EXERCISE – Ethical Textiles

1 – Write s short illustrated profile of a textile company/designer/artist that addresses sustainable or ethical concerns.
2 – Is it possible for a company etc to be completely sustainable and/or ethical or is there always likely to be some compromise?
3 – Is it possible to combine sustainability and/or ethical approach with maximum profitability?

1 – Illustrated profile of company that addresses ethical concerns


Photosource – http://www.looolo.ca

Their company strap line is….
Loolo Textiles – A Canadian based textile company producing sustainable textile home furnishings. The company founder and Head Designer Joanna Notkin has been recognized as an important up-and-coming designer and leader in the field of sustainable textiles. As a company they have won several awards and have had editorial features in various US magazines highlighting their approach to sustainable designs.
Joanna’s interest in sustainable textiles emerged while studying at the Ontario College of Art and Design where she began reading about fibres that we typically consider to be “natural”, such as cotton. Her research revealed these fabrics were actually laden with pesticides and chemical refining processes. Further research about these fibres and industrial production helped the development of methodologies and raw materials that were truly sustainable. With environmental concerns gaining popularity and an understanding by consumers, Joanna set up the company with the aim to provide good quality well designed home furnishing products where design and ecology could successfully be combined. These products are designed for the modern environmentally aware consumer.
The name “LoooLo” is a visual representation of “100%” symbolizing their commitment to sustainability with every aspect of their design process. They make the conscious decision to produce the range using sustainable materials and give consideration to the possible negative impact of their products right through to the end of their useful lives. They use high quality, certified organic raw materials as the basis for all the products and use local suppliers for these materials wherever possible. The Looolo woven and knitted textile designs are minimalist in style using a full range of colours using Climatex Lifecycle yarns which are dyed with water-based non-toxic dyes. These dyes have been developed over 5 years and offer a good range of colours for the interiors of today. As a company they make these choices as they are aware that the textile industry is known to be one of the largest known environmental polluters due to production processes and they were keen to address these issues when designing their range. At the very start they understood that millions of gallons of harmful pollutants are released into the land, air and water during production and that the pesticides used for crop production for non-organic cotton seeps into water tables. The traditional industrial dyeing process uses heavy metals and carcinogenic chemicals for mass produced goods so this was a key area for them to factor into their design stages. In addition to using water based inks they also use recycled paper stock and FSC approved paper products for their printed material. Their products are not only offer hand crafted stylish simplicity but by making green choices it ensures their products are fully biodegradable and they state that the cushions can be safely placed onto the compost heap and will biodegrade and be reabsorbed into the earth within a year.
They firmly believe that good design must incorporate sustainability.

Photosource - www.looolo.ca

Photosource – http://www.looolo.ca

Photosource -www.looolo.ca

Photosource -www.looolo.ca

They invested over 2 years sourcing the right materials for their range of interior furnishings. Certified organic wool felt from Switzerland which is free of toxic chemicals and hazardous by-products, certified organic cotton all made using made using Climatex Lifecycle yarns. The cushion pads are Kapok, which is a fibre from the Rainforest in Malaysia. Even the non-toxic dyes colours are organic in their names being sea grass, leaf, sprout to name only a few. Each piece in the Looolo Textile line of interior furnishings is hand-made using a variety of techniques, such as knitting by hand or by machine, felting and gathering to create their textured fabrics.

Red "windows" throw. Photosource - www.looolo.ca

Red “windows” throw.
Photosource – http://www.looolo.ca

WINDOWS – Wool/ramie throw – “Windows to the world- a meeting of man and nature” – The Looolo Textiles line of blankets and throws are knitted using a certified organic wool/ramie blend, with zero impact dyes, from Switzerland. Special knitting techniques are used to give the puckering effect and to replicate textures found in nature.
This is Looolo’s signature fabric.

JANTHUR – A special edition cushion combining wool felt, knit, dye cuts.

Janthur cushion Photosource - www.looolo.ca

Janthur cushion
Photosource – http://www.looolo.ca

MOLEHILL – Wool cushions. Inspired by “bumps in the road”

Molehill cushion. Photosource - www.looolo.ca

Molehill cushion.
Photosource – http://www.looolo.ca

MADEMOISELLE – This style cushion is where classic meets modern. An organic Melton wool fabric is used and then layered with organic knit wool stripes.

Mademoiselle  Photosource - www.looolo.ca

Photosource – http://www.looolo.ca

A range of scarves……

Scarves Photosource - www.looolo.ca

Photosource – http://www.looolo.ca

and then 2 of the many great editiorial features they have had.
9 elle-aug04
10 metropolis-jan05

2 Q – Is it possible for a company/designer to be completely sustainable and/or ethical – or is there always likely to be a compromise involved?
A designer can only be ethical and sustainable if the raw materials can be sourced and providing they are obtainable at a price that is not prohibitive. The compromise will only come at the cost of making the business profitable and as a business they exist to make money so I feel that some may make compromises for the company to survive. However, as consumers become more environmentally aware they will look for more ecological products and that itself will dictate the market. As with all retail items it a question of supply and demand.
3 Q – Is it possible to combine sustainability and/or an ethical approach with maximum profitability?No. Designing products that are ethical with sustainable raw materials is a belief, a commitment to what you feel is right and as such you are probably willing to make a small sacrifice in the profit margin to produce a product that has integrity and represents your beliefs.

Have been asked to keep thinking about this and return as necessary. I will post links here to that effect.

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