Why we don't call ourselves sustainable

The apparel industry leaves a deep imprint, impacting not only the planet, but also the people who produce and consume its products. Producing pretty much anything requires a lot of resources, and it’s way overdue that we are conscious of this and act accordingly. Starting with ourselves.

Sustainability, eco-friendliness, green are all such fluffy notions by now, heavily tarnished by greenwashing claims from East to West, North to South. But we need more than talk. We need systems change.

At Hala Collective, we have done our best to put people and the planet at the forefront of all of our decision-making since day 1, and this is something we are proud of and will continue to do. But this does not mean that we are sustainable, and we find it super important to be transparent about this.

Producing clothing – or anything really – is never sustainable.

Garment production requires tons of resources. Lots of water and energy to grow fibres and manufacture yarns, fabrics and the cut and sewn products. Energy is also spent when transporting between suppliers, from the manufacturer to the brand, and from there to customers or retailers. Packaging and shipping and returns require resources. 

This doesn’t mean that we should not produce at all, but it should be done purposefully and it should serve a need of a target audience or a community.

If Hala underwear can minimise plastic pollution and over-use of synthetic materials and chemicals, then that can have a positive effect. Our goal is to provide a functional product that replaces wasteful products. And a product, no less, that answers a need that half of the Earth’s population has each and every month for around 30 years of their life.

By producing quality products made with the proper materials, created to last for many years, and designed to ensure great fit and comfort, then that’s a product that will be used again and again and again. The most unsustainable product is the unused product left in the drawer or piling up in landfills. That’s just resources wasted.

We aim to be the most transparent underwear brand.

Beyond the product itself, brands today must take their supply chain super seriously, do their due diligence and work hard to increase transparency and traceability, as well as engage with suppliers on how to do (even) better when it comes to the social and environmental impact. Transparency being the key word here and it’s also guiding our efforts at Hala Collective. It is not easy, supply chains can be long and murky, but we are working hard to map out our gaps and short-comings for us to continue to improve and to minimise our negative impact.

Transparency also benefits the customer to make more conscious decisions on their purchases and which brands to support. And while we don’t believe that the social and environmental responsibility should be put on the customer – rather it should be legislation regulating companies – we all need to make an effort towards informed consumption. Ask brands questions, if there is not enough information on their website. Demand transparency in exchange for your purchase. And only buy what you need.

Choices have consequences.

Whether at the consumer-level, brand-level or societal level, choices have an impact, and although many go unseen, we need to take accountability for our choices. For us, it is crucial to consider the impact of everything we do, to have respect for resources, and to always consider ways of improving across our entire organisation.

From decisions on design, materials and production, to our packaging, marketing and sales policies, we are keen to find ways in which to account for and potentially limit our impact on the planetary boundaries, and we view corporate social responsibility (CSR) as basic good housekeeping. That said, we are far from perfect. So much can (and should) be done, and we are working on it as fast as we can, while also acknowledging that we are still a very small and very young company that can only do so much. But we aim big and bold! And we are committed to be transparent along the way.

“Hollow marketing-focused CSR policies and strategies are not enough to call your business ‘responsible’. Building a responsible business means that you do your supply-chain due diligence, that people and the planet are considered across all areas of your company, and that growth happens within social and planetary boundaries.”

— Signe Sofie Hansen, founder & CEO

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