As we strive to do “better”

Posted by Lila Rousselet on

I wrote this sentence in April 2020, right at the start of what is now an ongoing worldwide pandemic, that caught most of us off guard. In full transparency, I wish to kick off this article by saying that Montloup is far from perfect, yet every day is an opportunity to do better.

As you may know, most of our fabrics are made from organic cotton: 82% of them, in fact, if we look at our 2020 data.

One of the positive consequences of this pandemic on the world, is the questions consumers have been forced to ask themselves. Amidst the crisis, clothing brands have also been compelled to consider more respectful and ecofriendly practices by using, among other things, more organic fibers such as cotton. We can only celebrate this slow turn of events and the growing demand for organic cotton, even if it represents only 1% of the worldwide annual cotton harvest and that 3 to 5 years are needed for a farmer to go from conventional to organic production.

The demand for organic fiber is so high that the supply chain can’t keep up, and the amount of organic cotton available worldwide is sold out. Not to mention the current transportation crisis. With the radically decreased number of containers traveling between Asia and Western civilizations, there is an inevitable increase in cost.[2].

This situation doesn’t merely apply to Quebec: the whole sector is being affected.

Graphique : Biomimicry - The Nature of fashion

Despite it all, I firmly believe that no matter how ecofriendly the raw materials are, we need to deeply question our production methods if we want to fully engage the transition toward sustainability.[3].

For a large-scale company to transition toward exclusively organic materials whilst keeping their mass production pace will never solve the issues at hand.

Why?

Because modern agriculture using pesticides was developed to sustain the current industry’s devastating momentum. Organic agriculture, or regenerative agriculture, is by definition respectful of natural cycles. Whether we like it or not, this cycle can’t be rushed, and cannot sustain mass demand.

« I have looked long and hard. Seriously, at trying to find an example of where large-scale extraction of wildlife is sustainable. It just doesn’t exist.”

Dr Sylvia Earle, American oceanographer, explorer, author and public speaker

For this exact reason, I made the conscious decision to maintain a smaller production, whilst staying affordable for actors and designers of the local fashion scene.

I believe it’s crucial to lower the production rate and enhance the quality of the product, while supporting local businesses that share our “less is more” mindset and core values.

According to the l’UIT spokesperson (Union des Industries Textiles) Anne-Laure Milhe, the 2021 autumn harvest should indicate that we’re back on track.

Before making its’ way in our clothes, the cotton fiber is harvested from cotton trees, that mainly grow in tropical and subtropical climate zones. Growing cotton is a demanding process: very sensitive, it needs 120 days of abundant rain during the growing season, followed by a hot, sunny and dry period to reach maturity. It blooms in the summer and is harvested at the end of the season. To produce thread, the cotton needs to be maneuvered by the hands of skilled workers who will frame, comb and then thread the fiber.

Nowadays, we’re so incredibly disconnected from the supply chains that both feed us and clothe us, that we easily forget that the seasons are meant to set the tone.

The concept of disconnection is the one that stands out most through all the great conversations I’ve assisted to in these past weeks.

How do we reengage, reconnect to our environment?

In April 2020 I wrote that

« by bringing the production back to a more human scale, we’ll be able to regain sustainable lifestyles. »

I feel like this thought is even more prominent today.

Graphique : Biomimicry - The Nature of fashion

In order to reconnect, we need to assess the disconnection, and reassemble the broken pieces.

This doesn’t happen overnight: we need to question, educate and seek further understanding of the situation.

The smaller the perimeter, the easier it is to create a bond. Although our knitting process as well as the final touch is done within a 500 km radius, our yarn and thread would always be imported from Asia. I recently began doing some research in Quebec, but soon had to expand to the US territory. I quickly came across American organic cotton farmers in Texas, as well as wool producers who get their supplies from sheep raised in California. I cannot wait to tell you more about these discoveries and the projects that we have planned together!

What endears me the most about these new connections, is the proximity of the producers, their accessibility and their willingness to have ecofriendly practices. Once fully birthed, our full cycle of production will be traceable, more local and, drum roll…carbon neutral. That’s the big dream for our enterprise:

[1] https://www.modeintextile.fr/production-de-coton-biologique-hausse-de-56/#:~:text=Le%20rapport%20montre%20que%20la,quantit%C3%A9%20totale%20de%20coton%20produite

[2] https://www.journaldutextile.com/les-prix-des-matieres-premieres-et-du-fret-explosent

[3] https://la-mode-a-l-envers.loom.fr/du-charbon-dans-le-coton-pourquoi-la-mode-doit-reduire-sa-production/

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