The textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world.  Millions of tons of clothing and other textiles are produced every year, much of which ends up in landfills.

 A study by Labfresh, a sustainable menswear company, conducted a study in 2020 and published:

  •  Germany produces 391,752 tons of textile waste every year.  Only Italy produces more of this type of waste overall.
  •  Based on EU average values, 0.5 kg of the 4.7 kg of textile waste that every German produces per year is recycled and 0.4 kg is reused untreated.  In addition, 1.2 kg of textiles are incinerated per person per year and 2.7 kg are disposed of in landfills.
  •  Relatively speaking, however, Belgians produce the most textile waste.  They leave behind 14.8 kg per capita in a year.
  •  Germany ranks third in terms of the export volume of used clothes.  Every year, 6 kg of old clothes per capita are exported abroad.
  •  Italy tops the rankings as the least sustainable nation.  At €1,080, Italians invest a relatively large amount of money in new fashion and accordingly get rid of an above-average amount of textiles.  465,925 tons of textile waste are generated in Italy every year.
  •  With 2.1 kg per person , the least amount of textile waste is produced in Spain.
  •  Austrians spend €1,270 a year on new clothes.  No other nation invests more money.
  •  In Portugal, the clothing industry accounts for 4.1% of the gross domestic product.  In no other country is the proportion greater.

 If you consider that the production of textiles is already a significant problem for the environment, these numbers are even more alarming.  Most textiles are made from non-sustainable materials such as (non-organic) cotton and polyester, which have high energy and resource consumption.

The annual CO2 emissions from the textile industry are very high and contribute significantly to climate change.  It is estimated that the textile industry is responsible for around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.  In 2018, the textile industry emitted around 2.1 billion tons of CO2 worldwide.

 The production of fibers, yarns and fabrics requires large amounts of energy and water, which come from non-renewable resources.  Most textiles are made from unsustainable raw materials such as cotton, polyester and nylon, which generate significant amounts of energy and greenhouse gas emissions.

 Furthermore, the transport and processing steps required to manufacture clothing and other textiles contribute to CO2 emissions.  The textile industry is often globalized, which means that raw materials are sourced from different countries and the finished products have to be shipped to other countries.

 In addition, many textiles are produced under poor working conditions and at low wages.  Many cheap, but also medium-priced products that are offered to us in the shops are fast fashion, which after a short time either become outdated or end up in the garbage very quickly due to the inferior materials and often poor workmanship.

Many people like to get as much bang for their buck as possible when visiting Primark and Co. rather than purchasing a few individual pieces of high-quality, durable clothing.  Luckily, consciousness is slowly changing more and more.  People are now at least somewhat sensitized to the topic.  Of course it is also a question of costs, because not everyone can afford the high-quality and sustainably produced textiles.

 At the moment, many fashion chains simply throw away unsold goods or burn them, since it is usually not worthwhile for them to offer them at reduced prices or to store them.  Fashion chains like H&M and many others no longer just produce an autumn-winter and spring-summer collection, but sometimes new collections every month, sometimes even every 14 days, so that customers are constantly tempted to buy new supposed trends.  For this they regularly need space in the warehouses and in the shops, so the “old” collections are often simply burned.

 This practice of destroying fast fashion garments by some fashion chains has led to outrage and criticism from consumers and environmentalists in the past.

 There are various reasons why fashion chains destroy clothes instead of selling them at reduced prices.

 One reason is that fashion chains are focused on maintaining their brand and reputation.  If they were to sell their garments at very low prices, it could hurt their brand’s value.  Another reason is that fashion chains have excess stocks of fast fashion clothes that are no longer trendy or that customers have not bought.

 There are also concerns about marketing fast fashion clothing that hasn’t sold.  Selling at lower prices could give the impression that the garments are inferior or not up to the brand’s standards.

Garment destruction is a waste of resources and contributes to environmental pollution.  There are alternative methods to reduce excess inventory, such as selling clothes at discounted prices, donating to charities, or recycling and upcycling.

 One way to reduce the amount of textile waste is to reduce the consumption of textiles overall.  If we want to get the textile industry to produce more sustainably, fairly and ethically, then we, as consumers, ultimately have this in our hands, because our consumption, i.e. our demand, still determines the market.

 By promoting sustainable and durable textiles and avoiding fast fashion, we can reduce textile waste.

