Lur® Apparel marries fashion and sustainability

Lur logoFashion is big business. Just look at all the TV, radio and print commercials targeting even the youngest consumers of all – our kids. Whether you think this is good or bad, one thing’s certain. The fashion industry, particularly women’s fashion, is constantly changing.

The women’s fashion industry chases the season, says Mike Heiman, co-founder of Lur® Apparel. “There’s always pressure to come up with new colors, new designs and styles.”

Heiman’s Ohio-based company, whose tag line is “Fashion for Change”, makes women’ fashion from 100 percent recycled materials – fabric from recycled plastic bottles and pre-consumer cotton scraps.

Their products, which encompass tops, sweaters, dresses and pants, are classic, timeless designs, something I personally favor. Durability is built into every product.

It’s “slow fashion”, says Heiman. “You can wear our products for years and they’ll hold up.”

Lur clothing features soft materials and muted colors in timeless styles

Lur clothing features soft materials and muted colors is classic styles

Lur’s clothing utilizes muted colors with soft, feminine styles and equally soft materials. The reason is their products are made of 55 percent pre-consumer recycled colored cotton.

There’s a lot of waste in the women’s fashion industry, Heiman says.

Industrial women’s fashion cutting rooms generally see 80 to 85 percent efficiency. That means there’s 15 to 20 percent waste, as in cotton scraps. Lur collects these cotton scraps by color groupings. They’re then mechanically mulched into colored fiber. This accounts for 55 percent of their fabric.

The other 45 percent is post-consumer polyester, which comes from plastic bottles. The bottles are collected, cleaned and melted down, then extruded into fiber. Texturized, then chopped into different lengths, this accounts for the white fiber they use.

All this is then blended together.

“Almost half of our fiber, our fabric, has no color,” said Heiman, explaining why their colors are muted.

I noticed how amazingly soft the material was and asked Heiman about this.

Heiman said people are usually surprised at the softness of their products. “They think the fabric will be scratchy, (have) rough edges,” he said.

Lur fashion is made from recycled materials, including plastic bottle fiber

Lur fashion is made from recycled materials, including plastic bottle fiber

Heiman also pointed out that polyester and plastic bottles come from a common natural resource – petroleum.

But, he explained, with today’s technology, recycled polyester fiber has almost the same characteristics as virgin polyester except that it goes thru about 70 percent less processes.

“And you’re not using oil to do it,” he said.

Along with using recycled materials, Lur combines beauty, sustainability, and social responsibility. Theirs is a Triple Bottom Line business, but it stand for People, Planet, Prosperity.  Their non-traditional view of profitability includes social, environmental and financial profits.

Heiman says they decided to contribute a significant amount of their profit to infrastructural development to communities in need. In order to “walk the talk”, they formed relationships with non-profit NGO’s in Guatemala. This includes their current four year relationship with Friendship Bridge, a non-profit that provides microloans to indigenous women in Guatemala, helping them to start or expand their small businesses. Lur also works with Miracles in Action, another Guatemala NGO that builds schools and supports vocational programs.

“The money has a strict purpose for infrastructures so people can become self-sufficient,” Heiman said.

Heiman also noted that he hopes to bring their manufacturing back to the U.S., which is important to him.

With all this, you’d think that Lur clothing would be expensive. It’s not.

Sustainability is the foundation of Lur fashion and its business practices

Sustainability is the foundation of Lur fashion and its business practices

“We haven’t used the sustainability tag to jack up our prices to make it inaccessible to a large part of the population,” said Heiman.

With timeless designs, feel-good fabrics and great prices, Heiman hopes to start a new fashion trend.

“Instead of being fashionable, (you can be) stylish,” he said. And, Heiman said, Lur clothing is made ethically, referring to the recent tragedy in Bangladesh.

“We believe fashion can be a powerful force for change in the world,” said Heiman. “We also believe that for clothing to be truly beautiful,”he said. “It needs to benefit more than just its wearer.”

The company plans to introduce 14 new products in October.   Available in 250 stores nationwide, you’ll find a store locator online at http://lurapparel.com.

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