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Organic Fashion - Green Fashion - Organic Clothing by Apparel Search - Terms of Interest to the Fashion Industry

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Welcome to the Green Machine -- Organic Fashion is the trend for the future...  Think Green Fashion ...

Organic Clothing Retailers
Organic Clothing Wholesalers
Organic Information Portals, Associations and Guides
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We all can understand why designing, producing, and wearing organic clothing is important to the future or our world.  However, do we actually understand the fundamentals behind organic textiles and organic fashion.  In all honesty, I personally still have much to learn.  Although I have done a small bit of research, I still do not have my arms fully around the true meaning of "organic".  I guess this is why I am a garmento and not a scientist.  Anyway, at first glance, one would think that a garment made of 100% cotton (made from a plant) would be organic.  Well that is not always the case.  On this page, I will talk about organic materials in regard to fashion, but I will also touch upon farming and agriculture.  Certainly, without farming and agriculture we could not have cotton nor wool (organic or other wise).
 
My writing below is a compilation of many things.  Partly my own wording, but much of the terms come from the Wikipedia website (http://en.wikipedia.org).  You will be able to tell the difference because the terms from Wikipedia, will sound more "intelligent" then the portion that I have written...  Well, lets get started.
 


Organic cotton
is cotton that is grown without pesticides from plants which are not genetically modified.

High levels of agrochemicals are used in the production of non-organic, conventional cotton. Cotton production uses more chemicals per unit area than any other crop and accounts in total for 16% of the world's pesticides. The chemicals used in the processing of cotton also pollute the air and surface waters. Residual chemicals may also irritate consumers' skin.

Organic agriculture uses crop rotation instead of agrochemicals and artificial fertilisear, and biological pest control instead of pesticides. Though organic cotton has less environmental impact than conventional cotton, it costs more to produce.

Critics of organic farming in general point out that genetic modification of crops can have environmental benefits. Crops can be engineered to have a higher yields, allowing smaller plots to be dedicated to farming. It also can reduce crops' reliance on pesticides, making engineered plants potentially more suitable for no-pesticide techniques than conventional varieties.


Organic clothing
is clothing that is made from materials that are raised or grown without the use of chemicals in the form of pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals.

Many clothing retailers market organic clothing ranges that contain many chemicals from dyes to bleaches and other chemicals to aid transportion many thousands of miles from their manufacture in places such as India and China.  We suggest you contact your government for the most current standards and requirements regarding labeling and marketing of organic materials.  Authentic organic fabrics and clothing can help the environment in a number of ways.

  • manufacture of chemicals is not required
  • chemical residues are not entered accidentally into the environment
  • Humans and animals are not exposed to chemicals
  • when the fabric is finished with chemicals are not returned to the earth in landfill, or enter into recycling process.


Sustainable fashion
is fashion that is designed to be environmentally friendly. It is part of the larger trend of "ethical fashion," and according to the May 2007 Vogue appears not to be a short-term trend but one could last multiple seasons. (In my opinion, it is best to become a perminent trend).  While environmentalism used to be manifest in fashion through a percentage of sales being donated to a charitable cause, fashion designers have recently adopted the idea of sustainability, using more environmentally-friendly materials and methods in clothing production Designers say that they are trying to incorporate these sustainable practices into modern clothing, rather than producing "dusty, hippy-looking clothes."  Sustainable fashion is typically more expensive than clothing produced by conventional methods.  Here at Apparel Search, we feel that helping the environment is worth any prices.  At the popularity of organic and sustainable clothing grows, you will see an increasing number of Hollywood celebrities become associated with sustainable fashion.  It appears that the organic fashion trend can never hurt the PR of the celebs.


Now lets talk a little bit about Natural Fibers.  Natural fibers include those made from plant (or vegitable), animal and mineral sources. Natural fibers can be classified according to their origin.  Although they are from natural sources, not all natural fibers can be termed as organic fibers.  For example, cotton is a natural fiber (coming from a plant).  However, not all cotton fiber can be classified as "organic cotton".  You will need to read up on the most current requirements and labeling instructions.

Reference about Natural Fibers:

Vegetable fibers or plant fibers are generally comprised mainly of cellulose.  Examples include cotton, linen, jute, flax, ramie, sisal, and hemp.  Cellulose fibers serve in the manufacture of paper and cloth.  This fiber can be further categorized into the following:

