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Clothing has been a perpetual companion on humanity’s journey since its emergence as an intelligent species on Earth. From the beginning of time, clothing has been a reflection of culture, expression, and the historical moment of each human population. Long ago, the need for clothing ceased to be solely about protecting the body from the elements, predators, and enemies, and became part of the identity, idiosyncrasy, and personal expression of each individual. It is no wonder that the fashion industry has remained one of the most manufacturing-intensive sectors in the world throughout history and will always be profitable because it is based on a basic need.

However, with its constant explosion and expansion from the industrial revolution to the present day, the fashion industry has, in turn, become a reflection of humanity’s great weakness for unbridled and careless consumption. In order to inform about the implications of fashion today, we share with you an infographic highlighting some crucial points found in the report “A New Textiles Economy” by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

The fashion economy

Fashion is a highly profitable business, and it always will be as it is based on a basic need: clothing. With $2.4 trillion, fashion is a global, profitable, lucrative, and ever-growing industry. The significance given to clothing as a representation of a socio-cultural segment and, in turn, differentiation from another, makes the fashion industry changeable, never taking anything for granted, and increases competitiveness in the sector. However, this has a disastrous consequence: it is the third most polluting industry in the world, with less than 1 percent of its textile waste being recycled into new garments.

Waste quantities

More than 50 million tons of textile waste are produced worldwide each year. Of these, over 17 million are produced in the United States alone, and another 5.8 million are produced in the European Union. With these figures on the table, we find that the handling of textile waste alone accounts for 10% of current greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmental impact

Ninety percent of industrial textile waste is incinerated or simply dumped in landfills, where it could take decades to degrade. Each year, the fashion industry uses 215 trillion liters of water.

And where does all this waste go?

In Latin America alone, fifty-nine thousand tons of textile waste are sent to Chile each year, and of those, 39,000 tons are dumped in landfills or vacant lots in the Atacama Desert, causing unimaginable harm to the environment.

Another 10,000 tons of textile waste, on the other hand, are sold per year in the same territory, generating an informal market for fabrics that mainly consists of patchwork. These pieces, worth mentioning, are the ones that G-Darma acquires in Colombia in patchwork stores, incorporating them into our environmental sustainability processes.

About the report

According to the report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation on the creation of circular economies, “…in the last 15 years, clothing production has doubled, thanks to dynamics marked by technology and the increase of the middle class worldwide.” Every second, the equivalent of a garbage truck filled with clothing is burned or buried in a landfill. This is how the concept of fast fashion emerged, which refers to large volumes of clothing produced by the fashion industry quickly and cheaply, based on trends, contributing to the introduction of millions of garments into the market and encouraging consumers to rapidly replace their wardrobes.

Ultra Fast Fashion

Today, continuing with this “trend,” we speak of ultra fast fashion, an ultra-fast fashion model represented by emerging companies that are wasteful and polluting, with little or no interest in environmental conservation and instead prioritizing excessive production and achieving the highest profits in the shortest possible time, at any cost.

This type of production, focused on ultra-fast consumption, generates, as a by-product, a large amount of fabric that never reaches the market.

All of the above, not to mention the social impact and violation of fundamental rights of women and children in developing or low-income countries, who are usually the ones manufacturing these clothes under precarious labor conditions or end up being direct recipients of the waste that pollutes our air, soil, and water. Sometimes, both.

Our contribution

G-Darma believes in the circular economy. It was with that philosophy that we were born into this world, and we defend it like a cornered tiger. That is why we contribute to our environment by finding fabrics with printing defects or textile production leftovers and using them as raw materials for our products. 

Our shirts are made only from very small pieces of fabric, which come from the same scraps that make up the informal market that we talked about before. Our process mainly consists of joining and mixing different of these small pieces of fabric based on contrasts, colors or shapes, to create unique and exclusive shirts. With that, we create sustainable clothing lines produced entirely in Colombia.

Our work benefits families from middle and lower classes, and we make a small contribution to the conservation of our oceans, air, and soil, as well as generating employment and development for those who need it most.