SUSTAINABILITY REPORT 2021

(buckle up cause we're about to scroll through a ride)
ps. best viewed on desktop ;)

FIRST

THINGS

FIRST...

WELCOME TO THE AA FAMILY!

Wanted to start off with a quick re-introduction as I know I’ve been hiding behind the brand over the past year, popping out to say hi through the podcast or the youtube channel now and again, but hey - welcome! I'm Chelsea, Founder of AA, and I'm so grateful that you came through.

 

I started ANIMA ANIMUS because I saw the missing bridge between streetwear fashion and sustainability. Throughout my studies (I studied Fashion Buying & Merchandising at the London College of Fashion), I learnt a TONNE about the sad truths behind the glamour of fashion and I couldn’t in good conscience work in fashion whilst turning a blind eye to the social and environmental impacts caused. This passion for sustainability fuelled the creation of ANIMA ANIMUS (AA), acting as my manifestations for the future of fashion… in hope that more of the industry could take a conscious turn. Sustainability is a journey, and this is my learning and growing. I’m excited to share this ongoing process with you! You can learn more about the brand mission & vision here.

 

WE

ARE

NOT

A

SUSTAINABLE

BRAND.

but this report will outline our efforts because no brand can truly be "100% sustainable".

(unfortunately)

2021 has already been such an intense year for AA. As we’re all still effected by this global pandemic in some way, the extra layers of social justice and the climate crisis makes it an even more complex time. Particularly for AA, our initial launch in February was postponed due to the product development complications (but note to self: great things take time!) and restricted working hours of our overseas production partners due to COVID. Even in times of struggle, everything happens for a reason. So, what learnings can we reflect from this?

so, what sucked?

A DELAYED BRAND LAUNCH

UNCERTAINTY

DIFFICULTY IN TRACKING PRODUCTION

& the learning?

Although starting up a new brand is exciting, taking a note from the music industry was an important step-back... to release fashion when we're ready, just like how musicians drop music when they feel their music finally right. The "Slow Fashion" concept definitely is a more sensible approach, and the saying is true, 'great things take time'. 

I’m a planner, so I’m very into tracking timelines. So when it comes to planning during a global pandemic, my timeline was completely thrown out the window. Co-operation and communication with production partners is key here.

The production cycle has soooo many stages, so it’s extremely difficult to track each and every step of garment creation. This is why it's so important to pick production partners with aligning values, and trust that they are transparent with you too!

I have soooo many other cool ideas of how i'd love to bring transparency to the table, such as showing off the brand’s carbon foot-print, energy offsetting and transportation tracking – but as a start-up, the tools to record and share this type of information is unfortunately inaccessible right now. I’ll save this one in the ideas bank, so hopefully we can jump back to this in the future. This production cycle (above) was actually pulled from the first Youtube video I ever created, hoping to shed some light on the business side of fashion, click here to check it out.

We’re not a sustainable brand, but a sustainably-driven one.
The next few sections will touch upon our efforts so far, in trying to save the planet, one fit at a time.

 

SDGs: SUPPORTING THE

The skeleton of AA’s strategies has always revolved around the equal balance of people, planet and profit (because c’mon, your girl needs to eat too, and this is a business after all, not a charity.) I think it’s great that we have NGOs, charities and all these non-profits fighting for social & environmental justice, but there is also so much power in businesses, to use their commercial growth for the better too, amiright? As global citizens, global stakeholders, everyone has a part to play in this path for collective change.

 

AA believes this is a brand for the future, so we had to take a serious look at the UN’s Sustainability Goals, which is a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all". As much as I want AA to consider all, AA can only focus on a few of these UN Goals to be effective, hence why we have chosen to focus our top 3. So, what are they & how do they relate to fashion?
 

Hover on the boxes to learn more.

Samantha
May

Marketing Executive

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4 – quality education: ensure inclusive & equitable quality education & promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

We don’t want to be just another brand selling you dope clothes. Our sustainability initiatives allow us to go way beyond with our brand than that.

 

The launch of The ANIMA ANIMUS Podcast on September 2020, was to bring the conversation of sustainability to the forefront of fashion. Each week, we sit down with amazing guests from across the industry, to learn about how they’re navigating through this mind-field. This is the place for all things learning & growing. New episodes come out every Monday at 6am GMT/BST, come through here!

Samantha
May

Marketing Executive

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5 – Gender equality: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

As a female business owner with AA still trying to find its feet within a male-dominated streetwear market; this has come as both an exciting challenge and as a reward. There are so many unsung heroes & female pioneers that have inspired me within the streetwear scene, and I’m manifesting to be part of that energy; bridging the gap between streetwear with sustainability. Not to mention – we only make unisex clothing, so fire fits for all!

