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IMPACT

HOW ARE OUR ORGANIC CLOTHES PRODUCED?

The textile supply chain is one of the longest, most complicated and opaque in the world. At SKFK, we have always sought to understand the stories behind our clothes and that led us to travel down our supply chain all the way to cotton fields. Beyond certifications and labels, traveling, seeing it ourselves and building personal relationships with people involved at all steps has been very meaningful. We invite you to be curious and understand the huge value that goes into making a garment.

1 – PLANTATION AND GROWING

Did you know that merely 1% of the cotton grown globally is organic? Heavily relying on artificial fertilizers and pesticides, cotton crops are devastating for soils, biodiversity and farmers' health.

THE WHOLE IDEA BEHIND ORGANIC COTTON FARMING IS REGENERATING THE LIVING SYSTEM THAT IS SOIL - NOT USING ANY CHEMICALS OR GMO SEEDS.

Chemical herbicides (sprays that destroy weeds) and pesticides (destroy insects) are replaced by ancient practices of regeneration, composting and crop rotations. At our organic cooperative Chetna, two rows of beans are typically inserted between four rows of organic cotton, diversifying incomes and increasing the food resilience of farmers, while attracting beneficial insects.

2 – “GINNING” - CLEANING THE COTTON

Did you know that the cotton harvest is full of seeds hidden in the cotton fibers? Very useful for cooking oils, soaps, or even candles, they need to be removed to obtain clean fibers. The "ginning" machines push the cotton through a narrow grill to prevent seeds from passing through. Rotating brushes pull the cotton and compress it into large bales.

3 – COTTON SPINNING

Where the magic happens. The fibers are turned into yarns, long continuous strands of cotton, with a little help from machinery.

To cut a long story short, the cotton bales are laid down and cleaned to remove any remnants of dirt, leaves and seeds. Next, the fiber is fed into a “carding” machine which separates the threads and pulls them into a single, continuous, loose rope. Finally, this rope is made thinner and thinner, until it becomes strong enough for the spinning machine. Ring-spinning machines spin the fibers to create long threads of yarn. Note that this step involves significant consumption of energy.

4 – KNITTING OR WEAVING

Can you differentiate a woven fabric from a knitted fabric? Knitted fabric consists of one yarn, and the woven fabric consists of multiple yarns in crisscross patterns.

IT MIGHT SEEM LIKE A SMALL DIFFERENCE TO YOU, BUT THEY INVOLVE TOTALLY DIFFERENT MACHINERY AND FACTORIES. A WHOLE DIFFERENT SUPPLY CHAIN AND PEOPLE INVOLVED.

Knitting involves looping the threads onto each other to form fabrics such as stretchy cotton jerseys (all of our t-shirts, some dresses).

Woven fabrics (think of the overlapping strings on a tennis racket) do not stretch as much, but they are more resistant in time: we use them for jeans, shirts, jackets, etc.

Weaving and knitting also use considerable amounts of energy.

5 – FABRIC DYEING AND FINISHING

Colors, colors! Finishing steps, from brushing for extra softness to dyeing vibrant colors, need to be controlled closely as it involves many chemicals, dye baths, salt and a large amount of energy. To produce truly low-impact products, the production doesn’t just need to avoid the use of harmful chemicals in the agricultural stage — but in this stage also.

WHAT DYES DO WE USE?

Many people ask us this question. It is true that the standard dyeing process can include harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde — which isn’t just a risk to the environment and workers, but ultimately the end user is the customer.

OUR PRIORITY IS TO USE DURABLE DYES. WHY?

Because too many clothes are thrown away because they fade. We keep on trying natural dyes, which come from natural sources such as fruits and vegetables like beetroot and turmeric. However, as environmentally fantastic as this sounds — natural dyes have a worse resistance to light and washing: they fade with time. This is why we are currently using low-impact reactive dyes instead, which are not made up of harmful chemicals. We make sure that our dyes are safe for the skin and the environment by testing them every season.

6 – SEWING

This is the most visible part of the manufacturing of a garment. Interestingly enough, it is the step that legally gives a garment its "country of origin" label. However, there is the risk of relying on "made in" labels to determine how a garment was made: they only reflect the final step of a complex chain and can be misleading.

Our vision is to sew our garments as close as possible to each raw material. Why? To take into account the origin of each raw material, in order to reduce global transportation, and to gain total transparency on the origin of our raw materials. This leads us to produce in India (about 60% of our production — corresponding to cotton garments), in China (about 15% of our production — for technical pieces and recycled jackets), in Spain and Portugal (about 15% — for European linen pieces and post-consumer recycled pieces) and in Turkey (10% — low impact cellulosic fibers from Lenzing).

COMBINING LOCAL AND GLOBAL PRODUCTION ALLOWS SKFK TO KEEP TRUE TO ITS MISSION TO MAKE SUSTAINABLE FASHION AFFORDABLE.

We invite you to question your impact when choosing a garment. Because eventually, the emotional value this garment will have for you is inextricably linked to the stories of the people and materials it was born from.