Finding new clothing brands that use eco-friendly materials is easy now that the market for eco-fashions is growing, right? But what about companies that offer eco-friendly, organic clothing, plus make fair trade labor for native artisans a top priority? There may be only one eco-fashion line that does this: Indigenous Designs. A partnership with skilled artisans and the use of high quality organic fibers make this company stand out from the eco-fashion pack. Indigenous was one of just a few apparel companies awarded the international Social Responsibility Business Award for both its social and environmental practices. Scott Leonard, co-founder and CEO of Indigenous Designs, says, "We believe that eco-fashion is defined not just by the use of organic cotton or other natural fibers but by the use of fair trade labor practices in every step of the supply chain. Truly environmentally friendly products are produced with respect for both people and the planet."
Indigenous, co-founded by Scott along with Matthew Reynolds in 1994, relies on a network of artisans skilled in traditional hand-knitting techniques such as knitting with needles, knitting with a hand loom or hand weaving by loom. It all starts with carefully selected eco-friendly fibers, including durable certified organic cotton, versatile free range Alpaca, luxurious silk fiber, and soft Merino wool. Many of Indigenous' yarns and fibers are naturally colored, although the company does use a low-impact dyeing program that cuts out much of the harmful chemicals and waste of the traditional dyeing process. Indigenous Designs also avoids the use of other environmentally toxic substances in all their clothing, including formaldehyde, solvents, heavy metals and placticizers. What is left? Fabric that is unique, durable, soft and luxurious. "At Indigenous, we only use the finest natural and organic fibers to make our line of fair trade fashion," says Scott. "Our goal is to keep harmful chemicals found in synthetic and non-organic clothing out of our ecosystems and away from your body."
Indigenous Designs garments are handmade by skilled artisans, allowing the company to forgo assembly line fashion, and more importantly, to create a positive impact on native craftspeople, their families and their communities. Through partnerships with organizations and individuals, Indigenous Designs has helped artisans from Peru and across other regions of South America earn a fair wage, receive education and training, and obtain financing and equipment for their enterprises. Scott Leonard says of these important connections, "We are proud to be a part of a fair trade partnership which continues to elevate artisan knitting cooperatives in economically marginalized regions of South America. There are now hundreds of artisan groups that make up our highly skilled production network of over 1500 knitters." The use of new technology is helping to power this philosophy, too. Indigenous' new "Trace Tool," is a QR code on each garment tag in the 2012 line that allows smartphone users to trace the direct origin of their particular garment.
What can customers expect from this luxury organic fashion line? For women, soft and cozy ponchos and wraps, flirty dresses and luxury tank tops, bright and fun scarves, and even knit necklaces. The men's line features long sleeved v-necks and polos, hoodies, and organic cotton Havana-style shirts. Each item is listed with a full disclosure, including country of origin, type of dye-if used, and style of fit. You might want to stock up on wardrobe staples, such as crew necks, luxury tees and tanks, cardigans and pullovers in the softest fabrics and wear-with-anything colors. Of the company's use of organic cotton, Scott says, "Organic cotton clothing is popular for a reason. The soft texture and breathable nature make it a very wearable fiber. Indigenous uses organic cotton in our lighter knits with other natural fibers to add strength and soft texture to our blends."
Many companies are throwing their hats into the eco-friendly fashion ring. But only one company focuses on producing the highest quality luxury clothing that is sustainably made and earth friendly, while also helping provide better opportunities to the world's people. Indigenous Designs are truly people and planet friendly, so check them out and become a passionista today.