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Ecological apparel: investing in organic clothing
Feature: 3/11/2007

Although it's not a pleasant thought, pollution is a simple fact of Enlarge Image click heremodern human living. Whether you like it or not, you cannot deny that modern life would not be possible without leaving some kind of refuse behind.

Of course, the West has only recently come to recognise the terrible damage that humanity is doing to the Earth, and the need to combat it in all its different forms - including the pollution created in the manufacture of clothing.

One company that has embraced the need for change is Aspectwear, which now offers organic clothing as part of its standard range.

Expanding ranges
Andy Fairweather, director of the company, told director-e: "We currently have organic leisurewear up on the site; originally we only had clothing from Mantis and Okarma, but now we have added ranges from Continental and B&B Leisurewear as well.

"We're also currently sourcing organic corporate shirts and blouses. They are hard to find in organic materials, but we have found a source and we're looking into their organic credentials now."

The development of organic materials
Organic clothing is made from non-genetically modified plants Enlarge Image click herethat are grown without chemicals.

By utilising the ancient methods of crop rotation rather than artificial fertilisers, and biological pest control (eg. carnivorous predators that eat anything that would attack the plants) rather than pesticides, farmers are able to create pure raw materials untainted by chemicals.

This doesn't just result in clothing that contains fewer chemicals and undesirable substances; it also helps the environment where the crops were grown.

"Pesticides affect water quality, which can affect children and animals," Andy said, "but by using organic methods, it stops the producers from buying in the pesticides and also means you have a renewable resource.

"Also, by using natural fertilisers you are ensuring that the environment will maintain the proper nutrient levels."

The danger of organic cotton
So the result of supporting organic crops is healthier clothing and a healthier planet.

This is particularly true if the crop in question is cotton; cotton production uses more chemicals per unit area than any other crop, and accounts for 25 percent of the world's pesticides.

In Aspectwear's case, the two fibres used in its organic range are cotton and sustainable bamboo (bamboo is the fastest-growing woody plant in the world, with some growing over 90 feet in a single year).

The deciding factor
So what made Aspectwear decide to pursue a line of organic Enlarge Image click hereclothing? Andy explained: "The decision was made internally.

"We like to believe that we are an ethical company and that we are ethical people, so we thought that organic clothing was something that was very important. It is also a forgotten area when it comes to manufacturing corporate clothing and workwear, so we thought we could expand there as well."

Of course, it's not just Aspectwear that likes the idea; end users and the broader consumer base are also becoming more and more aware of the benefits of organic clothing.

 

Growing demand
Andy agreed: "Primarily, we're seeing interest from companies that have themselves seen that an ethical policy and corporate and social responsibility are being increasingly demanded by clients.

"By extending it through all aspects of their business, including what their employees wear, it makes them even more popular. There's a bigger market because more companies are being more responsible for their clients.

"We mostly have promotional clothing at the moment, but I believe there's a real market for ethically responsible firms who care about where their corporatewear comes as well. "

Seeking accreditation
But the word "organic" means nothing without evidence to back it Enlarge Image click hereup. That's why Aspectwear is careful to ensure that its sources have accreditation. Andy explained: "What we've been doing is checking out the accreditation, and that includes the Eko brand and also the OEKO-Tex 100 accreditation system.

"We've been trying to understand what level of organic is required, whether we're looking at the whole supply chain or how the cotton is grown at the start, but what we're trying to do is make people aware.

"Rather than tell people what we think is best, we'll give them access to the specific accreditation so they can make their own minds up."

That awareness is still growing, both within the industry and outside it, but for now it seems that organic clothing is here to stay, thanks to companies like Aspectwear.

Author: James Wilkinson
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