Sqetch.co is excited to introduce our Gold Member, Ecologic Republic B.V. and its founder, Andriana Landegent. Established in 1992 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Ecologic Republic B.V. is strongly committed to fairtrade practices and transparency using a wide range of sustainable fabrics: GOTS certified and fairtrade flo-cert millmade and artisanal fabrics with no certifications, making it one of the first manufacturers to join the green movement. They are able to go all the way: from farmer to 100% natural dyeing processes.
This move towards greener and ethical practices has become the latest trend in the fashion industry. After years of exponential growing waste, industrial water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, many brands and manufacturers are pledging to limit and reduce their footprint on the environment. Ecologic Republic B.V. is one of those leaders, offering reliable, sustainable clothing made from 100% natural and reclaimed fabrics for men, women, and children. The company’s studio is based in Amsterdam but all the manufacturing is done in their flo-cert fairtrade and GOTS certified factory in Kolkata, India.
Andriana’s expertise combined with the high quality of the fabrics and skills of her team provide brands and designers all services from concept to production: sourcing, sample development, quality control or fitting. Ecologic Republic’s team mixes traditional hand craftsmanship with modern technology to offer brands high quality stitching, embroidery, and pattern using 100% natural dyes, recycled and organic materials. Andriana also offers consulting to brands, regardless of if they produce with Ecologic Republic B.V. or not. This consulting is backed by over 30 years of experience in the supply chain of the garment industry, in which she advises brands on what is needed to make their goals feasible in a conscious way.
For our readers, we were fortunate enough to have Andriana answer some questions regarding her business, as well as what inspired her to join the eco-friendly manufacturer movement.
Hello Andriana and thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Can you tell us what is Ecologic Republic all about?
It is my private production company. We offer private label production to fashion brands as well as production capacity in case of other needs. Our production facility has 100 machines and we work with over 120 employees. What makes us different is that we’re not a factory; we see ourselves more as a production partner. A factory just makes something. We think along with our clients, inform them about the fabrics and figure out what gives the best result for their needs.
Can you tell us about one of your projects, Seven Senses?
Seven Senses is all about denim. The concept is handspinning and handweaving and 100% natural dyed in Bihar, India in partnership with our own Indian NGO. We want to help the people in the community over there. One of the positive things in India is having access to a lot of manpower. For example by making use of hand spinning, we’re able to keep the people within the villages instead of having to move elsewhere. We create Khadi fabric which is a concept developed by Gandhi during the 1940s independence movement.
What separates Khadi from other types of fabric?
While mill-made yarn is made with a fabric machine, Khadi is hand-spun and thereby handwoven. It uses natural indigo without toxins. This natural dye does not fade which increases the quality of the fabric. With Seven Senses we are able to make and acknowledge this value of workmanship while being a sustainable social enterprise.
What type of brands do you work or like to work with?
We don’t have technical requirements. Most important is that brands must appreciate us and the way we like to work. It’s quite simple, if a brand does not have a supplier they cannot create a product. If we do not have clients, we cannot produce. So we have to treat each other as equals and find out if – and how – we can work together. Seven Senses offer more expensive fabrics which made us decide to mainly work with medium-sized companies targeting a higher customer segment.
You try to bring it to a human level?
Yes, we communicate on a personal level. The relationship with our fashion brands is very important. For example, we always want to deliver on time and in line with what the customer expected. Listening to each other and be open about what is possible and what not is really important. It doesn’t matter what the product is, you have to work on this together. Which is fun 🙂
Can you give us an example of a brand we might know that you have worked with?
Claudia Sträter, Pauw, de Bijenkorf. We always have been in direct contact with the buyer. Process is always the same after we started working together. They send us sampling, size specs, and other requirements. They know what they want and help us to get started. It is really nice to work with them as they always offer a reasonable set-up to start working on new collections.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
When we began in 2007 we had to inform people about organic cotton. It’s something people and fashion brands did not think of as something important. Nowadays this has changed, and most brands do know or have a general idea of what organic cotton is. This helps us in further growing our business while working with clients that consider these aspects important.
Can you give more details about organic cotton?
Well, organic cotton is divided into different categories and certifications. It’s still a niche market, only around 3% of the cotton market is considered “organic cotton.” We chose this market because it creates a relationship with a certain client that values quality and the way it’s made. The strictest certification rules include non-GMO seeds and only allow maximum use of certain types of chemicals in the farming, weaving, and dyeing process. Furthermore, there are also important environmental and social factors. We simply want to offer the total package.
Is there anything you want fashion brands to know?
If you want to start your own fashion venture or enterprise, you have to take it seriously. It’s not something you can do on the side. Not something that you do on a Sunday from 10-6pm. It needs to be high on your priority list. In addition, it needs proper funding. Let’s say you want to start with hoodies and sweaters. I have plenty of people coming over or contacting me with just €500 in budget. It’s simply not enough. Also consider on how you want to market and sell your product: Have you thought about creating a website, sales strategy and a sufficient marketing plan? A lot of brands forget this while it’s one of the most important factors when starting your clothing brand. What happens a lot is that I receive questions for a collection of three styles in three different colors and max 100 to 200 pieces. I reply and send them a simple excel sheet with information on what needs to be taken care of. Telling them it costs a lot more than €5 per piece, most brands are surprised it is not that cheap. They don’t need to know about the fabrics, workmanship, style and such, I’ll help them with this, but it would be nice if they can think along and put effort in creating a new label. This starts with thinking your concept through and realizing it costs more than just €500 to create 500 t-shirts 😉
What does the future hold for Ecologic Republic?
We’re growing. And luckily demand for what we offer is rising. We expect the market to double from 3% to 6% in the next few years. In other words, still plenty to do and we’re happy to be a partner of Sqetch to save us some time to find new clients to work with.
How do you change people’s perspective on sustainable clothing?
There needs to be an education process on quality and appreciation of the supply chain. It starts with the fashion schools. Where does the abuse in the industry starts? Detachment from the process. Designers and consumers need to start looking at products with value. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a chair or a dress. I am interested to see what will happen in the coming years.
Thank you for the interview and we wish you the best of luck for the future.
Looking forward to working with Ecologic Republic? Check their profile on Sqetch.co and get a quote 🙂
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