Brisbane-based activewear brand dk active is taking an important step forward in its sustainability journey.
Established in 2017 by designer Danielle Kay Holden, the brand was created from a desire to bring an ethical and inclusive energy to the activewear industry.
Choosing to make their clothes here in Australia, dk active already has a smaller environmental footprint than many of its competitors. The brand ranks among the best in the industry when it comes to clothing kilometres, which has the effect of reducing its carbon emissions, packaging waste and costs.
“In the beginning, I visited lots of manufacturers and was really unsatisfied with the conditions,” Danielle says.
“So that’s why I decided we’d do it for ourselves. I am proud to say that our local factory meets all Australian standards for ethical clothing manufacturing.”
The dk active HQ, based in North Brisbane, runs on solar power, with any unused power being returned to the grid for redistribution. The office is also close to public transport options, which benefits the brand’s staff and the environment.
Of course, a big part of a brand’s environmental impact is in its fabric choices. And being an activewear brand, there is a requirement for well-wearing fabrics with stretch – so synthetics are unavoidable.
To help reduce this impact, the brand works with recycled nylon and polyester, dramatically reducing the amount of energy and water required to manufacture the fabrics, and keeping virgin fabrics out of landfill.
Now, dk active is looking to capture waste at the end of its garments’ life, as well as managing the brand’s offcuts, scraps and excess fabric from production.
“In the early days, we repurposed our fabric scraps in several ways,” Danielle says.
“We donated them to TAFEs and sewing schools for students to test machines on, or we gifted them to companies who used the scraps as filling for boxing bags.
“However as time went on, our production grew… and so did our waste. Because we refused to send our scraps to landfill, we could see the volume of leftover fabric pieces rise before our very eyes.”
To combat this waste, dk active has partnered with Textile Recyclers Australia (TRA) to turn its trash into treasure.
The brand’s offcuts are sent to their fabric recycling centre, where they are broken down and woven into new yarn to be repurposed into new fabrics and textiles – a process which requires no water, chemicals or dyes.
TRA show them photographic proof of their textiles being processed in their warehouse, sending photos and videos of their textiles being mechanically shredded.
Recently, dk active has extended this process to their customers, inviting them to send back their (very old and very worn) dk active garments to be recycled.
“This makes our manufacturing process completely circular, which is something we’re very proud of,” Danielle says.
“To date we have recycled over one tonne of fabric since partnering with this great Australian company.”
Textile circularity provides a significant opportunity to drive innovation, create new Australian jobs and expand existing ones, and recover valuable resources from items currently going to landfill.
“We aim to set a precedent for Australian fashion designers and businesses alike, present and future,” Danielle says. “Ethical and sustainable business practice isn’t easy, but in our eyes, it’s the only choice.”