Sustainable Swimwear Brand

Lilja the Label showroom

 

Our sustainability practices and goals

Updated on the 25th of July, 2021

We are passionate about doing the right thing and taking care of our planet so that the next generations, too, can also enjoy everything we love so much. On this page, we’ll tell you more about our sustainability practices, ranging from introducing our fabrics, the packaging materials we use, our logistic structure to shipping and everything in between! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact – we are aiming to be completely transparent and are happy to answer any questions you may have. We have also included one sustainability goal for the current year in each category to make sure we are improving and changing for the better each year.

 

FABRICS

We are aware of the environmental impact of the clothing industry and are aiming to be as environmentally conscious and transparent as possible. You can find the breakdown of each fabric used to manufacture a product on the product page. We are striving for complete transparency and are happy to answer any questions you may have.

REPREVE® is the world’s leading recycled fiber made from recycled plastic bottles regenerated into a high quality nylon yarn. As billions of plastic bottles worldwide end up on landfills, REPREVE® is combatting an enormous problem and giving these valuable resources a new life. The company behind REPREVE®, Unifi, has already recycled more than 25 billion plastic bottles and rescued them from ending up on landfills and turning into a waste. At the same time, they have avoided 646 million kgs of CO2 emissions from entering into our atmosphere. Compared to making what’s called virgin fiber, making REPREVE® offsets using new petroleum, emitting fewer greenhouse gases and conserving water and energy in the process. We use REPREVE® as our print fabric due to the great qualities this fabric has for printing: it’s high-quality and keeps it’s shape and colour well yet being super soft and stretchy for the best fit. We have also used REPREVE®’s ribbed fabric variation in our  ‘Pastel Spring’ swimwear collection that came out in April 2021. You can read more of the fabric on the fabric manufacturer’s website.

ECONYL® may be the first recycled swimwear and activewear fabric that comes to mind, and for a great reason! ECONYL® is made by an Italian company called Aquafil and consists of 78% recycled nylon and 22% elastane coming in different thicknesses suitable for both swimwear and activewear. ECONYL® is a regenerated nylon yarn that has been made utilising post-consumer and pre-consumer plastic waste collected from our oceans. These plastics include for example old plastic bottles and discarded fishing nets. For each 10 000 tons of the raw material collected, they are able to save 70 000 barrels of crude oil and 65 100 tonnes of CO2 emissions from entering our atmosphere.

Aquafil divides the production prcocess of ECONYL® in four steps:

  1. Rescue 

    The ECONYL® Regeneration System starts with rescuing waste, otherwise polluting the Earth, all over the world. That waste is then sorted and cleaned to recover all of the nylon possible.

  2. Regenerate

    Through a radical regeneration and purification process, the nylon waste is recycled right back to its original purity. That means ECONYL® regenerated nylon is exactly the same as virgin nylon.

  3. Remake

    ECONYL® regenerated nylon is processed into carpet yarn and textile yarn for the fashion and interior industries.

  4. Reimagine

    Fashion brands and carpet producers use ECONYL® regenerated nylon to create brand new products. And that nylon has the potential to be recycled infinitely, without ever losing its quality. The goal is that once all products containing ECONYL® are no longer useful to customers, they can go back into step one of the Regeneration System.

    Source: ECONYL® brochure

We use different variations of the ECONYL® fabric in our entire SS21 swimwear collection alongside many of our other favourite designs from seasons before. Each product page in our online store has the origin and material information for each separate product.

If you’d like to read more about this sustainable fabric, you can read more of the fabric on the fabric manufacturer’s website.

RPET is a fabric made from recycled plastic bottles that are shredded into pellets, melted and then spun into thread used as an alternative to virgin polyamides. By using plastics that have already been in circulation, we’re reusing the resources we already have on the planet. Our surf collection is entirely made from RPET.

Our nylon/elastane mix (80% nylon, 20% elastane) is a fabric used in some of our swimwear items manufactured before the year 2021, either by itself or combined together with ECONYL®. The fabric’s softness, stretchiness, durability and other outstanding qualities allow for the perfect fabric for printing. This fabric is manufactured locally in Indonesia and therefore the environmental costs of transporting this fabric to our factory are reasonably low. But the way we see it, this fabric can’t be fully perfect without being of recycled origin – therefore we have replaced it with ECONYL®, REPREVE® and RPET in our 2021 collections and moved into only using recycled and regenerated fabrics. Each product page in our store has the origin and material information of each separate product.

We use limestone neoprene in our 2mm springsuits from our surf collection. Limestone neoprene is a more environmentally friendly option to traditional oil-based synthetic neoprene. There’s also been talk about a new entirely natural rubber being trialed for wetsuits, and we’re definitely following the topic closely!

Sustainability goal for 2021: Replacing all fabrics and other materials of non-recycled or otherwise sustainable origin with recycled materials, with no exceptions.

