Under the Canopy: Organix Style with Soul
To help inform catalog shoppers about the fabrics used, the catalog displays brief explanations, such as:
Imagine soil so clean, it produces a cotton so pure, it’s as good for the environment as it is for you. It’s organic cotton, and it’s free of chemicals for at least three years and enriched with organic matter. No synthetic agents added. No harsh bleaches, heavy metal dyes or formaldehyde included. Consider it a gift from Mother Earth and a pure luxury to wear.
The fall 2002 catalog included similar explanatory sections on hemp and Tencel. Next year, UTC plans to introduce products made from organic soy, cashmere, bamboo and silk, in addition to organic beauty products, such as cosmetics, creams and hair-care items.
“To develop the beauty products, we’ll use other parts of the same plants from which our garment fabrics are derived,” Zaroff explains. “This way we’ll efficiently use the whole plant. For example, we’re developing fabrics and personal care items made from organic green tea plants.”
Of course, such non-traditional fabrication methods come with a price: UTC’s material costs sometimes are higher than those of catalogers selling non-organic merchandise, Zaroff admits. This is reflected in the merchandise price points, which generally are on the higher side. For example, an organic cotton angora long-sleeved dress goes for $108, and an organic linen, hand-crocheted sweater from Peru sells for $105.
“We’re very much a gourmet fashion experience,” says Zaroff. “But studies of the LOHAS market show consumers are willing to spend up to 20 percent more for products that are high-quality, healthy and sustainable.”
UTC selects manufacturing partners that share its underlying commitment to organic fibers, fair trade standards and corporate responsibility. The catalog’s merchandisers and their international liaisons ensure that product claims are checked for authentic fabrication, fit and quality, says Zaroff.