 Another approach is to encourage recycling and upcycling by collecting and reusing used clothing.

 As said before, up to a point we consumers have the power to push the textile industry to reduce its emissions and focus on sustainable production practices.  This includes using renewable energy, improving energy efficiency and promoting recycling and upcycling.  And of course it also helps if we pay attention to where our clothing was produced, because the shorter the transport routes, the lower the CO2 footprint.  However, politicians are also asked to find ways and rules to stop this senseless environmental pollution caused by the textile industry.

Unfortunately, the term sustainability is not clearly defined and is a matter of interpretation for many companies, but also for consumers.  The word green washing often appears in this context.

 Green washing refers to companies that present themselves as environmentally friendly but are in fact doing little or nothing to change their practices.  It’s important to be critical and question companies’ actual efforts to ensure we are actually making a positive impact on the environment.

 So much for our little introduction to the topic of sustainability in the textile industry.  As dancers, we are not just consumers who buy everyday clothes, but for our training, performances and competitions, we need training clothes, costumes, various dance shoes and slippers, as well as other tools and products.  Due to the intensive use in training and performance, we often have a lot of wear and tear and have to exchange things regularly.  Of course, I will not be able to break down this problem completely and offer generally valid solutions in a blog post, but as always, the aim of my posts is to sensitize the readers to certain topics, to stimulate thought and, at best, to trigger lively discussions.

 The most important first step towards sustainability is always to become aware of our own habits.

In training.

 In training, dancers usually need tight-fitting but flexible, stretchy materials that, if possible, also air-condition the body well, warm it and protect it from cooling down, but at the same time can absorb sweat and are airy enough, so we don’t  to overheat.  In addition, there are usually different pieces of thermal clothing for the beginning of the training, for breaks and cool down, which are intended to warm the body and prevent cooling down.

 Unfortunately, in recent years, there have been fewer and fewer local dance shops that offer high-quality dancewear and where customers can touch and try on the pieces.  Parents often order the pieces from cheap suppliers, who often not only have a poorer fit, poorer workmanship and bad material quality, but are also often contaminated with pollutants and were manufactured under inhumane conditions.  In addition, there is the transport of many individual small packages and parcels, which are transported around the world by DHL and Co. and also increase CO2 emissions.

 If we buy high-quality products from local dance shops, these products usually last longer – even with regular use – than cheap products from online mail order companies in Asia.  With children and young people, the reason for disposing of textiles is less often the wear and tear of clothing, but rather the profane fact that the dancers grow out of the garment, more on that later.

 Stage & Competition

 The situation is similar here too.  Especially in the area of ​​soloists and small groups, I experience more and more often that costumes are no longer sewn by oneself or put together from individual parts, but complete costumes are now bought ready-made in the USA, England or Asia.  These also have to be shipped, very few manufacturers are really sustainable and also have them produced in cheap countries and only a few of these costumes are so well made that they can be inherited from dancer to dancer.  Many contain disease-causing chemicals.

 Most of the dance boutiques and specialist dance shops that remain here in Germany and in other countries around Europe, simply do not have the capacity to store large quantities of different costumes in addition to training clothes and training needs in order to be able to offer them to customers.

Education on how to use training clothes and costumes

 Even the best and highest quality product suffers if we don’t take proper care of it.  As part of my workshops, or when I come backstage as a choreographer or judge at competitions or performances from time to time, my toenails often curl up and I want to scream out aloud when I see how children and young people, but also some educators and parents deal with training clothes, props and costumes.  Pieces are thrown carelessly in the corner, crumpled up in a sweat, put back in the bag or eaten in costume (something I probably would have been beheaded for when I was an active dancer), to name just two examples.  Unfortunately, I also have to slow down overzealous mums (and dads) again and again, so that sensitive costumes don’t suddenly end up in some washing machine and get washed to pieces.

 When I worked as a choreographer and pedagogue for the Berlin Children’s Musical Theater, which puts almost 100 children on stage with a large professional musical and dance production every year, there was a costume fundus that was maintained by two mothers and a pedagogue.  Some of these costumes were so well cared for that they were over 40 years old and could still be used.  Many of my older colleagues with their own studios have such a pool that has grown over the years.  I’ve always wondered how to setup a network so that studios could loan each other’s costumes, which of course also requires that everyone has learned to handle these things with care.

