The great irony of designer “gorpcore” is that while the clothes suggest a deep affinity for nature, the materials they’re made of are actually killing the planet. Synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon have contributed to microplastic pollution in our oceans, and in 2019, scientists discovered Mount Everest’s snow has become saturated with Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, or PFAS, the nonbiodegradable, cancer-causing chemicals used in climbers’ waterproof parkas and boots.
Our year in lockdown has made outdoorsy fashion—and actual outdoor activities, whether you’re hiking Everest or taking a long walk around town—even more desirable, but it’s important to consider how your gear is affecting your surroundings. Tommy Hilfiger’s team members had that in mind when they designed their fall 2021 men’s and women’s collections, which feature oversized utility parkas, puffer vests, drawstring flannels, slick bucket hats, and knits intarsia’d with Appalachian mountain landscapes. The team reported that it’s their most sustainably made collection yet: The fill in the parkas and vests is Ecoloft; much of the polyester was recycled; and they scaled up their use of both organic cotton (which requires less water and none of the pesticides found in conventional cotton) and wood-pulp fibers like Tencel and viscose that were sourced from responsibly managed forests.
To those in the know, none of those developments will sound particularly novel, but what’s promising is that they’re becoming standard practice at a company as large as Tommy Hilfiger. It isn’t positioning itself as a “sustainable brand,” but recognizes the pivot our industry needs to make in order to protect its future—and the planet’s. Soon enough, making clothes that inflict less harm on the environment won’t even be a talking point, let alone a marketing strategy; it will simply be expected.
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