Why Did We Choose 100% Organic Cotton?
When we decided to go all in on the earth-friendly approach, we knew only the basics and were aware of just a few options for materials and fabrics. The most notable was, of course, organic cotton, but we wondered if there was something better/cooler/more groundbreaking than the most obvious of the chemical-free plant-based fabrics.
We started to dig and seek out the many options available to us. While the field of eco-fabric suppliers is much smaller than fast fashion, we discovered there were at least a handful of viable, like-minded companies out there looking to reduce their impact in the textile market. After picking three or four suppliers that we could order from, we looked at the fabric options they provided and dove into more research.
I owned a few pieces of bamboo-based shirts and had heard great things about the fabric here and there, but I wondered if it was all it was cracked up to be. It turns out that while bamboo, in plant form, is incredibly sustainable, the process of turning it into a plant-based viscose fabric is quite detrimental to the environment. Therefore, the low impact of such a great plant option is nullified by the high impact process it takes to make it into a garment.
With bamboo out, we turned out other options -- both natural and synthetic options. We found that hemp is a solid option in terms of sustainability, potentially one of the best choices out there. So, we ordered a few samples from a couple different suppliers that offered the fabric. We found the shirts to be rough, scratchy and generally uncomfortable. It was unfortunate, but in addition to finding the lowest-impact options, we also want to provide everyone with high-comfort, durable, quality outerwear.
From there we looked for a blend of natural and synthetic fabrics, mainly partly organic cotton and recycled polyester materials. These shirts were comfortable, seemed durable and came in great color options. The only downside was that it was unclear if how much of the polyester was actually recycled. In many cases, it appeared that only a fraction of the synthetic material used was recycled. Since we couldn't guarantee the quality and source, we moved on and committed to trying more options.
Finally, we went back to square one and tried out 100% organic cotton options, which was available from most of the eco-friendly wholesale suppliers we could order from. Cotton is one of the more readily available options out there, and while it does require more water to grow than hemp and bamboo, it seemed to fit the balance between low impact and quality/comfort. It's also easiest to print on with water-based inks (the most eco-friendly option that we know of, available from most screen printers).
In our search for organic cotton, one company in particular, Groceries Apparel, caught my eye. Although they were the most expensive of all the suppliers, their t-shirts simply looked perfect in the photos. They were also based in Los Angeles and showed a tremendous amount of transparency in their production processes.
I emailed the president/co-founder of the company directly, telling him what my music and morals focused on and how we wanted our brand to do the same. To my surprise, Michael got right back to me and said they would love to partner with us. While Groceries Apparel has several great options for sustainable fabrics (including eucalyptus and polyesters made from recycled plastic bottles) we ordered mostly 100% organic cotton samples.
When the samples came in, Marissa and I were immediately sold on the fit, feel and quality. The cotton was lightweight and pre-shrunk (we've tested that statement and it stands up!). The colors were also vegetable dyed at their own facility in downtown LA. Our first batch of clothes took much longer than most other companies would take from order to delivery, but it was worth every penny and every minute of waiting.
We're proud to have selected Groceries Apparel as our main supplier in the t-shirt department. For our tote bags, we use another great supplier, Econscious. As we grow out our line, we will be sampling new materials and additional suppliers in our endless search for the most sustainable, comfortable and highest quality options available to us. We will keep you updated here on our blog and on our social platforms.