1. WHY UNDERWEAR?
We always wanted to produce essentials, and, as underwear is the first thing we put on in the morning and the last thing we take off at night, we thought it was the best place to start.
Our goal was to produce classic, comfortable, minimalist & affordable underwear, with a transparent supply chain, which is fair for all - the customer, the producer and the environment. Until we started this project, we knew very little about the people and the processes involved in the making of our essentials..
And so began our amazing journey!
2. WHY THE DESIGN?
3. WHY ORGANIC COTTON?
All of our most comfortable underwear is made from cotton, so when we started this project organic cotton was our first port of call. We wanted to use organic materials because of their benefits to the environment and our skin, but as we extended our research we began to learn more about the devastating effects of conventional cotton production.
Conventional cotton is the most used natural fibre in the world and yet it is also the ‘dirtiest crop’ as it uses more pesticides than any other.
Conventional cotton farmers in India have been seriously affected by soaring seed prices, the introduction of GMO’s and having to use increasing amounts of pesticides due to resistant pests. All have resulted in farmers running up huge debts to private lenders with devastatingly high interest rates. Since the introduction of GM crops in 1995, the desperation caused by these debts has led to the suicide of more than 300,000 farmers across India, but especially in the cotton regions. This is why projects such as Navdanya & Pratima have been working so hard to help farmers learn organic practices so that they can become more self sufficient.
Organic cotton is not going to solve all these issues but it’s a start!
Here are some of the huge positives of organic cotton:
Not using harmful chemicals and pesticides is better for the health of the farmers (avoiding acute pesticide poisoning)
Organic farming allows farmers to have food security, encouraging them to plant food alongside cotton; although the cotton yield may be less, farmers are not dependent on income from the cotton crop (which can fail) to have access to food
Organic agriculture is better for the soil and allows the soil to produce its own defence systems and nutrients; it also acts a carbon sink, helping to reduce greenhouse gases
Seed sovereignty - by not using GMO’s farmers are able to save their seeds to plant next year
Cost to produce is so much less ( 38% less than conventional crop growing)
Organic cotton uses 91% less water and is largely rain-fed, whereas an average non-organic T-shirt uses 2700 l of water in the course of its production.
We are also keen to explore UK native fibres for future products and to take steps to work directly with the farmers whose fibres we are using.
4. WHY INDIA?
We went to India because we wanted to be connected to the source of the cotton and India is the largest grower of cotton and organic cotton in the world.
There is a long history of exploitation in the cotton trade and, because farming is traditionally very small-scale in India, millions of families have been affected by the challenges caused by conventional cotton farming methods (link to next question). In addition, Indian cotton farmers have struggled to compete on a world market without the benefits of the large government subsidies that are available in countries such as the US.
We wanted to be part of the movement for positive change!
4. WHY FAIRTRADE? WHY GOTS?
Although we have always said we do not want to rely on certifications and that it is important for us to know for ourselves that what we are sourcing is organic and made in a fair way. Certifications do allow consumers to know that the sourcing process has been audited by people outside of the company selling the goods. It also allows for a framework and criteria to be in place that means things are done right. We always said we would like to create our own criteria of standards but these are certainly good ones to follow for now.
We are determined to always work with small producers and to meet the makers ourselves and stay connected. We also want to build trust & connections between ourselves, the producers & our customers.