Gretes is a sustainable sleepwear brand founded by Grėtė Švėgždaitė in Lithuania. The brand is sold to international boutiques at prices between €59.99 to €99.99, and it offers handmade, fashionable sleepwear and loungewear, mostly made with Naia, a cellulosic fiber made of sustainably sourced eucalyptus and pine pulp.
Švėgždaitė explained The SPIN OFF the reasons behind her future strategy.
When did you found Gretes? Was it born with the aim to offer gender-fluid fashion since day one?
The brand launched in 2018 by starting to offer head and hair accessories—sleep bonnets, hair ties, and hairbands–used for absolutely all long-haired people. We did not position the brand as women only, the accessories were designed for everyone.
We changed key aspects of the brand a year ago, forgoing silk and focusing on sleepwear production. Furthermore, we already have several models which are gender-fluid, although this is not fully reflected in our brand image communication. Though, we are already making plans for offering a gender-fluid collection.
Consider that one kilogram of silk requires boiling 6,600 silkworms alive, while it takes up to 20,000 liters of water to grow one kilogram of cotton. Therefore, recycling plant-based materials that are already sustainably produced further minimizes the detrimental footprint of fashion.
Why did you take this decision to start offering gender-fluid fashion, too?
I made this decision because the fashion industry has created very fixed labels that restrict us. A clothing item should help us to reveal our best selves, pursue our goals, and make us comfortable. However, everything turned upside down: we started changing our bodies to fit clothes and thinking about whether we met the standards imposed by clothing. I think that gender-fluid fashion allows us to be free a little bit more from the inside out.
Does this decision bring any problem or limitation in the selection of materials?
We face fabric selection issues not because we want to make comfortable, universally-fitting clothing, but because we aim to use sustainable textiles. Currently, there is a limited variety of such fabric and not a lot of options on where to purchase it.
How do you organise your offer of size in order to offer gender-free products?
I cannot give an exact answer because we just spend more time testing clothing. We do not have a fixed tried-and-tested sizing formula.
Yes, this is a potential problem. At the moment, I do not want to say that our sleepwear is only like this. For this reason, we have several various models and we want to design clothing for everyone.
Is recycling playing an important role in your collection?
Each European citizen produces an average of over 15 kilos of textile waste, and just 1% of it is recycled and made into new clothes. The EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles is already taking measures to reduce the amount of textiles thrown into landfills by proposing the requirement to include more recycled textiles in clothing designs, controlling greenwashing, and enforcing clothing producer responsibility toward consumers.
Natural textiles made of silk, cotton, and linen are much easier to recycle than polyester, which, unfortunately, is used by many fashion brands because it is cheap and durable. Although some big brands attempt to minimize waste by using polyester made of recycled plastic, this kind of fabric is ultimately the end product and cannot be recycled again, this way ending the circle of textile recycling.
However, this means that to qualify for full recycling and conversion into another product, a clothing item must be 100% made of a natural material.
What is Gretes doing in order to avoid such an occurrence?
Gretes is planning to turn recycled sleepwear into yarn which might be used by other manufacturers, this way returning the fabric back to the manufacturing chain and reducing the strain on landfills.
The recycling option gives us the chance to minimize the production waste by reusing material scraps or trial models left after producing the collection. Also, instead of throwing worn sleepwear away, consumers are urged to send it back for recycling, this way making them allies in our eco-friendly fashion journey.