Last week was Fashion Revolution Week, a global campaign which is committed to changing the clothing industry to be better for workers, the environment and consumers. Then this week is Allergy Awareness Month. Many of our customers choose Greenscents as they have allergies and this can be the same with clothing. So we are delighted to talk to Hannah Evans, Founder and Managing Director of Piccalilly, who offer supersoft clothing made from organic fairtrade cotton.
Can you tell us a bit about Piccalilly and what makes you special?
The heart of the Piccalilly brand is the Piccalilly Way. It’s about staying true to our core values of fairtrade and sustainability whilst creating great looking and long lasting clothing for the whole family.
What was the inspiration for starting Piccalilly and have things turned out as you hoped?
Piccalilly came to life 15 years ago. I had just had my second child and found myself in a redundancy situation a few months into my maternity leave. I chose to turn this negative into a positive and launch my own brand of brightly coloured organic baby clothing. The market at the time was full of beige eco babywear with limited market appeal. My background was sourcing ethical supply chains and the challenge was to find a manufacturing partner who could create bright coloured organic and ethically produced babywear to appear to modern parents.
Piccalilly is the leading UK company to develop muslin swaddling blankets – can you tell us why these are so good for babies?
Our organic muslin swaddles are made from light weight organic cotton making them super soft and breathable. The great thing about Piccalilly muslins is they’re multifunctional and not just for use as a swaddle. Parents use them for wiping, as a baby comforter, as a lightweight blanket and for covering whilst breast feeding. Our swaddles also get softer and softer with every wash.
We love all your colourful designs! And we have noticed that you have introduced some womenswear. Can you tell us about the inspiration for your designs?
Piccalilly started life as a baby clothing brand and over time parents appreciated how durable and soft our organic jersey cotton was. So they asked us to create comfy clothing for toddlers and children too. A few years ago we started to get requests for womens clothing too. Luckily we’d thought about this at the very start of our Piccalilly journey and our name was chosen to enable us to grow as a brand to incorporate more products beyond the scope of just babywear.
Many of our customers choose organic laundry and household products due to allergies to mainstream products. Do you find the same with your customers?
Piccalilly customers are a very conscientious bunch and choose our brand for many different reasons including minimising exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins. The start of the journey is often babywear and looking after delicate newborn baby skin and thinking about how to protect it is really important. The two in our opinion go hand in hand. Organic laundry liquid is also a great way to care for your Piccalilly clothing and keeping it looking great for a longer length of time.
We would love to know more about your fabric partner, Chetna Cotton, and why you chose work with them.
Chetna was established in 2004, just a couple of years ahead of Piccalilly and our brand has grown-up alongside this amazing cotton supply chain. We love Chetna organic cotton and have spent time visiting the supply chain. It’s a fair-trade cotton programme with a mission to improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers by making their farm systems more sustainable and profitable. The Chetna farmers also own a 10% equity stake in the factory who make our clothes and the cotton farmers are pre-financed and guaranteed stable cotton prices and a premium to spend within their local community. The cotton is hand picked and long staple making is both super soft and extra strong.
We noticed that you have used left-over fabrics from previous seasons for some of your clothes. What prompted you to do this and do you have any other sustainable initiatives?
Surplus fabric from within the clothing manufacturing process is often overlooked and it often gets put into landfill or even burnt. Here at Piccalilly we’re very proud of our transparent organic cotton supply chain. We value the hard work our Chetna farmers put into creating the cotton in the first place. The thought of this hard work going to waste has made us create limited edition collections if we have fabric left. We believe it’s our responsibility to repurpose and reimagine our surplus fabric to create something different from the original collection. After all waste is not waste until it’s wasted.
Do you think it’s important that people who buy organic clothes, choose organic laundry products, particularly for babies and children?
Without question. In fact, caring for our Piccalilly clothing is often a top of conversation that comes up in our Piccalilly Chatterbox forum on Facebook and we’ve been really interested to see how using harsh laundry detergents over time can have detrimental results to the look of colourful clothing. We also know that most of our customers really care about the environment. Many use cloth nappies on their babies and therefore eco friendly and organic laundry products are a must.