At Alchemist we like to work with natural materials. Our materials are sustainably produced and almost always certified. We avoid using azo-dyes, plasticizers and nonylphenol ethoxylates in the production of our clothing. In addition to these materials, we use a couple of semi-synthetic fibers and synthetic fibers. These synthetic fibers are only used to enhance the performance of other materials.
One of our favorite fabrics to use in our collections is cotton. Cotton feels soft on the skin, is breathable, and is one of the most popular fabrics used for textiles worldwide. Unfortunately, conventional cotton is a very unsustainable crop to grow with many negative impacts on the environment. Some of these impacts are:
- soil erosion and degradation,
- water and soil pollution due to substantial use of pesticides and herbicides,
- excessive water consumption.
We currently use three different types of certified cotton in our collections.
The Global Organic Textile Standard is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres. Their aim is to set a worldwide standard that can ensure the organic status of textiles, from harvesting through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing,
GOTS has set strict requirements for the working conditions in cotton farms and factories. Their social criteria set the foundation for ethical labor, and include freely chosen employment, freedom of association, non-excessive working hours, and a fixed minimum wage.
In the cultivation of GOTS certified organic cotton, less water and energy are used because the crops get more time to grow. The land gets more time to recover after harvesting so the soil doesn’t become exhausted. No harsh fertilizers and pesticides are used and organic fibers are separated from conventional fibers.
The Organic Content Standard verifies the presence of organic material in a final product. This certificate can only be given to products containing 95-100% organic material and tracks the process from manufacturing to distribution of a product. This certificate is also used as a tool for companies to guarantee they receive the fabric exactly as ordered.
The Better Cotton Initiative is the largest cotton sustainability program in the world. They provide training on more sustainable farming practices to more than 2,3 million cotton farmers in 23 countries. In 2018-2019, their BCI farmers produced around 22% of the global cotton production.
Better Cotton cannot be classified as organic, but their aim is to guide as many farmers as possible towards sustainable practices. Their 7 principles and criteria are set to improve cotton production for the environment and farming communities, which they are doing on a global scale with their 1800+ members.
Of all cotton used in our SS20 collection, 77,4% was GOTS / OCS 100 certified organic cotton. We also used BCI certified cotton – 21,3%. In our AW20 collection, about 61% was certified organic cotton, 25% was BCI certified cotton.
Most of the conventional cotton that we used was purchased for earlier collections. We have used up this stock in our AW20 collection. We aim to remove all conventional cotton from our collections in the future.
Linen is a natural material that is made from the flax plant. The material is very strong and heat resistant. It absorbs well and breathes, which makes it a nice material for summer. The production of linen is sustainable because flax can be cultivated in a very efficient way. Flax can grow on poor soil using far less water than cotton. The flax plant also gives a lot of useful byproducts, like linseed, so that nothing of the plants is wasted in production.
For a part of our knitwear, we use wools like alpaca, and merino. We buy these wools from suppliers that are certified and where the animals don’t have to suffer for their wool. From 2020 on, we are not using mohair in our collections anymore.
Merino sheep have deep folds in their skin where flies want to lay their eggs. These larvae penetrate the skin, causing myiasis, a painful infectious disease that can lead to death. To avoid this, sheep farmers cut away the skin around the sheep’s buttocks, which is usually done in a painful manner. This is called mulesing.
We only use non-mulesing merino wool. The sheep farmers we work with are doing everything to avoid infections, like using different foods, medication and extensively inspecting the animals. The sheep are also bred to have shallower creases so the flies can’t lay their eggs there.
Wool is a natural and delicate material that will change with wear. Pilling is caused by friction from the knitwear against other surfaces, like your skin. High-quality wools can be even more prone to pilling because generally, the more luxurious the yarn is, the more loosely it is spun. All types of wool may with wear start pilling, but if you take good care, you can prolong the life of your knitwear! We recommend buying a pilling comb or fabric shaver to keep your knitwear looking beautiful.