About 80% of our global garment industry are women, with many being forced to work in unsafe working conditions and exposed to violent male leadership. AA has zero tolerance in any such misconduct.

 

We work with production partners who have female empowerment rooted in their values. From our head office team to our artisans (as I don’t like to call them garment workers), we ensure they are empowered and protected in every way possible. It’s international women’s day, every day for us.

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Samantha
May

Marketing Executive

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12 – responsible consumption & production: ensure sustainable consumption & production patterns.

Not only do we try to raise awareness about conscious consumption through our podcast, and share with you (like this whooooole website page here that you’re reading) about how we try to mindfully produce our clothing, we’re working hard to also launch our Youtube channel which will be able to visually document all the learning and processes of running AA. Part of responsible consumption is also finding alternative ways to keep fashion lasting longer, so expect inspirational videos on styling, fashion tips and much more.

Click here to subscribe.

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BIGGER

MISSION

 

HOW ARE OUR GARMENTS MADE?

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A super important question, which takes both an environmental and social consideration. Let’s start with the environmental side as it’ll cover the majority of how our ideas initially came to life. (using the production cycle mentioned previously!)

ENVIRONMENT

So after I had spent weeks… months even… researching, sketching and re-sketching the first collection (came up with a bunch of ideas in which only 10% made it to the final cut lol) the real physical production starts right back to the farm land. Sourcing raw materials is always a difficult selection process, especially as being a start-up, there's the dreading issue with meeting minimum order quantity (MOQ), on top of your fabric quality and sustainability checks.

To guarantee quality and sustainability benchmarks are met, certifications are a great way to verify standards. Thankfully, all our styles in the first collection were suited to the cotton fabric material, so no synthetic fibres were used. (Synthetics are commonly used by fast-fashion brands as they’re cheap and versatile, but their plastic-base have huge environmental costs. Even by washing your garments, many people are not aware that they’re shedding loads of micro-plastics into our water systems, harming both aquatic and human health. I actually had a great conversation on our podcast about this, click here if you're interested to learn more about fashion & micro-plastics!)

SOCIAL

WHY DO WE USE 100% ORGANIC COTTON?

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS COMPARED TO STANDARD COTTON?

  1. Combats climate change: Organic farmers use natural methods to grow cotton, not fossil-fuel based fertilisers. By working with nature, farmers build healthy soils which store carbon and help to combat climate change. Organic cotton emits up to 46% less greenhouse gas than non-organic cotton.
     

  2. Saving water: Organic farming creates healthier soils, which act like a sponge, soaking up water during floods and holding it for longer in times of drought. Hazardous fertilisers are banned in organic farming, so rivers, lakes and drinking water are kept cleaner too.
     

  3. Healthier soil: As farming is a super patient and volatile process, chemical pesticides are often used as a quick fix to prevent pests from reducing the end yield. The chemicals damage the health of the soil, causing it to be the root of the problem, leading to an even unhealthier reliance of chemicals to grow future crops.

Organic cotton is softer, hypoallergenic, more durable. But the most important benefit is protecting the ecosystem, reducing wastage of water, and ensuring a safer working environment for the farmers and manufacturers.

We spoke about this with a Climate-change Adaptation Specialist on our podcast, learn more here!

NOW THAT WE HAVE OUR BASE FABRIC, WHAT ABOUT THE DYING & PRINTING PROCESS?

The fashion industry has a massive textile dyeing problem. Azo-dyes are a commercially popular colourant for textiles because they are easy for fabrics to soak in and can achieve greater depths of colour. However, many types are listed as potential hazards to our skin, environment, human and animal health when exposed under certain conditions.

 

Just like an artist rinsing a paintbrush in water, the bleeding colours make the water undrinkable. Now imagine that on a global scale. Dying factories are dumping these chemicals in their nearest water source, contaminating the rivers and oceans with toxins that have disrupted both aquatic life and key drinking sources for millions of people.

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SO HOW DOES AA TRY
TO TACKLE THIS INSANE PROBLEM?

Without the need of pre-treating, steaming or washing the fabric, we use a Direct to Garment (DTG) printing process which injects ink directly onto the fabric surface without the need of water, conserving our resources and reducing huge amounts of energy that would be typically required. Our production partners use water-based NeoPigment™ inks that are certified as free of heavy metals (e.g. Formaldehyde & Alkylphenol Ethoxylates (APE), making them non-hazardous, non-toxic, and vegan-friendly. As this method works as an “on-demand” process (limits waste!), less clean-up is needed. But even if there was an after-mess, NeoPigments allow manufacturers to dispose of ink more sensibly through a filtration process.

