Restock: Men's Harrington Jacket
New: The Esme Shirt
100% Lambswool Knitted Crew Necks
100% Lambswool Knitwear
The materials we use in our clothing, and the way in which these materials are spun, dyed and woven, has a huge impact on the planet. At Community Clothing we pride ourselves on using the finest quality natural materials. We love natural fibres; we love way they feel when you wear them, we love that they last a long time and get better with age, and we love that if you use the right ones, grown in the right way, they’re kind to the planet too. We use almost exclusively wool, linen and cotton in our clothing because we believe that they offer the very best combination of wearability and overall environmental impact.
We aim to assess the entire lifecycle of any fibre or fabric when we consider its use, including a consideration of the following: Growing - How and where is the fibre grown, or raised? What is its environmental footprint in the farming stage? Is it grown using sustainable, or better, regenerative farming methods? Making - How and where is it spun, dyed, finished, woven, cut and sewn. Using - How long will it last? How many times can it be worn. Total lifetime environmental footprint will be reduced significantly with greater wear. Returning - What happens to it at the end of its useful life? Can the fabric be reclaimed and re-purposed? Can it be recycled. Can it safely and easily be composted and returned to the soil? We strive to use fabrics and fibres with the lowest impact in the input stage, but also to ensure we engineer our products and fabrics for a VERY long life, so that any environmental cost can divided by hundreds, and in some cases thousands of wears.
Cotton gets a bad press, and its true there is some very environmentally damaging cotton production in the world, consuming large amounts of pesticides, herbicides and water. But that doesn’t mean that all cotton is bad. Mankind has been using cotton to produce clothing for around five thousand years. It grows naturally and abundantly right across the tropics, and modern sustainable, organic and regenerative farming practices mean it can be done with limited or no harm to the planet. This does of course come at a price. But cotton makes fantastic, comfortable, fully biodegradable, and if well grown and well-spun, very durable clothing.
All cotton is not made the same. As with everything in life there is good and bad. We only use what we believe to be good cotton. We source Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton grown by Hakan Organic in Sanliurfa in Turkey for our heavy jersey products. We work only with spinners who source the very best quality traceable raw cotton, grown responsibly by farmers in long term relationship with those spinning mills. And we spin, dye, knit and weave in the best cotton mills, with the best environmental and ethical standards, many within a few hundred miles of our headquarters in Lancashire. We use cotton in our jeans, t shirts and sweatshirts, socks, shirts and woven dresses. Denim We source the majority of our denim from Isko in Turkey, arguably the worlds most sustainable premium denim mill. They have world leading environmental and sustainability credentials, including OEKO-TEx, GOTS and GRS certification, with 100% of their cotton from traceable sources in Turkey. They are also a leader in the use of recycled cotton in their denim and we are currently testing denim with an up to 50% recycled material. We also buy denim from Troficolor in Portugal who have similarly world leading environmental credentials. Find out more about the sustainability credentials our of denim partners here https://iskodenim.com/sustainability https://www.troficolor.com/sustentability Shirts and Woven Dresses We source our superfine shirting for these products form Albini in Italy and from Soktas in Turkey. At Albini all stages of production, from spinning and dyeing, to weaving and finishing are done in house suing traceable cotton from Egypt and India. Soktas is also completely vertically integrated from raw cotton to finished product. They grow cotton on their own farms in turkey with very low water consumption rates. Find out more about our woven cotton partners here https://www.albinigroup.com/en/sustainability/ethics/ http://www.soktas.com.tr/#sustainability http://www.soktas.com.tr/uploads/files/SOKTAS_SUSTAINABILITY_Overview_Booklet_Feb2016.pdf Socks The cotton in the yarns for our socks comes from three sources. The yarn used in our fine gauge socks is spun and dyed in Portugal by Clariause using certified BCI cotton The yarn for our heavier gauge socks is source from Elton Vale in Manchester. This yarn is dyed in Langholm in Scotland by FTS Dyers. https://clariause.pt/certificacoes/ https://fts-dyers.co.uk/ https://www.eltonvaleyarns.co.uk/about T Shirts and Sweatshirts The cotton in our t shirts is grown on a single farm, JG Boswell, a multi-generational family run cotton growing business in the San Joaquin Valley of California under USDA regulations that are the tightest on the planet. Every bale raw cotton is numbered allowing traceability all the way back to the field it was grown in, under the world's most heavily regulated agricultural standards. It is then spun in the UK by English Fine Cottons in Manchester in England, before being knitted and dyed in Leicestershire. All the UK operation are carried out under stringent European environmental regulations. https://www.englishfinecottons.co.uk/our-cotton/provenance/ Cotton for our lightweight sweatshirts starts life with GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified cotton grown by Hakan Organic in Sanliurfa in Turkey. This is then spun by Topkapi in Turkey who have been spinning exceptional quality cotton yarns for over 50 Years. Cotton has been grown, and cotton textiles produced in what is modern day Turkey for over three thousand years. https://www.topkapiiplik.com.tr/
Mankind has been using wool to make clothes since the stone age. We’d argue that as a material man and science has never been able to better its unique properties. It’s renewable; it has the second smallest carbon footprint (after linen) of any textile fibre and it is naturally biodegradable. Wool fibres are naturally abrasion resistant, making woollen garments very durable, and its natural elasticity, along with its ability to absorb moisture, makes it extremely comfortable to wear. In short, nature has created almost the perfect fibre from which to make clothes.