Mid-year progresss: All items launched in 2021 have only been made from fabrics from recycled origin: ECONYL® and REPREVE®.

 

OUR FACTORY

Lilja the Label Factory

 

Our products are ethically handmade in handpicked factories we have personally visited. A safe and ethical working environment for everyone that is a part of our product chain in any way is close to our hearts here at Lilja. Therefore it is important for us that our products represent this.

Our main swimwear and activewear factory is located on the gorgeous paradise island of Bali in Indonesia. This factory has been manufacturing all our swimwear and activewear from 2018 onwards. The factory is ran by a young local couple employing a total of 36 people: four in the office alongside the owners, two specialising in fabric cutting, 26 in manufacturing, three in quality control carefully checking the pieces before they make their way to us and to you and one in graphic design. The team has been able to grow significantly within the past three years we have been with them we could not be happier to be growing together with this amazing family business.

We absolutely love our factory and are so lucky to have a business relationship we can trust with our whole hearts. We have decided on this factory and our other manufacturing partners, such as fabric retailers, manufacturers of packaging materials etc. after extensive research of the factories, their working conditions, fair wages and holidays.

Working with small businesses (just like us!) enables us to build more personal relationships with our manufacturing staff and to support these young, ambitious entrepreneurs working for their dreams. We have been privileged to personally the factory and are trying to do so yearly. w

We want to keep our items unique and therefore only manufacture limited quantities. Also, Lilja the Label is not a fast fashion brand. Therefore we don’t want to manufacture an excessive amount of stock that would end up discounted or left unsold. So let’s keep the quantities small, every single item loved and the environment healthy!

We’re striving to be completely transparent and will be happy to provide more information.

PRODUCT PACKAGING

We ship our products to you, depending on the size of the package, either in a small cardboard box or a durable paper bag and use paper tape where tape is needed to seal the package.

The packaging for individual products is a Bali-made biodegradable and bio-based bag from a company called Avani. Avani offers a substitute for plastic packaging and has similar protective qualities, albeit being slightly thinner. These pouches are made locally from cassava root and are entirely biodegradable and compostable. 

We absolutely love these little pouches made from plant-derived materials, but have noticed that they are not very durable in very cold conditions. As we are located in Finland and some of you may also be located in colder climates, our packages may be exposed to cold at some point of the product chain on the way from us to you: for example when the package is traveling in the delivery company’s car, or while stored at the local delivery point, or while waiting in your own mailbox… The cold is in no way harmful to your swimwear at all, but we’ve noticed that the cassava root packaging may crack when exposed to low temperatures. Please don’t be alarmed – this doesn’t mean that your package has been damaged during transportation. This also doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t accept your possible return or exchange if the bag has been damaged. This just means that this little pouch originating from warmer latitudes just isn’t used to life here in the north! x

Alongside the products you’ve ordered, you’ll also find a little A5 thank-you card from us in your package. We have included some information about us, our greetings and our return information on this card. On top of this, we don’t add a separate return form as our return form can be found digitally here. This way we can minimise the amount of paper and other materials inside your package. Please note that some destination countries require adding a customs invoice inside the packaging – in these cases we will of course include a printed customs invoice and can’t avoid it. Please recycle it accordingly! 🙂

The hang tags of our products are made from printed paper and can be recycled, just remove the safety pin and reuse it or recycle it separately from the paper tag.

Sustainability goal for 2021: Encouraging our customers to reuse and recycle the packaging that our products arrive in, and also reusing and recycling all packaging that arrives to us in form of returns, exchanges and other mail.

Mid-year progress: We got new cardboard mailing boxes in May. These boxes are as flat as possible to make sure they fit through most mailboxes, and have a recycle/reuse prompt printed on them. The boxes are made from brown, non-dyed cardboard and have our logos printed on white with no additional colours. Minimalistic yet clean! We are super happy with these little boxes we now have!

 

SHIPPING AND LOGISTICS

We use an external logistics provider for all our warehousing, packing and shipments. This way we don’t need to rent and maintain our own warehouse and can save a lot of environmental impact – we don’t have to maintain our own heating, water, electricity, etc, etc, etc… Our logistics partner provides the same service to multiple online stores and therefore the environmental costs are divided by many more packages than we’d ever be able to. Our logistics provider also has access to a huge amount of different packaging materials and shipping options and therefore is a huge help for us in this.

We offer different shipping courier option for you to choose the one that suits you best. Our standard shipping options (Posti and GLS) cater European countries by road. While your package may take a bit longer to arrive, it won’t accumulate as many CO2 emissions than Express options that travel mostly by plane. However, we understand that it isn’t always possible to wait or that you may prefer an Express option for any other reason, and that’s ok!

