Startup Sets the Standard for Sustainable Fashion

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Connects with artists, designers, producers, and consumers to make a collective impact on industry

How can consumers start supporting clothing that doesn’t have a negative impact on global workers or the environment? Connect One Threads is hoping to solve this challenge through their #CONNECT100 campaign, where they’ve collaborated with international artists to design 100% organic cotton T-shirts sourced ethically throughout its entire production from the cotton farm to the garment factory in Turkey. The 8 T-shirts are sustainably made with unique artworks which represent global interconnection, allowing consumers to think about how clothing makes an impact on the world. By enabling consumers to fund the first 100 T-shirts through pre-sales by August 14, 2016, the campaign connects consumers to the international artists and ethical producers as part of the growing sustainable fashion movement.

 

A campaign for collaboration

The beginnings of the #CONNECT100 campaign began when Jeremy spoke about the global impact of fashion at a 2014 TEDx conference in Istanbul and met Martin Nore. As an ex-UN soldier, Martin Nore, started an NGO called Artists For Peace And Freedom, which works to spread a message of transnational unity through art. Both identifying as citizens of the world with similar ideals, Jeremy and Martin decided to collaborate on a sustainable T-shirt with a message of unity. This prompted Jeremy to start asking international artists to make artwork that fit the “Connect One” concept. The message resonated with the artists from Turkey, USA, Spain, and Portugal and they designed artwork based on the idea of global interconnection. Zelazo Lab from Istanbul painted a jungle child to symbolize living with nature, while Andrea Garcia from Barcelona drew a world map with words which all people can relate to regardless of their nationality.

 

These designs are printed with non-toxic water-based dyes on 100% organic cotton T-shirts produced from Izmir, Turkey, where their GOTS producers in turn source organic cotton locally from the region. Turkey is not only the 2nd largest producer of organic cotton in the world, it is also GMO-free unlike other major producers such as India or the USA. “The goal is not only to show people that we can connect to the people who made our clothes,” says Jeremy, “But to act as world citizens who are aware of the global impact of our clothing.” The consumers can know the stories of each artist’s designs, while allowing them to know their GOTS-certified clothing is ethically made throughout the entire chain. The #CONNECT100 campaign is a way for them to start making sustainable fashion a reality. Supporters who pre-order T-shirts before production receive $5 off the normal retail price with an additional $5 off coupon from future Connect One Threads apparel.

 

COT Artist shirts with founder Jeremy Pingul on right

Connect One Threads Artists shirts with founder Jeremy Pingul (right)

 

Sustainable fashion from farm to factory

Connect One Threads works with ethical producers to create GOTS-certified apparel in Turkey, particularly from the western Aegean region which is a center for organic cotton fiber, fabric, and garment production. Clothing certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) ensures that the entire process of clothing production is environmentally and socially responsible from the farm to the factories. Every facility is independently verified by a 3rd party to make sure that there is no child labor, fair living wages are paid, chemicals are non-toxic, waste is treated properly, and every transaction is tested for quality assurance. Since these transactions are recorded at every stage, the entire supply chain is traceable. The final products carry a license number which allows consumers to trace their clothing to one of the  3,000 certified producers globally on the public GOTS database.

 

GOTS Global Organic Textile Standard

The GOTS Label

 

The Rana Plaza collapse which killed over 1,000 garment workers prompted consumers to ask brands #whomademyclothes, demanding transparency and ethics to avoid global issues like these from happening in the fashion world. “What people don’t know is that there’s a solution that addresses most of the concerns they have about their clothing, so we’re showing them what’s possible on a farm to factory scale with the #CONNECT100 campaign,” says Jeremy Pingul, who founded Connect One Threads after writing his thesis on the global issues of fashion such as the depletion of the Aral Sea and the farmer suicides in India. After graduating Indiana University in 2011, Jeremy traveled across Europe and eventually settled in Turkey to learn from brands, designers, producers, and farmers in the industry who are working to push the sustainable fashion movement.

 

GOTS-certified producers in Izmir, Turkey

Connect One Threads’ GOTS-certified producers in Turkey

 

What Jeremy discovered was that the greatest challenge the movement faced was the lack of consumer awareness and access to support sustainable fashion, which in turn caused sustainable brands to go out of business and organic cotton farmers to switch to growing other crops. “All the organic farmers and ethical producers won’t make a difference in changing the fashion industry if consumers aren’t supporting sustainable apparel,” say Jeremy, “and that’s why our venture focuses on collaborating with international artists, designers, and producers to make a collective impact that reaches consumers around the world.” Jeremy realized that merely starting a clothing brand would not be enough to make a scalable impact on the sustainable fashion industry, so instead he focused on a collaborative model that would help create ethically-produced apparel on an international scale.

 

Connect One Threads collaborates with brands, designers, artists, and conscious organizations to make a collective impact through sustainable fashion. The social enterprise aims to show that there is a viable solution to the global issues present in fashion industry. Connect One Threads was selected from over 1,000 applicants to take part in the global accelerator MassChallenge UK in London. won a grant in 2014 by the Kenneth Cole Foundation as a startup that embodied “conscious consumption”. COT was founded by Jeremy Pingul and Andrew Kiproff. For more information, visit cothreads.org or contact Jeremy Pingul at jappingul@gmail.com.

 

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