Sustainability is a multi-faceted practice. It’s doing better wherever you can—it’s thinking about the health of the planet and the people living on it. Making a product is never 100% sustainable. While we at Lobo Mau are up against large companies that produce millions of garments a year, we feel that our role is to give people who care about the planet and its humans another option, an alternative to toxic fast fashion. Whether it’s using organic and natural fibers for our textiles to cut down on toxins and pesticides in the very fabric of our garments, using deadstock fabrics left over from larger brands, or trying to use as little plastic as possible, we are doing our best every day to create products that have less environmental and human impact. Here’s how we’re making an impact:
Zero Waste: a daily practice, zero waste product development in slow fashion, and even home decor
In 2020 we were named a Zero-Waste Silver partner with the city of Philadelphia, meaning on average we divert 70% of our waste from landfills. On a monthly basis, we perform a waste audit and report our waste-to-diversion rate. A large portion of the waste we offset comes from our production: we ask our local factories to save all scraps so that we may find a better place for them. In-house, we sort these scraps - larger pieces can be used to make Zero Waste Tee Shirts, handbags, and made-to-order pieces, while smaller pieces are put aside for shredding or donation to responsible collectors. Some more specialized projects include our Zero Waste Hand-Knitted Vest (pictured below), which saved ~400 yards of jersey fabric scraps from landfill, or a machine-tufted rug which used about ~350 yards of chain-stitched jersey scrap.
In 2021, we partnered with The University of Delaware’s Research and Discovery Lab (spearheaded by design researcher, Kelly Cobb) to shred our leftover textiles. This shredded pre-consumer waste is called shoddy, which we use to stuff our Zero Waste Pillows.
We also divert our fabric waste by donating to places that responsibly handle waste like Retrievr. You can learn more about Retrievr here. PHILLY FRIENDS, you can now recycle your clothing with Retrievr too! Sign up for their services here, use referral code Lobo-Mau, and you'll get a code for 10% off your next LOBO MAU purchase.
In 2022, we expanded into other areas of design. To jumpstart our expansion, we made a zero-waste furniture capsule with local reupholster artist Jen Tiberi. Furniture pieces were donated or purchased second-hand and reupholstered in organic cotton and Pennsylvania hemp fabrics. Accent pillows were then made with deadstock fabrics and zippers from our neighbors at FABSCRAP, and stuffed with shredded Lobo Mau pre-consumer textile.
Volunteering for coalitions, education, and community:
All Together Now, Pennsylvania - Lobo Mau is on the steering committee of this organization. All Together Now’s mission is to Unite Pennsylvania’s rural and urban communities to build just, regenerative, and resilient regional economies that are
self-reliant in basic needs, in order to increase community wealth and equity, reduce and sequester carbons, and prepare for climate change. Through All Together Now, Lobo Mau hopes to allocate resources to bolster our local supply chain and local industry, advocating for the farming of bast fibers like hemp and flax in Pennsylvania, meanwhile connecting designers to local labor and mills.
Philadelphia Fashion & Garment Industry Task Force - Lobo Mau is on the council of this organization: Philadelphia was once a textile and manufacturing leader in fashion. With this history in mind, PFGITF aids in developing a strategic plan for the re-establishment of Philadelphia as a competitive destination for fashion and apparel. Lobo Mau has advocated getting its community on the map by speaking to City Council and helping PFGITF procure government funding to improve the local industry.
A large part of how we center our lives around sustainability relies on educating ourselves and our community. Lobo Mau frequently hosts sustainability panels comprised of industry experts, as well as community-based events that raise awareness for like-minded nonprofits and organizations and donate to these organizations. Some organizations we’ve partnered with and donated to are ACLU of PA, Philly Bail Fund, Women’s Way, Fleisher Art Memorial, Career Wardrobe, Books in Homes, and many more.
Our Fabrics: organic cotton, deadstock, organic inks
We use Recycled Fabrics made by textile mills in the USA. The fashion industry is incredibly wasteful and one way to reduce this waste is by using fabrics that already exist! Using recycled fabrics is beneficial for the planet because it keeps fabrics that are not designed to decompose out of landfills. It also reduces energy and water consumption because virgin fibers are not being manufactured.
We reduce textile waste by using deadstock fabrics whenever we can. Thousands of yards of fabric are either incinerated or thrown away by major fashion companies regularly. We source from jobbers who collect those fabrics and sell them to us. We enjoy designing garments that utilize these deadstock fabrics and give them a new life out of landfills.
We also use 90% Organic Cotton made in the USA. Cotton is one of the most widely-used materials in the apparel industry but it is also one of the most resource-intensive and carbon-emitting fabrics. Organic cotton is manufactured without the use of toxic chemicals so it's much better for the planet and the health of farmers as well! You can read more about this here. We, however, are not perfect and feel it is equally important to be transparent. While spandex has helped us to produce garments to better accommodate all body types, we aim to phase it out eventually. Our pledge to our customers (and our planet!) is we will always strive to better ourselves within our means. Each year we allocate time and funds into research and development, and local buy-in from our community plays a big part in helping us get there! By the end of 2023, we strive to not produce fabrics with any spandex.
We hand screen-print our fabrics in-house at our studio and use organic inks during our printing process. We use organic inks in-house to ensure that harmful chemicals aren't leaching into our water systems when we wash our clothes (plastisol ink is the dominant ink used in the fashion industry, and is a petroleum-based PVC plastic product). From the day we began silk-screening textiles, we vowed never to use plastisol.
Local Production and Fair Trade:
We produce clothing in a way that is not only better for the planet, but better for the people involved as well. We work with local family-owned mills and our garments are sewn locally, in safe factories, by people who are paid fairly for their work. We want to bring you the best and do so without compromising the well-being of anyone else.
Coates Brothers Clothing Manufacturing
We make SLOW fashion, meaning we produce small amounts and many of our pieces are made to order. Because of this, we don't have excess stock and all garments are created with a purpose. We test our products to ensure that they last because the most sustainable clothing is the clothing you already own! We want our garments to be an investment for you and the planet. They are long-lasting with minimal impact on the environment. Thank you for being a conscious consumer and for taking the time to learn about our sustainable initiatives!
Check out our Flagship Store! A wonderful space filled with sustainable designers making a difference. From boots made of apple leather to bags made from recycled airbags and leather to upcycled jewelry and clothing, we search for the best of the best to bring you the most planet-friendly work from the best designers we know.