Wool is a fantastic material. It is renewable; as long as the rain falls and the grass grows sheep will produce wool. And modern wool farming has been developed to the point where its environmental impact is incredibly small. Wool has the second smallest carbon footprint of any textile fibre - half that of polyester and a third that of acrylic (only linen has a lower one). Wool is naturally biodegradable - at the end of its life it can be put back in the soil where it will decompose releasing valuable nutrients back into the soil. Wool fibres are naturally abrasion resistant, making woollen garments very durable, and its natural elasticity, along with its ability to absorb moisture, makes it extremely comfortable to wear. In short, nature has created almost the perfect fibre from which to make clothes. So why doesn’t everyone use this miracle fibre? Well in short, price. Great quality wool is expensive; between five and ten times the price of synthetic alternatives. Wool is better in so many ways but when compared to those blended synthetic jumpers that most brands sell it looks pricey. And that’s where our unique business model steps in making wool an affordable option for many. We use wool in our fantastic range of jumpers and other knitwear including hats gloves and scarves, in our coats and in a selection of our socks. Jumpers We source the lambswool yarn for our knitted jumpers and accessories from Z. Hinchliffe & Sons of Denby Dale in Derbyshire. Founded in 1766 they are arguably the world best woollen yarn spinners and produce yarn for some of the world finest luxury brands. They source the finest merino lambswool from known farmers in Australia and South Africa ensuring a consistent quality of fibre. They also ensure that all farms have the highest standard of animal welfare and only wool from 100% non-mulesed sheep is used. Find out more about them here https://zhinchliffe.co.uk/ Socks We source 100% British wool yarn for use in our pure wool boot socks from Shepley Yarns of Saddleworth in Yorkshire. They source the wool for their yarns from sheep that roam freely on the fells and downs, right across the UK. They work with dyeing and spinning partners who operate to the highest environmental standards, all are OEKO-TEX 100 accredited, they use no chemicals or dyestuffs used cause harm to the watercourse or atmosphere, and use no AZO dyestuffs. Their spinning plant utilizes only energy from renewable sources. Find out more about Shepley here https://www.shepleyyarns.com/sustainability Coats We source all of the woollen fabrics for our winter coats from AW Hainsworth of Pudsey in Leeds. Established in 1783 they are one of just two completely vertically integrated fabric producers in the UK, with every stage of production, from raw wool, to finished fabric happening under one roof. They produce cloth for some of the worlds best know luxury brands but are also famous for making cloth for a wide array of ceremonial wear including the famous red Guards tunics. They source the finest merino and other wools from the UK, Australia and New Zealand, using wools with known provenance and quality. They spin, dye, weave and finish the fabric at t heir state of the art facility in Yorkshire ensuring absolute assurance of the quality of the final product. Learn more about AW Hainsworth here. https://www.hainsworth.co.uk/about/
Linen is the most sustainable fabric on earth. It can be grown with no irrigation, fertilizer or pesticides. Its total carbon footprint in production is the lowest of all textile fibres, and it is an incredibly durable fibre so linen clothes will last an incredibly long time. Linen has a strongly positive environmental story and can be produced in close harmony with nature. The world’s best linen is grown on our doorstep, in Northern Europe, in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and just within the last two years here in the UK, so it also has minimal clothing miles. At Community Clothing we love linen, so much so that we’ve started growing our own in a project we’ve called Homegrown/Homespun.
