Interview: The Importance of Organic Cotton with noctu

noctu is a family business run by sisters Zoë and Milly based between Bath, UK and Oslo, Norway that produces ethically made, organic cotton night and loungewear.

Why did you set up Noctu?

The idea for noctu actually stemmed from our Dad wanting a simple nightie for himself. So we designed him a big T shirt essentially, the rest of the range grew from there. Funnily enough our men’s nightshirt is still our bestseller!

Fuelled by a desire to create ethically made, beautiful, minimal night and loungewear having witnessed first hand the shocking impact conventional cotton manufacturing has on lives and our planet.

The necessity for creating our range in 100% organic cotton came whilst Milly and I were travelling in India and witnessing first hand the devastation conventional cotton growing and the use of pesticides has on the environment, livestock and people. It was (and still is) unbelievably shocking.

Why organic and fairtrade?

We have always been organic, that is in our DNA and we do our best to ensure each step in the supply chain from seed to product is accomplished ethically. We also ensure all of our noctu products are made in safe environments, where women are paid a fair wage with the possibility of receiving a bonus after 3-5 years employment. This can really help them to grow independently and start their own tailoring business.

All of our products are now Fairtrade which we are thrilled about, it’s such an important initiative to improve the lives of those who make our clothes but there is always more we can do, one step at a time.

Are your products sustainable?

Our approach to sustainability lies in the quality of our products. We are trying to engage with our customers by offering a simplified, positive message. We emphasise the standard of our fabrics and simplistic design.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Sustainability is such a complex subject that I think for brands that are “green” or “eco-friendly”, we have to be able to engage with consumers by being positive, too much information or depressing facts isn’t motivational.

Why do people need to be aware of the chemicals in their nightwear and clothing?

Unfortunately conventional cotton uses a huge amount of chemicals from seed to garment. These chemicals, pesticides and insecticides (to name but a few that are extremely toxic) remain on our clothing and are actually released from the fibres over time, even after washing, which has been linked to numerous health problems, including respiratory and allergies.

If you wear organic cotton nightwear, made from a soothing, soft and harmless natural fibre, you can guarantee your skin will thank you for it.

To buy organic clothing certifies strict guidelines during the farming process has been met, protecting farmers and our eco system. All of our cotton products are certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Fairtrade and SA8000 certified.

What chemicals do you avoid in your products?

Our whole process from planting the cotton seeds to weeding and pest control, to producing our garments uses as little chemicals as possible, we don’t use any pesticides, insecticides or herbicides, instead, organic cotton natural pesticides are used such as neem and chilli. This is obviously of huge benefit to the environment and protects the farmers.

Where are your products made?

All of our nightwear is made in India, it took us years to find the right manufacturer but we are thrilled to have finally found a partner who we can grow with.

We dedicated years to find the right manufacturer, it was so important that we found organic production and Fairtrade.

All of our products are GOTS certified and are Fairtrade certified. Set up by Franciscan nuns, it provides training and employment for deaf, mute and economically disadvantaged women.

What has been the response to noctu?

We have a wonderful loyal customer base which is fantastic and growing by the day.

I think so many more people have been made aware of the dire situation we face with regards to the fashion industry and we are now a lot more conscious of how we consume since the horror of the Rana Plaza tragedy. Without a doubt the fashion landscape is changing and it’s great to be a part of that change.

What is your vision for the future?

We are focusing on wholesale this year which is really exciting and will hopefully give us greater exposure to a global audience.

Always striving to create high quality products, sourced and made ethically and sustainably.

We want to keep doing what we are doing, keep learning and growing. We strive to be better and continue to produce products in an ethical, sustainable and transparent way.

What is your advice for those wanting to improve the health of their homes?

Have a clutter free environment. More plants and flowers which definitely improves the air quality but also improves the energy of the home. We also use a lot of candles and always essential oils in diffusers.