and connecting them to the manufacturing source.
Unfortunately, authentic stories are few and far between, particularly in the world of fashion. Since most manufacturing is outsourced to distant factories, little information is available about where and how most clothes are made.Zady’s founders, Maxine Bedat and Soraya Darabi, wanted to break the mold and show that textile production can be local, ethical, and meaningful, against all odds. They embarked on a fascinating and inspiring project last year to create a sweater that is made entirely in America, from sheep to shelf. Launched at Thanksgiving last year, “.01 The Sweater” is everything it promised to be.
Bedat and Darabi knew they wanted a natural fiber, since most synthetic textiles are made of non-renewable resources that take a long time to decompose. A wool sweater starts with sheep, of course, so they found a sheep farm in Oregon with an impressive conservation management plan. The owners graze their animals rotationally, capture and use rainwater, and do not plow their fields in order to avoid further evaporation and disturbance to the land.
Contrast that to conventional wool production methods in Australia and China, where ranchers use vast amounts of water to irrigate a hot, dry climate. This often leaves neighboring communities without sufficient water, and it causes erosion, further worsened by over-grazing by sheep.
The shorn wool was sent to Chargeurs Wool in Jamestown, South Carolina, where it was cleaned, carded, and combed into wool top, the longest fibers of clean, carded wool. The factory was founded in 1955 and has “a spotless environmental record,” according Zady’s website.
From there it went to G.J. Littlewood & Sons in Philadelphia, a fifth-generation dyeing house that uses non-carcinogenic dyes that are safer for the wearer and the environment.
All of the factory stages are committed to following U.S. regulations for chemical waste management, whereas many factories in Asia simply dump their dyes and waste directly into the water systems. It’s terribly harmful to the communities and aquatic life that rely on those rivers for sustenance.
The wool was spun at Kraemer Textiles in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, and then sent to a knitting company called Ball of Cotton, in Commerce, California. Having a nationally based knitter meant that much more of the garment creation stage could be supervised directly by Zady.
“We know that unlike the shadow factories strung out across the globe, our supply chain operates in broad daylight.”
The result is a sweater that has not hurt people or the planet along the way. You can buy it knowing that fair wages have been paid, that good working conditions and safety regulations are being upheld, and that it is of truly high quality.
You can buy it here: .01 The Sweater, $160