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« Hot Ideas For Warming Your Hands This Winter With Gloves Made Of Organic and Natural Fibers | Main | HCJ Gala Raises Over $10,000 Benefiting Largely Poor Communities Across Asia and Africa »
Friday
Nov152013

Ideas For Eco-Conscious Shoppers Looking For Winter Coats From Organic and Natural Fibers

Winter is fast approaching and if you still haven’t gotten this year’s winter coat, and are looking for some great eco-conscious ideas made of organic and natural fibers, then I found a lot of great ideas that are worth looking at – from the most budget-friendly to the really pricy.

I came across three great online outlets – Element EcoWear, FaeriesDance, and Indigenous Designs – with a good variety of coat styles made from materials including organic cotton, hemp, alpaca, and merino wool.

Element EcoWear

Eternal Trenchcoat. Photo by Element EcoWear.

Element EcoWear is the easiest on the budget, with outerwear around the $100 range, and all made with natural and organic materials that the company assures are fair trade manufactured.

One of my favorite coats from Element EcoWear is the Eternal Trenchcoat which is made from 100 percent organic cotton. It comes in black and a dark brown called ‘bark.’ The coat’s features including a lining made of medium-weight cotton canvas, button cuffs, a back vent, side seam pockets, and a removable belt.

The supplier information says the “organic cotton is grown in a women-owned organic farm cooperative in China,” and that the coats are made in a “joint venture partnership with international organic farms, mills, and factories [that] require conformity to stringent fair labor standards, audited by a full-time onsite employee.”

Vienna Mini Trench. Photo by Element EcoWear.

In a similar theme, another selection that I like is the Vienna Mini Trench, which is made from 47 percent hemp and 55 percent organic cotton denim. It only comes in black and is a dark wash structured denim with inset side pockets and a self-tie sash. The trench also has ‘branch of peace’ military button detail.

The company adds that the coat adheres to Skal Organic and Oeko-Tex Standard 100, and that while much its production occurs in the United States, all of the international suppliers are ISO-9000 and 14000 verified.

Another piece of outerwear that I really like from Element Eco-Wear is the Weekender Cardigan, which has the look of a coat. It’s a 100 percent Skal-certified organic cotton jersey with angled deep front pockets and pearlized buttons.

Weekender Cardigan. Photo by Element EcoWear.

The cardigan comes in chestnut, ruby, and night (black), with the company adding that the manufacturing is “always fair trade certified” and “all fabrics and garments are hand-knit and made by artisans on small cooperatives in South America.”

Element Eco-Wear also said that the “fibers are grown near cooperatives to further benefit local communities and reduce the eco-cost of transportation.” The company adds that the garments are either preserved in their natural colors or colored with low-impact dyes without heavy metals or azo-dioxazine compound.”

Another great thing about Element Eco-Wear is that it gives either one percent of its annual sales to eco-charities or five percent of net profits, whichever is greater. The company gives to the Natural Resource Defense Council, The Trust for Public Land, Earthjustice, The Ocean Conservancy, and The Coral Reef Alliance.

FaeriesDance

Tweed Swing Coat. Photo by FaeriesDance.

FaeriesDance is another natural outlet with variety of outerwear. The company says its “clothing is made of environmentally sensitive fabrics and low-impact dyes,” and that it sources its products from both U.S. and overseas manufacturers “who take care to ensure that all workers are treated fairly, safe from sweatshop conditions and receive living wages.”

FaeriesDance adds that, “No children are employed by any of our manufacturers here or overseas.

One of the things I like about the coats from FaeriesDance is that they all have a feeling of classic sophistication.  One of my favorites from their collection is an A-line tan Tweed Swing Coat that’s made from 83 percent hemp and 17 percent organic cotton.

The hemp tweed largely makes up the outer shell and the interior is fully lined with leftover fabrics from previous seasons. These coats are made in the U.S. with imported fabric.

Side Zip Jacket. Photo by FaeriesDance.

Other features of the coat include a Peter Pan collar, raglan cuffed sleeves, and two side-seam pockets. On buying this coat, FaeriesDance cautions customers that “the hemp tweed fabric may contain very minor imperfections in the weave,” and that “this is considered natural and makes each coat distinct.”

