John Lewis unveils sustainable womenswear collection

John Lewis & Partners has teamed up with luxury sustainable womenswear brand Mother of Pearl to launch a new sustainable clothing collection made from organic cotton and certified renewable wood fibre sources.

John Lewis unveils sustainable womenswear collection

The natural pulp is produced at biorefineries that utilise recovery mechanisms to reuse energy.

The new collection of womenswear has been made using Tencel – a natural fibre derived from wood sourced from sustainably managed forests. Organic cotton has also been used to produce denim in the collection.

John Lewis’ head of buying, womenswear, Jo Bennett said: “We are so proud of this collection, from the beginning the partnership felt like a natural fit, both of our brands really do share similar values and ideals.

“In these unsettling times fashion may not be highest on everyone’s agenda but we hope to lift spirits, bring a little bit of joy and a small moment of escapism. We’re proud to launch this collection and support Mother of Pearl and what they stand for – and of course launch some clothes we can all look forward to wearing.”

The products will be available for purchase from Wednesday (22 April) and the two collaborators have taken extensive steps to embed sustainable practices into the value chain of the collection.

Fashion is estimated to account for around 10% of global emissions annually – more than international shipping and aviation combined. It has also been strongly linked to deforestation and water pollution. As for resources, fashion is widely considered one of the most linear industries in the world. Between 80-120 billion garments and 20+ billion pairs of shoes are manufactured annually, most of which lack dedicated infrastructure and policy support for reuse or recycling.

The natural pulp is produced at biorefineries that utilise recovery mechanisms to reuse energy. John Lewis claims that the refinery’s chemical use, water use and water effluent are controlled and monitored to minimise environmental impacts.

Supply chain approach

The fibres are being created by Lenzing. The company claims that its Tencel fibres can be grown per tonne on half an acre of forestland that isn’t suitable for farming. In comparison, the Natural Resource Defense Council claims that cotton requires up to five times more space of highly-arable farmland.

The Tencel fibre has been certified as biodegradable and compostable under industrial, home, soil, and marine conditions.

In 2017, the Lenzing group was accused of using chemical-intensive production processes at factories in West Java, Indonesia. An investigation found that villagers were washing viscose products in the nearby Citarum river, exposing themselves to the toxic chemicals and polluting the river.

Since the publication of the 2017 report, ABG and Austrian-based Lenzing, the two largest viscose producers in the world, have committed to ensuring that all sites meet EU Ecolabel requirements by 2020, through a $100m investment.

In fact, high-street retailers New Look and Morrisons have joined the likes of Inditex, ASOS, H&M and Tesco in signing up to a sustainability roadmap to ensure they are sourcing sustainable viscose that doesn’t contribute to environmental pollution.

More broadly, a group of academics, businesses and thought leaders have penned a plan to help fashion firms align with planetary boundaries and address the climate and nature emergencies, headlined by a call to dramatically cut virgin resource use.

Using the IPCC’s research, the plan sets out why the fashion sector should reduce its use of virgin resources by 75% by 2030. Such a move, it says, is “radical” and “would impact our lives substantially” – but would help to prevent interconnected environmental crises.

Matt Mace

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