Offering Wearable And Sustainable ArtStory Of The Week 7:13 am
India is one of the top producers of organic cotton. Ironically, a major part of its produce is exported and not consumed by the local clothing industry. There are however some new ethical clothing companies which are very much determined to do something about it by creating a demand for organic cotton in the country.
Founded by Ben Heinkel and Bharat, Samtana is one such company. Based in Bangalore and launched in May 2012, Samtana produces artist centric, well designed organic cotton t-shirts. Samtana also makes sure that consumers do not dig a hole in their pockets to support the organic movement.
Ben Heinkel talked to Make Cotton Sustainable about his brand new company:
What inspired you to start Samtana?
The idea for Samtana originated from two, at the time, seemingly separate ideas. The tremendous increase of farmer suicides around the country post introduction of genetically manipulated seed affected us deeply, and was something we desperately wanted to do something about. Simultaneously, the lack of original, artistic t-shirts available to us in shops around the country was disheartening. Not wanting to subscribe to the idea of being recruited as walking billboards by the ever increasing number of big fashion brands in India, Bharath and I started to see Samtana as a possible way of using art and fashion to promote the move to organic farming. Thus was born the idea of ‘Wearable Art’ on organic cotton t-shirts.
Where do you source your organic cotton from?
At present we source our organic cotton from The Cotton Corporation of India that supplies us with GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified yarn. We are constantly looking at improving our tees, making them and everything that goes into them greener and friendlier and are therefore looking to have them Fair trade and GOTS certified before the end of the year. This is only one of the many improvements that we are currently working on. Stay tuned!
How viable is a business based on organic cotton in India?
We are hoping viable enough to keep Samtana going, Since we have only just launched our brand it’s difficult to talk with any authority about this, however if we did not think it was possible we would never have started producing organic cotton t-shirts. Consumers the world over are becoming more conscious about what they eat and the impact their consumption choices have on themselves and the planet. The benefits of organic clothing are understood by an increasing number of people every day, and with India being the top organic cotton producer in the world the movement is happening in our backyards tying us closely to this issue. We have seen a great response from people to our products and the idea behind organic clothing in general, and so have our competitors – I definitely think it is a good time to go organic!
Would you like to share some of the learning from your experience so far?
I think the first big thing we learnt was that the term ‘Organic Cotton’ was not as self-explanatory as we initially thought. People are used to hearing the term more in relation to food than to clothing. However, rather than this being an issue for us, it ended up being an opportunity to educate those people that we came in contact with on what organic cotton is, and the detrimental effects conventional cotton farming has on the planet and in fact on your skin right now (if you are wearing a non-organic cotton t-shirt. And if you are, we suggest you head over to www.samtana.com right now to fix that. We are still working hard on explaining the importance of the cause people would be supporting by being more conscious about their clothing, and I think we are getting our message heard.
What can be done to increase awareness about sustainable cotton?
Spreading information on the importance of conscious clothing, directly or indirectly, as has sometimes happened for us. We have had quite a number of customers buy our t-shirts purely because they fell in love with the art work, only to later realise what it is they have actually just supported by buying one of our tees – and being not only satisfied with their purchase, but also more knowledgeable. We hope those people will help spread the word even further.