This post was sponsored by Cosmos Studio, all thoughts my own.

The fashion industry has a problem with water, one of nature’s most valuable and important systems. Water is something we all need to survive, and rely on daily, and yet it’s something many of us can take for granted too. But, as the problems around water, waste and scarcity become ever more prominent globally, the time is coming where the world needs to tackle our attitude towards one of our most vital resources. And one of the biggest places we need to see change? Fashion.

Whilst fashion isn’t the second highest polluting industry, it is the second largest consumer of water. Vast amounts of the stuff are used in dyeing, preparing fabrics and garment washing, which is then dumped into waterways untreated. The fashion industry uses over 5 trillion litres of water per year, dyeing 28 billion kilograms of garment, which is equal to two million olympic sized swimming pools (source). As someone who swims a lot, that is beyond fathomable. Treatment and dyeing account for 20% of industrial water pollution globally; creating a t-shirt requires 2500 litres of water, whilst a pair of jeans requires 7000 litres.

At the same time, there are currently 840 million individuals across the world who don’t have access to safe water, and the problem of water scarcity has affected nations across the globe from India, to Cape Town, to Melbourne. It’s a supply and demand issue that doesn’t add up, and something needs to change when it comes to wasteful and destructive attitudes towards our planet.

Enter Cosmos Studio, the Hong Kong based fashion brand creating clothing with an eco minimalistic approach. Sustainability is their top priority, and their goal is to push the boundaries of what ethical and sustainable fashion can be, heading into the future with a curiosity and innovation based approach. The goal they are taking on is the most polluting part of fashion production, and one that often doesn’t get a lot of discussion even in the ethical space, dyeing and finishing. Cosmos Studio aim to replace traditional dyeing with their new methods to challenge unsustainable and wasteful practice, and to help fashion deal with its thirst problem.

So how do Cosmos Studio approach this water problem? By creating a new type of dyeing method. Known as GiDelave™. The technology works by “printing” colour pigments onto cotton threads before they are woven into fabric, without using water. This avoids dipping garment into tubs of dyes, saving huge amounts of water, chemicals and energy. The only water used in the GiDelave™ dyeing process is used to dilute the colour pigments. This can be as little as 0.3L of water per item, which is 95% less than what is used to dye a traditional shirt. This method also creates no waste water or chemical waste. The non-toxic dyeing pigments return to powder form at the end of the dyeing process before being mixed with cement to make floor tiles, whilst the water that was used in dyeing becomes clean again, and is used to water plants around the factory area.

Whilst this process is incredible for reducing waste, it also makes for an all round better product. All of Cosmos Studio’s shirts are made from natural OEKO-TEX 100 certified Better Cotton, a initiative that works holistically to protect the environment and farmers, and thanks to the GiDelave™ method, finished shirts also have more durability, strength, colour consistency, and are less likely to wrinkle compared to other cotton garments, as they don’t endure the same kind of intense chemical processing. You basically get a better shirt that’s going to last longer, whilst also has a much smaller impact on our waterways. Double whammy.

Cosmos Studio also manufacture ethically in a WRAP certified factory, and in cases where any substances are used, such as detergents, they comply with REACH standards sets by the European Chemical Agency, meaning they are degradable, don’t emit any hazardous gases, and won’t cause harm to other living beings.

What I love most about Cosmos Studio, however, is that their products perfectly balance form and function. Yes they have pioneered new technology and sustainable approaches to manufacturing, but the quality of their pieces hasn’t been sacrificed in order to be sustainable. Instead, they’ve still managed to create a product with a unique aesthetic, which does the job it’s designed for exceedingly well. Their shirts are comfortable and strong, versatile and unisex (yes to sharing wardrobes and double the fun!) whilst the GiDelave™ method gives the fabric a beautiful washed look, due to the presence of colour high lows in the dyeing process. It’s a shirt that isn’t stiff, instead it breathes and moves with the body whilst still having a beautiful cut, whilst the aversion to wrinkles is also great for anyone who’s on the go a lot. It’s the ideal shirt to look smart in, but to also actually live your life in.

Shirts are one of those pieces that are a kind of necessary evil for all of us. While I love a good shirt, even if they aren’t really your preferred fashion go-to you’re probably going to own one at some point in your life, whether it be for work commitments, looking smart, or adhering to specific dress codes. Cosmos Studio are the perfect proof that shirts aren’t just items that have to be endured, they really can be enjoyed. They can be dressed up and down, they don’t have to be over starched and under comfortable, they can be versatile options that are fun to experiment with. And these shirts can also last for years and years, be fully natural, and can help fashion break its bad habit of water waste. Cosmos Studio are pioneering new attitudes, and proving that it doesn’t mean we have to be boring to do it.

Photos by Nonki Azariah