 Unfortunately, fewer and fewer costumes really end up in the fundus, many soloist dresses end up in the dancers’ wardrobes or are so cheaply produced that they fall apart after a season and end up in the garbage.  Group costumes are also often assembled from cheap parts, which then later rot around in some children’s room or end up in the garbage after just a few dances.  I would wish if more costumes could be stored in the dance studio’s fundus again, so that they could be brought out again at another point in time and filled with new life.  That alone is already more sustainability.

 The same applies to training clothes, by the way.  I’m often in South Africa as a juror and got to know groups there that really come from the poorest areas and have hardly any opportunities to buy anything new.  I will never forget seeing a very good step group on stage who couldn’t afford step shoes and instead had pieces of old plastic bottles nailed under their shoes.  Training clothes are always passed on to other children there.  I myself have repeatedly collected old leotards and tights that my children in Germany had outgrown and sent them to South Africa in a parcel.  These things were a priceless treasure for the children there, and even the used leotards have now been worn by several generations of children.

 As an educator, I attach great importance to sensitizing my students to train them in how to use dancewear and costumes, but also other training needs and props.  This also includes talking to the parents, because only they can make sure at home that the sweaty things are taken out of the dance bag, hung up or cleaned and repaired in good time if small signs of wear and tear appear.  Dance shoes should always be dried, and a spare pair should be available for daily training.

 These are just small examples, but they make a big impact.  I’m also a big fan of uniform training clothes in individual classes and groups.  Ultimately, this has the advantage that each child only needs one or two sets and not the latest and most fashionable leotards over and over again.  In addition, the pieces can eventually be passed on to the next generation if they have been well cared for and produced to a high standard.

 I’m always happy when I come to studios where I see that there is at least one rummage box where parents, children and young people hand in clothes that have become too small or are discarded and make them available to other children.  This is not only sustainable, but also very social.  Dance shoes that have been danced through are of course not suitable for this, but very few ballet slippers and dance shoes are worn that long that they are worn out, as children grow quickly, shoes, usually, just become too small. So you can swap, sell or give them away.

Fortunately, there are now more and more companies trying to produce more sustainable dancewear, dance shoes and training supplies from the outset.  Unfortunately, not all of them are available in specialist shops all over Europe yet, but I definitely recommend asking the salespeople of the dance shops regularly which products have been produced sustainably and ethically, which are fair trade, made from recycled materials or other sustainable materials and for me personally it is not unimportant which products were produced vegan, because this is also part of sustainability.  Ask where the products come from.  Is there an alternative that has a shorter transport behind it or does it have to be the product from America or Australia?

 Before I go into more detail about individual companies, I would like to provide an overview of the materials that are most commonly found in our dancewear and briefly describe what is behind the materials and what their carbon footprint is.

Nylon is a synthetic polymer made from various chemical components including carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen.  It was first developed by a team of scientists at DuPont in the 1930s and has since become one of the most widely used synthetic materials.  Because nylon is a synthetic polymer, it is not made from natural raw materials and therefore has a lower carbon footprint than natural products.  The production of nylon requires the use of fossil fuels and there is also a significant amount of CO2 emissions released in the production of nylon.  Additionally, nylon is non-biodegradable, meaning it can take many years to decompose in the environment.

 Polyester is also a synthetic polymer made from various chemical components including ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid.  It is a very versatile material and is widely used in the textile industry to make garments, bedding and other textiles.  However, polyester is not a natural product as it is made from chemical components.  The production of polyester requires the use of fossil fuels and there is also a significant amount of CO2 emissions released in the production of polyester.  However, like nylon, there are efforts to reduce the environmental impact of polyester by developing alternative manufacturing processes and using recycled polyester materials.  Recycled polyester is made from recycled plastic bottles, which can help reduce plastic waste in the environment and reduce carbon emissions in the production of virgin polyester.

 Elastane, also known as Spandex or Lycra, is a synthetic elastomer used primarily in the textile industry for stretch materials such as leggings, swimwear, and athletic wear.  It is made from a combination of polyurethane and polyether chains.  Elastane is not a natural product as it is made from chemical components.  The production of elastane requires the use of fossil fuels and there is also a significant amount of CO2 emissions released in the production of elastane.  However, elastane is typically used in small amounts as an admixture with other fabrics to improve their stretch and durability.  As a result, its carbon footprint is relatively small compared to other synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester.