  • Seed Fiber : Fibers collected from seeds or seed cases. e.g. cotton and kapok.
  • Leaf Fiber: Fibers collected from leaves. e.g. sisal and agave.
  • Bast Fiber or skin fiber: Fibers are collected from the skin or bast surrounding the stem of their respective plant. These fibers have higher tensile strength than other fibers. Therefore, these fibers are used for durable yarn, fabric, packaging, and paper. Some examples are jute, kenaf, industrial hemp, ramie, rattan, soybean fiber, and even vine fibers and banana fibers.
  • Fruit Fibers: Fibers are collected from the fruit of the plant, e.g. coconut (coir) fiber.
  • Stalk Fibers: Fibers are actually the stalks of the plant. E.g. straws of wheat, rice, barley, and other crops including bamboo and grass. Tree wood is also such a fiber.
Animal fibers are generally comprise proteins; examples include silk, wool, angora, mohair, and alpaca.
  • Animal hair (wool or hairs): Fiber or wool taken from animals or hairy mammals. e.g. sheep's wool, goat hair (Cashmere), alpaca hair (alpaca), horse hair, etc.
  • Silk fiber: Fiber collected from dried saliva of bugs or insects during the preparation of cocoons. Examples include silk from silk worms.
  • Avian fiber: Fibers from birds, e.g. feathers and feather fiber.
 
Lets learn a little more about organic matter and related terms of interest.
 

Organic matter may refer simply to matter which was once part of a living organism or produced by a living organism. This definition is synonymous with biotic material (Unprocessed materials may be called biotic material).  The use of biotic materials, and processed biotic materials (bio-based material), over synthetics is popular with those who are environmentally conscious because such materials are usually biodegradable, renewable, and the processing is commonly understood and has minimal environmental impact.

A bio-based material is simply an engineering material made from substances derived from living matter. These materials are sometimes referred to as biomaterials, but this word also has another meaning. Strictly the definition could include many common materials such as wood and leather, but it typically refers to modern materials that have undergone more extensive processing.

Natural organic matter (NOM)
is broken down organic matter that comes from plants and animals in the environment.  NOM is a collective term, assigned to the realm of all of this broken down organic matter.  Basic structures are created from cellulose, tannin, cutin, and lignin, along with other various proteins, lipids, and sugars.
All living and growing matter on this planet contains organic components. Different types of matter include humans, animals, plants, and microorganisms. After the living matter dies, it decomposes. The organic matter from them and their excretions is broken down through an unknown reactive process into natural organic matter. Larger molecules of NOM can be formed from the polymerization of different parts of already broken down matter. The relative size, shape, and composition of a molecule of NOM is very random. "NOM can vary greatly, depending on its origin, transformation mode, age, and existing environment, thus its bio-physico-chemical functions and properties vary with different environments."

In addition to the fashion industry understanding the importance of living in a more organic way.  The agriculture industry understands the importance as well.  As members of the fashion industry, it is important for us to understand a little bit about organic farming.  After all, doesn't leather come from animals.  Doesn't wool grow on animals?  If you were not sure, the answer is yes...


Organic farming
is a form of agriculture which excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators, livestock feed additives, and genetically modified organisms.  As far as possible, organic farmers rely on crop rotation, integrated pest management, crop risidue, compost and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity and control pests.  Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based in large part on the standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and international umbrella organization for organic organizations. Approximately 310,000 square kilometres (75 million acres) worldwide are now grown organically


Organic certification
is a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agriculture products. In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, food processors, retailers and restuarants. Requirements vary from country to country, and generally involve a set of production standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and shipping that include:

  • avoidance of most syntheic chemical inputs (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, etc), genetically modified organisms, irradiation, and the use of sewage sludge;
  • use of farmland that has been free from chemicals for a number of years (often, three or more);
  • keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail);
  • maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products;
  • undergoing periodic on-site inspections.

In some countries, certification is overseen by the government, and commercial use of the term organic is legally restricted. Certified organic producers are also subject to the same agricultural, food safety and other government regulation that apply to non-certified producers.

Apparel Search is NOT going to list on this page the exact details, rules, or regulations involved in growing organic fibers, producing organic garments, or labeling product.  In all honesty, the reason that we do not wish to list the requirements is because we currently do not know all of the requirements.... In addition, the Apparel Search website has international viewers, and each country may have different requirements.  Also, when rules change, we can not guarantee to list the most current requirements.   Anyway, we can not offer the exact rules regarding the labeling of organic apparel etc.  You will need to do your own investigation to learn more about the most current rules from the government agency in your country.  Below are some links that we think will help point you in the write direction so that you can learn more about organic clothing and other types of organic products.

Organically Friendly Links of Interest:

http://www.ota.com/

The information on this page has been compiled by the Apparel Search Company.  In addition to personally writing much of this article we have pieced together various portions of several definitions presented on the Wikipedia website (January 2008).  We have also utilized other resources to compile the above article.  You can learn more about Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org and learn more about Apparel Search at our about Apparel Search section.  In addition to compiling the above definition - article, Apparel Search has modified the information slightly to make it more appropriate for the Apparel Industry.  If you find any information to be incorrect or out dated, please do not hesitate to let us know.  Please note that this information is to be used at your own risk.  We do not guarantee the accuracy of scientific "stuff"...

ML11008

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