Women in Sustainable Fashion: Kristin Glenn of Seamly.co

Kristin Glenn

Happy New Year, and thanks for sticking around through my extended blog break. Hopefully, you had a restful holiday break yourself.

To welcome you back to our little corner of the worldwide web, I'd like to introduce Kristin Glenn in our series, Women in Sustainable Fashion.

Kristin Glenn is the founder of Seamly.co, a USA-made clothing company using domestically-knitted fabrics. Seamly.co inspires women to make educated choices about their clothing through storytelling, community, and an interactive design process. Customers can join in on design and manufacturing by offering design ideas, voting on styles and colors, and then watch the manufacturing process from fabric to finish, via social media.

Glenn is based in New York City, working with two small factories in Colorado who produce 100% of Seamly.co items. She loves locally-made, community-driven fashion.

 

1. Tell us about Seamly.co (www.seamly.co). How does it embody what sustainable fashion means to you?

Seamly.co uses American-made fabrics to produce apparel in Colorado. Our mission is to educate consumers to make empowered decisions, and we do that through community involvement, interactive (online) experiences, and storytelling. To me, it's what fashion should be -- a fun, creative space for learning more about yourself and the world around you. When we learn about where clothes come from and how they are made, it opens up the door to make conscientious, sustainable decisions.

2. How did you get involved in sustainable fashion?

Where does your passion for it come from? I've always been an environmentalist at heart -- and a traveler, too. A few years ago, a friend and I dreamt up a clothing line for travelers. When we started researching how our clothes are made, the negative human and environmental impacts of manufacturing popped out like a big red flag. I knew that, if I wanted to be in this industry, I would have to do things differently, in a way that aligned with my values.

3. What do you feel is your impact on the industry?

Education. I try my best to showcase the process as much as possible when we produce our clothes -- from sourcing USA-made fabric to showing the cutting process to making videos at the garment factory. I think it's crucial for people to understand that apparel is a labor-intensive industry, and affects quite a few people.

4. What has been the response to making the clothing production process more transparent? I know there are so many people out there who have no idea about the work and impact behind our clothes.

For most people, when they watch a video or hear the story of how clothes are made, they're in awe of the work that goes into it. We often equate price with craftsmanship -- so, naturally, most people think that because clothes are so cheap these days, they must be easy and simple to make. Which isn't true at all! Many, many hands touch each garment we buy, and it's been really neat to see our customers dive deeper into the process and gain an appreciation for the talent that goes into "making."

5. What do you see as the future of clothing? How are we going to get there?

I think the future of sustainability is all about textiles, and the real pioneers in the industry are textile developers creating low-impact, fully recyclable, and biodegradable fabrics. I'm excited to start integrating these fabrics into my design process, like lots of other sustainable-minded designers, when these types of options become available.

6. Name 3 things the average person can do to lower their footprint as it relates to their clothes.

Mind your laundry -- wash less, wash cold, line dry. As for shopping, most of us really don't know the "footprint" related to our clothes, even as designers and companies. It's really tough to tell what types of fabrics and processes are actually better, environmentally. So I would say, when shopping, buy from transparent brands that are striving for sustainability.

7. It sounds like laundering is a big portion of the footprint of our clothes. Can you tell us a little about the energy that goes into making the clothes vs. the energy that goes into laundering and caring for them?

The few studies I've read indicate that laundry has a bigger impact than manufacturing, from an environmental standpoint (consider water and energy use, CO2 emissions from our dryers, chemical detergents). When considering the total impact of a garment, the laundering process is responsible for over 75% of the environmental damage. That's a lot! It's just as important to use cold water and line-dry, with responsible detergents, as it is to shop from responsible brands.

8. What advice do you have for your fellow women trailblazers?

Oh, boy! Just start. Whatever trail you're blazing, just start doing your thing, making mistakes, and constantly seek alignment with what really feels right.

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Thank you, Kristin!

Patty

January 9th, 2015