What is your history with textiles?
Prior to starting the research project six years ago that became the company O Ecotextiles, neither Patty Grossman nor Leigh Anne Van Dusen had any experience in the textile industry.Patty Grossman (now CEO of O Ecotextiles) was in the microenterprise industry/movement for sixteen years as a practitioner helping entrepreneurs launch businesses – and helping them survive the inevitable cash crunches.
What drove you to source globally?
There are many reasons we had to source globally. The industry is extremely fragmented – one mill may do only velvet, for example; another may only work with linen, so in order to put a collection together we would have to work with several different mills to draw on each mill’s expertise. Additionally, we were looking for linen and hemp fabrics, and there is almost no linen in the United States, and definitely no hemp, and we were looking for those fibers.
How luxurious are the fabrics?
We want to eliminate the guilt of our throwaway culture. Things we buy should be produced in ways that, at the very least, do no harm, and that either biodegrade or are infinitely recyclable – or they should exhibit the timeless aesthetics and natural qualities that make them heirlooms to be passed down to future generations. This is exactly how people can view fabrics by O Ecotextiles.
What is the cradle to cradle process?
Rather than a process, cradle to cradle (sometimes written as C2C) is a concept, which was originated by William McDonough and Michael Braumgart in their book, Cradle to Cradle. In the book, they make the case that products must be designed in such a way that they can be, at the end of their useful life, entirely broken down and used as food for new product. They suggest industry should mimic nature, in that there would be no waste – all inputs would be used and at end of life would be returned to the system, from which new products of equal value could be made.
What have you come across in regards to green washing?
Greenwashing in textiles is rife: many products are touted as being “organic” certified fabrics, when in reality only the fiber is certified organic. There is a huge difference between a GOTS certified fabric, and a fabric made with organic fibers. Think of applesauce: if it’s made with organic apples, but is cooked with preservatives, stabilizers, emulsifiers, and Red Dye #2 – you don’t end up with organic applesauce. Same is true of fabrics.
What is your favourite colour?
Besides red - I love the natural color of the fibers: The fibers are eternal; how we choose to weave and color them varies by designer and is part of the colorful history of design.We want to make sure the fibers endure.