Environmentalism and sustainability has been a huge topic at Fashion Week. While Phoebe English and Bethany Williams made the biggest statements about ethical sourcing, how do regular clothing companies, and clothing consumers, know that they’re creating and shopping responsibly? The gold standard is the framework of Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations.
Not every goal applies to every industry, and the women and men on our core team will all tell you that we’re confident on Goal 5: Gender Equality; so, as a fashion-forward company, we have specifically chosen to prioritize on two additional goals as part of our core values: Goal 3: Good Health and Well Being, and Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, because we want to look good, but we also want to feel good about what we wear.
Goal 3 is all about ensuring the health and well-being of everyone who comes into contact with our manufacturing process. It means that we have personally inspected every facility that is used for the production of Otero clothes, and that we have made sure that every facility is modern, sanitary, and safe; and that every facility fairly employs adult laborers, who are all paid a living wage, and who are all respected for their artistic contributions to Otero products. We meet every person who works for Otero. And we will never, under any circumstances, invest in slave labor or sweatshops. At a very fundamental level, we are invested in both the economic and the physical well-being of our employees. We believe that happy, healthy, alert, professionals who are intellectually engaged with the process of making clothes are essential to the production of the highest-quality fashion in the world.
In our accessories line, we are equally committed to the health and well-being of our manufacturers, and, in fact, all of our accessories are produced by a small family of artisans in Greece. The family has been working leather for generations, and they employ a lot of local labor (including a seemingly endless number of cousins, neighbors, and close friends). In various ways, the entire community seems to be invested in the painstaking process of transforming raw cowhide into meticulously tanned, beautifully tooled works of art. Again, we made a point of visiting every manufacturing facility, and ensuring that all of the artisans involved in this process are fairly employed and free to contribute their artistic expertise to our design and manufacturing process. And if we had a chance to share a lot of amazing Greek food in the process…well…that’s also part of doing business.
While Goal 3 focuses on individuals, Goal 12 focuses on the well-being of the planet in a broader perspective. Fashion can be a terribly polluting industry, especially since so many clothes are manufactured from cost-saving, non-renewable petroleum-based fabrics that will wear out quickly, but won’t truly biodegrade for decades, if not centuries. Our commitment to responsible consumption and production has pushed us toward natural, durable, and ultimately biodegradable fibers.
We have chosen to focus on natural cotton for its feel, its consistency and its overall performance as a high-end, quality material. And we love the versatility of cotton, which can be milled in a variety of ways:
- We use 100% cotton jersey on our most affordable shirts, because it is durable and breathable, moves flexibly with the body, washes well, and retains color perfectly.
- For our mid-tier line, we use 100% liquid cotton, which has a smoother finish and incredibly soft feel, while retaining the durability and flexibility of the cotton jersey.
- 100% mercerized cotton is reserved for our highest-end shirts because it is a meticulous process that increasing the surface area of each cotton cell, which gives the whole fiber greater softness, luster, durability, and finish. The final product has a silky feel which drapes beautifully on the body.
Our commitment to natural, durable, renewable materials also extends to our accessories line, which is made from handcrafted full grain leather that will stand up to years of hard wear, but which will also biodegrade over time. We also like to feature natural stone and metal in our bracelets; it won’t break down, but it will last forever, as long as it’s well cared-for.
We are committed to our people, and we are committed to our planet. Because we believe that confidence—in what you’re wearing, and how you wear it—is essential to looking your best.
Otero Menswear. Anything but Average.