John Patrick is the founder of Organic. Celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2012, Organic was one of the first fashion lines to concentrate on eco-fashion and sustainability. Organic is based in Upstate New York and uses botanical dyes, locally sourced materials, recycled fabrics, and environmentally sound manufacturing methods.
Are all the fabrics in your collection sustainable?
Our entire business is run on a very small scale so that it itself is the sustainable anchor. I have pioneered many initiatives such as source maps, transparency, advocacy for farmers, and seed-saving campaigns all over the world.
You’ve got to be the only fashion brand that grows its own cotton. How did this come about?
That was a project that started in Peru. We are now in discussions with the Government of Brazil to do a larger scale project in the north of that country and we will use the product for a menswear collection to be introduced in Fall 2013.
You were one of the first high fashion organic lines with real credibility. How has the acceptance and understanding of sustainable clothing changed since you launched the brand?
It is still a challenge each season to do meaningful work and raise the bar. It is a very slow process but I do what is best for the Organic brand and am happy that I have the support of people who are compassionate and understand what I am trying to achieve.
You use lots of leather. Is it difficult to source sustainable leather?
Leather is an ancient textile, and if produced responsibly I have no problem with it. We normally use recycled and upcycled leather that is already produced. We also produce very small amounts of it.
What was your inspiration for the Fall Winter 2012 collection?
I was inspired by a photograph taken by Julia Margaret Cameron entitled ‘A Beautiful Vision, Julia Duckworth,’ which was the absolute starting point for the visual inspiration of the collection today and hence the collection’s title: ‘A Beautiful Vision.’ I worked with the illustrator Mike Ellis in creating both the invitation and the show set. I let him freely imagine what he interpreted as ‘A Beautiful Vision.’ When the illustration came I was stunned at how magically he captured what I was thinking and feeling.
You live and work in the Hudson Valley. Is it difficult to be away from the Garment Center?
The Garment Center is a wonderful place. I should say what’s left of it that is, since the American fashion manufacturing base is challenging and not as up to date as it could be. The government and individual states should offer more support to small businesses and schools, to encourage creativity and create opportunities for designers and artists.
Is being organic something that plays into your lifestyle in other areas?
I keep an organic kitchen, of course, and only shop in independent stores and farmers markets. I eat local food year round. My next business will be making miso with my friend Hannah!