SUSTAINABILITY JOURNEY WITH HGBB
Sustainability has become a bit of a buzzword these days, and is often used without really knowing what it means. As a designer, sustainability is highly nuanced and considered hundreds of times throughout the design and production process - from patterns, to material choices, and where and how to produce. Inevitably this also means making choices and deciding where to focus. There is no “right approach”, every brand is doing it in a different way, and the whole industry is evolving, so every brand is on a journey; learning and adapting as they go.
But there can be a lot of shaming in this space; and often small brands don’t want to talk about what they are doing, because they are so aware of the negative impact of the fashion industry, and know how far they have to go. At PARO it's an important part of our mission to support brands making moves in the right direction. We support brands who are already producing responsibly in some ways and evolving in others, and we want to share their stories to show the realities of designing in a way that’s better for the world.
HGBB is a brand who considers the impact of every design choice, they are iterating and making changes each season to continually improve this. We chatted to Tobias Billetoft founder of HGBB to find out more about the journey they are on.
What does sustainability mean to you and what’s your aim as a brand in this space?
Our goals related to sustainability have to be reachable goals, compared to the size of the company/brand and what we can do for the fashion industry at the moment. It is also important that we stay true to ourselves as a brand, and don’t promise a bunch of sustainable goals, which we can not incorporate with the resources and capabilities we have right now. Sustainability for us, does not only mean using recycled fabrics or re-design collections from used clothes. We would rather go non-recycled and create collections which last many years. For us that is sustainable.
Tell us about some of the hurdles HGBB and other small brands come across, and the choices you have to make
Smaller brands in general, will have harder times finding the suppliers and productions, which are willing to give that extra service or make an effort regarding quality (for sustainable options). Smaller brands won't be having a high enough volume regarding production/ MOQ (minimum order quantity) for the production to consider the extra work worth it. In general it is just very hard for new/small brands to go 100% sustainable; recycled and organic fabrics tend to be much more expensive, especially if having supplier/production within EU.
Tell us about how HGBB are evolving to become more sustainable each season
At HGBB we have been lucky enough to work with some extremely fine productions/suppliers, where we have been able to reach a high level of quality with sustainable fabrics. We have mainly been focusing on using more organic fabrics where we have been able to.
We are also making many of our styles/collections functional. This means for ex. pants are only made in two sizes, S-M / L-XL. This allows us to produce less pieces but still be able to fit our customers, as the pants are functional and resizable. The same concept will be seen in some of our top pieces from AW20.
What do you think you are doing well?
We produce 80% of our collection in Europe (Portugal), and work with factories that are certified for having good working conditions - we visit them several times a year. Environmental care is also a big focus for our manufacturers; our partner in Portugal is working with Okeo-tex to optimise this.
Materials wise, I think we’re on the right track for now, focusing on quality rather than focusing on recycled cotton/wool. The technology/quality is not quiet there regarding recycled fabrics in my opinion. We want our customers to be able to have/wear our coats etc. for 5+ years, instead of having to go out to buy a new coat every season, because the quality wasn't good enough.
What are you improving and what is your future vision for HGBB in this space?
We want to keep developing on being as sustainable as we can related to our growth and capabilities. Hopefully in the near future we can go from 50% -100% of our collection being organic. We also want to improve on using more recycled fabrics of course, especially when using synthetic fabrics, as the quality is quite good for recycled synthetics.
How would you like to see the fashion industry evolve?
We would like to see many more brands, small and big, slow down a bit. And eventually not having to think about sustainability, but turn into something which everyone would do without thinking about it.
One piece of advice you would give to people who want to shop better?
Go for quality, better to spend a little more on something you can have for many more years.
And what advice would you give to other small brands like you?
Don't think about the pressure of being sustainable, but just keep it in mind and do as much or little as they can, everything helps.
Find out more about HGBB and shop the collection HERE