Where does your fabric come from?

Our Autumn/Winter 2018 collection will be showcased at SAFW on 27 October, and for this collection, we aimed to use as many locally grown and sustainable fabrics as possible. Supporting and building a local textile and clothing industry have always been a significant issue for us, we believe for one to flourish, all must flourish.

In past collections, we have attempted sourcing and creating alternative fabrics. Some of these attempts were more successful than others but what we learnt during these undertakings was invaluable.

The amount of processes, people and techniques present in creating fabric that is truly sustainable and locally grown, is enormous. These increase costs but it also mean jobs, checks and balances and long-term growth and development. So would it not be easier for us to merely frequent the usual fabric shops and look the other way when it comes to sustainability and ethics? There is an Afrikaans saying that says ‘goedkoop koop, is duur koop’, which means buy cheap and you pay the price. So with this as our mantra, we set out yet again, to find locally made and sustainable fabrics.

Finding the appropriate fabrics that tick all the boxes for our various designs, proved challenging. We sourced and sampled but for specific fabric types, in the end, we had to revert back to fabrics bought from suppliers that cannot track or trace the fabrics. Using the more sustainable fabrications would have compromised our products’ quality only because the fabric type wasn’t suitable to the specific garment. This was only the case for some of the design and for others; we used fabrics sourced from The Sustainable Cotton Cluster and Photoganic.

These fabrics could be traced, tracked and used not only because of its transparent record but also for its quality and durability. Materials from The Sustainable Cotton Cluster are produced using a method of reverse engineering. This system relies on selling specific quantities of fabric, and once this is secured, farmers, mills and manufacturers produce only that amount, which means less wastage and guaranteed return on investment. 

The organisation, supported by the IDC and DTI, foster close relationships between all supply chain players to encourage more transparent communications and better business practices. This kind of set up depends on large quantity orders; however, The Sustainable Cotton Cluster understands that local designers can often only purchase smaller quantities and due to close relationships, can provide for smaller orders as well.

Photoganic fabrics are sown, grown and spun in KZN. Almost all of the processes involved in producing Photoganic fabrics are local and carbon neutral. The company has a large variety of fabrics and tries to continuously create and support only fair and sustainable farmers, spinners and knitters.

We believe that there are lots of areas within the fashion industry that presents opportunities for innovation and change. Sustainable and locally grown and manufactured fabrics are one of these areas. It can be tempting to conduct ‘business as usual’ but not only do we believe that it would be detrimental long term, but also that so many new and exciting approaches will be missed if we only stick to the same old recipe. We cannot change everything at once, the challenges facing local designers are complex and multifarious, but we can start with taking responsibility. This is our aim with our Autumn/Winter 2018 collection, to be transparent and open by showing you our processes and techniques. Perhaps it gives you a little more insight into what you pay for.

www.organicfabrics.co.za

www.cottonsa.org.za