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How this Canberra company is battling the ‘plastic bag’ of the fashion industry

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While Daniel Clayton never imagined starting a hosiery brand, he has always loved fashion.

Now, after 10 years of research and development, he is changing the fashion industry one pair of tights at a time. 

Growing up in the United Kingdom and following in his fathers footsteps in the fashion manufacturing industry, Daniel has always worked with the premium yarn manufacturers to create well made products for women.

After noticing a hole in the market for well made tights that lasted long after one wear, he wanted to give women a chance to save money and the environment at the same time. 

“A badly made pair of tights…it’s the single-use plastic of the fashion industry because you put it on, wear it once, get a ladder and throw it in the bin,” says Daniel. 

“It’s like the plastic bag of the fashion industry.”

Drawing on his fathers contacts in the textile industry, The LegWear Co, a brand challenging traditionally made hosiery, was born. 

Using yarn made out of recycled materials and embedded with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E, the company originally launched in the United Kingdom in 2018 with an important point of difference: each pair of Italian made tights is designed to last over 100 washes. 

“A lot of the industry, they specifically go out to make things cheaper so people buy them more often,” says Daniel. “But I was thinking of making something that costs more to make and costs more to buy but it lasts ten times longer and it’s better for everybody…It’s better for the environment.” 

While Daniel admits when he began in the fashion industry he “wasn’t a sustainably minded person”, he says The Legwear Co developed into a eco-friendly fashion brand as he began to become more environmentally conscious for his young son.

“Four years ago I found myself buying eco-friendly toothbrushes…I have a little four year old and it was all nappies, wipes and that kind of stuff,” he says. “It’s just become the norm for me to become conscious of the environment for him more than anything.”

“It’s a very selfish mind frame to just think ‘Our kids and their kids can worry about that, I’m not going to be alive’…There’s a lot of people that are like that and there’s a lot of people like that in the fashion industry as well, they’re there to make money as quickly as possible, they’ll screw anybody over that they can and they don’t care about the afterlife of the garments that they’re making or selling.”

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According to the World Economic Forum, the fashion industry produces 10% of all of humanity’s carbon emissions and is the second largest consumer of the world’s water supply. Based on their own research, The LegWear Co estimates there is over 103,000 tons of hosiery waste created every year around the world. 

“It’s crazy,” says Daniel. “I did some comparisons with the amount of waste created in just hosiery each year and one of them was equivalent to eight and a half thousand double decker buses every 12 months.”

“It does scare me, but that’s why we’re here and it’s not even scratching the surface unfortunately.”

To help battle this, The Legwear Co has a free Sustainable Hosiery Initiative to help customers and hospitals save unwanted or ripped hosiery, leggings and compression tights from landfill. The hope is to recover as much waste from households around the world as possible and use it  to create their own yarn that can be made back into hosiery. 

From his own 10 years of research, Daniel knows how hard it is to find a yarn that is both durable and eco-friendly and as new eco-fashion brands continue to pop up, he believes customers need to know where the yarn is coming from. 

“There’s lots of greenwashing going on in textiles where a manufacturer might make a virgin batch of yarn and there will be a bit of waste left over at the end and then they’ll melt that back down,” he explains. “It’s technically classed as recycled, however there are some other yarns where they pull fishing nets out of the sea or they melt down plastic bottles, things that are actually useful to the environment.”

Daniel says that while the progression of an eco-positive fashion industry is ‘great’, it’s far off where it needs to be. 

“There’s a lot of new brands popping up saying ‘eco friendly and recycled’ but they’ll send it out in a normal Australia Post plastic bag and it’ll be wrapped in another bag inside and all that kind of stuff,” says Daniel. 

“If you’re going down this path you need to do everything…you can’t be half in and half out.”

 

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Attracting the attention of Vogue, The Independent, The London Evening Standard and GRAZIA, Daniel doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon and plans to take the seasonal business back to his roots: activewear and loungewear.

He also has hopeful plans to dive deep into the Canberra community to donate stock to women in need. 

As he tirelessly works from Canberra’s own award-winning sustainable building, Nishi, Daniel hopes that his son will be proud of the steps he has taken to show the fashion industry there is a way to be both fashionable and environmentally friendly. 

“I just think my little man will be a lot more proud of me if I’ve done this, rather than being a successful millionaire when I’m older,” he says. “He’ll be happy that I’ve tried to help the environment and do it for him rather than be selfish.”

For more information visit thelegwearco.com.au 

 

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