Microfiber is a synthetic material composed of polyester or polyamide that is processed into very fine fibers.  Microfibers are typically only a few microns thick and can be made from a variety of materials, including polyester, nylon, and polypropylene.  Microfiber is not a natural product as it is made from synthetic materials.  The production of microfibers requires the use of fossil fuels and there is also a significant amount of CO2 emissions released in the production of microfibers.  Another problem with microfibers is that they can give off tiny particles during washing, which end up in the environment as microplastics.  These particles can be harmful to marine life and the environment.

 Polyacrylic is not a natural material as it is made from chemical components.  The production of polyacrylic requires the use of fossil fuels and there is also a significant amount of CO2 emissions released in the production of polyacrylic.  However, as with other synthetic materials, there are efforts to reduce the environmental impact of polyacrylic by developing alternative manufacturing processes and using recycled polyacrylic blends.  However, there are not as many recycled polyacrylic blends as recycled polyester or nylon.  Overall, polyacrylic has a worse carbon footprint than natural materials such as cotton or wool, but there are ways to reduce the impact by using sustainably produced polyacrylic blends and increasing recycling of polyacrylic blends.

 Wool is a natural material produced by sheep or other animals such as cashmere goats, alpacas or angora rabbits.  Wool is a versatile material that, due to its natural fiber properties, is very durable and robust and offers good thermal insulation.  The carbon footprint of wool depends on various factors, such as the way the animals are kept, the feed and the way it is produced.  Overall, however, wool has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to synthetic materials such as polyester or polyacrylic, as the production of wool does not require large amounts of energy and does not release large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.  When buying wool, it is important to pay attention to the origin and the type of animal husbandry.  Wool from animals that have been raised humanely and without the use of harmful chemicals is a good choice.  Wool can also come from organic or organic farming, meaning that the animal feed and soil management meet sustainability criteria.  You can also pay attention to sustainable certificates, such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or the bluesign® system, both of which guarantee sustainable wool production.  One can also pay attention to local producers who source the wool locally and thus reduce the carbon footprint.

Deciding whether vegans wear wool is an individual choice.  Some vegans are opposed to wearing wool because they believe it is unethical to use animals in clothing or other products.  Other vegans have no problem wearing wool as long as the animal has been ethically raised and sheared and no animal has been harmed or killed in the making of the garments.

 There are also vegan alternatives to wool, such as garments made from plant-based fibers like cotton, linen or hemp, as well as synthetic materials like polyester or nylon.  However, these materials often do not have the same properties as wool, which can be particularly relevant for outdoor clothing and garments for cold temperatures.

 Ultimately, the decision to wear wool or not for vegans comes down to personal beliefs and values.  It is important to be clear about where the wool came from and under what conditions it was produced in order to make an informed choice.

 Linen is a natural fiber obtained from the stalks of the flax plant.  It is one of the oldest textile fibers in the world and has been used in clothing and other textile products for thousands of years.  Linen is a sustainable material because the flax plant is relatively undemanding and requires little water to grow.  In addition, linen is biodegradable and therefore more environmentally friendly than synthetic materials.  In terms of carbon footprint, linen is a good choice as it has a much smaller carbon footprint compared to synthetic materials like polyester.  However, the production of linen requires complex processing, which can lead to higher energy costs.  However, it should be noted that most linen fabrics are sourced from Europe or other nearby regions, further reducing the carbon footprint.  When shopping for linen products, it is important to pay attention to the quality of the linen.  High-quality linen is soft, smooth, and durable, while low-quality linen can be stiff and scratchy.  It is also important to pay attention to the origin of the linen.  Linen that is organically grown or from certified sustainable production is a good choice to ensure the material has been produced under ethical and environmentally friendly conditions. It is also important to note that linen is a high maintenance fiber and often requires hand washing or a gentle machine wash.

