Non-toxic womenswear is becoming more and more prolific as the world acknowledges that fast fashion and our obsession with trends is, let’s just say, not great for the planet or our bodies. However, it seems that finding non-toxic, microplastic-free menswear is a real struggle. So, when you find a brand that delivers on sustainable linens made from flax and is stylish enough for your boat life selfies, you pounce.
Alex Crane crafts classic menswear with an emphasis on airy comfort. On top of being super-comfy, their linen, grown in Normandy, France, has a notably sustainable life cycle. We caught up with namesake and founder himself, Alex Crane, and learned more about the importance of clean fabrics in men’s fashion.
Q. Firstly, can you tell us a little about your men’s line, Alex Crane?
You bet. We make breezy clothes by choosing fabrics, colors, and fits that make us feel cool and light. To us, our clothes are a reminder to jump in the ocean, watch the clouds, and hum a tune. Life is worth enjoying even when it’s sad or painful or boring, and, for better or worse, clothes have a big impact on how we feel.
That spirit extends to our production practices as well. We know we’re only as breezy as our supply chain. We use only natural materials, have close relationships with suppliers and factories, and aim to make our products fully biodegradable. We’re not perfect, but we’ll get there.
Q. And what about you? How did you fall into fashion?
I’ve always loved making things, starting from when I was a kid. I’d get obsessed with different materials; things like duct tape and leather and tie dyes. By middle school, I was hooked on fabrics and clothes. I realized it was the perfect artform: it’s everyday and functional and applies to everyone. Just by getting dressed in the morning, we’re all choosing a perspective.
In high school, I started patternmaking and sewing and then at RISD, I got a more formal education in apparel design. After graduation, I moved to Brooklyn and worked at Jack Spade for a few years designing bags. And then in 2017, I took the plunge and started my own business.
Q. People are becoming more aware about the impacts of the fashion industry and are looking to buy less and/or secondhand clothing. However, it seems as though they’re less aware about fibers. Can you explain to us the importance of fibers?
Yeah, it’s really all about the fibers. 65% of clothes are made from fossil fuels and 80% end up in landfills or incinerators. It takes nearly 350 million barrels of oil a year to meet demand for plastic-based fibers. When those clothes are washed or discarded, the damage is even worse. Polyester, nylon, and acrylic clothes are responsible for between a quarter and a third of all microplastics in the ocean. Good news is that there’s a solution…natural fibers. If we reduce our dependence on plastic fibers, we can meaningfully lower the industry’s carbon footprint.
Q. Why linen and flax? Give us the deets on the reasons for choosing to make your entire collection in these materials.
So many reasons. First off, linen is breezy. It’s natural, made from flax, and literally keeps you cool: it’s heat-regulating, antimicrobial, doesn’t hold odor, and dries super fast. It’s also stain-resistant, stronger than cotton, and gets softer with wear. Linen is also sustainable. Flax actually improves the land. One hectare absorbs almost four tonnes of CO2 per year and adds nutrients back into the soil. Once harvested, the fiber is processed without chemicals or excess water. And, if dyed naturally, linen is 100% biodegradable. Lastly, linen is super rare. For all its benefits, linen accounts for only 1% of global apparel production.
Q. What do you wish people knew about natural fibers?
Natural fibers are our ticket to sustainable clothing. The fibers already exist, it’s just about cultivating demand. And natural fibers can take so many forms. Brands like Icebreaker and Pangaia are showing why we don’t even need synthetics for performance materials. Now’s the time to move away from synthetic fibers for good.
Q. What advice do you have for people looking to make more sustainable clothing choices?
Three things: 1) Choose clothes made from natural materials. 2) Choose high-quality clothes that are made to last. 3) Choose clothes that you really love so you won’t ever want to get rid of them!
For 15% off your Alex Crane order, use code THEFULLEST at checkout.