 

…aaaand to top it all off, our cotton goes through a bio-wash which is a natural process that is chemical-free, and gives the fabric a final, soft and sheen finish. The bio-wash prevents our skin from allergic reactions, preserves the colour after dying and colour maintenance after washing. Wowee – all the details to ensure everything in your hands are designed to last!

  1. Water-based inks: free from toxic chemicals that can be more easily filtered for cleaning, and ink’s so safe that it can be used for childrenswear too!
     

  2. Uses less water: Whilst 785 million people don’t have clean water close to home, it takes 182 litres of water to dye just 2kg of fabric. That’s roughly 2 months’ worth of drinking water for an adult anywhere in the world. That’s why it’s so important for AA to consciously produce our clothing, conserving our scarce resources in every way that we can.
     

  3. Machinery alleviates human labour: No need for our artisans to be jumping in toxic pools of chemicals here! With easy to use printing machines, less human energy is needed to knead and soak the fabrics, eliminating a bunch of health risks that could have occurred through traditional printing processes.
     

  4. Not harming animals & wildlife: We got to save the turtles! And whales, and dolphins… everything! With these eco-friendly inks, our production partners can clean the after-mess more sensibly through a filtration process.
     

  5. Reduces waste: Thanks to DTG printing, we’re able to produce more consistent designs, making each print identical to one another. With less mistakes, there’s less waste. Winning all round! 

WE'RE PROUD TO SHARE THAT 

YOUR DOPE AA FITS ARE AWARDED WITH THE BELOW CERTIFICATES...

click the badges to find out more.

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GOTS CERTIFIED

GOTS is the leading textile processing standard for organic fibres. The aim of this standard is to define worldwide, recognised requirements that ensure organic status of textiles – from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing, and up to labelling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.

May 28

Cheesecake, figs, and pinot noir.

FAIR TRADE COTTON

Implemented by the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation, the Fairtrade Cotton Standard applies the Fairtrade principles to the cotton farmers in target countries (e.g. India or various African countries). Requirements in the Fairtrade Standards also protect farmers’ health and safety, and ban genetically modified cotton seeds. A large percentage of Fairtrade cotton is also organic certified, and Fairtrade encourages and empowers cotton farmers to protect the natural environment as an integral part of their farm management.

PETA believes in non-violence and does not defend or condone any action that could harm individuals, humans or animals. PETA approves products and brands around the world that respect their principles, not using any animals or products of animal origin in their production.

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PETA CERTIFIED

PETA believes in non-violence and does not defend or condone any action that could harm individuals, humans or animals. PETA approves products and brands around the world that respect their principles, not using any animals or products of animal origin in their production.

OKEO-TEX APPROVED

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The International Oeko-Tex Association has been testing for harmful substances since 1992. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is a global uniform testing and certification system for textile raw materials, intermediate and end products at all stages of production that gives the customer the confidence that there is no harmful chemical residue in the end garment. 

SOMETHING WE COULD DO
BETTER 
NEXT TIME

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Developing the trims (i.e. sleeve labels, buttons, zippers and drawstrings) definitely proved challenging, The devil is really in the details on this one, because no matter how fire the trims looked on our final products, we could definitely have taken it one step further by pushing our production partners to help us source plastic alternatives, especially on our zipper and drawstring developments. Food for thought for the next drop.

 

We really wanted to include little details that you guys would appreciate, so we got a bit too excited over quality and aesthetics when developing these trims. For example, we dived in for the YKK Vislon Zippers (over the standard metal zippers, usually used by fashion brands, because we thought the teeth were a little too sharp and rigid). Each piece also features our signature logo silk sleeve labels, with some styles featuring customized drawstrings ensuring our pieces are designed to last.

We'll work hard to develop and source more conscious trims in the next drop, little actions add up!

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some midway mindfulness

[ take a breather ]

SLOW FASHION: SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH DESIGN

TIME TO TAKE THINGS SLOW...

So far, you’ve seen all the efforts we’ve put in, to ensuring your next new pieces are made as consciously as possible. It’s still a work in progress, but definitely hands down better than any other streetwear brand slapping on their logo on ‘blanks’ right….?! Sustainability doesn’t stop here. How can we make our designs, so that it’s yours to keep forever?

