Finding a suitable fabric two years ago, started with me typing into Google "sustainable fabric", and then a thousand possible variations of this search. Eco. Recycled. Recyclable. Circular. Natural Fibres.......
Because sadly for me, and my new business venture ( and I'm from a Healthcare background, not fashion or manufacturing- what was i thinking!), there was no one-stop-shop that had what I wanted, or not that I could find anyway. Or if they did, they weren't keen on small quantities being purchased, which was what I required for my start up biz.
So I searched the wide world web for hours, and days, and probably months, looking for a suitable fabric for my first sustainable bag. All I was really looking for was a material that I thought did more good for the planet, than harm.
I searched for what I thought were your usual sustainable fabrics- recycled plastic, natural fibres (not all natural fibres are sustainable I'm learning, but within every subgroup of fibre production, there are people doing great things to be sustainable). Which then lead to plant leathers, which then lead me to recycled natural fibres, and on and on...
Oof, it was a lot!
I also needed something that I could purchase in a small amount to produce a small run, because, well, just say no-one thought my sustainable bag brand was as great as I did?
I learnt A LOT during this research process. A LOT about sustainability. It really helped refine my ethos behind the brand, and this has helped guide me and my business decisions ever since.
So, in the end, I found a recycled, post-consumer (waste) plastic fabric in a store in Adelaide, Australia, and "woohoo", they were stocked by a fabric supplier in Melbourne. Fern Textiles- you guys are great!
This fabric ticked all the boxes in that it was sustainable (recycled waste plastic), It was available, I could purchase it in small amounts (about 100m), the weight of the fabric lent itself well to a sturdy bag (about 300gsm), it felt substantial to the touch, and I loved the colour and the variations in threading through it. These were all pros in my eyes, so I grabbed some of this fab fabric.
There were a few cons however, and I had to be happy that these were outweighed by the pros.
This fabric was manufactured overseas. I couldn't initially find what I wanted from an Australian manufacturer, and I tried. I would have loved a local product and was mindful of my carbon footprint through air miles.
It came in very limited colours, and I had a lot of people tell me they loved the concept, but not the colour. There was green, sand, or brown....and then the sand sold out.
I was also mindful of the shedding of microplastics, so this bag is preferably a spot clean only bag.
And further down the line, I've learnt that there are some "quirks" to manufacturing with plastic fabric, but we just had to navigate around these as they arise. FYI- plastic fabric melts which making binding the usual way!! We needed to get creative and ask around a bit more for an answer to that one.
My manufacturer worked wonders with this fabric and the end resultant bags are strong and sturdy, hang and wear well, and will hopefully last for decades.
And I think they look great!