Friday, 29 January 2010

arn mercantile

Neil Jay Christopher (former designer for Nike, Levi’s and Adidas in addition to working for renowned Japanese label Kato) and his wife have set up a carbon positive fair trade label, which is already selling in Oki-ni and quickly throughout Japan.

I think it is fantastic how designers like Neil are investing there time and energy into Fair trade fashion, accessing there clothing to high end, branded stores and breaking those eco stereotypes.

Items are inspired by 1920s workwear, so they are made on the principles of having a long life cycle. In a recent interview Neil said “We only use Organic grown cotton and wools, on the new shirting’s it’s all fair-trade cottons, dyes and a carbon negative looming shed. The fabric mainly comes from Japan [and] we only use UK production. We [usually] work with small factories - our trousers factory is four brothers working for their dad.”

“ARN is, at present, non profit,” Neil explains. “We all work on other things so ARN can exist without the need to make money. The prices are pretty much tax plus costs and fabric.”

When asked about whether fashion houses can no longer rely on prestige alone to sell products he replies, “I see very little prestige attached to the bigger companies that do that. The market has always marked up for brand image, it’ll not stop, until the consumer moves on from the ‘need’ to wear a label! If these labels were a mark of quality, then you’d not ask the question and the consumer would be happier to buy the goods without the need to show their label. The short answer is too many companies trade on the idea that they’re good quality instead of being good quality!”

All items are made in the UK and available to buy from Oki-ni.

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