Like wool, linen is a fantastic natural fibre from which to make clothes, but like wool it is expensive to grow, and expensive to process. But on the plus side linen product are incredibly durable, lasting much longer than cotton, and thanks to the fibres unique properties it feels dry and cool to wear. At Community Clothing we use linen in our shirts and woven dresses. Our standard linen fabric is made from linen grown in northern Europe where all of the world’s best linen is grown and processed. It is spun by Safilin in Poland and woven and finished in Portugal by Somelos. And thanks to the unique pricing model we use our linen products are often a third of the price of similar quality garments from other brands. And whilst we are confident that our linen production route is the lowest impact production route for any textile anywhere on the planet we think we can go much further. We asked ourselves the question ‘Can we make clothes here in the UK from fibres and dyes that can be naturally grown not hundreds, or thousands, of miles away, but right here on our doorstep?’. And the answer is that we think we can and so in 2021 we co-founded Homegrown/Homespun, a local flax growing project, Northern England Fibreshed and the British Textile Biennial.
Nylon has a high carbon footprint when compared to cotton and wool so we use it sparingly. But it is necessary to extend the life of our sock. We only use highest quality traceable nylon produced using clean energy.
We use a blend of nylon and cotton in our socks, between 10% and 40% depending upon the style. We would of course prefer it if a pure cotton sock were a viable option but for a number of reasons it is considered best for both the comfort and fit of the sock, but also importantly for its durability, to include a stretch nylon fibre. The supply chain for our nylon is fully European and fully traceable. We source nylon yarn which is crimped and dyed by Progressive threads in Nottinghamshire using drawn nylon 6.6 yarn manufactured in Germany.
Synthetic plastic materials, made from oil, account for almost 70% of all material used in clothing production today. Polyester, acrylic, nylon, polyurethane and viscose were all developed as cheap readily available alternatives to natural fibres in the 19050’s and 60’s. Their widespread use led to a huge fall in the cost and a huge rise in the consumption of clothing. Their production often uses highly toxic chemicals. There are good manufacturers, predominantly close to home in the EU, who manufacture in a way which ensures that all input and waste chemicals and all bi-products are safely captured and reprocessed. But this is very expensive to do, and so in many of the places where high street and fast fashion clothes are made these controls are absent. Workers health is put at risk and air and water systems are polluted.
Polyester is made from oil,it has more than twice the carbon footprint of cotton or wool (even recycled polyester has a higher carbon footprint than natural materials) and it does not biodegrade.
Polyester accounts for over 60% of all the fibre used in clothing today. In 2020 more than 350 million barrels of oil were used in the production of plastic for use in textile fibres. Additionally the processing of polyester fibre, including its dyeing, can involve highly toxic chemicals including carcinogens and neurotoxins. And polyester does not biodegrade. Polyester garments that had been buried in landfill for over fifty years have been dug up and found to be in unchanged condition. Textile fibres accounts for almost 34% of all ocean microplastic, and polyester is over 90% of this total. Polyester and recycled polyester fleece sheds the most plastic microfibre of any material so far tested. Polyester cannot currently be recycled in a way that is economically viable. When you see garment collection bins at fast fashion or high street stores offering to ‘recycle’ your synthetic clothing it means they sort it and attempt to resell it to poorer countries where it is used second hand or in some cases dumped into landfill or burned. At Community Clothing we do not use polyester in any of our main body materials. We do currently use polyester thread in many of our garments. This has become industry standard even in the luxury clothing industry. Whilst this represent just a fraction of one percent of the total material in a garment we would like to remove it so we are currently trialling the use cotton threads. However their availability is limited and the sewing processes have to be adjusted and slowed down. The majority of our woven labels are currently polyester, but it is certified recycled which does minimise its carbon footprint. The zip tapes in some of our product are currently polyester, certified recycled, but we are working to find viable cotton tape zips. We would like to completely eliminate polyester from our garments.
