The end of “cheap oil” arrived in June 2008. The price hit $140 a barrel,-and in spite of a recent drop is expected to rise past $200 in the near future. The end of “cheap food” is quickly following it. And textiles and clothing are next. Commodity prices of cotton, polyester, energy, and transport are going through the roof. And the global “fast fashion” system (of H&M, Zara, Uniqlo and their like), was designed for a world with oil at $50-a-barrel. Not $250. Geoffrey believes the era of “cheap clothes” is coming to an end, and global economic crisis is everywhere.
So where do we go from here? Geoffrey B. Small has been working on it. During recent Paris fashion weeks, he has been presenting his collections based upon a new direction and fashion philosophy. The collections focus on maximizing long-term value to the customer, recycling, local sourcing (using the best of today’s made in Italy resources), maximizing levels of handwork in the product, organic hand-dyeing and treatment techniques, patchwork, historical reference and its relevance to today, limited quantity-artisanal production and micro-scaling, with distribution exclusively through Paris collection retailers and the Cloud. Probably not so easy to find or buy, but well worth the investment and the effort.” — original treatise for Surface Magazine June 2008
But is cheap really cheap? According to Elizabeth Cline, the author of “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion,” Americans alone buy 20 billion garments a year, an average of 64 garments a person. But the trend is worldwide. In the UK consumers are throwing away 2 million tons of cheap, fast fashion clothing a year. When the Chinese reach consuming at the same rates, that will be more than 80 billion garments a year. With the majority of these clothes being made from petrochemical-based polyester plastic fibers and being thrown away at the rate of 20 million tons a year in the U.S. alone, the landfill pressures and environmental impacts are overwhelmingly unsustainable…
‘Cheap’ is not cheap at all. There is an alternative. And it begins with a new set of priorities in the way we live. And a commitment to lead others to a better way of life.
“Reduce, reuse, recycle” is the mantra behind the most important challenge we face as a species — balancing the needs of over 10 billion human beings with the earth’s available and sustainable resource levels. For us, this does not mean any sacrifice or lowering of quality and standards. Geoffrey B. Small has been a leader in recycle design in fashion for over 17 years, and he views it as both an art and science that has a 10,000 year history…a unique métier that yields incredibly beautiful, unique and efficient solutions and results.”
“The rising costs of global transport and their subsequent greenhouse gas emissions is creating a new reason for work to travel less and less. Therefore, the sourcing and assemblies of product need to be performed as locally as possible. I came to Italy 12 years ago for one reason: to make and design some of the best clothes in the world. We have developed a unique network of the world’s most advanced industrial and artisanal suppliers for fabrics, components, accessories, threads and treatments. Across the entire spectrum of suppliers we have the world’s very best technical, cultural, and artistic working masters all within a maximum radius of 250km.”
Taking ‘green’ design to a whole new level. For almost 100 years, the Parisotto family has been handing down from father to son, the art of weaving superfine cotton and linen fabrics in the hillside town of Sarcedo, at the base of the Altopiano di Asiago and the foothills of the Italian alps, in the provincia of Vicenza. For decades they have crafted some of the world’s finest cotton cloths for Italy’s most famous textile names: Cotonificio Albini, Thomas Mason, Tessitura Monti, Limonta, Marzotto and Zegna. This season, they continue on a revolutionary and exclusive collaboration with Geoffrey B. Small to create the greenest and finest organic natural fibre fabrics. Certified organic cashmere, silk, cotton, indigo and linen yarns woven into a stunning array of seersuckers, double-faced and antique weaves, that were then specially hand dyed and hand treated by the designer in his studio workrooms for maximum softness, aging and patina effects, all at minimum carbon footprint and environmental impact.
“Our mission is to reteach the world how to make clothes in the 21st century. We are fed up with the totally corrupt fashion-design-school-industrial complex that is also now bought-lock-stock-and-barrel by the Corporation, and is more intent on squashing education, skill building, critical thinking and creativity than cultivating it––by taking students’ money (or their parents’ money) and turning out corporate cogs for a machine that does not intend to employ even one in 50 of them on average upon graduation. It is a reconfirmation (that adds significant time and risk to the production and delivery of each piece), that contrary to the rest of the industry’s lame business-school thinking, we do not believe in ‘scaling up.’
Certified Organic: fabrics that set a new standard for green design, elegance and comfort, like the amazingly light and soft, special luxurious organic tailor’s indigo cotton & wool weave used in the NVC02special worker’s jacket, created this season for Cruvoir in Los Angeles. In the hillside town of Sarcedo, Luigi Parisotto and his father are working with Geoffrey B. Small to create the finest and most environmentally sustainable organic fibre fabrics in the world today.
“We believe in scaling down.” Geoffrey B. Small’s entire world clothing production this season is limited to just 1,095 pieces. “That might help explain why we don’t try to chase down a lot of press or media coverage, or why our clothes can only be found in the most select stores worldwide… We don’t need to do the things other designers and brands may do to try to ‘raise their profile.’ Our clothes speak for themselves.”