Sunset Lover has pledged to join Seamless amid ongoing trials within compostable fashion.

Speaking with Ragtrader, CEO Melanie Flintoft said she supports the national clothing product stewardship scheme as it cycles through a 12-month transitional phase. 

“We have committed in writing to join when it goes live next year,” Flintoft said. “We were shortlisted for the SME Transition Advisory Group for the next 12 months but were not selected.

“We were also involved in the industry town hall meetings to set up Seamless.”

The brand was nominated by Responsible Brand and Impact Strategist Valentina Zarew to take part in the Transition Advisory Group. Despite not being selected, the brand continues to actively participate in pilot projects and circular design groups.

This includes partnering with composting and renewable energy manufacturer Peats Group and waste management solutions firm BiobiN to explore end-of-life solutions for when garments cannot be recycled or resold.

Flintoft said Sunset Lover initiated a trial in partnership with bio-fertiliser company Neutrog around 18 months ago, utilising its various sourced fabrics such as silk, cotton and linen. This led to the latest trials with Peats Group and BiobiN, which involves curbside collection of green waste and composting.

“The next phase includes the composting of full garments and then testing of the compost for toxins,” Flintoft said.

“The end goal for the trials is to prove that if our garments are not going to be re-used or recycled, then a third option is to compost the garments at home or professionally to produce quality soil to complete the circularity and return the garment back to the earth in a form that will improve the environment.

“The next phase will be completed in about six months, but will also be ongoing as we use and develop new fibres and dyes with each collection.

The trials will be testing a broad range of fashion items that are changeable every season, including different types of fabrics, constructions, trims, fusing, elastic, zips and labelling.

Flintoft said the parameter of the standard is prohibitive to any fashion brands as textile products will require testing to achieve compostable certification. This excludes fashion brands as it would not be possible to test every design, each season, to certify that it is compostable.

“We are working towards having every component of our garments compostable every season,” she said.

“We have found or developed solutions for most components including cotton fusing, compostable Tencel thread from Japan, corozo nut buttons and ethically sourced shell buttons from New Zealand, but the challenging components are elastic and zippers.

“We are currently limiting the use of polyester based elastic and polyester zipper tape while we find solutions.”

Sunset Lover is proposing trialling a different approach using Oeko-tex, a chemical testing standard, as well as physical composting tests to ensure fabrics and garments will not leave anything harmful behind.

“We are trialling a different approach to certifying composability by using Oeko-tex certification on prints, dyes and fabric then establishing through trials which combinations are suitable for composting.

“Then season-on-season, each style will not need to be certified, but raw ingredients and print and dye methods will not.”

Sunset Lover also manages partnerships with Clima Australia, i=Change, and Thread Together. It is also partnered with Canopy Style and Packed for Good, with Flintoft saying Sunset Lover has a sourcing policy to protect endangered and heritage forests through responsible sourcing of man-made cellulosic fibres and any paper goods for packaging.

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