SEMI SYNTHETIC FIBERS
Tencel is a trademark owned by Lenzing that sustainably creates the materials Lyocell and Modal. Lyocell and Modal are man-made materials of botanic origin. The fibers are compostable and biodegradable.
Tencel Lyocell is made with eucalyptus wood from forests with an FSC-certificate. The production process is environmentally friendly because the solvent and water can be used and reused in a closed cycle. We like to use the material because it’s silky smooth, absorbs better than cotton, and feels even cooler than linen. Ideal if you’re choosing comfort.
Tencel Modal is made with Austrian beech wood. The man-made fiber is smooth and uses little energy during later steps in production, such as coloring or spinning. Modal falls very lightly and feels soft as silk. Tencel has received an EU ecolabel for the sustainable production of Modal.
EcoVero is a sustainable version of viscose that is produced from wood pulp from European, FSC certified forests. The chemicals used to dissolve the wood are reused and the fibers are bleached 100% chlorine-free. EcoVero is colorfast which makes the material very durable.
Viscose is a semi-synthetic fiber that is made from wood pulp from fast-growing trees like eucalyptus and beech trees. It is dissolved in a highly chemical solution that is often released into the air and waterways. All viscose we use is made from FSC certified forests.
We strive to only use Ecovero in the future. That’s why we keep track of all developments and swap regular viscose for Ecovero where possible. In our SS20 collection, we used 21,9% viscose. In our AW20 collection, we were able to swap a big portion of that for Ecovero. We are now using only 7,3% viscose and 31,3% Ecovero.
To maintain the quality of various garments, we sometimes mix our yarns with synthetic fibers like acrylic, polyamide, and polyester. Where possible we choose regenerated or recycled fibers. The reason why we still use these fibers is that we want our clothing to be long lasting. Knitwear can be quite delicate if not mixed with synthetic yarns, increasing the chance of pilling and stretching.
Since 2019 we’ve stopped using genuine leather in our collections. Instead, we use a vegan alternative for leather made from non-chemically treated PU by Leathertex.
In some cases, we opt for recycled materials. Reusing textiles is a sustainable option because we don’t need any extra raw materials or water. This way we can save energy and put a lot less strain on the environment.
More recently we’ve started using Ecotec fibers, which is a process exclusive to Marchi & Fildi, one of our textile suppliers. We have so far worked with Ecotec cotton and Ecotec polyester. These yarns can save up to:
46,6% reduction on greenhouse effect,
46,9% in energy savings,
61,6% in water consumption throughout the complete process.
Ecotec products include the following certifications:
- GRS certificate by ICEA,
- Oeko-Tex 100,
- Certified Quality System Company ISO 9001:2015,
- Tessile & Salute.
In our SS20 collection, about 10% was made with recycled fibers. In our AW20 collection that was around 3,6%.
All of our denim has at least 95% organic or recycled cotton and only a small amount of elastane. The elastane makes the denim fit well and feel comfortable, but the high % of cotton makes the denim sturdy and durable.
Our denim partner is Tejidos Royo, a Spanish company founded in 1903. They are a leader in the textile industry in Europe. This company is committed to being 360° sustainable, covering social, economic, labor, and environmental issues.
Tejidos Royo has the following certificates:
- Oeko-Tex Standard 100 & STEP Certified by Oeko Tex,
- Textile Exchange
- BCI member,
- Signatory of the UN Global Compact,
- GRS & OCS certificate by ICEA,
- AMFORI Audit Social Program (BSCI).
Dry Indigo / Dry Black
At Tejidos Royo, they have managed to modify the process of conventional indigo dyeing, creating a unique dyeing process that dyes indigo without water in a reduced space. This technology, called Dry Indigo, is certified under the Eco-Technology certificate by AITEX.
The Dry Indigo process uses 0% water in dyeing, 89% fewer chemicals, 65% less energy usage, and 0% water discharge.
Read more about our mission here.
For a list of all our fabric manufacturers, click here.