Beyond the high-quality fabrics and trims, the design itself was made to be versatile, adaptable and multi-functional. Apparently, the average consumer wears a piece of clothing only 7 times before neglecting it, which waaaay too damn fast, especially as only 12% of global textile waste gets recycled (source). This is wild because all this waste is surely being dumped somewhere. So, to tackle this issue, we’ve also aimed to make the pieces multi-functional as possible. Through styling, we can be creative and use our pieces for longer. That’s where our Youtube & Pinterest comes in to inspire all the different ways you can build awesome outfits, with a single AA piece. Make the most out of your AA pieces now!


Click here for Youtube // Pinterest // product details.

 

Our trousers are probably the most functional (especially as unisex sizing is so difficult!).

  • Adjustable elasticated waist with drawcords.

  • Toggle at hem, can be worn cuffed or straight leg.

  • All pockets are functional, with zips so nothing falls out!

  • Well lined, for an on the go, durable adventure.

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SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY

WHO MADE OUR GARMENTS?

We prefer to call our talented seamstresses ‘artisans,’ as opposed to the industry standard way of addressing them as just ‘garment workers.’ This is because ‘artisans’ reminds us that our makers are FULL of skills and knowledge. There’s an industry stigma we want to break; they’re not robots or fashion slaves, so by addressing them as artisans, we re-wire the way we view our extended family members, to give them the appreciation they truly deserve. They bring all the magic to the table and make all our ideas come to life - perhaps they’re magicians instead?!

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To ensure our artisans are happy and healthy whilst producing our pieces, we’re super proud to have partnered with an Indian factory that is passionate about ethical and sustainable practises as we do! They ensure employee protection are placed on both a mental and physical level. You may have heard of the tragic Rana Plaza collapse that happened back in 2013, a factory collapse due to structure failure, resulting in 1,134 deaths and approximately 2,500 injured. This was a pivotal moment for fashion, and for AA to ensure our artisans are safe and happy. Hopefully when travelling is safe again, we can visit the wider team in person and give you guys a tour of where and who has made your final AA pieces. (We always get a bunch of pictures on the process, which is always SO cool to see!)

 

Our partnered factory are a mid-sized buying and sourcing house, who are proud to share that they acquire the ISO 9001 Certification, which means that their efforts in maintaining high levels of efficiency, health and safety, artisan well-being and no use of forced or child labour. ISO 9001 is a globally recognised management certification which implements a framework to ensure our happy artisans stay happy whilst creating our products! Another value we absolutely resonate with, was their initiatives to embrace female empowerment – helping us hit our SDG goals from day one! We wish you could meet the whole team, but for now, we’d love to introduce to you two of our Head Artisans who looked after the creation of our first collection. We sent over some questions and how nice of the team to record and edit these two videos for us?!

 

LAST BUT NOT LEAST: PACKAGING

Soooo apparently these compostable mail bags we're seeing getting popular recently, aren't as sustainable as we think! This is because compostable mailbags require certain temperatures and conditions, in order for the bag to actually decompose - it's not as simple as tossing it in the recycling bin, because even many recycling centres in the city don't have the correct facilities to decompose these mailer bags correctly. (Discovered this during an awesome conversation with Activist Elizabeth Teo.)

So discovering that, actually got us in a muddle. For now, we'll be trying out these 100% recycled and recyclable paper boxes, which we think would be the better option of two evils, given the wider access we have to convention recycling bins and facilities globally. For bigger orders, we'll be using 100% recycled plastic mailer bags (which are better than using virgin plastic bags), also being more convenient for all, when it comes to disposing. We want to keep it as easy for you as possible!

Something we'd like to tackle going forwards is the protective garment bags. When our factory finishes quality-checking each garment, they use plastic bags to protect each piece, before boxing up the stock for transit to the UK. Unfortunately, this is an industry norm, so we'll definitely be working things out for the next drop, to ensure virgin plastic use is kept to the very minimal. Working on it guys!

 

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FUTURE WILDCARDS

If we could do anything, knowing that we couldn't fail - what would we do? Let's manifest!

 

The more we can grow, the more we'll be able to give back. We'd love to be able to do more for our planet and our people. Something we'd like to create in the pipelines is a giving back scheme, whereby a percentage of proceeds from a collection will be allocated to different charities (you can help us pick of course!!) or used to organise fun projects in aim to promote the importance of fashion sustainability - maybe like bringing The AA Podcast in physical form?! Damn!

We may have started as an e-commerce brand, but we'd loooove to host a pop-up space to meet you guys one day! We've always loved the idea of conceptual pop-up spaces, where art and fashion can collide. Taking a note from gallery and museum spaces, where the interactive and educational element has always been so chill... (cause who wants to feel like they're stuck at school?) Perhaps this can be a way we can help promote sustainability through fashion and art in the future!

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