Source4Style: Sustainable Materials for Designers

Source4Style is a great new resource to help eco-friendly fashion designers, interior designers, retail sourcers, crafters, and other designers find the sustainable fabrics and materials they need at affordable prices.

How It Works

Co-founded by Summer Rayne Oakes, a model and environmental activist known for her work promoting eco fashion, and Benita Singh, a fair trade entrepreneur, Source4Style serves as an online trade show, allowing buyers to but directly from suppliers to help keep costs lower. It’s a win-win situation for both buyers and suppliers, because suppliers, many of them small, independent businesses, can reach a wider audience, while buyers can choose from a carefully curated selection of sustainable materials, which have both technical and sustainability specs included.

Signing up to become a buyer is free. Simply register on the site and start browsing! The Marketplace includes a variety of eco-friendly fabrics and other materials, including organic cotton, hemp, nettle, and linen, as well as reclaimed materials and recycled materials, such as a unique polyester blend made from recycled cassette tapes! Searching through the marketplace to identify sustainable materials of special interest is made easier by a system of icons that make it easy to recognize certain sustainable characteristics, such as organic, recycled, hand-made, or culturally significant. Another icon identifies materials unique to Source4Style.

When you find something you are interested in, you can add it to your “swatchbook” (wishlist), buy a swatch or sample yardage, or buy production yardage. In most cases, all materials except swatches are shipped directly from the supplier. In addition to its free membership options, Source4Style offers several different levels of paid memberships that allow access to additional information and discounts.

For suppliers, the process is slightly more complicated. Interested suppliers must fill out a questionnaire, which is then reviewed by a panel to determine if the material meets Source4Style’s sustainability standards. Among the factors considered include whether it is produced by environmentally preferable methods, whether it is produced according to fair trade or fair labor standards, and whether it contributes to the preservation of traditional crafts or cultures. Once the supplier is accepted into the Marketplace, they must pay a low monthly fee of $10-15 to list products. Source4Style will also consult with the supplier to determine the most appropriate commission structure.

Source4Style’s Marketplace currently includes more than 30 suppliers and more than 1300 different products. In addition to the Marketplace, Source4Style will open a directory of environmentally and socially responsible textile mills, dyers, cut-and-sew facilities, and other services in the fourth quarter of 2010, and a sustainable design wiki in 2011. Source4Style’s other services include consulting and workshops relating to sustainable design.

Though still a relatively new website (public beta opened in September 2010), Source4Style already shows great promise as a resource for designers interested in sourcing sustainable fabrics and materials without spending long hours on research and information-gathering. With Source4Style, the information you need is right at your fingertips!

Source4Style Designer’s Guide Video from SRmanitou on Vimeo.

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