Photography by Rita McNeill, words byOut Of Wilderness Magazine.
When it comes to outdoor exploration and adventure, many brands market their clothing and gear as an essential aspect of stepping from concrete to jungle, from sidewalk to forest. Brands like The North Face, Patagonia, and Helly Hansen sell an adventurous, primarily-outdoorsy lifestyle worth living, reflected in their clothing, outdoor apparel, and adventure gear. They sell you on nature, giving the impression that simply buying a wind-resistant jacket will change the course of life (and survival) for penguins, bears, endangered forests and the like. And while big-named brands are often found doing good, the emphasis on ethically and sustainably made apparel simply isn't there. It's also questionable that every individual who likes to step out from a corporate building and into the still tranquillity of the wilderness is doing so in a jacket or pair of pants designed to ward off virtually every disaster; weather-related or otherwise.
In other words, we need more transparent and ethically-minded brands producing adventure-friendly apparel that stems beyond the clever marketing of outdoor-branded clothing.
Like those aforementioned big-name brands, Dorsu began with a unique approach to providing a solution for adventure and travel-friendly apparel you could wear while doing yoga with friends or hitting the trails in the wildest of woods; an approach they have successfully stuck with since the brand's inception. Dorsu produces cotton basics for work, travel, and play, but does so with a twist: ethically.
Producing their items on site in their studio - based in Kampot, Cambodia - Dorsu grew from a small team of three people to a close-knit family of eighteen after co-founders Kunthear Mov and Hanna Guy created the label in 2008 to help raise funds for a local language school. Every piece of apparel made by Dorsu is designed, cut, sewn and packaged in their Kampot-based studio, where every member of their team works under safe and fair employment conditions. Creating ethically-made pieces to help you achieve a capsule wardrobe you can feel good about wearing, Dorsu is one of those unique brands challenging the "status quo" of today's fashion industry by turning away from fast fashion and producing ethical apparel you can do more than just work in.
Those of us who enjoy being immersed in nature and experiencing new adventures outdoors know that quality clothing is key, but we're also liable to avoid the question of whether the apparel we wear in the outdoors when exploring it could be contributing to the destruction of it. You may be unaware, for example, that the fashion industry is one of the most environmentally destructive, and even some of the big-brand apparel labels we love to sport while hiking, kayaking, trail-blazing or camping are having a direct negative impact on the very places and environments in which we explore.
Dorsu's aim is to contribute to the growing awareness surrounding the negative side effects of the garment industry by producing ethically-made, capsule-collection apparel with the intention of encouraging consumers to choose apparel that is anything but disposable and wasteful. Utilizing remnant fabric in their design and production processes, Dorsu is able to help eliminate needless waste while providing outdoor and adventure enthusiasts with apparel that is versatile yet ethical; something many big brands forget when producing fast, disposable clothing for our every outdoor need. This method of producing only what is needed, using material that is conserved rather than wasted, is just one of the many ways Dorsu helps wilderness and nature enthusiasts explore the great outdoors without contributing to its destruction.
Like many an ethical and sustainable-minded brand, Dorsu isn't just concerned with crafting apparel that will last you through many seasons (and many great adventures); there exists the inherent goal in every Dorsu design that the consumer and wearer of their apparel are conscientious not only of their consumption habits but how those habits affect our environment. With the devastating effect the garment industry has on both the environment and our fellow species, the constant shift towards a need for more sustainable, ethically-minded fashion that doesn't harm us or the planet is being achieved by brands like Dorsu; ones which seek to encourage the responsible and mindful exploration of our planet and wilderness areas through ethically-made apparel which can be taken from trail and treetop to yoga mat and workspace.
Because so much of what we do as outdoor adventurers and nature enthusiasts have an inevitable (and sometimes negative) impact on the planet, we often have to force ourselves to look beyond the more obvious aspects of ethical exploration like ethical tourism. What we wear when outdoors is just as important as how our apparel is made, the impact its production has on our beautiful planet, and the need for more brands like Dorsu which produce apparel you can actually feel good about wearing, even when kayaking those rapids or climbing those mountains.
This article was written and published by Out Of Wilderness Magazine, 2nd May 2017.