by Zoë Gale, founder of organic and Fairtrade fashion label Noctu
The quest for fair, conscious fashion is coming out of the shadows. This is evidenced by the rise of movers and shakers committed to producing in a sustainable way that is good for both people and the planet. Ahead of Organic September, designer Zoë Gale considers the need for Fairtrade and organic fashion, and explains how each of us can get involved.
We need clothing, we no longer have (much) body hair and we need to keep warm, clothing can therefore be classed as a necessity. Having said that, we have taken that need and turned it into a desire.
Clothing has become a way to express ourselves, an art form. In a society increasingly focused on image, assumptions are drawn even before you utter a word. People buy clothes to feel good about themselves; we use fashion as a medium to express our inner self through our appearance.
For most people, buying clothes therefore becomes a hedonic, emotional experience rather than a functional motivation.
However, things are beginning to change and consumers are becoming more ethically aware, more concerned with where, how and who made their clothing.
Take a minute to ask questions
On 24 April 2013, 1,134 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. That’s when Fashion Revolution was born. 1,134 is too many people to loose from the planet in one factory on one terrible day to not stand up and demand change.
We need to take practical steps to change our buying habits. Cheap clothes are thrown out as rapid trends pass. Perhaps we should instead be looking at clothes that last longer and benefit the people making them. Ethical consumption is not only about buying more conscious items but buying fewer products in general, as Vivienne Westwood famously said: “Buy less, choose well”.
When you do buy, take a minute to think about that garment, the first question you should ask yourself is do I really need it? If you are intent on buying then ask some more questions. Is the garment made from organic fabric? Is it made locally? Is it made from recycled materials? Is it Fairtrade certified? Is it second-hand or vintage? Am I going to wear it... a lot?
All of our Noctu nightwear is made from 100% GOTS certified organic cotton, a decision made easy for us having witnessed first-hand, the devastation across India caused by conventional cotton production.
The environment, the livestock and many thousands of people are suffering due to its heavy use of pesticides. Traces of these toxic chemicals can be found in our clothing, even after washing, which has been linked to numerous health complications, including respiratory problems and allergies.
To choose organic clothing ensures the cotton you are buying comes directly from the cotton plant (not from a genetically modified plant) that has not had any chemicals during the process. To wear organic cotton, you can guarantee your skin will thank you for it - a soothing, soft and harmless natural fibre. To buy organic clothing certifies strict guidelines during the farming process have been met, protecting farmers and our eco system.
Conscious fashion needn't be “uncool” or “unaffordable”, as currently there is a wave of incredible brands emerging that are guaranteed to stimulate all of our aesthetic senses, from nightwear including our own brand Noctu, to high fashion, The Reformation, to footwear, Veja, whilst shouting loudly about their ethics and their transparency.
Surely we all want the same: we want to own clothing that hasn’t hurt anyone in its production. If we think a little more about the clothing we buy, those decisions and choices will make a difference to the lives of people all over the world. By acknowledging the power and responsibility we have, each and everyone of us can make a difference.
"I made your clothes". Meet Sister Pishpi Francis, she made your Noctu nightwear. Fairtrade means having a relationship with everyone along your supply chain, which we can proudly say we do.
To find out more about Organic September, click here.