Greenest garment on the high street: Reclaimed materials but far from hobo chic

Marks & Spencer is not only a big company, grossing $15.5 billion in revenues in 2011, but they’ve got a big vision of sustainability and men in suits–no, really. From reclaimed buttons to recycled polyester, M&S released the first ever sustainable suit in September. Although the material list might seem a little hobo chic at first, M&S has spent several years perfecting the design, and the suit is of the highest quality and cut. Every piece of the garment has been meticulously selected.


Mark Sumner, M&S Plan A Sustainable Raw Material Expert, said: “This a huge step forwards for the industry; it is the first time such an intricate garment has been made of sustainable materials, and as well as being one of the greenest garments available on the high street, it is incredibly stylish and something we hope our customers will be proud to wear.”


As the first major UK retailer to be carbon neutral, M&S has been moving toward their sustainability goals for the past decade. They claim all M&S-operated stores, offices, warehouses and delivery fleets in the UK and Ireland are carbon neutral, and it now recycles 100% of its waste. During one of the company’s internal assessments, they found that aerodynamics can account for 50% of fuel consumption in trucks. The company quickly redesigned their vehicles, lowering ‘drag’ and in turn, fuel consumption. The redesign rather serendipitously increased the truck’s carrying capacity by 16%, allowing more merchandise to be shipped by one truck than the previous designs. They’ve also partnered with Oxfam, the UK’s biggest charity shop network, so that consumers who donate M&S clothes to the organization are given a coupon which they can use at M&S retail stores.


The different elements of the suit include:

  • Wool – the suit is made from organic wool which is fully traceable back to the farms from where it is produced. In addition, all of the chemicals used in the production of the wool fibre are Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) approved, to reflect the fact that as the fibre has been organically produced;
  • Lining – made from recycled plastic bottles;
  • Canvas (used inside the main body of the suit) – made from recycled polyester;
  • Buttons – reclaimed buttons;
  • Pockets and waistband – made from reclaimed fabric;
  • Labels – all of the labels inside the suit, even the ‘Care Instructions’, have been made from recycled polyester.


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