Soon after I’d announced my shift in narrative - one which would bring me away from writing about lifestyle habits, and towards writing about soil protection and regeneration - Vepsi (which acts as an agency for ethical brands and influencers all over the world), Hemiltextil, and NEONYT invited me to two German trade shows centred around sustainable homeware and fashion.

At first, I felt like a fish out of water. After writing about sustainable lifestyle choices and the products which support them for three years straight, I had become disillusioned with the majority of the 'sustainable' industry.

It seemed as the popularity of the sustainable movement grew, the business model behind it had accidentally formed with hard corners, mirroring aspects of mainstream capitalist-led consumption which literally and figuratively muddied the waters. Ethicalwashing and Greenwashing were becoming a regular affair, and amongst all the excitement and noise of a niche rising to mainstream acceptance, I kept hearing this voice within remind me: "we can't buy our way to a greener future".
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BRIDGE & TUNNEL upcycled sweatshirt | VINTAGE jeans | SECOND-HAND boots
Though visions of utopia have long been my downfall, attempting to understand the most ideal options - and heroing the brands who are creating in a way that is truly exemplary in terms of sustainability - gives me hope and focus for the future.

Walking the isles of NEONYT and Hemiltextil,  I was happy to find glimmers of that hope swimming amongst the brands. There were, of course, the brands I feared: 'vegan leather' brands mixing plastic with natural fibers to create a substance which is no more sustainable nor biodegradable than any other product supported by petrochemicals. Or brands creating with 'sustainable fibers' produced by dissolving tree pulp with chemicals which Rainforest Action Network estimates has contributed to the deforestation of 120 million trees per year. But the majority understood the importance of circularity, and had created - or adjusted their brand - to protect soil health, and thus our planet and all living things on it. 

WHY ARE REGENERATIVE FIBERS IMPORTANT?

If we create an economy from fibers which are made in a way that contributes to climate breakdown, it will encourage those sucky systems to proliferate. So to be regenerative and/or climate beneficial, our efforts in all industry need to adjust to produce progressively.

For that, we need to consider using fibers for fashion and homeware which either draw carbon down into the soil to be sequestered - or are made from agricultural byproducts which would otherwise be burned or end up in the landfill. 
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VINTAGE cotton sweater | DRESSARETE wool pant | MANITOBAH moccasin **Indigenous owned
For fashion to be truly sustainable, it needs to be created cradle-to-cradle in a way that is climate negative or carbon neutral; protecting our soil, air, seas and souls. For these reasons, we need to be looking at perfecting the processes of producing organic biodegradable fibers like hemp, linen, and organic cotton - as well as responsibly and regeneratively procured wool, alpaca, and mohair - in a way that preserves soil biodiversity and resilience while contributing to drawdown (global warming reversal).  

To promote this view of fashion's future, I gathered a list of regenerative fibers along with brands selected from NEONYT who represent the positive potential of production. If you'd like to learn more about the sustainability of each textile in your closet, especially ones not listed here, you can purchase Tortise & Lady Grey's incredible ebook HERE.

HEMP

Hemp has approximately 25,000 industrial uses, in just one harvest the plant can provide numerous raw materials beyond textile fibres. It can grow almost anywhere, even in dry regions, and isn't picky about what type of soil it gestates itself in. The plant's strong root system protects against soil erosion, and it's natural closed carbon cycle draws carbon down to be sequestered in the soil. It has a short growing season (4 months compared to cotton's 9 months), requires no pesticides or irrigation, naturally fends of weeds and pests, and is happily fed by rain. Most often for clothing and linens, hemp is blended with another regenerative fiber like organic cotton or peace silk (creating hemp silk) to make it softer on the skin. A happy marriage, and a win-win.
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BUKIA KOMOLAFE quilted bomber jacket | SUSTAIN BY KAT undyed linen tee |  VINTAGE jeans | SECOND-HAND boots | SUNGODS sunglasses

NEONYT BRAND THAT PRODUCES WITH HEMP?
BUKIA KOMOLAFE uses certified organic cotton, organic hemp-silk, and individual African wax prints to create her beautiful, high-end collections. Having spent her childhood watching her father manage a Nigerian agricultural project (VPP Nigeria), Bukia gained a deep understanding of the importance of responsible and sustainable production. Each item in her collection reflects her respect for the planet and its people, heroing sustainable materials as well as ethical, smallscale production; offering a glimpse into a fashionable future where quality and ethics trump quantity.
WHAT I'M WEARING: QUILTED BOMBER JACKET

