Creating and selling products that are made from recycled materials and reducing their corporate footprint while providing consumers with comfortable and value-for money clothing. This is exactly what leading fashion retailers, globally, are embracing.
Renowned trend researcher, analyst and cultural strategist, Nicola Cooper, defines sustainable living as a life philosophy where one aims to decrease their personal, as well as their societal environmental impact. “This is done by making targeted and positive alterations to nearly every aspect of one’s life”, she says.
While price, aesthetics and functionality are still at the heart of what the majority of South Africans look for, more and more customers are also becoming eco-conscious, and are increasingly making purchasing decisions based on sustainability.
Sustainable fashion is nothing new and has gained enormous momentum over the last decade, especially since 2018 when the global movement towards sustainable fashion really took hold, starting in the United Kingdom and spreading around the world, including South Africa.
Following in this international retail trend, Ackermans has just launched their sustainable fleece range for this winter.
“As one of the largest value retailers in South Africa, it is Ackermans’ environmental responsibility to begin offering the South African consumer a more sustainable and eco-friendly option,” says Sanette van Huyssteen, Product Technology Manager at Ackermans.
Sustainable fleece within retail is a relatively new pillar within sustainable fashion, and particularly new to South African markets. According to van Huyssteen, being made from polyester yarn makes fleece the perfect platform to incorporate recycled yarn, whilst still maintaining the fabric style, comfort, and purpose, at a great and affordable price.
“The yarn used in the new sustainable fleece fabric is made from plastic bottles which go through various processes to become new polyester yarns. These are then knitted into the fleece fabric and transformed into a garment,” says van Huyssteen. This recycled polyester yarn is Global Recycled Standard (GRS) certified, ensuring suppliers follow ethical and eco-friendly supply chain practices to produce yarn that is 100% tried and tested, which also ensures that garments produced are safe for children to wear.
This initiative allows Ackermans to reuse plastic bottles safely and effectively in the consumer market, preventing them from ending up in landfills and the ocean.
Consumers are becoming more astute when it comes to companies claiming to be sustainable, especially the younger generation of shoppers, with the current youth finding greener solutions of absolute necessity. “Going green is loudly promoted and celebrated on many social media platforms and personal forums, hence the importance of a recycled product offering,” van Huyssteen says.
While she says that sustainability in South Africa is not new, van Huyssteen explains that there has been heightened interest from both the local and international public as they demand more eco-friendly solutions to everyday practices and problems. “The eco- friendly movement is evolving and growing in importance. Sustainable fabrics have evolved over time, with the first dominate fabric being eco-cottons and BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) and now we are seeing it transcend into recycled polyester-based fabrics such as Polar Fleece,” she explains.
“Ackermans is very proud knowing that recycled post-consumer plastic waste has been given new life in the new winter range,” says van Huyssteen.
This upcoming sustainable fleece range is now available in store ahead of winter, with the retailer expecting these products to play out into all markets, especially jackets and joggers.