Alex Crane Porto Button Down Shirt Review

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According to data from the University of Wollongong Australia, a shirt made from polyester could take anywhere from 20 to 200 years to decompose after it has been discarded. Here’s the thing: decomposing does not mean biodegrading; it just means breaking down into smaller bits. In fact, polyester—and various other materials used in garment production, like nylon, modal, or spandex—are not biodegradable, meaning that the chemicals used to create those fabrics will last on indefinitely, whether that means lingering in a landfill, leaching into a waterway, or ending up inside an animal’s bloodstream.

In recognition of just how bad for the earth so many garments can be, clothing brand Alex Crane has just released a button-down shirt made so completely out of organic and natural materials that you could, at the end of its use cycle, literally throw it in your compost bin and let it break down with the egg shells, orange peels, and coffee grinds. (But no meat in there, please!) That’s right—Alex Crane’s Porto Shirt is 100% biodegradable. To learn more about the latest from Alex Crane, I spoke to someone with unmatched familiarity with the brand and its offerings: Mr. Alex Crane himself.

Creating clothing that was, ultimately, bad for the earth never seemed like a good idea to Alex, whose company makes clothing that is, on the whole, about as eco-friendly as can be. “We use exclusively natural materials, which means no plastic-based fibers, no synthetics like polyester, nylon, or acrylics,” Alex told me, adding: “And we do that for a number of reasons, one being it’s better not having plastic on your skin, in my opinion, and also the consequence of having plastic-based clothes is simply that there’s a lot more plastic out there, and it kind of never goes away.”

The long sleeve button-down Porto shirt is made using organic cotton and features buttons made of the corozo nut. The fabric is thick and durable yet soft to the touch and comfortable even without an undershirt. It’s currently available in three colors: ivory, wave (which is an Oxford-like blue), and ink (which is a slate gray).

The biggest “hurdle” Alex and his team faced in making this shirt 100% earth-friendly? “Dyes,” Alex explained. “If we add synthetic materials on top of natural materials, like chemical softeners or artificial dyes, even as the natural material does break down, those chemicals from the dyes will leach into the soil.” The solution here was to use dyes made from minerals. An ancient skill all but lost to modern garment makers, today mineral-based dyes are what Alex called “still sort of an emerging industry.” Based on the rich, lasting color you’ll find in these new shirts, it’s an industry that will enjoy a great resurgence.

A Porto shirt tossed into a landfill could break down fully in a little more than a year, or even faster if you chopped it into little bits first. But Alex assured me that in normal conditions, like your closet or drawer or torso, a Porto shirt will last just as long as any other garment.

Asked for one last thought about his brand in general, Alex Crane said: “I genuinely believe that natural materials, materials that come from the earth, are just better than synthetic materials,” Alex said. “They’ve evolved for long periods of time and they’re just more breathable, more antimicrobial, more heat-regulating—they’re just more alive.” And in this case, they’re stylin’, too.


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