Between the Sheets is guided by the philosophy that our business should strive to support the three pillars of sustainability: economy, society, and environment. Sustainability is a daily commitment to look at each decision that our business makes and to evaluate the economic, societal, and environmental costs and benefits.
Sustainability is an ever evolving journey, not a destination. It means making informed decisions and being honest with our customers, so that you can make educated choices about the products you are purchasing. It’s important to us to share the conversations that typically remain behind the scenes, giving you greater insight into how our brand is made.
We also invite you to read more about our sustainability practices below and delve into the issues on our blog.
BTS Lingerie's Sustainability practices
Sourcing and Supply Chain
How the globalization of clothing manufacturing affects even small businesses like us, and the end consumer.
Between the Sheets is committed to sourcing the fabric and other components for our garments locally whenever possible and purchases raw materials in bulk to reduce the environmental impact of transportation.
Because of the global nature of the textile industry there are certain fibers, and manufacturing processes that are only found in specific parts of the world. For example the main supplier of the beech wood based fibers which are spun into Modal is based in Austria and our particular Modal fabrics come from Italy. As our company grows Between the Sheets is working to source all fabrics from suppliers based in the United States. Although the Modal fibers would still originate in Austria, increasing our purchasing from US suppliers will help support our economy.
Raw Materials- by fiber
Where each fiber weighs in on the environmental scale and why.
Our Between the Sheets Collection Well Played loungewear and Come Out and Play and Basic Play intimates feature incredibly soft modal blend fabrics made from sustainably harvested beech trees.
Although it is often compared to cotton modal is made from beech tree fibers, farmed in a renewable manner, and converted using a closed loop chemical process that does not pollute the environment. This is in contrast to cotton which uses an enormous amount of water and pesticides (even organic cotton uses a lot of water—without the harmful pesticides). Our modal fabrics are woven and dyed in Europe in a vertically integrated mill powered by renewable hydro-power.
While the Lycra (blended in our modal) is not a natural or sustainable material it provides a high degree of durability, wear, and stretch thus prolonging the time from purchase to landfill.
The signature lace used on all of our intimates styles is manufactured in the US and we have developed custom laces for seasonal collections that are also manufactured in the US. With the decline of manufacturing in America there are many industries that no longer have a US based manufacturing presence. Although there are many overseas lace suppliers by working with a local manufacturer we support the local economy and help to keep lace production in the US. They also happen to make beautiful lace which is another great reason to buy from them!
Laces tend to be made from Nylon or other a blend of synthetics, and we could choose more sustainable materials but there is something about lace and lingerie that goes so well together. Rather than sacrifice design in this case we are using relatively small amounts of something that will make a flattering and appealing garment.
The Nylon lace and mesh from our Petal Play and Airplay collections are sourced from US based textile importers.
The silks used in our Layla L’obatti for Between the Sheets collection are all sourced locally in New York. Finding local silk mills is not realistic, but the alternative to local sourcing directly from overseas suppliers. The New York City Garment Center hosts an enormous array of suppliers, the concentration of these resources in the Garment Center is critical to the development of new designers and supports the local garment industry. We choose to pay more to source our silk locally to support the Garment Center’s local businesses. An added benefit is that many of these fabrics are dyed/printed locally and can be picked up at a local shop and doesn’t have to be shipped multiple times.
Our Venus in Play and Matchplay ranges use a Poly-rayon-spandex jersey knit, made from a blend of polyester and spandex (made from non-renewable sources) and rayon manufactured from a cellulose (renewable plant based) fiber.
While all these fibers are manmade, it has allowed us to offer consumers a wider range of Made in USA sleepwear at an affordable price. Ideally we would be able to manufacture locally, using sustainable fiber, at a lower price- but those fibers currently command a premium in the marketplace and as they gain wider use the price of the raw materials will make that possible.
Raw Materials- by design
How design and functionality meets sustainable thought
Our Playdate group is made from a modal/silk blend. Modal is one of the softest fibers in the world, wicks away moisture, and doesn’t pill. By pairing 85% sustainable modal with 15% silk this fabric is both sustainable and a dream to touch.
Well Played - Come Out & Play - Basic Play:
Our “Well Played” and “Come out and Play” groups are made from a blend of Modal and Lycra. Although picking a fabric which is not 100% modal adds a non-sustainable fiber high Lycra content (10-12%) helps the garments wear better and last longer.