Hemp is a plant that has been used for thousands of years for a variety of purposes, including making textiles.  Hemp fiber is obtained from the stalk of the plant and can be made into various types of fabric, including clothing.  Textiles made from hemp have several advantages in terms of sustainability.  Hemp is a fast-growing crop that requires little water and no pesticides to thrive.  Hemp products are biodegradable and can therefore be easily composted at the end of their life cycle.  Compared to cotton, hemp requires about half the amount of water and can produce up to twice as much fiber in the same area.  Hemp also scores well in terms of carbon footprint, as it requires little energy to produce.  Textiles made from hemp are usually durable and resistant, as the fiber is naturally robust and hard-wearing.  Hemp clothing can be a good choice for outdoor activities as it wicks moisture and is breathable.  However, it should be noted that textiles made from hemp often have a higher price than conventional cotton products, as the production and processing of hemp can be more complex.  It’s also important to make sure the hemp product is certified organic to ensure it’s been produced under ethical and eco-friendly conditions.

 Bamboo is a fast-growing plant that requires little water and pesticides to grow.  Bamboo textiles are made from bamboo-viscose or bamboo-cotton blends.  Bamboo viscose is made from bamboo cellulose fibers that are chemically treated to create a soft and silky texture.  Textiles made from bamboo have several advantages:

 Sustainability: Bamboo is a sustainable plant that grows quickly and requires little water and pesticides.

 Softness: Bamboo viscose has a silky texture that is soft and comfortable against the skin.

 Breathability: Textiles made from bamboo are breathable and absorb moisture, making them a good choice for warm weather conditions.

 Antibacterial: Bamboo contains natural antibacterial properties that can help reduce odor and bacterial build-up.

 However, there are also some disadvantages of bamboo textiles:

 Chemical Processing: The production of bamboo viscose requires the use of chemicals that can have a negative impact on the environment if not disposed of properly.

 Energy-intensive production: The production of bamboo viscose requires a lot of energy, which can lead to a higher carbon footprint.

 Transport: Because bamboo is grown in certain regions of the world, transporting bamboo textiles can contribute to a higher carbon footprint.

 It is important to pay attention to the origin and the way bamboo textiles are made to ensure that they have been produced under ethical and environmentally friendly conditions.  A certification such as the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 label can be a guide here.

Silk is a natural material obtained from the cocoons of silkworms.  The silkworms spin the cocoon from a single thread up to 900 meters long in order to pupate.  To extract the thread from the cocoon, the cocoons are boiled in hot water, which loosens the silk threads.  The threads are then spun into yarn and woven into fabric.  The advantages of silk are its softness, suppleness and shiny surface.  It’s also lightweight and breathable, making it a comfortable material for clothing and bedding.  Silk also has moisture-wicking properties and can help regulate body temperature.  However, a disadvantage of silk is its sensitivity to moisture and heat.  It can be easily discolored or damaged when exposed to water or moisture.  In addition, silk production is associated with certain ethical and environmental issues, such as the killing of silkworms and the use of chemicals in production.  In terms of carbon footprint, silk is relatively eco-friendly as it is a natural material and does not require any synthetic fibers or chemicals to be made.  However, silk production is an energy-intensive process and requires large amounts of water and energy.  Silk is not vegan as it is obtained from the cocoons of silkworms.  To extract the silk threads from the cocoons, the silkworms are boiled in hot water, resulting in their death.  However, there are eco-friendly and ethical methods of silk production, such as using wild silk yarn harvested from wild silk cocoons without the need to kill silkworms.

 Cotton is a natural fiber obtained from the seeds of the cotton plant.  It is one of the most important and widely used fibers for the manufacture of textiles and clothing.  When shopping for cotton textiles, it is important to pay attention to the way it was produced.  Conventionally grown cotton requires the use of large amounts of pesticides and other chemicals that can be harmful to the environment as well as the health of workers and consumers.  More environmentally friendly alternatives are organic cotton and fair trade cotton, which are grown and produced under ethical and environmentally friendly conditions.  Cotton’s carbon footprint is relatively small compared to synthetic materials such as polyester or nylon.  However, cotton requires large amounts of water and can cause significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions during production, especially when grown conventionally.  In order to produce cotton ethically, there are various initiatives such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which ensure that the cotton is grown and produced under environmentally friendly and socially acceptable conditions.

