It had never occurred to me throughout my years of studying fashion that about 50% of what we wear starts life as a seed in the ground. A cotton seed to be precise. This makes fashion inherently linked to farming, two worlds that couldn’t be more dis-similar. Growing up I was never particularly interested in the idea farming or tending the land, being more drawn to the creativity and purpose of fashion. So my recent learning journey on how the fabrics I’m using are so intrinsically linked to the earth has been an eye opener, and is something I’m hungry to learn more about.
I recently attended a talk by Satish Kumar, environmental activist and editor of Resurgence magazine, on the relevance of Gandhi’s teachings in the 21st Century. He talked about having a deep respect for the environment and undertaking all activities with spiritual intent and as a service to others and to our world. What struck me most was his emphasis on the importance of making and farming – reconnecting with the earth. Creating with our hands and tending the earth brings with it a deep sense of satisfaction that over consumption doesn’t give. Less consumption, more creation he taught. Satish also told us to thank the earthworm, for without with earthworm our soil would be defunct, nothing would grow and life as we know it would not exist.
Thank you, earthworm.
So this connection between fashion and the earth entwines deeper than I first thought. In preparation for our up and coming trip to India to visit our supply chain and cotton farmers, we wanted to learn a bit about farming. We visited a friend of mine, Abi Aspen Glencross, a scientist, farmer and botanical explorer who has a great passion for exploring sustainable farming practises. We spent the day in beautiful rural Hertfordshire tending the plot, clearing withered vegetables and herbs and planting new ones. We talked about the no-till practices they use on the farm and the pros and cons versus organic farming. This topic for discussion in the food industry is being increasingly explored, however it’s not one that is typically associated with the fashion industry.
Abi Aspen is part of a team who have set up The Sustainable Food Story, a travelling supper club which aims to inform and connect people to the origins of food, with a particular focus on farming and the entire process which takes our food from farm to fork. Henri are supporting the team behind The Sustainable Food Story and helping to open up the conversation around food, farming and fashion. You’ll find handmade Henri placemats and napkins at all supper clubs. These are all made from off-cut organic cotton fabric, linking in the topic of waste- one which is prevalent in both the farming and fashion industries.
This is the start of a journey where we hope to expand our knowledge on farming practices so that decisions within our supply chain can be better informed and improved upon. We will be continually sharing our experience and stories as we learn more about the very first moments in creating a Henri shirt - the cotton seed being planted in the earth.