Toxic Clothing and Ethical Fashion
Is modern fashion poisoning our bodies?
Jeff Garner speaks on the hazardous practices of modern fashion and his part in trying to change the industry.
[Photo from: http://pepperdine-graphic.com]
Jeff Garner working on one of his designs
Walking into the venue in Malibu,
I am meeting Mr. Garner at a private club reserved for entertainment, art and fashion industry professionals.
As I walk into the foyer, I am greeted by the hostess and I immediately declare that I have arrived to see one Mr. Jeff Garner. She looks panicked for a split second as she starts to say “He may be upstairs or in the lounge…”.
I think twice about walking around in a private club without a member escorting me - but decide I wouldn’t mind wandering around for a second. Having previously looked up the codes of conduct before entering, I am familiar with the house rules, which explicitly say no guests without member escorts.
My freedom is short-lived as the man himself walks in right behind me to sign the members’ log. Fine with me. I’d rather not wander around with sound equipment bogging me down (the venue also has a no-recording device policy).
As the relieved hostess points out, Mr. Garner has entered the building. He extends a hand and says hello.
Jeff is dressed head to toe in his own handcrafted clothing. His style is timeless and classic. Equestrian sportsman and avid surfer, his foppish rock n’ roll Victorian aesthetic is easy to pick out of a crowd full of dull (and possibly poisonous) clothing.
The agreed-upon venue is a perfect setting for our interview. Jeff escorts me upstairs to a more private balcony so we can conduct our interview outside overlooking the beach. Why not?
It is a stunning day in Malibu, California. As I left southern Los Angeles it was a hot 101° but upon arriving in Malibu it is a cool 75°. California is a beautifully fickle place.
The man I am meeting is a pioneer in ethical design and sustainable couture. His work can be seen in countless fashion publications and has been featured in fashion weeks spanning the globe. He is known for his holistic approach to his designs. From the materials he uses to where it comes from, Jeff ensures the purity of everything he makes. I discover that this is a life philosophy of Mr. Garner’s.
One of my reasons in meeting with Jeff is to understand exactly why he is designing “eco friendly” and “ethical” fashion or, in his words, Sustainable Couture Fashion. Are they just buzzwords? Is he just taking advantage of the whole “woke” fad of current pop culture?
Is it a gimmick or an ethos?
When asked, it becomes evident immediately.
Jeff is concerned about all the waste, chemicals and pollutants of everyday industrial consumerist life. His vision is to create sustainable lifestyle fashion using non-toxic and long-lasting clothing. Jeff designs and produces each piece to last for generations. He admits that this is a comparatively poor business model. The big clothing companies design their clothing to be produced cheaply and to deteriorate fast. Got a rip or a hole? No problem, it was $7 anyway- throw it out. This allows for higher volume of sales. The demand has become cheap, throwaway fashion perpetuated by a culture numb to waste and toxins. We see it every day. All Day. Another leaky nuclear reactor? Eh, we already have 2. Another widespread fire in Siberia? It’s just trees… we cut those down all day.
“Don’t let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth- don’t let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency.” — Aesop
Jeff lives a life pursuing beauty and, to achieve beauty, there must be harmony. This also means avoiding and (where possible) doing away with toxic things all together - from clothing to food, (he eats yogurt and açaí berries for most meals) and even to the things he allows inside of his head (he hates horror films).
Any doubt of his authenticity is immediately put to rest after my very first question. Jeff is obviously passionate about spreading awareness and creating a new paradigm in eco friendly fashion.
[Photo Credit: Mary Ashton Ellis]
Jeff Garner is the founder and designer of Prophetik.
Click Below To Hear The Podcast!
“You are a leader and pioneer in eco friendly and conscious design,”
I proceed with deepest inquiry…
“What is that?”
Jeff laughs. He gets this question constantly, yet is still happy to explain his vision for sustainable fashion. He tells me about the waste of modern industrialized consumerism, how numb we have become to being poisoned, and how these practices have an effect on both the environment and individual.
Ruminating on the problems caused by industrial consumerism, Jeff is concerned on an individual and a global level. During our time together he speaks about pollution and plastic waste in the ocean as well as carbon emissions from forest fires.
Jeff lives a life in pursuit of beauty and harmony with nature, so naturally his utopian philosophy is at odds with the toxicity of modern consumerist culture. A true bohemian at heart, Jeff is striving for a tangible change to modern culture.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” — R. W. Emerson
I would like to mention “circular fashion” here - which has become a “so hot right now” concept. Circular fashion. This proposes we repurpose industrial waste and keep using these toxic practices, in effect giving big fashion a big out.
“…the industry aims to double its use of polyester by 2030 – as part of a so-called ‘sustainable materials mix’ because it is claimed to be ‘recyclable’. But even if it were possible to recycle all polyester textiles and close the textiles loop, are we sure it will lead to environmental benefits? And what potential is there for recycling natural fibres?
In this report, we witness a diferent reality. Recycling technologies for the one hundred percent recycling of both natural and synthetic textile waste into new fibres are at an early stage. Much of the current recycling of polyester by the textile industry does not even deal with textiles waste; instead this “open loop” recycling focusses on PET bottles, removing responsibility from the food and beverage industry for single use plastics. Initiatives by some brands for recycling plastics waste reclaimed from the sea have more impact on their public relations profiles than on the huge problem of plastics pollution of the oceans. The industry is mostly turning a blind eye to the inherent problems of polyester, in particular its reliance on fossil fuels and its contribution to the problem of microplastic fibres in the aquatic environment.” — greenpeace.org
Rather than replacing textiles with natural and renewable sources, they propose the reuse of petroleum and rubber textiles in a closed-loop system- not fixing the problem of the toxicity and industrial waste made by the manufacturing and use of these synthetics.
In reality, the problem of synthetic textiles can be severely reduced by the use of hemp products alone. The technology is catching up - we just have to be ready to implement new cultural norms in order to create a demand for sustainable living.
See Prophetik - prophetik.com
More about Circular Fashion - greenpeace.org
Uses of hemp - www.informationdistillery.com/hemp.htm
After speaking with Jeff, I decided to put together a list of commonly used chemicals in industrialized fashion.
Proceed at your own risk…
The top 10 worst chemicals in our clothes
Formaldehyde - Anti-wrinkle - carcinogen, linked to lung cancer
Perfluorocarbon - Non-stick/water proof- A carbon-fluorine chemical. Fluorine is linked to kidney failure and hormone disruption
Triclosan- Anti-bacterial - endocrine disruption, harmful to immure system, causes liver cancer in mice
Chromium- leather tanning - liver and kidney damage, highly poisonous
Azo Dyes - common dye - breaks down and releases aromatic amines - bladder cancer
Organotin - Anti-odor - negatively affects immune and reproductive system
Chlorobenzene - chemical intermediate - neurotoxicity, muscle spasms, kidney damage
Cadmium - in jewelry - kidney/lung damage and osteoporosis
Petroleum - synthetic fibers- neurological and respiratory problems and also carcinogenic
p-Phenylenediamine - makes dark colors - causes lupus, non-Hopkins lymphoma and asthma
Be vigilant with what you allow in your mind and on your body. Please share with your loved ones.