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OUR SUSTAINABILITY

 

WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO

At culthread, our overriding goal is to make quality coats and lifestyle products that you will want to wear and treasure forever. We are a SLOW FASHION brand. This is the most important goal for sustainability – a product that will continue to be worn and loved for years and years.

 

Our motto is NO CRUEL, ALL CRAZE

no cruel – we believe in being kind to the planet, and the people and animals living on it. We keep our product footprint as low as possible, we care for the people who work for and buy from us, and we absolutely do not use anything that has come from an animal source. 

all craze – All women deserve some craze in their lives, so all culthreads come with a twist; whether it’s a gloriously bright lining, pockets or a hood lined with the softest faux fur, or an unusual combination of textures and fabrics.  But craze does not come at a price at culthread –  our products are made to last (many look better with age), have all the practical necessities like hoods and pockets (inside and outside), and are all styled to be comfortable and flattering to wear for many years. 

  

We all know that the fashion industry is a major polluter. What is less known is that some 60% of the polluting impact comes from fabric manufacturing – energy, water use, chemicals etc. We don’t have any fabric manufactured for us; culthreads are made purely from a combination of fabrics that already exist.

 

Our creations are made from four sources of materials:

  • 100% recycled polyester
50% of clothing is made from polyester, and this percentage is expected to continue increasing over the next decade. Newly made polyester is not sustainable - it is made from a common type of plastic called polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, whose base is crude oil.

The not-for-profit Textile Exchange challenged large fashion houses to increase their use of recycled polyester by 25% by 2020 – the good news is that signatories exceeded this goal, and many others have signed up to increase their usage of recycled polyester. Textile Exchange hopes that by 2030, a fifth of all polyester used by the fashion industry will be recycled. 

rPET, or recycled polyester, is made by melting down existing plastic and re-spinning it into new polyester fibre – it can be made from post-consumer plastic containers and bottles, as well as post-industrial and post-consumer input materials. Around 10 used plastic water bottles would contain enough recycled fibres for the fabric of an outer shell of one culthread coat.

As with pretty much everything, there are both pros and cons of recycling polyester.

 
the cons
  • Polyester can be recycled mechanically or chemically. Mechanical recycling shreds existing plastic and turns it into polyester chips, which then are used in the traditional fibre making process. Most of the rPET is recycled mechanically as no chemicals are used in the process and it is cheaper. Chemical recycling returns used plastic to its original molecules so that they are the same as those found in virgin polyester. But even though recycling polyester requires just 40% of the energy necessary for virgin polyester, this is still more than that which is needed for the manufacture of hemp, cotton and wool.
  • Some argue that it would be better to discourage the use of plastic in general, even recycled plastic. In the UK we use over 7 billion plastic bottles a year, and we recycled about 45% - this means that 55% of the plastic that we use on a daily basis is not recycled. We use 20 times more plastic today than we did 50 years ago, and plastic consumption is set to double in 20 years’ time. 
 
the pros
  • Recycling polyester prevents plastic from ending up in landfill or the ocean. Plastic takes up to 500 years to decompose. Ocean Conservancy says that 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the oceans every year – in 30 years’ time there will be more plastic than fish. Turning plastic waste into useful materials is good for people and the planet.
  • Recycling polyester needs close to 60% less energy in production compared to virgin polyester (an estimated reduction of 32% in CO2 emissions). “Using recycled polyester lessens our dependence on petroleum as a source of raw materials,” says Patagonia, “It curbs discards, thereby prolonging landfill life and reducing toxic emissions from incinerators. It also helps to promote new recycling streams for polyester clothing that is no longer wearable”.
  • Polyester currently accounts for around 60% of world production of polyethylene terephthalate (or PET) – almost double that used for plastic bottles. Reusing polyester fibres can therefore make a huge contribution to reducing global energy and resource requirements. Clothes made from recycled polyester can be recycled over and over without quality loss, so that one day polyester recycling and usage could become a circular system.

      We believe that the pros outweigh the cons, and the higher the ratio of rPET to virgin PET, the more advantage for the planet. Further, using rPET that is in stock (this is often excess, buffer metres from production) is even better as it avoids the energy costs of the recycling process.

      Our fabric of choice at culthread is existing stock of 100% Recycled Polyester – whenever we can source this for our collections, we use it.

       

      • rescued ‘deadstock’
      Before a garment is available for sale, about 35% of all materials in the supply chain ends up as ‘waste’ – there could be cutting waste, damage in transport or production, and excess stock (deadstock) that is sometimes incinerated. We now buy 60% more garments than we did in 2000 but keep each one for half as long. Worldwide, at least 39 million tonnes of post-consumer textile waste is generated every year, mostly in the form of garments.
       
      Rescued deadstock materials are leftover fabrics from production, often owing to buffer stocks, which would otherwise end up as waste.  When large brands order fabric for their collections, they normally order a buffer stock so that if they need to produce more of the same items, the fabric is in stock, and identical to what has been used previously. Unfortunately, this means that there is often fabric that is leftover and unused – these fabrics may be burnt or sent to landfill. Note that we are not talking about seconds or damaged fabrics – though some call these types of fabrics ‘deadstock’ as well. Here we are talking about ‘rescued deadstock’ only as defined above – we never produce with seconds or damaged stock materials. 
      Using rescued deadstock in culthreads provides a use for these textiles and avoids further unnecessary waste or environmental damage - it also saves energy by reducing the carbon footprint of producing new fabric. At culthread we source the highest quality excess deadstock from the production of big-name designers. This means that we produce small limited editions only, sometimes a total of between 10 and 20 pieces of a particular style.  Our collection is not planned years in advance; we design and bring products to life within months, based on what we think you will love and the recycled fabric stocks and rescued deadstock that we can get hold of. 

