As an ethical fashion brand, this month is one of our favourites, bringing together London Fashion Week and Organic September. Perfect timing then to provide a round up of the benefits of organic cotton.
1. Organic cotton is better for your skin
A fan of organic food? Organic cotton, used by many ethical fashion brands, is the next step for your wellbeing and that of others.
Many of us choose organic food for at least part of our diet. After all, it matters what we put into our body. Organic food has been shown to have a dramatically positive impact on the level of chemicals in our bodies. This video shows the results of a fascinating real life experiment, measuring the impact on your body of going organic.
But what about what we put on our skin? Our skin is our biggest organ has capacity to absorb chemicals.
And non-organic cotton, the most widely used fabric for clothing, has by far the biggest chemical footprint of all our crops. The WWF estimates that cotton accounts for less than 3% of all crops grown globally, but 11% of pesticides and 24% of insecticides.
Fabric of life? Far from it.
Hard scientific data on chemicals related to cotton growing in fact being absorbed through the skin is still limited, but countless people who suffer from sensitive skin or skin conditions report that wearing organic cotton clothes has made a big difference for them.
Santi Mallorqui, founder of Organic Cotton Colours, a company that has been providing the fashion industry with organic cotton fabric for more than two decades, says he consistently receives feedback from sufferers of a range of skin conditions and sensitive skin that their organic cotton fabrics has helped relieve symptoms.
‘For 25 years we’ve been completely focused on providing the most pure experience in all our clothes and fabrics. An increasing number of people are affected by sensitive skin. Most clothes are treated with lots of different chemicals that may affect your health in different ways, which is completely unnecessary.’
2. By using Organic cotton, you are having a positive impact on farmers
A large number of studies show strong links between pesticide use and a range of cancers in cotton farming communities.
The overwhelming majority of the world’s cotton is grown in countries where economic opportunities are more scarce. So the choice to simply not expose oneself to those chemicals often doesn’t exist.
Encouragingly there are projects, like those promoted by Organic Cotton Colours, in which buyers trade directly with farmers who do not use pesticides or chemical fertilizers, creating a much safer environment. The company also helps farmers set up crop circulation systems. This ensures that the community can use the same land to grow food.
3 Organic Cotton is often of superior quality and on trend
Luckily, the look and feel, as well as the availability of organic cotton garments has improved dramatically. In fact, a range of brands and retailers, like us, Sheer Apparel, commit to only using organic cotton. You can find our organic cotton collection here.
As an ethical fashion brand, when we first started, we insisted on organic cotton primarily because it has a more positive impact. What we were also to disover is that it is often of a superior quality. So many women who own one of our organic cotton pieces, such as the Breton longsleeve top, or the AmaElla collection are also finding it incredibly soft. So it really is an everyday luxury.
In fact, many designers exhibiting at Fashion Weeks around the globe as well as many high street brands are switching to organic.
How to shop
When you shop for a gorgeous new piece, look out for cotton that is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, or GOTS. This not only ensure that cotton has been grown organically, but also that all other subsequent inputs, such as fabric dyes are not harmful to you. GOTS also sets social criteria for the treatment of garment workers.
While organic cotton is a by far better option than conventional cotton, bear in mind that it is also a thirsty crop, with a large amount of water needed to grow it.
It’s therefore a great idea to also discover other sustainable fabrics, such as Lyocell, which drapes beautifully and is used in dresses and jumpsuits, recycled fabrics, used extensively by high fashion brands like Christopher Raeburn, as well as some of our brands, including JanNJune, or end of line fabrics discovered by a number of our beautiful lingerie brands.
For an engaging introduction to ethical fashion, including the problems around conventional cotton, the True Cost movie is highly recommended.
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