Acrylic is an oil based synthetic fibre. It is not viably recyclable and is not biodegradable. The production and processing of acrylic uses toxic chemicals so manufacturing control is required to avoid hazard to workers. It is highly flammable, which means it must be treated with often toxic flame retardants. We use no acrylic in any of our products.
Polyurethane is an oil based synthetic material. The production and processing of polyurethane (often now called vegan leather) involves the use of toxic chemicals that are hazardous to human health, and pollute the air and water systems. Whilst materials made from polyurethane will delaminate and become unusable quite quickly the material itself will not biodegrade. We use no polyurethane in any of our products.
Cheap clothing is manufactured using chemicals that are hazardous to human health. They are hazardous to workers, they often end up in water systems, and they can remain on clothing and can be absorbed through the skin by the wearer. Some of these are banned entirely in the UK/EU, some are allowed but their use is very tightly controlled. A recent report showed that children’s clothes from a major fast fashion brand contained up to 20 times the safe amount of lead. The following are some of the most problematic - we do not use any of these chemicals in the manufacturing processes of any Community Clothing garments.
Trichloroethane Trichloroethane (TCE) is used to treat some fabrics prior to dyeing. It is harmful to human health and its use is currently banned in the EU Fluoropolymers or CFCs Often found in water repellent outerwear they find there way into the environment, our drinking water and our food, and can be carcinogenic. Lead and Chromium (VI) Used by some fashion manufacturers to give vivid colours in their dyes. In high concentrations they can be carcinogenic and can cause skin irritation VOC’s Used in ‘easy-care’, ‘no iron’ products, these include formaldehyde, methylene chloride, 1,3-butadiene, xylene, toluene, ethylene glycol, benzene, and tetrachloroethylene. These are extremely hazardous and can cause reproductive system damage, skin/eye irritation, and liver and respiratory system problems. These are just some of the many thousands of chemicals used in textile production, several of which can be extremely harmful to health. Keeping your supply chain close to home ensures you can control exactly what is and is not used in the production of your clothing.
Our ultimate aim is to use materials to make our clothes which have zero environmental impact and are completely recyclable in a closed circular system, or are completely naturally biodegradable. There are lots of fascinating developments in the world of textiles, some natural, some synthetic, some a hybrid of both. Our founder Patrick Grant has a background in Materials Science and works closely with several UK university textile science departments to monitor and participate in the development of new materials and processing technologies including dyeing. Some of these, like cellulose acetate for example, a plant based fibre which can be readily recycled, show great promise.
Some people think because viscose is made from plant material, typically wood pulp but increasingly also from bamboo, that’s it’s a natural fibre. Its not. It’s made by dissolving the plant cellulose of the feed stock in some pretty nasty chemicals before extruding this slurry into the synthetic viscose fibre. Where the wood comes from, and how it’s made can have a huge impact on the environment. There’s good viscose and bad viscose. On the plus side it is claimed that viscose does readily biodegrade. We are investigating the limited use of fully traceable European viscose in some products.
Viscose is made from plant cellulose. Good viscose is made from wood pulp sourced from sustainable forests. But a lot of viscose is made from unsustainable forests. 70 millions trees are felled annually for viscose production, 30% of them from ancient or endangered forests.
‘Bamboo’ and ‘bamboo silk’ should really be labelled as bamboo viscose. Bamboo grows quickly and can do so naturally, but it grows faster if you use synthetic fertilizer and irrigate it. The rise in popularity of ‘bamboo’ fibre is leading to destruction of legacy forests to create land to grow more bamboo.
To produce viscose you have to dissolve whatever plant feedstock you are using, whether wood, bamboo or in some cases reclaimed plant material, and adjust the length of the polymer chains before you extrude it. This is done using chemicals including carbon disulphide, and sodium hydroxide, both of which are highly toxic. It is of course possible to produce viscose in a controlled way, where all waste chemicals and bi-products are safely captured and reprocessed, and that’s how it’s done in the EU where most of the good viscose is made. But it’s much cheaper not to do this, so in lots of places viscose production is causing a lot of harm both to people and the environment.