Zulu & Zephyr began its journey in the Summer of 2012. Founders Candice and Karla Rose set out to revive and relive their mother’s Australian fashion era in
the 1970’s. The design brief was to evoke nostalgia with vintage prints and a focus on texture. As the success of the brand has grown, so too has the social responsibility which has led to the shift of our internal processes and priorities. Here, we would like to introduce forth coming fabric compositions that have changed the face of our brand - for the better.
GOTS ORGANIC COTTON
We first introduced the use of GOTS certified organic cotton in our Spring 2020 Ready to Wear collection, used throughout the collection in lightweight shirting to our exclusive woven stripes developed with artisan weavers in India.
Choosing GOTS certified organic cotton ensures we are aligned
with the three pillars of sustainability; environmental, social and economic. So often we find that positive environmental impacts create better opportunities for people, socially and economically and organic agriculture is a great example.
Organic cotton is a more sustainable choice for a myriad of reasons. While conventional cotton is grown using pesticides and chemicals which degrade the soil, reducing the fertility of the land, organic agriculture has a positive, restorative effect. Through chemical-free farming practices, growers can enrich the land creating healthy, carbon-rich soils which require less water and mainly relies on rainwater. Pesticide runoff and the contamination associated with it, is avoided. Crop rotation encourages biodiversity and natural pest control which benefits surrounding flora and fauna. The social and economic benefits are also clear, organic cotton farmers are not reliant on costly pesticides, they can yield healthy crops with less water and their communities, often in developing nations, are safe from water and food contamination.
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is a far-reaching certification which ensures best practice from seed to final product. The standard sets requirements concerning worker rights and social conditions as outlined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and includes, but is not limited to fair renumeration and assessment of a living wage. GOTS certification also ensures better practices for fibre processing and dyeing, enforcing the use of GOTS approved colourants and auxiliaries and fabric mills must demonstrate environment management, including wastewater treatment.
While we acknowledge that organic cotton is not faultless, for example conventional cotton has been proven to yield more fibres due to the genetic modification of the seed. We do believe that GOTS certified organic cotton is a more sustainable choice that promotes better social and environmental outcomes, improving the prosperity and health of the people that grow, pick and process the fibre as well as for the end consumer.
Since we begun using GOTS organic cotton in July 2020, we can estimate a saving of 217’558 litres of water compared with using conventional cotton. This is based on data from the Textile Exchange’s 2014 Life-Cycle Assessment of organic cotton which has calculated water usage during the life cycle of a cotton t-shirt. A t-shirt made from conventional cotton uses approximately 8206 litres of water compared with water usage of 704 litres for the same t-shirt made from cotton grown and processed organically, a saving of 7502 litres.
Linen has been a long-time staple of Zulu & Zephyr Ready to Wear collections, a natural and sustainable fibre made from the Flax plant. Beloved for its natural creases, softness and durability.
Linen is typically grown without the use of pesticides and fertiliser as naturally the flax plant requires less than other crops. Although this is not always the case so as we strive for traceability we have sourced European Flax® Linen.
Certified as being of the highest quality linen, its quality and strength is thanks to a unique combination of growing conditions and climate therefore European Flax® cannot be grown anywhere else. With its origins traceable to the wide coastal band of Western Europe stretching from the South of Normandy in Northern France through Belgium and the Netherlands.
Using European Flax® gives us visibility on the raw material so as we work towards full transparency of our supply chain this is really important, we can trust the raw material origins and that environmental standards are met.
European Flax® certification ensures the flax plant has been grown without the use of fertilisers or pesticides, using just rainwater and requiring no additional irrigation. These practices have a regenerative effect on the land, maintaining soil fertility allowing the natural capture and storage of CO2 from the atmosphere. Fibre extraction which is also known as scutching is 100% mechanical meaning zero chemicals are used in the process.
Much like the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), European Flax® certification ensures best practices for all workers involved from seed to finished product, in compliance with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards that promote social justice and internationally recognised human and labor rights.
We look forward to sharing the impact of our RTW collection using European Flax® once we have relevant data.
As textile recycling technology becomes more readily available, we are excited to introduce the use of recycled cotton as a more sustainable alternative. Using recycled fibres as a collective is a crucial step towards a circular economy. Allowing us to reduce our reliance on new materials while diverting textile waste from landfill.
Recycled cotton can be from either pre-consumer which includes scraps from the manufacturing process or post consumer which includes garments or textile waste collected by take-back or donation programs. The process involves sorting the fabrics into type which are is then run through a machine that shreds the fabric into yarn and further into raw fibre. This process of shredding puts a lot of strain on the fibre which means the quality of recycled fibres often do not compare to that of the original fibre, end-use applications are also more limited as fibre length is reduced.
For this reason, recycled fibres are often blended with new fibres to increase the strength and durability of the recycled fibre. For these reasons, design and development using recycled fibres takes time and consideration, working closely with supplier to trace origins and ensure product longevity and durability. We are excited to introduce exclusive knitwear styles, launching in June 2021 made from a blend of recycled post-consumer cotton and viscose. Recycled cotton certified by Global Recycled Standard (GRS).
Global Recycled Standard (GRS) certification covers the recycled element of a fabric or yarn, validating its compliance to international standards of textile recycling. This is an essential element of using recycled fibres, maintaining accountability and transparency is key and an ongoing commitment for Zulu & Zephyr.
THE BETTER COTTON INITIATIVE (BCI)
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is the largest cotton sustainability program in the world, it exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment and better for the sector. It is an international working group that uses income generated by members to tackle issues of forced labour and decent work conditions that often plague the regions in which cotton is grown.
BCI’s overall mission is to improve cotton farming practices - socially, environmentally and economically. With a focus on better cotton farming practices such as crop rotation, water stewardship, soil health and biodiversity. In turn improving the outcome for people, reducing pollution and protecting livelihoods while improving work conditions with better economic outcomes.
As we work towards best practice and full transparency, it is a high priority to support certified, traceable raw materials and organisations that improve social, environmental and economic outcomes such as Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). Explore Better Cotton.
Launching February 2022.
We choose to use Hemp for its environmentally friendly properties as well as its durability and drape. Often used as a blend with linen or GOTS certified organic cotton as it adds durability and softens with every wear. Our Hemp fabric blended with GOTS cotton holds the Organic 100 Content Standard awarded to blended fabrics to verify the organically grown content.
Hemp from the Cannabis sativa plant is naturally pest resistant so requires a very limited application of pesticide or fertiliser, growing quickly using very little water.
It is estimated to use 50% less water than cotton to grow. Hemp also has regenerative properties so its growth contributes to restoring the soil not causing degradation. The soil is replenished with nutrients from the leaves that drop while the plant matures.