 Tencel is a brand of lyocell fibers produced by the Austrian company Lenzing AG.  Lyocell is the general name for a fiber made from cellulose.  Tencel is a special type of lyocell made from the wood of eucalyptus trees.  The production of Tencel/Lyocell is more environmentally friendly compared to other fibers because it works in a closed cycle, which means that the solvent used is recycled in a closed system.  This reduces the use of chemicals and reduces water consumption.  Tencel/Lyocell is also biodegradable.  Unlike cotton and other natural fibers, Tencel/Lyocell has a smooth surface that is soft and supple and feels comfortable against the skin.  Tencel/Lyocell also has high moisture absorption and is therefore breathable and moisture-regulating.  Another advantage of Tencel/Lyocell is that it comes from sustainably managed forests and is produced under fair working conditions.  This makes Tencel/Lyocell a popular choice for environmentally conscious consumers and sustainable fashion companies.

Leather is a natural material made from the skin of animals such as cattle, sheep, goats or pigs.  However, the production of leather often comes with environmental and ethical concerns.  However, there are sustainable alternatives to conventional leather.  For example, there is leather that is treated with vegetable tanning agents and is therefore less harmful to the environment.  Recycled leather from leather scraps or old clothing can also be a more sustainable option.  When shopping for leather products, it is important to pay attention to the origin of the leather.  Some brands and manufacturers pay attention to the sustainability and environmental friendliness of leather production.  Certifications such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or the Leather Working Group (LWG) can also provide information on environmentally and socially responsible leather production.  The carbon footprint of leather depends on various factors such as animal husbandry, tanning and transport.  More sustainable leather production can help reduce the carbon footprint. Leather is not vegan as it is made from animal-based materials.

Recycled Polyester: This is made from recycled plastic bottles or industrial polyester waste.  The carbon footprint of recycled polyester depends on various factors such as the energy efficiency of the recycling process and the way it is used.

 Recycled Cotton: This is made from cotton scraps such as clothing or scraps of fabric.  The carbon footprint of recycled cotton depends on various factors such as how it is recycled and whether the production process is energy efficient.

 Recycled Leather: This is made from old leather products or leather cuts.  Again, the carbon footprint depends on various factors, such as how the leather is recycled.

 Recycled Polyamide: This is made from old polyamide products or production waste.  Again, the carbon footprint depends on various factors, such as the energy efficiency of the recycling process and the way it is used.

 Recycled Cashmere: This is made from old or damaged cashmere products.  Again, the carbon footprint of recycled cashmere depends on various factors, such as the energy efficiency of the recycling process and the way it is used.

 Recycled Wool: This is made from old wool products or wool scraps.  Again, the carbon footprint depends on various factors, such as how the wool is recycled and whether the production process is energy efficient.

 However, it is important to note that the carbon footprint of recycled textile fibers is not always uniform and depends on various factors such as the manufacturing, transport and disposal of the materials.  It is therefore important to look at the whole life cycle of the recycled textile fibers in order to get an accurate assessment of the carbon footprint.

 There are now various manufacturers of dancewear, especially in England and the USA, who make products from recycled textile fibers or add a high proportion of recycled fibers to their products.  There are also more and more products made from organic cotton and other fair trade natural fibers.

 There are also companies that are now making sure that all their products are completely vegan.  However, it should be noted that vegan does not necessarily mean sustainable or environmentally friendly, because in many cases vegan only refers to the fact that no animal products were used, some products such as pointshoes are often only partially vegan because the shoe itself is vegan, but cannot yet do without a leather sole.

 Below is a selection of companies


 British company Dansez has made sustainability and the idea of ​​being ‘planet friendly’ at the core of their company philosophy and are the first dancewear manufacturer to use regenerated nylon, ECONYL®.  By focusing on making clothing from responsibly sourced materials, Dansez has created the UK’s first sustainable dancewear collection.  Partnering with the Healthy Seas Initiative, some of Dansez’s leggings, leotards, tops and shorts are made from recycled nylon waste and abandoned fishing nets rescued by the initiative.

 Imperfect points

 Is a local, family run business with a global reach and one of the UK’s first sustainable dancewear company to make everything from recycled materials.  Founder Helen Banks created the concept after seeing the dark side of fast fashion and frustrated by the lack of balletwear brands that focus on sustainability.  Each leotard created by Imperfect Pointes is personally designed by Helen and her daughter in Manchester, with each piece made by a small, family run factory in Yorkshire.

  Just like Dansez, future-friendly dancewear is made with ECONYL® yarn to ensure every part of the manufacturing process is environmentally friendly.  They even offer a clothing repair program so worn clothes can be refreshed and it’s free.


