By Paige Donner
Gossypium is an example of a company that put the horse before the cart. Founded by Abigail and Thomas Petit in 2000, Gossypium is a clothing and textile manufacturer based out of the U.K. that is specialized in organic and Fair Trade cotton.
Often, you will find that companies focus on either Fair Trade or Organic when it comes to ethical practices. When the focus is on Fair Trade cotton, the primary concern is for the farmer and that they, and their families, are able to earn a living wage from their daily endeavors. Oftentimes, in these instances, emphasizing that the cotton farmed and sold to industrial manufacturers be organic can actually work against the Fair Trade farmers because they are then priced out of the market.
Abigail and Thomas Petit decided to do it all. They began by spending two years in India back in 1998 where they set up a partnership with Agrocel, an organization that has defined and branded a cotton fiber that is distinctive for its high quality.
Agrocel® Pure & Fair Indian Organic Cotton is cultivated from 12 rural service centers across India and works with a selected group of local farmers. At each center, there is a team of agronomists who monitors growing to International Organic Standards.
It was only after the Petits set up this chain of Fair Trade supply that they returned to the U.K. where they began their clothing and textile brand, Gossypium, using this high quality, organic and Fair Trade sourced cotton. It has since established itself as one of the U.K.’s leading ethical brands.
Abigail Petit attended a Fair Trade cotton conference in November hosted by Max Havelaar in Paris and held at the Mairie de Paris (city hall) which sits just across from Notre Dame. Max Havelaar is the Fair Trade organization in France, and though it sounds like the name of a Rock Star, in fact it is a non-profit organization that is rockin’ the world of ethical and fair trade markets.
Max Havelaar organizers of the event invited key industry attendees to a dinner the evening before the conference so they could hear firsthand what some of the concerns and questions are as the Fair Trade market develops further and enters more widely into mainstream textile markets.
France has quietly but powerfully been moving forward on these fronts: The entire French Post Office Corps., “La Poste,” is clothed in uniforms that are manufactured from Fair Trade cotton sourced textiles. The manufacturing company is Amor Lux. Max Havelaar has been a key organization in getting these sorts of strategic partnerships flowing.
From Abigail Petit concerning the Conference at the Mairie de Paris held early in November 2010:
“The secret is out! The cotton farmers are not happy! We are not paying them enough for their cotton. It was great to have the farmers represented at the recent Max Havelaar Conference in Paris, but there is only one solution- LOVE Your COTTON! We do at Gossypium, we respect the amazing fabric that our Indian farmers provide for us and lovingly use it to make our cosy pyjamas here in Lewes, U.K. We are so proud to say that they are Fairtrade, organic, Aloe Vera Finished cotton. Get them on!”
And from their website:
Our vision is that the making and wearing of textiles is indeed a pleasant and beautiful global occupation, not at all at odds with a socially fair or environmentally sustainable world, and we set out to create trade in textiles according to these principles. – Gossypium Founders
Abigail Petit is well-known internationally as a leader in ethical and Fair Trade sourced textiles. Thomas Petit’s family has been in textiles in Paris since the French revolution and he brings to Vericott Ltd., the parent company of Gossypium, knowledge of design and branding.