We all know about the chemical nasties that are in non-organic, toxically coloured fabrics. But have you ever thought about what effect that might have on children? A growing and developing immune system is especially susceptible to chemical disruption. We spoke to childrenswear designer, Laurel Linden, founder of the gorgeous new label Hoity Toity to find out why she will only use organic and non-toxic for her brand.
Launched in April 2015, Hoity Toity is an organic girls fashion brand, and uses only ethically sourced materials – including our very own Offset Warehouse Organic Denim! Their sweet designs playfully embrace English eccentricity and elegance with delicately hand painted heritage prints. Hoity Toity creates timeless pieces, all beautifully hand crafted in the UK, that encompass sustainability and a wholly ethical approach to fashion.
What made you decide to ‘go organic’ and use water-based dyes with your childrenswear range?
Whilst working as a dress designer in retail over a decade ago I produced a body of work on global trends and delved deeply into cotton production, focusing on the negative ecological and humanitarian impact it leaves in its wake. I’ve been a vegan for decades, largely for ethical and compassionate reasons. I think the more I discovered the evils of non organic cotton production coupled with its use of toxic printing dyes and inks as with factory farming, the greater my quest to explore the alternative options became.
Non organic cotton not only pollutes and poisons the environment but its impact on human lives is beyond tragic. Farmers forced by ill fortune and poverty to scape a living this way suffer horrendously. There is no comparison with the quality of life or life expectancy of those able to farm with a sustainable approach. Organic cotton production protects them from personal harm, environmental damage and the fees they’re charged for pesticides. They can grow their own food crops alongside and in rotation with the cotton. The Organic farming processes nurtures and sustains soil quality for future generations to come. For a designer with a conscience it was the only way forward. Working as an ethical representative for my then design team afforded me the opportunity to attend debates chaired by the likes of Baroness Lola Young. I much admire her as an Ambassador for the Ethical Fashion Forum and MADE-BY, Lola uses her political position as a life peer to promote ethical, sustainable fashion.
Consumers are often unaware of the nasty chemicals that can be on our clothing when produced conventionally. What do you think are the biggest problems with non-organic for children?
As a mother of twin daughters, I’m constantly aware of the of the challenges presented to their developing immune systems. Feeding my daughters a heathy, organic diet naturally extended into the desire to protect their delicate skins from the residual toxic chemicals cotton harbours from production, printing and dyes.
Do you think if customers knew this about their fabrics, they would change their shopping habits?
Whilst this factor brings a parents social conscience into question in reality for many perhaps the economic factor far outweighs our growing awareness of harmful chemicals. It’s a case of financially driven supply versus demand so larger corporate companies offering more affordable every day organic basics deliver the conscientious consumer on a budget a choice. As with the meteoric rise of and demand for accessibility to organic foods the organic cotton production model needs to follow suit. The high street foray into organic materials over the last decade or so has been regarded by some as tokenism, given the small percentage of their overall gross product, but it undeniably sends out an incredibly powerful message positively raising social awareness.
Childrenswear is often seen as quite disposable, you’re trying to change this image, how?
Our ethos embraces the concept of creating heirlooms. Creating timeless pieces that are made to last, embracing a slower approach to fashion. Cotton as a naturally durable material has the quality of longevity to support this approach. As a British brand creating beautifully handcrafted pieces that are made to last, we treasure old fashion and traditional values such as keep sakes and hand-me-downs.
Why was it important for you to have your collection made in Britain?
Hoity-Toity’s garments are luxurious bespoke pieces individually handmade with a strong focus on attention to detail. For a small start-up ethical business, a ‘Made in Britain’ approach to production ticks all the boxes on sustainability. Working closely and being personally acquainted with the labour behind the label, as it were, is precious for developing a strong brand, not to mention the focus on a reduced carbon footprint a UK production affords. The dwindling British manufacturing industry needs all the support it can muster. The Fashion Studio at Fashion Enter is an inspired social enterprise and a centre of excellence. Their Fashion Technology Academy has been created to train a new generation of skilled workers to ensure that the UK apparel manufacturing sector continues to thrive.
Thanks for the insight Laurel! You can find out more and shop for Hoity Toity on their website or follow them on Twitter @ for the latest updates!
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