       

      • Thermore Ecodown® 
      We believe that beautiful, quality products can be made without harming or using our fellow animals. Having tried a number of vegan insulation and padding options for our coats, we chose Thermore ® Ecodown, the best 100% recycled polyester fibre down on the market. It has the highest warmth to weight ratio and a super soft hand feel. Each culthread coat is insulated with the fibre yield of around 10 post-consumer plastic bottles. Ecodown is wonderfully warm and light, much like natural down, but without the ‘cruel’.

      We love Thermore Ecodown® because it is vegan and 100% recycled post-consumer plastic. We also love that it has the GRS and is bluesign® approved. 


      • stock fabrics

      Our third and final choice of fabric is existing stock available at fabric suppliers. This is also called deadstock by some, but here we differentiate between the excess ordered by big brands that is unused, and stock of fabrics that are warehoused in fabric mills due to small overruns or new colours for sampling. 

      When we are unable to source either 100% recycled fabric or excess deadstock fabric for our collection, we sometimes use existing stock fabrics. At culthread, over 75% of all our fabrics are from the first three categories – stock fabrics are used as a last resort. 

       

      At culthread, our overriding goal is to make quality coats and lifestyle products that you will want to wear and treasure forever. We are a SLOW FASHION brand. This is the most important goal for sustainability – a product that will continue to be worn and loved for years and years.

       

      Please donate your culthread when you no longer wear it to Dress For Success, whose mission is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. 

       

      Your culthread can be easily wiped down with a damp cloth when it is dirty (please do not wet the faux-fur, but brush off any dirt instead). If you absolutely must deep clean your culthread, please look for a green dry cleaner wherever you are (this is our local in Notting Hill); some professional cleaners now offer green dry cleaning using water as the primary solvent. This type of cleaning reduces toxicity (from a chemical commonly used in dry cleaning called perchloroethylene) and CO2 emissions.

      Culthread is a female owned and managed brand - our core team members are Rina, Sarah, Tara, Jessy, Nhi, Lua and Susanne. We believe in female empowerment and want to do our bit to rebalance past gender inequities by being a female centric brand, created for women by women. This is represented in our logo which is the Chinese symbol for woman, enclosed in a circle, the universal symbol of inclusion and timelessness.


      All culthreads are handmade in our own atelier in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.


      The director of the facility is Jessy, who has been running things for us for the last two years – before that she was employed by Hugo Boss. We have our own pattern makers, fabric cutters and product developers working alongside specialised tailors who make individual culthread products by hand. Many pieces are made entirely by a single craftsperson. Our team is currently training to use CLO technology, a 3D CAD application, in order to reduce our footprint during the product development stage. 


      All of our talented tailors are fairly paid - on average 3 times the minimum wage - and receive the following in addition to salary: 17.5% social insurance, 3%  health insurance, 1% as unemployment insurance, 24/7 accident insurance and regular health check-ups.


      At culthread we abide by all government guidelines. Labour Laws are comprehensive in Vietnam - Vietnamese female workers have 26 weeks maternity leave (in Southeast Asia the average is 12-13 weeks according to the International Labor Organization). Other government employee regulations are as follows:

        • working hours cannot exceed 8 hours a day or 48 hours a week
        •  rest breaks of 30 minutes minimum must be included in those hours 
        • employees are entitled to a minimum of 12 days paid annual leave
        • an extra leave day must be given per 5 years of continuous service
        • employees are entitled to paid sick leave 
        • sick pay is covered by the social insurance fund
        • long term sickness is covered up to 180 days a year
        • leave must be granted for the death of a grandparent or sibling
        • female employees are entitled to 6 months maternity leave at 100% of pay
        • paternity leave is 5 days 
        • parents are entitled to paid leave to care for sick children
        • female employees cannot be dismissed for reasons of marriage, pregnancy, maternity leave or nursing a child under 12 months
        • all employees are represented by the grassroots trade union
        • employers must comply with the law on occupational safety and hygiene
        • employers must provide health insurance and regular health checks for employees

      Culthread is a PETA approved vegan brand. Unlike other brands such as Stella McCartney, Prada or Barbour, all of whom don’t use natural fur products in their collections, culthread not only refuses natural fur but also all animal products. The reason we chose to be a vegan brand is that even when animal derived products are ‘certified’ as being from cruelty free facilities, there simply isn’t enough follow up and checks to ensure this is actually the case. 

       

      It isn’t just the horrors of natural fur that are upsetting and unnecessary, but also those of natural down, wool, silk and leather. At culthread we believe that, because beautiful and quality products that are not derived from animals are available, there is no justification for using parts of our fellow animals for apparel. 

       

      Our products are made in small limited editions only from the best quality faux-fur, 100% recycled plastic faux-down and quality excess deadstock faux-leather. We love all animals at culthread and we know how to make beautiful products without harming them.