It’s official, House of Sunny has taken over my explore page – I see it everywhere! Be it Instagram or TikTok, HoS has made their trademark by creating clothes with colorful prints and playful motifs which lend themselves perfectly to the current vintage/Y2K fashion trends. Their best-seller - the Hockney Dress – is inspired by the paintings of David Hockney and features an abstract lily pad print and spherical cutouts on the back. Currently, the dress retails for around $128.00, which is expensive, but House of Sunny prides itself as a slow-fashion brand committed to ethical fashion and sustainable materials. But, the real question is…how sustainable and ethical are they? I have mixed opinions. While their achievements in sustainable packaging/design techniques can’t be ignored, their fabrics are still largely made from unsustainable materials and there isn’t much information on their supply chain. I would like to see more transparency on production and more use of eco-friendly fabrics such as organic hemp/linen for me to consider them as a fully sustainable brand (as they claim to be).
The dress is made from 60% viscose and 40% nylon. Viscose is made from cellulose extracted from the bark or leaves of plants. The raw material is then sent to a manufacturer to be broken down and spun into yarn, which is a chemically-intensive process, making viscose a heavily processed fabric. It also comes with several environmental concerns, including potential illegal deforestation to create viscose pulp and the use of toxic chemicals such as carbon disulfide to break down the cellulose. On a more positive note, the viscose supply chain can be cleaned up by becoming closed-loop or by ensuring that viscose pulp is not extracted from endangered forests. However, HoS has provided no information on their practices. Nylon, the other 40% of the Hockney dress, is just as bad: producing nylon creates toxic nitrous oxide, requires lots of water, and is an energy-intensive process. Deriving nylon (a form of plastic) also requires the use of crude oil – which is not sustainable nor does it make nylon a biodegradable or recyclable material. All in all, the Hockney Dress isn’t made from any sustainable fabrics. On the HoS website, it does mention that all woven/care labels are made from recycled polyester and the product is vegan. I do wish that they provided more information on how they source their materials.
There isn’t much on how the Hockney dress is produced other than some formal blanket statements covering their supply chain. I expected a sustainability report at least, considering how ‘eco-conscious’ they are as a brand. Unfortunately, they have not released one (at least for the public). From what I could find regarding production, HoS only works with factories that are aligned with their social responsibility standards and are “certified” by BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative), SMETA (SEDEX Members Ethical Trade Audit), and SEDEX (Supplier Ethical Date Exchange). However, this is slightly misleading because BSCI and SMETA are auditing methodologies and not certifications; this means that audits are being performed to see whether the factories meet their standards rather than providing a certification. Therefore, it would be more helpful to know exactly what the standards are and how the factories have performed in these audits to meet such standards. Most brands at least provide some transparency regarding their workers and wages, but House of Sunny doesn’t seem to (at least on their website). They only state that they work with 6 suppliers based in Turkey, India, and China, and all products are made by people who work in safe environments and receive fair pay. This doesn’t say much about how these workers are being treated and how they ensure parity in working conditions. If HoS works with only 6 suppliers, it would be easy to mention who they are – unless their supply chain can be traced beyond those 6 suppliers. Regarding transportation, House of Sunny avoids airfreight and uses seafreight when possible, but there aren’t any statistics provided on how they track their carbon emissions, which a sustainability report could easily highlight.
But, I must give credit where it’s due, HoS really shine in their packaging and innovative design techniques. Their product bags are 100% biodegradable, plastic-free, and made from 100% compostable bio-based films. These films are typically made from renewable biopolymers such as sugarcane or food waste and reduce dependency on typical plastic packaging. This also means that these bags will disintegrate completely and will not leave any toxic chemicals behind. The postal bags are also 100% recyclable. As for their design techniques (which doesn’t apply to the Hockney dress but more generally to their other products), their denim is made from an e-flow technology which reduces water consumption by almost 95%. They also utilize some of their fabric waste to create smaller accessories or donate the textile scrap, when possible, but it’s unclear where the scraps end up going.
House of Sunny is a London-based independent clothing brand that focuses on creating everyday elevated staples. For a brand that seems incredibly current, it was surprising to find out that HoS was founded a decade ago in 2011. They are primarily an e-commerce retailer, which uses less energy compared to operating retail stores. HoS prides itself on being a slow-fashion brand producing small sustainable runs of collections which act against fast-fashion; they only produce two seasonal collections. Thus, their design team works at a much slower pace which focuses more on using sustainable manufacturing methods and materials. This effectively keeps production controlled by hitting the breaks on excessive production, thus limiting mindless consumption of clothes. It’s a thoughtful and needed initiative which isn’t seen much in fashion today! Slow fashion often has other perks of being higher quality and lasting longer. The consumer reviews of HoS’s clothes also support this.
While slow fashion can be sustainable, there is so much more I expected for a brand that’s been around for a decade. Firstly, there is no information on their future targets and the tangible actions (i.e., carbon footprint, energy use etc.) that they want to take. Secondly, there isn’t much progress on the materials they use for the Hockney dress. A main plus side of being a slow fashion brand is that HoS has the opportunity to research and find the most sustainable materials for their clothes; sticking to viscose and nylon isn’t sustainable in the long run. If they showed some progress in holding accountability and addressing the unsustainable aspects of their supply chain - I could have given them a higher rating. There’s also no information on their website about corporate diversity, which is disappointing. Overall, the sustainable image that HoS have worked hard to craft seems to be misaligned with what they seem to be actually pursuing – a commitment to/lack of transparency regarding their supply chain.