Building a Sustainable Brand: Terms Designers Should Know

Once every few years, I listen to a podcast that aligns all the nerdy research, facts, vocab words, and intentions that I want every designer to have access to. Most recently, the Smart Creation, the podcast with Isaac Nichelson, CEO & Co-founder at Circular Systems™ had all of the information that designers would need to know when building a sustainable brand.

I’ve mentioned Isaac Nichelson in a past blog and am happy to reintroduce him as the CEO & Co-founder at Circular Systems™. Nichelson spent 25 years on a journey that began with being a surfer to working for Volcom to starting his brand and now he focuses on the science behind positive, impactful and disruptive fabric technologies.



In his interview, Nichelson reminded me of emerging vocabulary words that every designer needs to know if they’re looking for their brand to make an impact. A list of these words below:

Circular Systems™ – A clean-tech new materials company, focused on the development of innovative circular and regenerative technologies. Their three technology platforms are:

  • Agraloop BioFibres – Transforms food-crop waste into valuable natural fiber products. (Crop waste left on the field that is burned that gives off methane and carbon dioxide) Launching in 2020.
  • Orbital Hybrid Yarn – Orbital™ Hybrid Yarns are a revolutionary new yarn technology capable of producing high-quality and high-performance yarns using organic and recycled fibers. The resulting yarns have low pilling, high strength, wicking, and fast dry properties, reduced microfiber shedding and easy care.
  • Texloop Recycling – The “Lightest-Touch™️” Processing strategies help to preserve maximum embedded energy in recycled materials.


Apparel Impact Institute – An institute that identifies, funds, scales, and measures innovative programs within the apparel and footwear industry to meet the critical environmental and social outcomes brands and consumers need.


Beneficial Impact – Striving for an impact that is well beyond zero impact.


Coopatition (my new favorite word!) – Cooperation of large brands + healthy competition = Acceleration of sustainable innovations in fabric technologies.


Cottonized hemp – Oil seed hemp-extracted from food crop waste to make fabric with the softness of cotton and positive attributes of hemp, UV protection, and bacteria inhibiting.


Disruptive Technology – #MakeShiftHappen


Fashion for Good – A platform for sustainable fashion innovation. Our mission is to bring together the entire ecosystem to make fashion a force for good.


GRS Certified – Global Recycle Standards


GOTS Certified – Global Organic Textile Standards


High Performance/Low Impact – High-level athletic fabric with minimal environmental impact.


Hohenstein Institute – The Hohenstein Group is an international research and testing center. The primary focus is on the development, testing and certification of textile products.


Proposition 65 requires businesses to provide warnings to Californians about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.


Regenerative Impacts – Zero impact is not going to save us as a species. For example, fabric waste that can be used as compost!


Toxic Outerwear (Nylon 6, PVC-based waterproof breathable coatings, DWR Durable Water Repellent) – Outerwear fabrics off-gassing fumes at a level that makes humans physically ill.


As consumers become more conscious and are looking for safer and more sustainable options, entrepreneurs and designers can use these terms to make informed decisions throughout the production process. Learn more about sustainable options here.


Written by Taryn Hipwell


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