Can you stay stylish in the rain and respect the environment at the same time?

  • Style
  • Tuesday, 08 Nov 2022

The rain coat, a classic must-have, is being reinvented with recycled materials for more environmentally friendly versions. Photo: AFP

Many fast-fashion brands are finding themselves in the midst of controversies concerning the choice of their raw materials.

While cool rainy days are on their way in much of the northern hemisphere, the rain coat, a classic must-have, is being reinvented with recycled materials for more environmentally friendly versions.

Rainwear, or waterproof clothing items, are nearly all made of at least two materials: polyester and nylon.

Why? Because they guarantee a waterproof quality, better resistance to UV rays and efficient moisture wicking.

Read more: How the eyewear industry sees a sustainable future in plant-based materials

Synthetic fibers make up about 60% of clothing, according to the European Environment Agency. But the problem is that they are harmful for the planet.

Nylon and polyester are polyamides derived from petroleum. They are manufactured using toxic chemicals, which pollute the air, soil and water. Their production releases greenhouse gases such as nitrogen oxide and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere.

So how can we protect ourselves from the rain while respecting the environment?

Raincoats made of recycled polyester...

Several solutions have been considered by experts in renewable textiles, such as using recycled nylon or polyester for the design of these waterproof pieces.

French brand Flotte, for example, offers "100% eco-responsible" rainwear made from recycled materials, as do Fjallraven, Norwegian Rain, and Petit Bateau, to name a few.

And they are not the only brands that are making new products from old materials.

Some clothing and sportswear giants are also getting involved, such as Adidas, which recently started selling rain jackets whose manufacturing is less impactful for the environment through initiatives that limit additional production of polyester.

Look to organic cotton and wool

Another option is to opt for more textured rainwear made from organic cotton or wool. Interviewed by The Guardian, Hannah Rochell of British circular clothing brand Rapanui, says "you can achieve waterproofing performance with an organic cotton canvas and a PFC-free water-repellent coating" for a "much more "breathable and way lighter" result.

Boiled wool, which is normally used for winter coats, has a specific density that also makes it an more sustainable alternative to conventional rainwear.

Read more: How sustainable fibres are struggling to make an impact in the fashion industry

Its waxy coating guarantees fairly effective water resistance. However, it is recommended for use in case of light showers, as this type of fabric can take quite a long time to dry..

All these initiatives demonstrate that rainwear is in the process of a mini-revolution aimed at ensuring a more sustainable future.

Meanwhile, the trend for secondhand rain garments is also helping such items lower their overall footprints. – AFP Relaxnews

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fashion , green fashion , sustainability


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