Fashion for Conservation is thrilled to feature ColieCo Lingerie, a lingerie, underwear, and swimwear company with a commitment to the environment at its core. They use organic, recycled, re-used and reclaimed fabrics to actively minimize their textile waste and work hand-on with all parties on the supply chain to control their carbon footprint. ColieCo uses renewable energy to power their studio in Portugal and package their orders in biodegradable and recycled materials. They are the epitome of innovation within the fashion industry by going the extra mile to be green, sustainable, and support the well being of their workers, while producing high quality products. Not to mention that every garment is hand-crafted!
Let’s start off with a Q&A session with the founder, Nicole Neaber!
What does sustainability mean to your brand?
Sustainability means everything to us at ColieCo Lingerie.
We describe ColieCo as an eco-centric business. To us, this means that in literally everything we do, we have to consider our impact on the environment and minimizing our carbon footprint first.
The aim of sustainable development is to eventually reach the end goal of an equilibrium between human society and the ecosystem. In the modern developed world, we are absolutely light years away from that goal - we are very rapidly completely trashing the ecosystem that ultimately supports us - and the textiles and fashion industry is in no small part to blame.
Existing, mainstream models in textile production, garment production, and business management, marketing and buying in the fast fashion industry are simply not remotely justifiable from an ecological perspective. In fact, they are so far removed from being so that they just aren't capable of being brought in line with sustainable development.
In finding new models that we can discuss as sustainable with a straight face, we're starting from scratch; and it'll be small and medium sized, eco-centric businesses that will deliver these solutions.
What is the legacy your brand would like to impart on our planet?
Legacy is a powerful word!
Quite simply, we aim to give customers an alternative, truly sustainable choice that matches the very best in the market in terms of product quality - aesthetics, fit, comfort and durability - whilst remaining an affordable option. We want to give customers an opportunity to think about what they are shopping for, and the consequences of their decisions about how they spend their money.
And ultimately, we want people to buy, love, cherish and care for ColieCo lingerie and swimwear, rather than shop on a whim for any given unsustainable, poorly constructed and quickly disposable alternative. Each time that happens it feels like a small win, and it makes us feel like what we're doing as a team is worthwhile.
What is your brand doing to track its carbon footprint and offset greenhouse gases?
Continuous improvement sees us working on our pattern cutting processes and waste minimization, focusing on sourcing locally, working with similarly-minded suppliers and partners, minimizing our energy consumption in our end-to-end processes, using recycled office and shipping materials, and, of course, working with low carbon, ecologically sound fabrics.
I actually have a real problem with the concept of carbon offsetting. It's too easy to get comfortable with the idea that we can all forget about our direct and indirect emissions, because provided we are generating enough profit, we can look to offset them elsewhere. Here's an idea: why not aim to produce as close to zero emissions as possible *and* invest some of your profits in, for example, carbon sink development.
The best way for us to work towards net carbon neutrality is to focus on minimizing our emissions in the first place.
What is your brand's stance on animal welfare?
Our vision focuses on three core values: respect for the environment, respect for people and respect for quality. Part of the first core value relates, of course, to the wider impacts of human activities on animal life everywhere on the planet, and this is more of a focus for us than traditional animal rights campaigning.
The damage that we are doing to animal life and the ecosystems that support animal life everywhere across the globe through pollution, habitat destruction, fishing and agriculture, and, most importantly, man made climate change is frightening and wholly unnecessary, and our aim at ColieCo is to try to ensure that we give people attractive, high quality alternatives to toxic fast fashion products that deliver as low an environmental impact as is possible.
The only animal product we have used at any point at ColieCo is reconstituted leather made from reclaimed industry off cuts and waste, and we certainly wouldn't consider using virgin leather or any other directly animal derived products in our creations.
What sort of packaging is used for the items?
We exclusively use recycled and recycleable gift wrap paper and cardboard packaging, and biodegradable mailing sacks to ship our orders.
Does your company partner with ethical factories?
We make all of our garments in our own studio. This way we can absolutely control quality in construction, ensure safe and comfortable working conditions, and guarantee to customers that all of those involved in the production of their lingerie and swimwear from order receipt to dispatch are paid a fair wage.
Show Some Love
ColieCo is a great example of a fashion company that embodies what it means to be an ethical brand. They are transparent about their sourcing, materials, production, and wages while serving all body types. Authenticity at it’s finest. And for all you self loving women, it’s the perfect place to get a new swimsuit that fits perfect, lingerie to feel empowered and confident, or underwear to lounge in. After our discussion with Nicole, we hope that anyone, regardless of how you identify yourself, can find a product they will love and feel good about purchasing. Because each human being is unique, and ColieCo caters to all women without compromising their mission to cherish our planet.