From the first description of Atelier Tron I ever posted on Instagram, the phrase “sustainable brand” was side by side with the name of the studio. I actually had a set of principles - that we still use, promote and follow - that I posted as a first Facebook post.
My commitment to myself was that I will not start this studio without thinking of how the materials we’re going to use are impacting the overall health of our environment, what happens to the objects we’re creating after we sell them, and how can we educate towards a better understanding of the importance of these practices. It was quite clear to me that designing and manufacturing makes no sense without thinking in sustainable terms, as using materials comes with the responsibility of understanding their environmental impacts.
I was naive - I know - everybody told me I was reaching for the impossible since a small brand with limited resources has little to no impact on the reality of the situation. And it’s true, but my faith was and still is that keeping a promise, having patience and slowly growing from being start up to having an important voice is not impossible.
We admit that being sustainable is extremely hard - that’s why we constantly have to choose the best option we can find in order to have a responsible approach to design and production. This article aims to explain our beliefs and how we include them in our process, what compromises we have to make and what are our hopes of improving in the future.
First of all - let's define sustainability. The word “sustainability” has a lot of prejudice around it lately because of its overuse and also because of the fact that “being sustainable” has become a trend and a lot of brands abuse it in order to gain public.
The World Commission on Environment and Development defines it as “an approach to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”.
The Global Development Research Centre states sustainability means “maintaining a delicate balance between the human need to improve lifestyles and feeling of well-being on one hand, and preserving natural resources and ecosystems, on which we and future generations depend”.
So basically what we are dealing with is a way of meeting peoples’ needs, well-being or improved lifestyle (through design and production in our case) without damaging the planet as far as compromising the lives of future generations. Sounds pretty reasonable if you put it in these words, right?
I have to quote one of my favourite and one of the first advocates of sustainability in the textile industry, environmentalist and the founder of Patagonia - Yvonne Chouinard - and also deeply recommend his book, Let My People Go Surfing, which is actually "the story of a man who brought doing good and having grand adventures into the heart of his business”:
There is no such thing as sustainability. The best we can do is cause the least amount of harm.
And that is exactly what we want to do. How do we do that?
We use 100% natural materials - we encourage the use of natural materials in everyday use for two reasons: they are the healthiest option for your skin and they are biodegradable. Our goal is to use certified and organic materials by 2022, but until then we go with the second best option: locally produced hemp, linen and cotton.
We use and promote natural dyeing - natural dyeing is not (yet) a scalable process in the textile industry, but using it for one of a kind pieces is a starting point. In the process we only use plants and mordants that are not harmful for the environment. Even more, the clothes we make using this process are gentle for the skin. We believe in slow design and we can guarantee that we follow our beliefs as natural dyeing requires a lot of patience and synchronicity with the nature.
We share knowledge - recovering crafts like natural dyeing or reviving the craft of sewing came natural in our studio once we decided we have gathered enough knowledge that we are able to give it back. Responsibility also comes from the small things we can do at home - like fixing a broken piece of clothing or up-cycling an old T-shirt by changing its colour using plant based dyes - which we want to embed into our customers’ habits. Our workshops are currently postponed due to the pandemic, but we’re working on our online sharing platform that we hope to be available soon.
We have fair prices - we don’t encourage “shopping as a therapy” or splurging on cheap things; someone or something somewhere is paying the price for you to get cheap things, that is a fact. We try to be as transparent as possible with our pricing and although we do understand that sometimes our products are not easily affordable, we assure you that the prices come from fairly paying for the materials, production and handling of our objects. Most of them are made to order - so don’t forget that's a rare diamond in today’s industry. Consume consciously and ask yourself why are you buying something before you do.
We aim to create a space for random acts of kindness - for yourself, your loved ones and your planet. And that is one step forward to making the world a better place.
We encourage you to do the same: try and do as little harm as possible. Everyone has his own way of thinking of the environment and caring for it- you can stop using plastic or at least try to avoid plastic packaging; you can eat less meat or if you think it’s good for you - go vegan; you can stop buying fast fashion or at least stop buying clothes made of different types of plastic (like polyester or polyamide or nylon). It is the small steps that actually matter and all of them are important. It’s easier to start small than commit to things that are too hard to follow - take it easy, riding to work by bike once a week is as important as any other commitment to being good to the planet.