Fabric for the Future

23 Mar 2022
6 min read
FOUR sits down with Organic Cotton Colours to uncover how the sustainability-focused company creates its beautiful, pure cotton fabrics and hypoallergenic garments while respecting the environment and empowering communities.

Can you tell us a bit about the background and history of Organic Cotton Colours?

Organic Cotton Colours was founded in 1992 by founding partner Ángel Sánchez. He, who had become a professional in the conventional textile industry, understood that the conventional textile model at that time did not take into account the needs of people with severe skin conditions and/or intolerance to synthetic fibres and the chemicals included in them. For this reason, he created a textile project with more than 500 pieces for women, men, babies and the home that promised to offer the purest garments on the market.

What are some of the company’s core philosophies and goals?

One of the most important values ​​of our company is to be an economic model that has a positive impact on the community in which it interacts, creating opportunities and wealth in the territory. In this sense, our commitment is with the more than 400 farming families that are part of the OCCGuarantee® Social Project in Brazil. There we work for the preservation of the naturally-coloured organic cotton in the three colours that grow from the seed; ecru, brown and green. We are also involved in taking care of people’s skin health thanks to our garments made with 100% organic cotton, free from toxins or dyes. Consequently, we encourage the land’s preservation and natural nutrition thanks to our regenerative agriculture practices in the field of the environment, owing to a textile production process free from chemicals or mechanical processes that are highly pollutive.

Where does the passion for fabrics and garments stem from?

Our garments are the first layer in contact with the skin, and we want to offer a healthy and comfortable product to use. In addition, we offer our fabrics to professionals who find it difficult to find organic cotton fabrics for their collections.

Tell us more about your fabrics and garments and what makes them unique/special?

We ensure complete traceability and guarantee the chain of custody of the material by controlling all the production channels. We also have a full picture of the impacts and savings that our activity generates versus a conventional model, and we communicate them with total transparency. We keep the purity of our organic cotton from the seed to the final garment by not using any type of chemical throughout the fibre transformation process. That is why our organic cotton garments are just that, organic cotton garments. The purest solution for the care of the skin. We have been working for 30 years for people with skin pathologies such as dermatitis, eczema or multiple chemical sensitivity. Even so, we never compromise on quality, and we maintain this value in all the transformation processes such as spinning (combing), weaving and manufacturing.

How are the fabrics and garments produced? 

The warranty of the OCCGuarantee® seal is also in the spinning, weaving and manufacturing processes. We just work with combed yarn to increase the quality of our products, and we finish them without adding any chemicals to keep them completely pure with just a sanforized wash. All the supplementaries used in the manufacturing process are as ecological as our main fabric; even the sewing thread is 100% organic cotton.

Our fabrics and garments are produced in Europe in factories that are aligned with our values of sustainability and social responsibility. We have worked with most of our suppliers for years, forging relationships of confidence that ensure the quality of the products and guarantee an ethical production process.

Where do you source the cotton from, and why here?

We assume the commitment of only working with 2 origins. So, we don’t vary our source depending on the market’s price. We source our OCCGuarantee®, naturally coloured organic cotton from Brazil, where we work directly, without intermediaries, with more than 400 family farmers in the northeast of the country grouped in OPACs. They work under regenerative methods of agriculture on their own land where they grow between 4/5 different organic aliments apart from cotton for their self-sustenance and one animal that works the field. The surplus is used for trade in organic markets. This kind of agriculture helps to naturally nourish the field. We sign contracts with them by which we commit to order all the cotton that they can cultivate each year. Our commitment is to increase the number of farmers that are part of the Social Project year after year but never reduce it. Our second origin is Turkey. From there, we get organic cotton combed yarn GOTS certified. The cotton is hand collected, and it is always grown in Turkey in large extensions owned by a farmer. This is an alternative to our main project in Brazil that give us the possibility of decreasing the prices to our customers. The sales generated from this origin help keep the Social Project in Brazil alive.

Tell us more about the OCCGuarantee®?

OCCGuarantee® is our seal of quality. It ensures that in every action undertaken by the company, the values ​​contained in our code of ethics are followed. It responds both to the quality of our products and to the quality, professionalism and honesty in dealing with our customers. We have been working for 30 years with the criteria of respect for the environment, respect for human rights and professional ethics.

At the origin, we find the family farmers who are part of the Social Project in Brazil. They have the necessary experience and receive adequate training to offer us naturally-colourful organic cotton grown under agro-regenerative farming practices that consider soil health, biodiversity, and social justice. Beyond this, all the processes that our company carries out afterwards, the spinning, weaving, and manufacturing, are done ethically and sustainably. The service providers that we collaborate with also take into account the same values and have a common purpose like ours in their daily activities.

Is there continuous research and development that goes into the designs of the fabric and garments? 

Yes. Under the Zero Waste concept, we have developed a new yarn with a short organic cotton fibre that is discarded in the spinning process due to its short length. We have mixed it with Tencel Refibra® (one of the most sustainable synthetic fibres of the moment) to give rise to a new recycled yarn. In fact, this is our first recycled yarn with 50% first-use organic cotton. We are now immersed in the technical development of all kinds of weaving structures that may be optimal for this yarn. This new reference is born from the will of our company to close the circle completely.

Tell us about some of your all-time favourite designs or pieces…

Our motto is comfort. That is why we create basic garments that ensure the wellness of the people who use them. We are not experts in fashion or trends. We also do not have collections that expire with time; we bet on classic models. Our favourite styles are basic homeware, socks or even towels. All of them are in direct contact with the skin. We leave fashion to designers, and that is why we have an extensive line of our naturally-coloured organic cotton fabrics that we make available to those designers and brands that prioritize quality and sustainability in their purpose.

What has been the company’s greatest success thus far?

Our greatest achievement has been to run the Social Project in Brazil with more than 400 family farmers involved and its success. Staying in the market for almost 30 years when being sustainable was neither known nor fashionable is also a big challenge. We have maintained a wide range of fabrics and garments suitable for people with skin sensitivities giving an answer to those people who could not wear anything else.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your industry, and how do you overcome these?

One of the biggest challenges we face is to position our product in a market crowded with conventional textile products, whose producers do not have the same costs as we do. For this reason, in addition to our activity, we are part of round tables, talks and other events on sustainable fashion to educate the consumer on sustainable fashion values so they can understand why its price is higher. As customers, we should be able to distinguish between a truly ethical project or a greenwashing campaign and concentrate our purchases on companies that have a strong environmental awareness in their practices.

How do you hope your products will impact the lives of their users?

As we have mentioned, our company was born as a solution for people with severe skin problems. We know that for them, our product, without dyes or chemicals in its composition or treatment, has been a solution over time. In addition, there is currently a growing market of people with strong ethical and environmental values. We propose a project with social responsibility. We want to highlight the benefits of our production model for all the people who are part of the fibre transformation process. From the field to the final garment, with special attention to the farmer as the weakest actor, being part of our project has a positive impact on their lives.

What’s next? Any new products to launch this year?

Given the product demand from our customers, this 2022, we will offer our exclusive fibre to brands that want to take it into account for their own productions. Also, new styles in our Basics line will arrive soon. But our bigger will is to strengthen relationships with other ethical fashion brands that can accompany us on our journey with a long-term relationship. So we call on all those brands that want to move forward on a joint path to a more sustainable future.

Find out more via Organic Cotton Colours’ website and Instagram profile.