Regenerative and Organic Silk Fibre Cultivation
In this bumper 42 minute lesson, Vice President of Bombyx, Hilmond Hui, takes us through how they are combining traditional sericulture techniques with regenerative farming, technology and research to produce ethical, sustainable silk.
Bombyx is a 6-year project under the umbrella of PSGHL, a garment manufacturing hub in China. Their aim is to create a vertical supply chain that will ulimately decrease margins - silk is a massively expensive fabric after all - while increasing demand for better methods, such as regenerative farming. Here the onus is on the very start of the supply chain for silk fibre, with the inputs of mulberry leaves. Hilmond generously and energetically provides wisdom on what traditional sericulture looks like in China, what regenerative organic methods can bring to this industry and beyond, and the nuances of ethics when it comes to mulberry silk.
In this Lesson you will learn:
- Who Bombyx are and what they do
- What organic and regenerative agriculture looks like in regards to silk cultivation
- About traditional sericulture in China, and the inputs needed for fabric and garment production
- How regenerative silk production can support sustainable livelihoods
- The ethics of mulberry sericulture
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Increasing Sustainable Livelihoods With Traceable Organic Silkwith Chul Thai Silk
In this endearing 14 minute lesson, learn from the family business of Chul Thai Silk in regards to how they transitioned to organic sericulture in their home base of Thailand, and support training of organic agricultural practices with marginalised farmers. Understand how organic silk production can be ethical for people, and how this approach to silkworm rearing will support healthy animals too.
The Ethical Silk Company: Building A Brand Around Peace Silk Fabric and Fair Trade Productionwith Eva Power
This is a 30 minute interview with Eva Power, the founder of The Ethical Silk Company. This is a brand making luxury women's nightwear and accessories from ethically sourced mulberry peace silk. Founded through a connection with family in India, and an appreciation of the benefits of silk for bedding, Eva has developed the business to incorporate heritage crafts, fair trade manufacture and honest sharing of the ethical sourcing she uses.
In this lesson you will hear not only about the benefits of using silk, but how to build a brand on just one solid quality item. Learn about the challenges in running a business, and opportunities for working transparently with your producers.
Lora Gene: Investigation and Research (Of Silk) As A Tool For A Thriving Businesswith Lora Nikolaeva
In this 35 minute conversation with Lora Nikolaeva, founder of womenswear brand Lora Gene, though our focus was on why the brand use silk in their collections, the discussion turned to one of business theory; how can you as an entrepreneur ensure your business thrives. The answer lies in conducting research and making time to investigate. The silk industry is incredibly complex, with many contrasting opinions over what is best (as with all fibres), and so in this interview, Lora dives into key issues that you may not have considered when making decisions for your designs, such as innovations in what silk fibre can be used for, and that no silk can be cruelty free.
Unpicking Distinctions Between Ahimsa, Peace and Mulberry Silkwith Rajaiah Kusuma
In this 37 minute lesson, have the honour of listening to the pioneer of non-violent silk production, Mr Rajaiah Kusuma. With research and sheer grit over 10 years, Mr Kusuma was able to produce peace silk fibre and yarn, and in the year 2000 received the patent for Ahimsa™ silk, the trademarked non-violent silk production process. This is a lesson that will help you understand controversy and confusion in regards to claims of ethical silk, and provide you a history of where the need for such a fabric came from. Rajaiah Kusuma is a handloom technical expert, and weaves fabric using Ahimsa™ peace silk yarn for sale at Ahimsa Silks.
What Is Silk And How Is Silk Fibre Producedwith Stephanie Steele
In this Technical Tutorial, we address what silk is and where it comes from, along with methods of silk fibre production. It is accompanied by a film - slightly edited with permission - created in partnership with Ahimsa Silks (Mr Rajaiah Kusuma) and Goethe-Zentrum Hyderabad productions, that showcases the different methods used in conventional mulberry silk production and mulberry peace silk production, along with imagery of silk being spun and woven by hand and on handlooms.
This Tutorial is an overview of silk production methods, and we recommend that you also dive into the case studies from producers, fabric dealers and brands to better understand the nuances of this fibre - and the ethics of it.
Understanding Silk Fabrics and Fibre Terminologywith Dr. Matias Langer
In this 26 minute lesson, hear from Dr. Matias Langer, the founder of Germany-based silk fabric dealer Seidentraum. Seidentraum's fabrics are all sourced from organic non-violent silk producers in India and China, and in this interview we learn from Dr. Langer on what the importance of silk is, depiction of nuances in silk cultivation terminology, and how you can utilise silk as a beautiful fabric in your fashion brand, including how it can be dyed and printed according to organic standards.
