Reduce, reuse, recycle… repurpose, design and create. Vancouver-based Lezé the Label gets resourceful to develop a collection of comfortable yet chic workwear
We’re all familiar with materials like cotton, silk and linen on our fabric labels, but have you ever worn anything made from fishing nets, water bottles and coffee grinds? Brian Van WykVancouver-based Lezé the Label incorporates up to 100 percent recycled materials in their comfortable yet super-stylish apparel (yes, their coffee shirt dresses are completely recycled). The recycled materials are infused into the yarn then knitted into the fabric, which helps the environment and benefits the clothing. Coffee grinds help with odour control, UV protection and moisture wicking; the plastic from bottles makes clothing fast-drying, wrinkle-resistant and comfortable; while fishing nets provide comfort, a silky feel and tons of stretch.
Environment 911 caught up with Karen Lee, one of Leze’s co-founders, to learn more about the label and to get her expert tips on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle every day… Iulia Agnew
E911: Why is it so important to you to use materials that are recycled and repurposed in your clothing?
Karen: Our Earth has so much waste in it already—it only makes sense to use what we have.
E911: Most people know about recycling plastic bottles, but how did you decide to use recycled fishing nets and coffee grinds in your fabrics?
Karen: Growing up, I would watch my mom put old coffee filters with used coffee grinds in the bathroom. I didn't think much of it then, but it turns out she had figured out that coffee grinds absorb odour and moisture... so she's basically a genius.
During the rise of banning plastic straws, we discovered that only one percent of plastic belonged to straws, but 10 percent belonged to abandoned fishing gear. So, we decided to venture off from recycling plastic bottles to fishing nets, and the fabric turned out to be our best-seller.
E911: Your clothing comes in neutral colours and timeless styles. Why did you go with that aesthetic?
Karen: You said it: timeless. We want our clothing to be sustainable not only in the materials, but for its wearability. We want our community to be able to mix and match as much as possible with their existing wardrobe. Also, maybe it's because we personally don't wear much colour, so we might be biased.
E911: What things do you do every day to live a more sustainable lifestyle?
Karen: Start small. Oftentimes, we view sustainability as a huge feat and it would be overwhelming to commit to zero-waste tomorrow. I believe in making small changes that will lead to a manageable lifestyle. Start with one to three things you'll commit to weekly, and once you get the hang of it, add something new for your next challenge.
Plan ahead. Now is the time to start planning all of the necessary tools (reusable cups, meal prep your lunch, etc.) to be more eco-friendly. Convenience is usually the reason why we accumulate waste while we're on the go.
Interview your spending decisions. A helpful question to ask is: "Do I need this?" I typically like to ask myself whether what I'm about to buy or use is 100 percent necessary—and usually, it's not! With a little bit of awareness, you'll start noticing that you need less to operate optimally than you think.
E911: What's your favourite eco-friendly hack?
Karen: My mom's hack... to naturally absorb odor and moisture in your bathroom, leave an old filter with used (or fresh) coffee grinds.
E911: How do you hope to see the fashion industry change in the near future?
Karen: With a shift in perspective to invest in sustainable, quality items. This also comes with the understanding that things take time, and prices will be higher than a typical fast-fashion item. I definitely see the trajectory of us heading in that direction, as this year has really taught us to start evaluating what's important to us and how we should spend.