LINEN

For as long as humans have been anything but naked, linen has been the main fiber for our clothing. The flax it's created from is yet another plant which can be transformed into various products, making it easy to create for multiple industries each harvest. Like hemp, flax can grow in almost any soil, including soil which can't be used for food production. It requires less water than cotton, and when left undyed, or dyed with completely natural dyes, it is beautifully biodegradable, making it one of the most sustainable fabrics out there. When you're looking for soil protecting linen, you want to look for organic linen which is dew-retted or enzyme retted, rather than water-retted, to ensure the production from seed to fabric is as good and green as possible.
NEONYT BRAND THAT PRODUCES WITH LINEN?
NÄZ enhances its sustainability by using recycled linen, produced in collaboration with small Portuguese factories. Their entire collection is created with 100% recycled natural fibers collected from local suppliers and dyed with GOTS certified dyes - creating low-impact, durable, pretty products perfect for any body or closet.
WHAT I'M WEARING: LINEN ROMPER
WHERE TO BUY? naz.pt

ORGANIC COTTON

Non-GMO, organic, rain/drip-fed, co-planted cotton is a good green regenerative option which reduces the harms of conventional cotton. Ideally, you want to find organic cotton which is produced through cover cropping or crop rotation, and without tilling. These practices generate multiple benefits including soil health improvement, increased soil water holding capacity, and sequestration of carbon. Conventional cotton; however, should be avoided as it is one of the world's dirtiest crops, using huge amounts of fresh water and pesticides which poison the soil, waterways, farmers and their communities. The best certification currently available which signals regenerative farming practices is COTTON MADE IN AFRICA (which I discovered at Hemiltextil).
NEONYT BRAND THAT PRODUCES WITH ORGANIC / UPCYCLED COTTON?
BRIDGE & TUNNEL creates their collections sustainably and equitably. Each piece is made in Hamburg, employing socially disadvantaged people and refugees who have recently arrived in Germany, offering community united by craftsmanship. Each denim mixed item is created from pre and post-consumer waste, making use of valuable resources by reworking pieces 'unfit' for regular production into stunning minimalistic items for your wardrobe or home.
WHAT I'M WEARING: DENIM SWEATER
WHERE TO BUY? bridgeandtunnel.de/en/

REGENERATIVE WOOL + ALPACA+ LLAMA + MOHAIR

If managed ethically and sustainably, the environmental benefits of alpaca, llama, mohair and wool are incredible. Especially when produced through grazing on lands managed by carbon farming and processed through regional supply chains. The combination of these considerations can produce garments with a negative CO2 footprint which are Climate Beneficial™. Follow Fibershed's amazing new project to learn more.
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LEXI MIRE hat | VINTAGE cotton sweater | DRESSARETE wool pant | MANITOBAH moccasin **Indigenous owned

NEONYT BRAND THAT PRODUCES WITH RESPONSIBLY PRODUCED WOOL?
** Climate Beneficial™wool / alpaca / llama / mohair was not present at NEONYT, but maybe next year!
DRESSARTE PARIS is the world's first sustainable virtual atelier, allowing women to modify the design of their creations to adapt to their body ordering each piece made-to-measure. They produce their collections in the founder's family run atelier, ethically, focusing on the quality and fit of each garment with low-to-no waste production practices. All of the materials they use respect the environment by using fabrics that are organic and biodegradable, as well as upcycling surplus fabrics. Any colour used in their production is created with plant-based eco-dyes from an artisan in Bali.
WHAT I'M WEARING: WIDE-LEG ORGANIC WOOL PANT
WHERE TO BUY? dressarteparis.com
Climate-Beneficial Wardrobe, regenerative wardrobe, eco fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, slow fashion, regenerative fashion, regenerative fibre, regenerative fibres, future of fashion, sustainable fibres, sustainable fibres, biodegradable fashion, zero waste fashion, upcycles fashion, fashion revolution, what is a Climate-Beneficial Wardrobe, what is a regenerative wardrobe, what is sustainable fashion, what is ethical fashion, Leotie Lovely, neonyt, vepsiSPONSORED POST: This post was sponsored by multiple brands, each of which I personally selected and approached for this collaborative post. The story, including all content, experiences, suggestions and opinions, are my own. I was gifted or borrowed the majority of what was pictured to style for this shoot.