We are aware that our factories are located quite far away from where our warehousing and operations happen. Therefore we are doing our best to be conscious about our factory orders: we ask our lovely factory personnel to pack the shipments coming our way as efficiently and environmentally friendly as possible and waiting under we have enough products per shipment before they make their way to us.

Sustainability goal for 2021: Reducing shipping emissions by reducing returns and exchanges – we’ll do this by providing better size charts, clear photos and complete product information on product pages.

Mid-year progress: We have worked on our sizing charts and measurement instructions with our lovely intern for the spring, and are super happy with the results! We have uploaded sizing information for individual products on the product pages and even added little flatlay drawings to give a better picture of the measurements of a certain item. It’s too early to draw conclusions, however we are receiving less returns than last summer, and are hoping this will continue!

 

OUR OFFICE AND SHOWROOM

We opened our little store/showroom/office combination in Helsinki in April 2021. We furnished the space with second-hand furniture and are mindful of other materials used in the space. Our showroom also acts as a pick-up point for local online orders therefore reducing the environmental cost of shipping orders within Helsinki whenever the receiver is able to collect their parcel. We also encourage our customers in Helsinki to come try our items on in-store to be able to give sizing advice and to reduce the environmental impact of returns and exchanges.

Sustainability goal for 2021: To make our little office space a cozy but environmentally friendly space – and personally to pack lunches instead of ordering takeaway!

Mid-year progress: Our plans changed a bit and we ended up opening a bigger summer shop in Helsinki until August 2021. We still love our little showroom space but have sublet it for the summer as we won’t be there that much. However, the same functions continue at our summer shop – we are accepting returns and exchanges there so that the customer doesn’t have to mail the items, and all products can of course be tried on at the store.

Sustainability Q&A

Which shipping option should I choose?

Honestly, it’s 100% up to you! We’re not here to judge, we’re here for you! 🙂 This is why we offer both a Standard shipping option (within EU) for when you have more time and want a low cost option, and and Express option for when you are in a rush. The Standard option will travel via road in Europe and therefore will take a longer time, whereas the Express option travels through DHL Express network and is super quick as they use air freight as their form of transportation. For orders outside the EU, DHL Express is currently our only option as the pandemic has made some routes inaccessible for standard mail due to flight cancellations.

What happens to returned products?

We only accept returns for clean, undamaged and unworn products and therefore all returns are checked carefully by us and resold. We never landfill, burn or discard any returned items as it has a huge environmental cost. Some brands reason discarding returned items by the amount of time that it takes processing returns, but it’s really not that difficult and we do have all the time in the world! So if you need to return an item, don’t worry – we definitely will not discard it. As a small brand, we couldn’t even afford to, so this thought pattern just sounds crazy to us!

What happens to faulty products?

Our items go through a careful quality control process at our factory before they arrive at our warehouse, and most faults are noted and repaired at the warehouse. But as we are working with humans both at our factory and at our warehouse, faulty products may sometimes end up making their way to the warehouse or all the way to the customer. Products that have minor faults are sold at our pop ups, showroom or sample sales with the information about the fault in the product tag. If you have received a product with a minor fault, we may offer you a discount and encourage you to repair the product or keep wearing it regardless of the fault so that the product can still have a full life cycle. Of course you are always free to return and exchange the item to a non-faulty one, too! Products with a major fault can be repaired for our own use or recycled accordingly. These items won’t end up in landfill either.

What happens to samples and items used for photoshoots?

Our samples will be sold at our pop ups and sample sales with a sample tag. These items have been tried on during the sampling process but are still like new. We will sell all samples, including the ones that don’t end up as a part of our new collection, so our sample sales are a great way to grab some really unique items!

Items worn at photoshoots will be either gifted to the models for them to keep wearing them or sold at our pop ups with a sample tag. Hygiene and safety is our priority alongside environmental consciousness, so all items are of course carefully checked before placing them for sale.

What happens to cutting waste generated during the manufacturing process?

We make our scrunchies from our swimwear cutting waste to give these fabric scraps a new life! All pieces large enough are reused as fabric for these environmentally friendly, matching scrunchies. Fabric scrap pieces smaller than a scrunchie are recycled at our factory.

Are your products vegan?

All our products are vegan and no animal based materials, such as fur or leather, are used as a part of any of our items. The dyed used for printing are also vegan. While we can’t control people’s dietary choices throughout our entire product chain, our office/showroom is a vegetarian/vegan space and if any of our events or photoshoots ever have food or drinks provided, it’ll be yummy vegetarian food with vegan options 🙂

Final words

Our system isn’t perfect and probably no system can ever be fully perfect, but what matters the most is making informed decisions and being transparent. We are striving to constantly improve and are more than happy to receive any feedback, ideas or questions about our practices. You can get in contact by email or via our social media channels, we’d love to have a chat! You can also challenge us for a new sustainability goal if you come up with one!