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When asked to consider the impacts of the fashion industry, deforestation isn’t usually top of mind. But some of the most valuable ecosystems on earth are being degraded in the name of fashion. According to research by environmental not-for-profit Canopy, more than 150 million trees are logged every year and turned into cellulosic fabric. To put that into perspective, if placed end to end those trees would circle the earth 7 times! One inspiring brand is taking this issue seriously. Meet TAMGA Designs.
TAMGA Designs was born out of genuine curiosity. Co-Founders Yana Barankin and Eric Dales moved to Bangladesh in 2013, arriving shortly after the infamous Rana Plaza garment factory collapse that claimed over a thousand lives. The injustice of this disaster led them to start asking questions, learning about the industry and visiting factories.
“We wanted to know why the human and environmental impact of fashion was not reaching Western consumers, even when lives were being lost and entire ecosystems destroyed. This curiosity is what drove us to gradually build our own brand that embodied the values we felt were lacking in fashion,” explains Barankin.
Part of TAMGA’s mission is to make sustainable fashion more exciting! They’re doing this through the creation of stunning designs, sharing the story behind how the clothing is made, and using innovative fabrics. They believe that if they can spread this excitement all over the world then it will help contribute to a brighter future in the fashion industry.
Inspired by a love of travel, TAMGA embodies the positive, laid-back and creative feeling you get when you’re exploring the world. Their unique prints evolve from a huge archive of travel photos that the team goes over with their print designer and come to life through tons of sketches that take all of these global elements and make them their own. TAMGA’s fabrics are soft, flowy and breathable – proving that eco-friendly fabrics don’t have to be rough or scratchy.
Their sustainable ethos starts at the very beginning of their supply chain and travels right through to the finished product. “We built the TAMGA Designs supply chain from the bottom up so that we could be accountable for every step along the way,” says Dales. “Ultimately we’re ethical consumers ourselves, so we’re constantly learning and improving.”
One example of this continuous improvement is the new tool on their website, called The Good Stuff. It shows the water, energy and emissions impact of every one of their pieces compared to a traditional viscose garment. They worked with a Toronto start-up, Green Story, to research the exact environmental impact of all of their fabrics. When discussing the information to come out of this research, one of TAMGA’s team members proclaimed “that’s the good stuff” – and it stuck.
We built the TAMGA Designs supply chain from the bottom up so that we could be accountable for every step along the way.Eric Dales – TAMGA Co-founder
This leads us back to the issue of deforestation, which sits close to the hearts of TAMGA’s Founders. They initially came across the problem during trips to Leuser National Park in Sumatra. According to UNESCO, this region’s biodiversity is “exceptional in terms of both species numbers and uniqueness“. Sadly, it is also experiencing an astounding rate of deforestation due in part to mass-production of viscose-rayon fabric. This precious area is home to the world’s critically endangered Sumatran Orangutans and their valuable ecosystem is quickly disappearing.
Just as you can choose sustainable palm oil (another big driver of deforestation), you can also choose sustainable viscose-rayon fabrics. TAMGA’s fabrics are sourced exclusively from eucalyptus and beechwood forests that are certified by FSC and PEFC to be sustainably managed. Beyond this, their fabrics are also free of the toxic chemicals used to create standard viscose and use a fraction of the water and energy.
To help them raise awareness about this problem, TAMGA has partnered with Canopy – a Canadian charity that is pushing brands to be accountable for their wood-based fabrics. TAMGA has taken the CanopyStyle Pledge – a formal commitment to protect the world’s remaining ancient and endangered forests and endangered species habitats through their fabric sourcing. Dales explains, “Wood-based fabrics are the fastest growing material in fashion, with production expected to double by 2050. This spells trouble for our planet’s forests if we don’t act now.”
And they don’t show any signs of stopping in their quest to save the forests! TAMGA has partnered with Sumatran Orangutan Society (S.O.S) to bring you a new Forest-Friendly Friday campaign – an anti-Black Friday so to speak – to raise awareness of the deforestation caused by fashion and help consumers support forest conservation directly. So stay tuned to their social channels for that one!
The TAMGA team are excited about what the future holds for sustainable and eco-friendly production. “We’re really excited about the innovations that are happening in materials at the moment, especially fabrics and dyes”, says Barankin. They’re also continuing to work on the development of new and improved supply chain transparency tools to enable the monitoring of real-time labour conditions. No matter which way you look at it, TAMGA Designs are doing right by the planet, their people, and animals which is why we happily rate them as ‘Good’ in the Good On You app.
Better fashion, for a brighter future.