Sustainability is a hot topic for the fashion industry. After years of pressure by NGOs and consumers, major fashion labels such as Burberry, Stella McCartney, Prada, Chanel, Nike and H&M have committed to eradicating plastic waste and pollution while changing the way clothes are designed, produced, sold and recycled.
Joining the steadily growing roster of sustainable fashion brands is PANGAIA: a global group of scientists, technologists and designers who are on a mission to create a responsible wardrobe manufactured from renewable and alternative resources such as flowers and seaweed yarn.
We spoke exclusively to “The PANGAIA Collective” to find out more about their approach to sustainability, the challenges they’ve faced so far and what’s next for the brand.
How did the idea for PANGAIA initially come about?
We have long partnered with the world’s leading research institutions, laboratories and scientists to bring to life the latest problem-solving innovations in materials science. With PANGAIA, we wanted to find a way to demystify science and bring it to the industry and the end consumer in the most accessible way possible – through everyday lifestyle products, starting with essential clothing. We pioneer our very own breakthrough patents like flower down (FLWRDWN), use bio-based fibres, as well as materials made from recycled garment waste and so much more.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the collection of scientists, technologists and designers behind the brand?
We’re building a new model of leadership that champions the team, as opposed to the individual. We believe the power of the collective is more effective than individuals working alone to make change. We’re united by one vision and dream to design a better future, so we’ve organised ourselves into a global group of like-minded individuals with very different backgrounds but same guiding principles.
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What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far?
It’s never easy being the first in any field. We work with the most advanced scientists, researchers and technologists in their areas – from fibres to packaging – and with forward-thinking factories and makers in Europe. We always prioritise and invest in achieving the highest quality, ethical standards and latest innovations. By introducing new sustainable technologies and practices, our ultimate goal is to show others a way forward, so they become more widespread. The balance lies in bringing our consumers cutting edge materials science at an acceptable price point, knowing that this will eventually build scale and drive down costs across the industry, making sustainable innovation the norm rather than the exception.
Can you tell us more about some of the bio, lab-grown, recycled and natural materials you use?
We are really proud of our current product offer, which includes FLWRDWN puffer jackets, seaweed fibre t-shirts and recycled cotton hoodies. Aside from providing a sustainable alternative to traditional materials, the patented seaweed fibre, for example, gives ultimate wearing comfort due to its soft feel and great moisture absorption. It also wears and washes well and is biodegradable and compostable. Its inventors also believe that it has a positive effect on the body when worn next to the skin. Saltwater seaweed is rich in essential substances like vitamins and antioxidants, which are known to have many positive effects. The inventors believe the natural moisture level of the body could enable an active exchange of these beneficial substances between the product and skin, providing noticeable benefits.
When we use colour, we only use natural dyes, and these have been created from food waste and natural resources. Plants, fruits and vegetables help to achieve richly hued tones that work well together – from sakura blossom pink to madder root red. Our supplier dyes textiles in a way that uses less water, is non-toxic and biodegradable. All our garment logos and prints are also created with water-based PVC-free ink.
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Aside from PANGAIA, what are some of your favourite fashion brands and/or individuals whose ethos you most respect and are inspired by?
We are inspired by the work done across the globe by individuals and organisations making a difference – the only way to create change is to effectively create a movement.
What’s next for PANGAIA?
We see PANGAIA as a launch pad for many new scientific developments – making them available direct to consumer will always be our first step. We plan to explore other categories further down the line, from jewellery and accessories to furniture and so much more. We then want to facilitate widespread use of these technologies and developments across many other companies and industries.
PANGAIA is available at thepangaia.com
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