The home of a new 100 per cent pure organic cotton, GOTS-certified schoolwear range
1 March 2013
Eco Outfitters is a new project set up by two mums, Irina Price and Marina Petrova.
The company sells school uniform produced from 100 per cent pure organic cotton, which is certified by GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards), guaranteeing the whole supply chain, from field to final product, meets rigorous environmental and social standards.
Available from www.ecooutfitters.co.uk, the range of everyday school uniform items includes polo shirts, sweatshirts, cardigans, fleeces, trousers, skirts and pinafores, as well as made-to-order school-specific products.
Co-owner Irina Price reveals more about Eco Outfitter’s vision, which includes making a positive difference to local communities by donating 10 per cent of the company’s profits to partner schools.
Laura Turner: When did Eco Outfitters launch?
Irina Price: Eco Outfitters officially launched last summer.
LT: What research did you have to do into the schoolwear market before starting the business?
IP: The idea came about when our own children started primary school. We struggled to find any cotton uniform. Neither of our children had ever worn polyester clothing before starting school, so it was a bit of a shock for us when we were unable to find any 100 per cent cotton uniform on the market. We started talking to other parents and realised we were not alone. We conducted a survey in a number of local schools to test the general mood among parents and there appeared to be quite a lot of interest.
LT: Do you manufacture your own range?
IP: We were unable to find any suppliers producing a full range of organic cotton schoolwear, so we decided to launch our own line. One of the most important things was to find a reliable manufacturer that would be prepared to work with a small company at the very start of its journey.
LT: What do you offer in terms of garments and age range?
IP: We have started with uniform for primary schools children aged three to 13 years. Our range includes polo shirts, sweatshirts, cardigans, fleeces, trousers for boys and girls, skirts, and pinafores, all made from 100 per cent organic cotton.
LT: What has customer feedback been like so far?
IP: So far, the feedback has been mainly positive. What we have found particularly heart-warming is that children actually notice the difference between wearing cotton and polyester, and are very happy with the switch. We’re at the very beginning of our journey. The word is gradually spreading, and more and more people are finding out about us. As uniform varies from school to school, it is inevitable that we are getting requests from parents for additional items. We just have to wait and see where the demand will take us.
LT: What would you list as the key benefits of organic school uniform?
IP: As with any organic product, the benefits spread across different sectors, from farmer and producer to the end consumer. Since organic cotton is not treated heavily with chemicals, it is a healthier choice of fabric, especially for children. There is a general lack of awareness about the amount of chemicals and pesticides that goes into growing and producing conventional cotton garments and the impact it has on people wearing these clothes as well as people working in the cotton industry. A number of campaigns were launched recently highlighting the plight of the cotton farmers and the devastating environmental impact caused by the expansion of the clothing industry. A growing number of consumers are consciously opting to buy clothes that are sustainably produced.
LT: In terms of cost and wear, how does organic school uniform compare to non-organic?
IP: When we conducted our survey, we were surprised to find people who had not previously dressed their children in anything other than cotton or wool prior to primary school, accepted school uniform containing polyester as inevitable. There seems to be an assumption that polyester uniform lasts longer. However, in my experience, organic cotton is as good, if not better, in terms of durability and it is certainly more comfortable to wear. Organic cotton is a little more expensive than non-organic or synthetic fabrics. One of the reasons for this is that organic certification, among other things, ensures the farmers are paid fairly. Other production stages, such as spinning or dying, would also be more costly since the quality of each process or ingredient has to meet the rigorous organic certification standards.
LT: Do you have plans to expand into any other product sectors?
IP: As with any business, we have to look forward and seek new opportunities and directions, but, at the same time, we have to take one step at the time and see what works best for us.
LT: How much growth potential do you think organic school uniform has?
IP: The organic schoolwear market will not become enormous overnight. It will take time and effort to raise the awareness of the benefits of organic products.
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