Adding Lycra to the mix is a trade-off that we believe is well worth the fit, and let’s face it- before Lycra underwear just wasn't as fun!
Airplay - Petal Play
The sheerness of lace and mesh are not really achievable with anything other than nylon. These two ranges use nylon lace and mesh sourced through US importers. Both ranges are trimmed with our signature made in the US stretch (nylon spandex) lace trimming in lieu of elastics.
Venus in Play - Matchplay
We spent three years searching for a fabric with an incredibly soft hand, that didn’t pill, and that would wash and wear beautifully. The poly-rayon-spandex fabric used in our Matchplay (coming in 2013) and Venus in Play Collections is the result of this search. This incredibly soft knit lets Between the Sheets offer more affordable collections still made in the USA, giving consumers a locally & ethically made alternative to luxury sleepwear produced overseas.
Rayon is a cellulose (plant based) fiber that mimics the properties of cotton, but as with our choice of modal we chose a fabric that was non-viscose rayon. Polyester lends this fabric durability and ease of wash and wear due to the fibers wrinkle resistance.
As we grow so does our buying power, and Between the Sheets will continue to develop our collections with other organic, eco-friendly, and sustainable materials- we also remain committed to staying transparent about the decisions that go into our designs so check back or feel free to email us if you have any questions.
Birds of Play:
This collection features an exclusive lace designed by BTS and developed by a local supplier who manufactures lace in the US. A nylon lace with a smaller ecological footprint in that it was designed, developed, manufactured, cut, and sewn all within the state of New York.
Knowing where your clothing comes from is just as important as knowing where your food comes from.
Between the Sheets manufactures all of our product in New York City's historic garment center. Producing in the US means that the workers who cut and sew our garments are paid a fair and legal wage and work under humane conditions. Producing in New York allows us to work closely with our factory and to ensure quality while also supporting our local economy.
How do we know the contractors we hire are paid fair wages and have good working conditions? First, we are regularly at the factory tinkering with how to finish a piece, making samples, inspecting pieces as they come off the line so we know what goes on there day to day. Sadly places do exist even within our borders that employ people under less than fair conditions, and we are both registered for and pledge to work with factories who adhere to New York State's Apparel Industry Taskforce's guidelines.
-Find out more about the New York City Garment Center and our pledge to stay Made in the USA
Efficient manufacturing is less wasteful and more sustainable
Between the Sheets manufacturing process, and any well run clothing manufacturing process, is inherently efficient and lean. From cutting fabric and trim to sewing the garments, any wastage or lack of efficiency leads to loss of profits. While wasting a few inches of fabric on one garment doesn’t seem like a lot, when you multiply that by several hundred or several thousand pieces that few inches adds up. The same can be said for the steps that are taken when sewing a garment—proper planning of the steps each garment goes through from raw materials to bagged and boxed product are critical. These efficiencies and the motivation to reduce waste, while driven by a desire to be profitable, have the side effect of being inherently more sustainable.
It may seem like an erroneous detail, but the location of finished goods can impact the environment.
We also store all of our garments for wholesale and ecommerce orders in a warehouse located in the New York City. Manufacturing, and shipping locally in New York City is both efficient, eco-friendly and supports the local economy.
Of course we pay a premium to store our goods in prime NYC real-estate, but the trade off is the lack of carbon emissions if we were manufacturing here and shipping or transporting to another state to store and then ship out to boutiques and e-commerce customers. Instead, our garments stay local keeping the footprint as small as possible.
A Part of the Economic Recovery
Wondering where all that stimulus money went? No, it wasn't just the big banks who got it. Some of the recipients are people like us, hard-working young entrepreneurs with a dream and a vision and willing to roll up their sleeves to make American even bigger, brighter, and beautiful... and hey, we started with the basics - underwear!
Between the Sheets was fortunate to receive a small business loan backed by the Small Business Administration and supported by the economic stimulus program enacted in 2009 and a second SBA loan to fund expansion in 2012. These loans were both through a local consortium of community development credit unions. These credit unions have a mission to support economic development and provide financial services to under-served and under-privileged communities throughout New York City.
Our loans, which helped launch our first season and expand in our 3rd year of business, were quickly reinvested in our local community paying local suppliers of lace, silk, and other findings, the people who cut, sew, press, and pack our goods.