With large amounts of petroleum and water used to manufacture typical performance and swimwear fabrics, finding eco-materials that are available and affordable can be a challenge. From Colombia to Canada, here are three textile mills reducing their carbon footprint for active apparel—one hop, skip and a jump at a time.
Renowned for eco-sports fabrics, Columbia’s Lafayette Sports offers high-quality textiles, including a special line of tech fabrics designed for durability and breathability. Aware of their community and its well-being, the firm is committed to producing sustainable fabrics and reducing its carbon footprint as the years progress. Its second mission is to improve the quality of life for the 1,600 skilled employees who take up precious roles in its Bogota production. Here, Lafayette Sports promote the reduction of non-renewable resources with a culture that upcycles and recycles materials where possible. Thirdly, technological development is paramount, but ideally done with minimal environmental impact and risk to the health of the community.
When sourcing athletic fibers, its creative textiles with high-performance components allow designers to create comfortable, versatile garments as well as having a sportsluxe quality. Offering micro-terry and pure polyester, we especially love the polyester Lycra-blend fabrics suitable for running, hiking and yoga.
Dubbed Laftech, the moisture-wicking fabrics reduce perspiration build up and boast stretching capabilities for movement. Check out their Magic Fabric mesh in hues of navy for layering on tanks and athleisure trims. We also like the Lycra Plain Weave Stepway for a monochromatic black legging or the black Optimus for embellished micro-squares.
Thanks to the special construction of the fabric, Lafayette Sports cloths acts as a real shield against UV rays, making then ideal for swimwear. Other features include a repel finish, which protects the fabric, preventing the absorption of liquids. The Hawaiian-inspired Surfiando and Flores Vintage materials are a must see for boardies and bikinis, too.
Finally, for the adventurers, special construction in the tabular form give Lafgo textiles high strength characteristics in both directions, making anti-tear. Now, prepare to scale massive design heights with these fabrics.
Oratex was founded in 1989 as a commission knitter serving the garment industry in Canada. Over the past 20 years, it has proven innovative and consistent in quality with the changing times, growing from a knit supplier, to a maker of a performance materials—with an eco-twist.
Today, Oratex’s knit-based knowledge is put to the test with activewear. Produced onsite, every aspect of the manufacturing process is heavily controlled, ensuring the high compression fabrics and apparel knit cloths are color fast and consistent in hue.
We love Oratex’s Eco-Stretch materials. Made from organic cotton, recycled nylons and polyester, the firm uses yarns from Repreve—a recycled fiber that contains post-industrial waste and used plastic bottles. Owned by Unifi, Repreve is recognized across the globe for putting plastic landfill to good use and is already adopted by brands such as Volcom and Patagonia.
Oratex uses 70 percent less water and 70 percent less energy to produce their outlandishly colorful polyester and spandex fabrics too, which you can custom-make. And not forgetting their woolly roots, check out the mill’s baby jersey, rib knits, heavy fleeces and interlocks: because every sports collection needs those comfy, outerwear pieces to wear post-workout.
Japanese-made, Toray Industries makes textile products that serve practical and tech functions.
Founded in 1986, Toray is rooted in organic synthetic chemistry, polymer chemistry and biotechnology. With a sustainable element at its core, the company also works in water treatment and environmental engineering.
From New York, Toray International America was born as a subsidiary of Toray. The company is known today as the inventor of the first ultra-microfiber, an invention which opened the door to the manufacturing of new, technologically advanced textiles.
Prevailing as the world’s innovator in high-tech materials, we love the Ultrasuede collection for a little bit of luxury, while working up a sweat.
Toray is exploring swimwear now, too. Ultra-fine polyester in high loft is woven with special textured stretch Lycra. By combining the two, it’s function-meets-comfort for bikinis and one-pieces with a stretch retention to withstand repetitive wear. There’s a UV SPF50 + protection while swimming and you can custom print your intimates, designing your own or taking inspiration from Toray’s current colors and patterns.
With the diversification of consumer lifestyles, more outdoor festivals and the growing trend to incorporate sports items into everyday clothiers, Toray helps unblur the fuzzy lines between fashion and practicalities.
—By Benjamin Fitzgerald
Le Souk connects the world’s finest mills & tanneries directly to the design industry’s leading creatives. We bring together a trusted supplier network, the latest technologies and a community of designers and makers to make global sourcing possible – any time & anywhere.