Consumers are increasingly going in for eco-friendly options. Be it with an intention of saving mother earth, or an aspiration to be trendy, they no longer need to sacrifice on the fashion part.

Generally it was imagined that organic clothing was not very fashionable. Shapeless tunics and burlap like fabric textures, these fabrics were considered as less appealing; until a couple of years ago. Currently, organic clothing is on the radar, fuelled by rising ethical consumerism. Threats of global warming, and an increasing awareness about eco friendly living is increasing customer focus towards organic clothing. Today, the concern is not just being well dressed, but also dressing up and being environmentally conscious.

Organic clothing has crossed the barriers of just being hippie skirts, grainy T-shirts and shorts. Redefining the impression of coarse fabrics, they are now considered as environmentally friendly, safe, and sustainable. Gaining the fashion spotlight, they are also crowned as fashionable, trendy, and stylish. Organic fabrics are made using natural materials that are produced without using any artificial or chemical fertilizers, pesticides or hormones. Raw materials for making organic clothing come from plants that are not radiated, or treated with chemical pesticides. The seeds are not genetically modified.

Global clothing industry is estimated to be around $7 trillion. In this, organic clothing market is seeing a positive growth of 11% year-on-year. Manufacturers are retailers are increasing the proportion of organic fibres in their garments, and many others are stepping ahead of them, going for 100 percent organic apparels. Main segments of clothing such as womenswear, kidswear, and home products see a robust market for organic clothing. New segments such as accessories and menswear are gaining focus. Mr. Arun Baid, Founder, Aura Herbal states, "We see lots of people aware of pollution due to textile processing." He states there is a good market for organic cotton, the main material for organic fabrics.

Manufacturer's responsibility:

Organic clothing production implies less or no toxic emissions into the environment. Apparel makers want their consumers to think about cotton in their clothing and also the conditions under which the garment is being manufactured. Manufacturing process of organic fabrics like wool, silk, cotton and hemp needs to meet the standards regarding fibre processing, production, dyeing and non-toxic handling. Manufacturers are switching to organic products, some considering ethical practices, and others due to consumer's concern for environment.

Is organic fashion expensive?


Many myths flourish regarding organic apparels, the main being that they are way too expensive. It is a fact that organic clothing costs a little more than conventional apparels. Eco clothing is of superior quality, but they are not mass produced. When designers attempt to come up with a product that will benefit the environment and the living beings, the cost of organic and eco friendly raw materials prove to be a bit too expensive. Currently, to do away with the thought, that organic fabrics are more expensive, they are also made available at economical prices to suit every individuals wallet. Big retailers such as Nike, Levi's, and Gap are offering organic merchandise at more comfortable prices.

Organic fabrics get the fashion spotlight:

Clothes made from organic fabrics are making a splash in the ramp shows. Demand for organic clothing is fueled by fashion magazines that help in creating the desire for organic clothing as a must have for each season. Organic clothing industry is also boosted up by fashion designers who design their collections with organic fabrics, and put the clothing under the global spotlight through fashion shows. Fashion designers put their creativity, and present organic fabrics in a more appealing, and fashionable way. Designer fashion trends can attract a niche market, by creating timeless designs that would be a wardrobe staple for many years.

To get more comprehensive information, Fibre2Fashion had a talk with Harmony Susalla, Owner/Designer, Harmony Art Organic Design.

When and how did the environmental bell toll for you?

"Harmony Art was founded in 1998. I have created designs and products for every retail level from Target and Walmart to Nordstrom and Williams-Sonoma and many points in between. As far back as I can remember I have cared about the health of the planet we share. It wasn't until 2004 that I found out about the destruction and degradation conventional cotton farming was taking on our planet and it was then that I committed my life to doing something about it. My first step/venture into the organic world was attending the All Things Organic Trade show in Chicago in 2004 (which previously was an annual event coordinated by the Organic Trade Association and has since merged with the Natural Products Expo East). At the beginning of 2005, I changed my focus to designing only for organically grown cotton. My goal was to show that organic cotton did not just come in oatmeal and granola colors and could be stylish and colorful. Personal conviction led to becoming the first textile company to offer only printed organic cotton fabrics and make them available by the yard for businesses and home sewers alike. "

How would you describe the current state of the organic fabric market?

"GROWING! According to a 2011 report by Textile Exchange, the global organic textiles industry grew 20 percent to an estimated $5.16 billion in 2010 and is projected to increase another 20 percent in 2011. From my perspective, when I started designing and producing organic cotton printed fabrics in 2005 there were no other fabrics companies selling printed organic cotton fabrics. There were some big companies selling their printed organic cotton overstock but no one was designing specifically for the small business or home sewer/crafter. Now 7 years later I can't keep track of all the different organic cotton lines that are popping up. From large fabric companies to independent producers, like myself, the options for people looking for organic fabrics is growing tremendously. We have had over two hundred companies in North America and around the world use our fabrics. "

Harmony Art has recently been certified to Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). What does it mean to be certified to GOTS?

"Everything and nothing. Nothing because our fabric was already being made and certified to the GOTS standards. The fabric its self has not changed. Everything because we are some of the VERY first distributors not only to SELL GOTS certified fabrics but to have our company BE GOTS certified. So, what does that mean? Well, for ANY product to carry the GOTS logo ALL of the "chain of command" upstream need to be certified. For example: If you were to make baby clothes and you sourced GOTS fabrics and wanted to use the GOTS logo on your hang tags, your fabric supplier (not the fabric itself) would need to be GOTS certified AND your facility would also need to go through the certification process. Our certification to GOTS now opens the doors for any and all of our customers to pursue GOTS certification themselves for their end products. GOTS certification in my opinion is a step towards better authenticity and a global standard that addresses the processing and fair trade treatment of workers not just the raw fiber used. Eventually, the GOTS logo will be THE logo for consumers to look for. We are helping make that vision possible for our customers. "


Do you think organic fashion has a chance with the main stream world audience?

"ABSOLUTELY. It has too and has proven it is already growing by leaps and bounds. The current fashion system exploits people and the planet and that is unsustainable. I think that there is a growing number of people who not only care about organic fashion, but are passionate about it. Thoughtful designing will always win out in the end.... and I use the word thoughtful not just in terms of environmental impact but also form, comfort, style. I think it is an exciting time to be a designer because sustainable inputs and the world market have never been more accessible. "

What is your best green advice?

"Don't try to be perfect. Sustainability is not a destination; it's a journey and there will always be something you can do better. Start small, be honest and continue to move in the right direction. Be forthright with your customer. Bring them in on your hopes, dreams and the reality. When it comes to organic textiles, do your research. Know what you are sourcing. Ask your suppliers what their organic fabric is certified to and who the certifier is. If your supplier cannot answer these basic questions, then you have to question the integrity and authenticity of the product they are selling. Aim for GOTS certification. "

Organic clothing brands are seen added in malls, specialty shops, and department stores. As consumers understand the need and importance of eco friendly clothing, its demand increases. Down the line, after a few years, people would be spotted wearing trendy and stylish outfits manufactured from organic cotton and fabrics. Adopting the policy of going green, apart from creating an environmentally safe planet, would also create precedence of our wants and needs.




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