About Fair Indigo
After years in the fashion world, a small group of us established Fair Indigo because we believed in better ways to do business. We knew it was possible to create timeless, high quality clothes, while paying the good people who make them a fair and living wage. Instead of racing to the bottom, we'd lift people up. By building quality garments you'll love to wear for years to come.
We founded Fair Indigo to change the way the apparel industry works, and to inspire you to change the way you think about your clothes. It's a daunting endeavor for our small team (7 employees strong!) in Madison, Wisconsin, and we feel utterly privileged to be part of it.
When fashion is done right, we all do well. You, us, farmers, garment works, and our shared home, Planet Earth. Everyone can prosper, and we can all do our small part to change the world. Just by changing our clothes.
Sustainable materials: The right fibers (organic whenever possible) make up the foundation for building sustainable clothing. Buttery soft Peruvian Pima cotton and luxe-without-guilt baby alpaca are, hands-down, our favorites. They're kinder to the planet, stronger, and longer lasting than other cotton and wool.
Enduring Quality: In an industry drowning in cheap Fast Fashion, our fabrics and garments are meticulously crafted to last through years of steady wearing and washing, with minimal shrinking, pilling, or losing shape. Whenever possible, we pre-wash our fabric before it's cut and sewn. This uncommon, expensive, but beneficial, process not only ensures your garment won't shrink, it also prevents twisting and puckering around seams after the fabric shrinks in the dryer, but the sewing threads don't.
Forever in Fashion: Fads by definition are not sustainable. A well-made garment that's this season's 'must have' but next season's 'what was I thinking' will hang in your closet unworn, or worse, end up in a landfill. When you buy timeless designs instead of corporate dictated fads, you're building a wardrobe with some serious mileage. It’s liberating to dis-entangle yourself from the craziness of what fashion editors and celebrities are saying you must have and simply wear what naturally makes you feel great.
Fair Trade: Too often, talk of sustainability treats human beings as an afterthought. This. Must. Stop. If organic clothing is priced too good to be true, it's probably because the well-being of the garment workers has been overlooked. We pay our skilled artisans and operators fairly and treat them like family. A fair wage and supportive work environment provide the means to a healthy happy life. It's the only way to build a truly sustainable business.
PERU: THE PERFECT PLACE TO MAKE CLOTHING
Peru is, quite simply, the perfect place to make clothing. First, it's home to two extraordinary fibers – Pima cotton and alpaca fleece. Both are uncommonly soft, strong, long lasting fibers not widely found outside Peru. Alpacas naturally grow a wide range of fleece colors depending on their breed and region. Families sustainably herd our alpacas in the Cordillera mountains, where they have been tending their herds using time-honored methods for hundreds of years. And our organic cotton is grown on two family farms.
Second, exceptional knitting and sewing skills have been passed down through generations, since the time of the Incas. There are an abundance of artisans eager put their skills to work, like those above hand knitting our Joobles organic stuffed animals.
Small family business are increasingly rare in apparel making, but husband and wife team Javier and Elsa stand apart as one of the finest. Javier and Elsa come from Cajamarca, Peru's Dairyland (kindred spirits to us Wisonsinites). They grow their own organic Pima cotton, run their own small-batch sewing workshop in Lima, and serve as a hub for dozens of tiny knitting cooperatives – who, without Javier and Elsa's assistance, would struggle to get their products to market.
A farmer at heart, Javier's passion for organic cotton began decades ago when he learned that a staggering 25% of the world's insecticide is used on cotton, which occupies only 2% of farmland. His two farms are situated in a region ideal for growing the world's best cotton – Pima cotton. His non-GMO, GOTS-certified organic cotton doesn't contain any pesticides or other harmful chemicals. The farm uses natural irrigation techniques, grows quinoa in the off-season, and, like all Pima cotton, workers pick it by hand. This limits environmental impact of the cotton harvest and ensures the cotton is of the highest quality.
From Javier's farm, the cotton is next spun into yarns and knit into our premium fabrics. The beautiful fabric is then colored with earth earth-friendly dyes before washing and pre-shrinking. The mill that knits and dyes our fabric treats or recycles 100% of its water. The local water utility even remarked that the water that exits the facility is cleaner than the water that goes in.
Elsa and Javier's small workshop in the Ate (pronounced Ah'-Tay) neighborhood of Lima is where Jonny and his team meticulously cut layers of fabric into panels, obsessively organizing the pieces to waste as little fabric as possible. It's like a huge jigsaw puzzle!
Next, the team bundles the fabric panels and sends them to the sewing area, where operators guide each seam to perfection. It's a learned skill and a hard day's work, but fair trade ensures they're paid well and treated like family. Unlike many burnout clothing factories we've seen, employees here work for five, ten, even twenty years. Javier and Elsa become like second parents to them.
A quality control team carefully measures and inspects the finished garments to ensure they adhere to the high quality standards that the enterprise has developed over its many years in business.
Daniel and the packing team make up the final stop before the clothes begin their journey north. This is the only area where we Fair Indigans feel like we can jump in and “help” the team. We love to do this, as it's satisfying see the fruits of everyone's labor. Go team!
As Peruvians, Javier and Elsa never forget how fortunate they are to live in one of the most magical places on earth. This relatively small country boasts more micro climates than any other nation on the planet – from the Mediterranean-like coast to the frigid peaks of the Andes, and down the other side of the mountains into the Amazon tropical rainforest.
A country with a refreshing reverence for the native peoples who first cultivated its bounty, Peruvians take pride in their ancient history, and have an almost mystical consciousness of Peru's three distinct regions, where Incas harvested a mind boggling diversity of crops.
As a fair trade business, we visit our facilities as often as possible – at least once a year, usually twice. Peru's people and culture (and amazing food!) make it a pleasure to visit. Causa, pictured below, takes the prize as one of our favorite Peruvian dishes. Yellow potatoes flavored with peppers and stuffed with various goods like avocado, chicken salad, and hard-boiled eggs.
In addition to strengthening partner relationships and sampling tasty local cuisine, we also enjoy visiting the local schools that the FAIR INDIGO FOUNDATION supports through donations of books, supplies, and more. Read more about the FAIR INDIGO FOUNDATION and its efforts to support education in the communities where our products are made.