O-Wool in Bodkin's fall 2009 collection. Image via Ecouterre
Green fashion designers will need to look a little further than The Vermont Organic Fiber Co. to fulfill their next wholesale orders for certified organic wool--some even as soon as fall 2010! According to Eco Textile News, the leading organic wool supplier of yarns and fabrics and makers of O-Wool in the U.S. have begun liquidation due to the rough economic climate. We asked sustainable fashion expert, designer, and Best of Green-winner Bahar Shahpar, who has used O-Wool in many of her collections, how this will effect green fashion. She shares advice for designers, and hope for the future of organic wool in the U.S., after the jump.
Bahar Shahpar's spring 2010 collection (no O-Wool pictured). Image credit: Meaghan O'Neill
New York-based designer Bahar Shahpar has been a dedicated customer of Vermont Organic Fiber Co. since 2006. In a phone interview, Shahpar said it has been amazing to see the company's growth over the years. They educated consumers, manufacturers, and were leaders in their field with certifications, high standards, and strict regulations. She said that while it is always difficult to see a fellow entrepreneur lose a financial battle, they truly did achieve something extraordinary. She continues, below.
They were committed to providing designers and clients with access to many different suppliers, mills, and fiber sources while keeping up with trends. The company was very "client-based" from larger to smaller brands (like Shahpar's) and they stretched themselves thin; But, they aimed to provide the best product, and they did the work that designers didn't have the time or resources to do.
So what will become of the certified-organic wool fabrics? Shahpar, who spoke with Matthew Mole the morning of our conversation, is hopeful. Fortunately, her fall 2010 collection was not effected by O-Wool's liquidation. Though another small designer (who prefers to remain nameless) had to pull two designs from her fall 2010 collection.
Eco Textile News reports that O-Wool's current and past clients include Patagonia, J.Crew, Timberland, Linda Loudermilk, Diane von Furstenberg, Loomstate, and Mitsukoshi Department Stores.
Shahpar said that wholesale supplier Jasco Knit Fabric in New York City will continue to supply a jersey fabric made with O-Wool yarn. She said that the owners have their "ears open" and encourages designers to reach out to them if they are interested in a particular style. Shahpar also notes that as a designer she sometimes "bemoans the lack of selection when sourcing fabrics" which is why it is important for designers to get involved in that part of the supply chain and voice needs to suppliers.
While Vermont Organic Fiber Co. is liquidating designers have the opportunity to choose from fabrics existing in stock. Shahpar says that this is a great opportunity for smaller designers who might not have been able to afford the fabric otherwise. Visit The Vermont Organic Fiber Company to inquire about available fabrics.