Another favorite from the FaeriesDance collection is the Side Zip Jacket, which is made of 90 percent organic cotton and 10 percent spandex french terry. The company says that the jacket is made in the U.S. with Peruvian-grown organic cotton.

The jacket comes in black and (reddish) spice, and features an off-center two-way black zipper, fold down collar, and belled lower sleeves.

Also worth a looking from FaeriesDance is a black Winter Coat whose fabric is made from 60 percent alpaca and 40 percent wool. The knitting is 71 percent alpaca and 29 percent organic cotton. The coat is handmade in Peru and meets all Fair Trade Federation guidelines.

Winter Coat. Photo by FaeriesDance.

FaeriesDance says the coat’s materials are a combination of free range, hand-sheared sheep and alpaca. With this, the company cautions though that since this is real wool, it “does have some of wool’s characteristic tickle in the fabric.”

FaeriesDance also wants people to know that “the animals are carefully tended to, and there is absolutely no mulesing involved (removing strips of skin from around the butt of a sheep to prevent a skin infestation of flies called flystrike/myiasis).

The design of the coat features a wide knit collar and cuffs, as well as a tulip-shaped hemline that’s longer in the back than in the front.

FaeriesDance also distributes one percent of its gross income to the following charities: The Nature Conservancy, The Sierra Club Foundation, and Earthwatch Institute.

Indigenous Designs

Duchess Coat. Photo by Indigenous Designs.

Indigenous Designs is another great place to find high quality natural and organic coats, though on the higher end of the price spectrum, with some coats reaching near $500. That being said, many would consider the costs worth it for the certified quality materials and fair trade craftsmanship.

Looking at Indigenous, besides the great natural quality of the materials, the clothes have great style.

One of my favorite pieces from the outerwear collection is the charcoal Duchess Coat, which is made of 60 percent “super fine” alpaca and 40 percent boiled wool. As for style, the Duchess Coat is double breasted with a shawl collar and has covered buttons.

Another great cold weather coat at Indigenous is the Double Collar Coat – Sapphire, which is made of 100 percent “superfine” Peruvian alpaca.

Also a great winter coat at Indigenous (that’s also a little easier on the wallet than the others - at just under $200) is their Walking Coat, which is made of 100 percent organic cotton fleece. The coat comes in an assortment of colors – winter blue, black, blackberry (which is a dark reddish color), and smokey gray.

Double Collar Coat. Photo by Indigenous Designs.

The Walking Coat also has a nice style, which features a mock neck, front pockets, and contrasting knit cuffs with thumb holes.

Besides its attention to styling details, Indigenous talks a lot about its commitments to material quality, protecting the environment, and fair treatment of artisans. The company says its commitments include:

  • supporting and preserving fair trade wages and artisan cooperatives.
  • investing in natural and organic fibers, and environmentally-friendly dyes.

The company talks about its fair trade practices, saying, “We allocate more of our production costs to the artisan than typical conventional textile companies. This means the artisan makes a fair, living wage well above what they might earn working independently.

“In addition, we partner directly with non-governmental organizations and others that provide training, educational materials, and equipment that otherwise could not be afforded. Many partner organizations also offer no interest assistance loans in these communities.”

Walking Coat. Photo by Indigenous Designs.

Indigenous also describes itself as “an all natural fiber company, utilizing merino wool, alpaca, silk, organic cotton, and other fibers created by nature. Our organic cotton is certified by Skal. Our wool and alpaca fibers are also raised in a natural manner.” The company says that it sources merino wool fiber most often from the Andes in Argentina. 

Indigenous says that it sources the majority of its alpaca fibers from areas surrounding Arequipa and Peru in the Puno and Cusco areas, “close to many artisan work groups.”

The company further details that, “These alpaca are free range roaming animals with pasture rotation. The alpaca are not fed hormones and do not receive chemical dipping for ticks or parasites,” and, “There are no chemical ingredients allowed on the land or animals.”

Indigenous also says that it often uses the natural colors of organic cotton and fleece, eliminating the need for dyes. And, when dyes are used, the company says it “develops low-impact dyes which contain no heavy metals and are Azo- dioxazine compound free.”

Among other chemicals that are excluded from the company’s products are: aromatic solvents; all APEOs; formaldehyde and other short-chain aldehydes; genetically modified organisms of any sort; and plasticizers such as PAH, phthalates, and bisphenol.

Reader comments and input are always welcomed!

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