It’s not enough. In 2020, it isn’t enough to be “working on it” or “testing” or “looking into” sustainable methods of construction. Yet faced with a consumer that wants a difference, countless companies are doing just that. We talk about sustainability frequently and it could be argued that it’s one of our points of differentiation - a phrase often used in marketing to determine what sets you apart from your competition. That Velocio, a relatively small brand, can be differentiated in a way that impacts our environment and everyone around us in such a significant way, that brands 20x larger than us are still “looking into it” is not enough.
There are great options for better apparel today. Gone are the days of counterposing highly technical apparel with sustainable apparel. That’s a false choice. Since our launch in 2014, we’ve looked at how we can continue to push forward our product offering to reduce our impact on our planet. We all need clothing, but what we choose to buy has a profound impact on not only its longevity, but the environmental cost in creating it.
Here’s what we do differently.
Velocio Apparel is made in facilities using sustainable renewable energy (primarily solar) as a source for energy. Through careful planning, we produce our apparel in small-batch quantities to conserve energy, to limit overstock and to reduce liquidation. (Hence we have less old or unused product waste as well.)
The vast majority of our material sourcing is close to our manufacturing facilities, reducing the energy necessary to get materials in place for cutting and sewing.
The choices we make are aimed to slow down the process, to push back against fast fashion and disposable kit. Each of our designs is aimed at longevity and sustained performance. Likewise, we strive for timeless visual designs since a great kit is a great kit whether new out-of-the-bag or in five years. Then there are the material choices that comprise our clothing.
Our collection of apparel using recycled or natural fiber materials is ever expanding and we’re continually working with our suppliers to create new fabric options, evolving our strong marriage of technical function and sustainability. We’ve pulled together a collection of these products to illustrate the breadth of this range, an ever-expanding part of our offering.
The suppliers we work with are committed to sustainable practices and materials. Each holds several certifications for environmental and ethical standards. They've also made deep commitments to reducing their impact on the environment through sourcing raw materials and reducing carbon emissions and water usage in production. Some of the certifications held by our partners include:
Velocio uses SEAQUAL certified fabrics, earth-friendly fibers made from high quality recycled polyester yarn recovered from ocean trash.
Velocio uses OEKO-TEX certified fabrics, a process that certifies sustainability and safety standards in raw fabrics.
GLOBAL RECYCLED STANDARD
The Global Recycled Standard (GRS) is a voluntary product standard for tracking and verifying the content of recycled materials in a final product.
Velocio uses BLUESIGN certified fabrics. BLUESIGN traces each textile's path along the manufacturing process, making improvements at every stage from factory floor to finished product.
Currently for our U.S. customers, we have a repair program to extend the life of every garment. This is another example of pushing back against the fast-fashion trend and making every piece we make last longer.
How we get each product into your hands is a careful set of choices. Our mailers are made of post-consumer recycled paper and are compostable. Inside those mailers, the bags that package each garment are made from biodegradeable material and can be composted as well.
While we've made strides towards improving our impact, we're by no means perfect. There are many areas where we'll continue to pursue improvement.
Here’s what we're actively working on now:
• Laminate fabrics, like 3-layer hardshell or softshell fabrics, are inherently difficult to process and typically incorporate a membrane that is not eco-friendly.
• CFC-based DWR treatments: there are CFC-free options available, but they are not effective yet.
We currently employ the highest performance fabrics available and have spec'd fabrics that are durable and can withstand years of use.
Currently, we are researching some new tech membranes that use nanospinning technology to create a highly breathable and air permeable membranes out of a more sustainable, eco-friendly and recyclable material.
As far as we know, there is only one supplier that produces recycled elastane. We use it in a few of our styles, however the capability is limited and the volume required to even test this yarn in other fabrics is prohibitively high for a company our size.
The above considerations, along with our total volumes, really limit what we can do in areas like denier gradient fabrics that incorporate 2-3 types of yarn, since each supplier requires a minimum volume, compounded by an even larger greige (raw fabric) minimum, per style. As we grow, we’ll use our buying power and our voice to push these conversations forward and work with our suppliers to innovate further.
The foams used in the production of chamois - industry wide - are not recycled and are difficult to recycle given their complex composition. We're currently researching alternatives to traditional foams that provide the same benefits at a lower impact.
We're currently working with our suppliers to develop styles using biodegradable yarns capable of 75%+ decomposition in just 5 years under anaerobic conditions. These are very new (and expensive) materials intended to reduce the waste of not only discarded clothing, but production scraps over the life of the garment.
Nylon is a very durable fiber and something we use in many of our garments, such as bib shorts, due to its ability to withstand abuse as well as many other performance characteristics. However, it is an inherently difficult material to recycle and aside from using garment/production scraps to reclaim and recycle into yarns, it’s very limited in how we can use it. There are only a few sources and we’re pushing them to allow for greater options and performance requirements: gauge, durability, etc.
We currently offer several recycled nylon options:
We're looking into investments in renewable energy for every aspect of our business - from powering our distribution & fulfillment centers, the offices we use to the vehicles we drive.
We are working now on ways of reducing our carbon impact in freight and end-customer transport. As a business, we’re aiming to lengthen our forecasts and lead times to allow for the 20+ day ocean freight transit times and consolidating shipments into as few as possible while still meeting our preseason and launch deadlines.
We’re working on expanding our shipping offering to our customers, allowing them to select a lower carbon shipping method
We’re purchasing carbon offsets for every mile we travel - to events, to meetings, to our manufacturing. Since these are areas where we don’t have a choice, we’ve chosen to offset what we can.
We gave $25,000 to the Conservation Alliance Fund for Public Lands Defense last year, a piece of our commitment in pledging 1% of our total revenue to environmental causes. That effort reflects our role as a brand in the cycling and outdoor space, recognizing our own harm in protected wilderness areas and our ability to mitigate that harm.
Read more about our commitment to a sustainable future.A Better Way