Are you struggling to find the perfect shirt to wear on Earth Day? If you want to truly celebrate Mother Earth and what she has to offer, you should probably throw something on that's ethical, sustainable and hopefully, good looking. If you think it's impossible to find the ideal shirt to maximize sustainability and style, think again.
In celebration of Earth Day, Stitch Fix partnered with Green Matters Natural Dye Company CEO and Co-Founder Winona Quigley to create a sustainably made and size-inclusive cloud wash capsule collection through its exclusive brand, Mohnton Made, which is crafted by hand in Stitch Fix’s owned and operated Mohnton Mills facility in Pennsylvania.
The partnership between Stitch Fix and Green Matters can best be described as "organic" — both companies had a vision to bring an inclusive, sustainable capsule to life that can be worn far beyond Earth Day. Created with plant dyes, and produced stateside, the Earth Day Cloud Wash Capsule Collection uses cleaner, more sustainable methods of production, with an end result that's just as stylish as conventional fashion.
Alongside plant-based dyes, two more feathers in the collection's cap are its use of hemp, which requires 1/3 the water of traditional cotton and is naturally insect-repellent, as well as the inclusive sizing of the line. By placing an emphasis on sustainable fabrics and a wider size run, Stitch Fix and Green Matters have made their collaboration more widely available for consumers, and longer-lasting.
I spoke with Green Matters Natural Dye Company CEO and Co-Founder Winona Quigley about the Mohnton Made Earth Day cloud-wash capsule; how it was developed, why it matters and tips and tricks we can all use for a more sustainable Earth Day.
What drew you to working on this collection with Stitch Fix?
Goods that are made locally reduce carbon emissions and the footprint of the items, but also create jobs for people who are in clothing manufacturing. My great-grandmother was a seamstress at a local factory here, and when that factory closed, she was fired. It’s really important to me personally to be a part of a local textile economy like Stitch Fix has built.
Why do you think it's important for brands to move away from the fast fashion model, and lean in to local and sustainable manufacturing?
I think for larger brands, it’s really hard to make that shift. Stitch Fix made a really big jump in doing something like this, and it’s really impressive. Often we’re approached by companies we’ve never worked with before, and I have mixed feelings about Earth Day, because I think I think it’s rally important to be thinking about the health of our planet, and the impact we have on our planet all year round, and Stutch Fix is one of our only clients that has built an Earth Day capsule, but also works with us all year-round too. So it was really exciting for us to partner with them for the Earth Day capsule collection, because we could feel good about it, knowing that they care about the impact they have all the time, not just for a particular month.
Did Earth Day affect the design of the clothing, in terms of the colors or silhouettes chosen?
In a way, yes. There are three colors in the capsule collection, and one of them is created using food waste. There’s a light-pink tie dye colorway that’s created using avocado pits that we collect from local restaurants. As we worked with the Stitch Fix team to come up with the vision, it was kind of interesting to think about, ‘Well, what are some of the lower impact ways we can develop this?’ Diverting a product that would otherwise end up in a landfill was one way that we decided to approach this collection.
Do you have a favorite plant to work with when it comes to dyeing?
It's really incredible what nature has to offer, and the unlikely places you can look to find it. There’s a really wide palette of color available using natural dyes, and it’s been wonderful to explore that with Stitch Fix. For this collection, along with the avocado pit dyes, we also developed two other colorways - one is a really lovely bright yellow, and the other is a dark sienna brown, all of which are completely plant-based.
It’s tough to choose a favorite. One of them is the avocado pits, there’s something about the blush color that I’m rally drawn to the and that changes in the light, and feels very alive. Other than avocado pit, we also offer a dye called indigo, which is that really true blue, denim blue that everyone loves. I think those are my two favorites — no matter how much we dye with them, I never get sick of them.
What are your top tips and tricks to be more sustainable this Earth Day (and every day)?
I think that something that is really easy that everyone can do, is to look at your care labels, and pay attention to a couple things: Where was this garment made? Think about the journey it had to take to get to you. Also, look at the fibers that it’s made out of. Stitch Fix has put a lot of development and research into the different fibers that they’re using and producing. You’re seeing recycled fibers, you’re seeing hemp, and I think it's a really good idea to look at your care labels — we all have Google at our fingertips, we can all become a researcher.
Look into the fabrics that are used in the garments you wear. The use of recycled fabrics is a good indicator that you're buying something that has less of an impact. Natural fibers are a sign that you're having less of an impact. For the activists out there, consider reaching out to brands and asking them for the products you want.