Incredible ecoGear Inc., the Toronto based brand best known for its ecofriendly clothing made from recycled cotton fibers, recently introduced a new line of clothing geared specifically towards the yogini.
Calling it a natural fit, the company hopes to appeal to the yogini’s love for nature and the environment through its yoga collection. Since it entered the eco clothing market 3 years ago, the company has made some great strides in its growth despite fierce competition from what it calls vaguely green products. Due to the high standards that the company sets for every product carried under the ecoGear banner, it is now the featured eco brand for Sears online sales, which carries an equally tough standard for eco labelling.
ecoGear’s main fiber is made from recycled fibers which is composed of 65% cotton clippings from clothing factories and 35% poly yarns from recycled plastic bottles or rePET. Backed up by a comparison study commissioned by the company’s yarn suppliers, ecoGear claims to be the most earthfriendly clothing as the fibers are 100% recycled and for the most part, do not call for bleaching or dyeing, two processes in making fabric that have been well documented as the cause for severe water pollution world wide. The colors for ecoGear’s fabrics are derived from the cotton clippings which the yarn maker has separated into colored lots and are carefully mixed and blended in an effort to achieve 95% consistency in color from one production lot to the next.
“Color consistency is not an issue for us,” said Robert Hii, the general manager of the company. “If you look at the options for producing truly ecofriendly clothing, you can have either everything in greige goods, which is the beigey color that cotton comes naturally in, or, you can have colored clothing. Between the two, we felt that colored recycled fibers make a more ecofriendly and commercially competitive product. Our mission is to displace regular textiles that are so damaging to the environment in its land, water, energy and chemical use.”
In its third year in business, the ecoGear brand has continued to push and refine its fabrics from a coarse jersey in its early days to a third generation fiber today that feels and wears like a conventional cotton/poly mix. Yarn refinement by its European yarn supplier has enabled the company to knit up finer gauge fabrics and the first choice was a french terry which is used in its yoga pants. Citing the need to create a viable competitor to toxic textiles, the company added 5% spandex to its yoga fabric. “Keeping in mind that the yogini needs the elasticity in clothing for yoga, we felt that adding the virgin spandex was important for the products to make sense,” said Robert Hii.
The company also rolled out a collection of basic yoga items using viscose from the jute plant. Calling the collection its anti nylon option, Robert Hii expects a few raised eyebrows as to the company’s decision to get involved with a new fiber. “It started out as a mission to provide ecofriendly underwear and we are introducing jute viscose in a basic camisole, feather weight tee and 3 styles of women’s underwear. The recycled fibers with its limited elasticity and heavy gauge would not appeal to the consumer at large, which is our target. Viscose from the jute plant however, can be knitted up into the softest stretchiest fabrics you can think of and it has a neutral impact on animals unlike silk or trees, which is what most viscosic fabrics are made from. The downsides to jute viscose is the use of sulphur to turn the jute stem into viscose and the fact that some of our pieces are dyed but if you compare the overall environmental impact it has with oil based nylon or polyester yarns that are so popular with yoga clothing, we felt that we had to bring this product to market so that the consumer has a sustainable option that would look and perform like nylon products.”
Based on the company’s own standards for eco labelling, ecoGear makes it clear that its jute viscose products only claim to be a sustainable fiber and not an ecofriendly fiber.