60% of ULV shirts are produced of fabrics made in organically grown cotton and the target is to produce 100% of our collection in bio-cotton fabrics by 2019
Conventional cotton has the bad reputation of the most unsustainable fiber used to produce clothes. Although it is so pleasant in wearing and has been used for clothing for thousands of years, the actual way of cultivating and harvesting cotton it is very harmful and presents a double risk, environmental and social. Cotton is only grown on 2.5% of the world’s agricultural land but it consumes 16% of all the insecticides and 6,8% of all herbicides used worldwide. Cotton production also contributes to climate change. Industrial fertilizers are produced using considerable quantities of finite energy sources (1.5% of the world’s annual energy consumption), releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide. Furthermore, the excessive application of nitrates to agricultural land leads to their being transformed into nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”), a greenhouse gas that is 300 times more destructive than CO 2 in terms of global warming. Finally, soils are important carbon sinks. Soil degradation seriously reduces their carbon sequestration capacity, thereby contributing to the greenhouse effect. Pesticides used in the production of conventional cotton include substances that are terrible toxic to farmers. Many workers in the cotton fields get seriously ill after years of poison inhalation and skin contact with these heavy chemicals. Medical costs and an inability to work are a severe economic burden on affected families.
Organic agriculture allows the use of natural substances extracted from plants or animals giving a chance to Eco-systems to be preserved and helping workers to keep their good health. Bio-cotton is the highest quality organic cotton that can be actually harvested. World-class weaving mill Canclini produces fabrics of bio-cotton in Italy that are GOTS* certified. Their raw material selection is extremely rigorous, from harvesting to the final operation when cotton is spun into fine yarns.
But how I arrived in first place to think about shirts made of organic cotton? First was the idea of launching a Norwegian shirt brand. With my background in luxury shirt production and having worked for most of my career with Giorgio Armani products, I decided to create the first Norwegian high-end shirt brand. When I shared this idea with my husband Dag, he advised to choose organic cotton. He works with biodiversity and witnesses the massive lost of plant species because of too much fertilizers and chemicals used in agriculture. He strongly believes that we have to act on all fronts now if we have to make any difference for future generations, from preserving seeds (he has been involved in Svalbard Seed Vault project) to preserving flora and fauna by producing organically as much as possible.
Dag Endresen opening the door of Global Seed Vault in Svalbard
Last but not least, Norway is a country that is willing to embrace sustainability in many aspects of life. It has an encouraging policy for driving green vehicles targeting to decrease carbon emissions. I could say metaphorically that sustainability “is in the air”. Norway has breath-taking landscape and Norwegians have such love for mother nature that I believe is almost unparalleled with the rest of the world. It is also the country where Tesla knows its greatest success. When I saw for the first time a Tesla in Oslo and found out that is powered by an electrical battery, I had a real “coup de foudre”. A super green vehicle made me to understand that beautiful design, a “green” core and excellent craftsmanship are the perfect ingredients for a successful modern product. And so ULV project was conceived and launched for the best.
*The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibers, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.