Welcome to The Forward LabThe platform
for mindful humans
Launched in the fall of 2019, The Forward Lab went live with its first sustainable fashion project: a collaborative capsule fuelled by endless (reusable) cups of coffee and a new-found love of pineapple leather. Just like the fruit, we’ve been growing ever since. What started out as a refined space for brands, consumers and contributors to explore greener ways of doing things has evolved into a global platform for mindful humans. Alongside conscious design partnerships and a vetted fashion, beauty and home shop, our bustling editorial pages cover all aspects of a modern sustainable lifestyle – from luxury eco travel destinations to recipes that eliminate food waste. We’re not without flaws, but strong ethical and eco values are always behind our unwavering focus on beautiful aesthetics. Our virtual lab is a place to explore ways to pioneer and embrace positive change: sustainable living at its best!
When Joy Asfar broke her ankle and found herself immobilised for six months, she took it as life’s funny way of sending her a sign. Quitting her job, she used the downtime to further research her flourishing interest in sustainability and create the conscious website she couldn’t find – one that perfectly matched her tastes in terms of fashion, style and design. Today, The Forward Lab continues to be influenced by her Lebanese roots, a background in working with emerging artists and years spent living in Paris, Barcelona and London.
What matters to us
Good news: you don’t have to be perfect to live more sustainably. Our platform exists to champion meaningful steps and positive actions.
However, we do have some house rules when it comes to creating a more conscious shopping space.
It’s our belief that all brands should trade ethically and fairly while making responsible decisions around environmental care and minimising waste. This means we won’t dish out brownie points for these requirements alone. Instead, our curated edit will shine a light on the forces for good who’re going the extra mile to create real change.
Every brand will have passed our three minimum requirements and its products will meet at least one of these key attributes: Considered Materials, Vegan, Heritage & Craft, Social Change, Climate Positive, Considered Design and Better Businesses.
The bottom line is that we believe companies should operate in ways that benefit both people and the planet. Those badged with a Better Businesses symbol support a regenerative fashion and design industry by promoting ecosystem health, equitable wealth and prosperity. This attribute takes into account sustainability reporting and benchmarking of results, transparent pricing, which promotes a fairer industry for stakeholders and consumers, and commitments to pledges like 1% for the Planet. It highlights certified B Corps and not-for-profit organisations.
Understanding the fashion industry’s carbon emissions can be challenging. Our Climate Positive symbol shines a spotlight on brands who have achieved (or are clearly working towards) net-zero carbon emissions, and it highlights products which support reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across business functions. Other considerations include items made locally or those crafted using smarter supply chains to reduce emissions from manufacturing, shopping and logistics. Check out the McKinsey Fashion on Climate report for more information.
The products badged with Considered Design embrace responsible creative processes and the concept of circularity. A broad and optimistic category thanks to endless possibilities, these forward-thinking designs have been crafted with longevity, repair and cyclability in mind. This attribute supports industry disruptors with pre-order or zero-waste business models and it celebrates the potential of blockchain and ‘smart tags’ when it comes to transparency around supply chains.
Deciding to always look at what your clothes are made from is one of the first steps you can take when trying to shop more consciously, but how can you be sure what fabrics are better for the planet? That’s where we come in. The products tagged with our Considered Materials badge are crafted using organic, natural, recycled or reclaimed textiles. Organic: Organic fibres are produced without the use of toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilisers and GMO seeds that can impact biodiversity, cause infertile soil or damage the health of farmers. Unlike growing conventional cotton that’s incredibly thirsty, organic farming techniques use significantly less water as the crops are often rain-fed. Look out for the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification. Natural: Natural materials (like hemp, jute, wool and silk) come from plants and animals. The raw materials are spun into threads and yarns, then woven or knit into natural fabrics. Strong, breathable and comfortable, they offer wardrobe longevity when they’re cared for properly and will biodegrade in time. The environmental impacts of natural fabrics are mixed, though they’re typically lower than synthetics due to the use of fewer chemicals throughout production. Recycled or reclaimed: Recycled or reclaimed materials help to reduce waste. Everything from rescued abandoned fishing nets to post-consumer plastic bottles are undergoing radical transformations into textiles, and most recycled content requires fewer resources and less energy to make. Have the Recycled Claim Standard on your radar.
Heritage & Craft
The products tagged with our Heritage & Craft badge each have their own story to tell. Maybe they’ve been handmade by artisans using traditional time-honoured techniques, or perhaps they showcase unique and unrivalled creativity. This attribute shuns mass-produced items in favour of those carefully created at a much slower pace.
The products tagged with our Social Change badge combine purpose and provenance. The way they have been made should support local communities and demonstrate equitable investment in the local economy and environment. Considerations for this attribute also include locally sourced materials, vertical manufacture and brands engaging communities through co-operatives. Employing local women and providing opportunities for skills development, empowerment and leadership is important here, along with design activism, advocacy, diversity and inclusivity.
Our beautiful curation of vegan products contains no animal-derived materials, ingredients or components. You won’t find items made from real leather, suede, exotic skins or shearling badged with this symbol, nor anything that’s padded with down plucked from geese and ducks. Nothing crafted from silk, wool, cashmere, angora or yak will be included, and the Vegan attribute also accounts for pearl, casein, beeswax and gelatin that can be used in trims or glues. Keep your eyes peeled for anything with a PETA certification.
We are part of 1%
for the planet
We’re really proud to share that we’ve joined 1% For The Planet as a contributing company. 1% For The Planet is a global movement co-created in 2002 by two businessmen who, through a shared love of the outdoors, realised their responsibility to protect our incredible planet. By joining forces, we hope to help create a better, more sustainable future and have committed to donating 1% of The Forward Lab’s sales to 1% For The Planet each year. 1% For The Planet gives us a credible way to make an impact by supporting non-profits who are tackling environmental problems. We’re not perfect, but we’re working to improve the world around us and inspire others to do the same.