Bedstraw and Madder: Plant-Dyed Regenerative Underwearwith Primrose Matheson
Underwear is the garment that's closest to our skin, and the skin is also the largest and most absorbent organ of our body. So why do we continue designing, making and wearing intimate apparel that is full of chemicals? The intimate apparels sector is vast and booming, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic, with an increasing awareness from customers of how these often overlooked garments are essential for our comfort, support and confidence.
In this interview with the co-founder of plant-based underwear and loungewear brand Bedstraw and Madder, Primose Matheson takes us through why growing natural dyes is of benefit for our skin, our health, for farmers and for land, and how this works symbiotically with regenerative cotton initiatives in India.
Coming from a health and wellbeing background, Primrose places community and education at root of her business, while her co-founder Vanessa provides stability in design and production. Read, watch or listen to hear Primrose's passion in creating a product that is holistically beneficial.
What is Regenerative Agriculture?with Stephanie Steele
“Regenerative Agriculture” - only a term introduced in recent times - describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle. [Regeneration International]
Holistic land and animal management is a practice of regeneration, yet it is only now with the term that the regenerative agriculture framework be shared and improved upon through experience - and importantly, data. When we discussed this with Jen Hunter, farmer at Fernhill Farm in the Mendip Hills, she mentioned that it is about the rule of thirds: take a third, leave a third, then a third is available for wildlife.
But how does regenerative agriculture fit on a fashion business blog?
As is defined above, regenerative agriculture is a framework of systems that help to reverse climate change via our soil. This very matter is at the heart of our existence, and devastatingly, due to effects from intensive agriculture, impacts of weather (from human-created climate change) and chemical input amongst other man-made industries, it's likely that if we don't quickly act in restoring our soils, in 60 years time, we won't have enough good stuff left. If you're a gardener, then you'll understand the importance of compost, however, on a global scale when food arrives for us in plastic in a supermarket, or with ready-made clothes, we don't have to think about where it came from. The soil is in fact integral to our water system, our ozone layer and the very essence of life on earth. Without it, we can't breathe because we can't have plants and trees.
As we receive our textiles from these plants, or via animals who have eaten those plants, as a fashion business owner you are accountable for your decisions. So, dive in to learn more about the land and water use practices that will help us collectively regenerate and maintain healthy natural ecosystems for our planet. There really is no Planet B.
Regenerative Organic Textiles And Foodwith Elizabeth Whitlow
The way we cultivate our land results in wide-reaching impacts on our environment and society. Improved soil health means less habitat desctruction, less exploitation, freedom from toxic chemicals and less factory farming.
These factors relate both to food production and textile fibre production and in this Lesson we learn how the two come together in the pioneering work of the Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA) which counts Patagonia as one of its founding members. Executive Director of the ROA Elizabeth Whitlow, joins us to discuss the ROA's revolutionary new certification for farmers and why it matters to fashion businesses.
Market Pricing, Demand and Opportunities For Regenerative Cottonwith Aneel Kumar Ambavaram
While it is easy to perceive the benefits of regenerative cotton farming for the environment and people, there are still key, practical barriers to overcome to see a wider uptake within the fashion and textiles industry.
In this Lesson, we speak to Aneel Kumar Ambavaran and Sanne van den Dungen at Grameena Vikas Kendram (GVK Society), to learn what the challenges and opportunities are for regenerative cotton vs. conventional farming models and why increased transparency is crucial to demonstrate market value for the future of these beautiful crops.
Thumbnail image from Money Control.
Future Fabrics Expo 2021: Biodiversity, Natural Fibres and Regenerative Textileswith Stephanie Steele
The Future Fabrics Expo, hosted by textile consultancy The Sustainable Angle, is always an exciting showcase of trends within the ethical and sustainable textile realm. Though it could be a space that preaches to the converted - because everyone who visits is already interested in finding more responsible materials for their creative business - it is actually a space that opens up conversations and educates on current and incoming matters relating to textiles. In fact, since the last Expo just before the worst of lockdown back in February 2020, there have clearly been significant developments in the production and marketing of certain fibres, for instance with terminology "regenerative" and "indigenous" being visible on fabric hangers, and materials leaning towards slower approaches that can improve biodiversity.
In this article we highlight some of these developments. We cannot share everything we saw, but wanted to take note of what we felt had changed and improved within sustainable textiles over the last year. If you are interested in sourcing responsible fabrics, you can sign up as a member on The Future Fabrics expo showcase, or alternatively, join The Sustainable Fashion Collective® as a Professional Member to gain access to our Eco Supplier Matrix along with almost 50 full Masterclasses covering business and textiles.
Thumbnail image: from The Sustainable Angle