 With a focus on using recycled fabrics and materials, EXO/danse works to reduce the dancewear industry’s impact on the environment with every piece of dancewear they produce.  With the goal of using 100% recycled/sustainable fabrics in the near future, EXO/danse’s green approach to apparel production is making strides in the industry.

 As a company that is making really big strides towards a fully sustainable model, EXO/danse uses only recyclable materials in its packaging, in addition to using ECONYL® and other recycled materials to ensure its commitment to sustainability is embedded throughout the production process  .


 Korean dancewear company SMK is proud to be 100% vegan.  Because all of their garments are ethically made in Seoul, Korea, SMK’s focus is not only on environmental sustainability, but also on ensuring their production process supports local workers.

 Using a wide range of TENCEL™, MODAL®, organic cotton and regenerated nylon, SMK carefully selects people-friendly and eco-friendly materials for its jerseys, shorts and skirts.  Scraps left behind during the production process are also recycled to create handmade, plastic-free packaging and other products.  By reusing as many of their materials as possible, SMK continually seeks to stop the endless cycle of clothing waste, protect the environment and create a cleaner planet for the future.

 nude barre

 Black bodywear brand Nude Barre specialize in a line of eco-friendly underwear, produced in 16 different shades to suit all skin tones.  With a wide range of “nude” skin tones to choose from, most nude barre garments are made from eco-friendly textile fabrics made from recycled plastic.  They also strive to use eco-friendly dyes to create different shades of pigment.

  Designed to be sustainable and inclusive, Nude Barre is helping to redefine what it means to shop for bodywear that represents all bodies and skin tones.


 The company Boody manufactures tops and underwear from bamboo fibers.

 Ballet Rosa

 Ballet Rosa now produces individual leotards from Sensil.

 So Danca

 So Danca now makes individual jazz slippers or ballet slippers vegan here.  For this you use natural linen and instead of the chrome leather sole a kind of artificial leather.


 Grishko now also has individual vegan pointe shoes here, i.e. without leather.


 Merlet also has a vegan tip with protective caps made of microfiber.


 Also has a vegan pointe shoe on offer


 Many of Rumpf’s dance sneakers and dance shoes are leather-free and vegan

 Dance shoes for ballroom and latin, as well as tap and character shoes are now available leather-free and are therefore usually vegan.

Not all of these products and brands are available  in every country yet.  Many of these companies are not profitable for dance shops in some countries yet, because the minimum order quantity is too large or shipping and importing small quantities is too expensive.  But talk to your trusted specialist dealer, you might be able to place a bulk order.  If several students from your school want these products, the store may be able to get these products for you as well.

 Conclusion and summary:

 It’s not always possible to buy sustainable products, at least not yet.  Also, vegan often does not necessarily mean more nature-friendly and sustainable.  Of course, the ideal would be if we only had products made from sustainable materials and animal-free materials (vegan).  But this will probably take a while.

 It is still just as important that we care for things, use them for a long time, recycle, upcycle, pass them on, exchange them and throw away as little as possible.

 If we start sewing more costumes ourselves again, we’ll have more control over the fabrics we buy for them.  And from my own experience I know that self-sewn costumes are often treated with more respect than costumes that just been ordered ordered in China or somewhere else.

 In my opinion, the most important thing is that dancers and parents invest more time and money to get advice from specialist retailers and to buy the right products there.  Ask your specialist retailer about sustainably produced products such as eco textiles and recycled textile fibers as well as vegan products and ask about products that are at least produced in Europe.

 Finally, a few words for training aids such as massage rollers, foam rollers and balls, mats and yoga blocks and other small devices.  As a rule, these things are made of plastic, but since they are designed to be used for a relatively long time and should not end up on the garbage after a short time, you can buy them and use them, I think, as long as there are no equivalent ones, just as well  durable materials.  If you no longer need them, pass them on, sell them or give them away to someone who will continue to use them.  Some things are now also made from renewable natural materials such as cork, which is of course an even better option.  When it comes to mats and plastic products, be sure to check which softeners they contain and whether chemicals may evaporate, because then they are not healthy for you.

 As you can see, it has become a somewhat longer post and much more could have been written.  Overall, it is an important issue that we should be much more concerned with.

 I welcome feedback and comments.  In the next few days there will be the second part of this series, where I will deal with the topic of sustainability in competitions.

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