"I want people to understand the benefits of naturally dyed textile/clothing; to experience the positive energy of Khadi and feel pleasure when they wear garments that have had no negative impact to our precious environment or the dignity of humanity; and the peace of mind to know that when their garment's life is over it will return completely to earth."
This sentiment has led Kathy Williams to the evolution of her slow fashion brand Because of Nature and ultimately the creation of her latest iteration - The Elemental Collection - a capsule range of contemporary, hand-dyed, Khadi clothing that has been fabricated using traditional methods and ultimately subscribes to a zero waste, circular fashion model.
"The Elemental Collection is something I am so very proud of and a target I have been aiming towards for a very long time. My intention was to establish a viable sustainable textile practice that can be repeated and replicated. It has taken me many years to refine and perfect my process - ultimately creating a collection that is 100% compostable. The world needs a textile revolution……now! And this collection fuses ancient textile traditions, skills and techniques with nature's inherent colour palette to result in contemporary clothing designs that can ultimately return completely back to the earth."
Several factors are key to Kathy's ethos - Khadi and handloom cloth, the use of natural dyes, zero waste garment production, traditional construction techniques and small batch/made-to-order production runs.
"I work with Khadi as it aligns with my philosophy of humanity. Khadi exudes human vigour, created by hand from field to designer, promoting a sustainable economy throughout villages across rural India. It is a valuable resource of history, skill and tradition. Wearing Khadi is like adorning a big hug of mortal energy. Then couple that with natural dyeing which reaps colours as clear and reflective as Mother Earth!"
All dye used for the collection is 100% natural and sourced from either Kathy's dye garden in Geelong, the inspiring Happy Hands project and on occasion, reliable suppliers in Canada and India. Kathy uses the vats to exhaustion, returns the water to the earth and composts any waste dye stuff. An added bonus for customers to note is that naturally dyed garments can be re-dyed throughout their lifetime so each garment sold from the collection includes a free service to re-dye the garment once again.
All garments are designed with a zero waste outcome in mind and therefore the pattern layouts aim to minimise scraps and maximise use of the fabric with any leftovers being used for handicraft projects or recycled into Khadi paper.
"There is no reason for waste in my production circle, I have made sure of that. When I next return to Bodhgaya, Bihar to continue work on our Happy Hands Project I will travel with just under 10kg of Khadi scraps ready to be made into Khadi paper. It has taken me 3 &1/2 years to compile this amount of scraps."
Kathy also uses hand-dyed Corozo nut buttons that can ultimately return back to the earth:
"A simple often disregarded accessory to a garment is the button. Shell buttons are gorgeous but of course for very good reason we now consider the impact of harvesting shell from our oceans. The Corozo nut is grown in Panama and is often referred to as vegetable ivory in the button world. Not only is it a crop that provides sustainable employment for village communities in Panama but it can also be dyed. And so for the collection I have dyed the Corozo nut buttons with natural dyes from the vats I dyed the fabric in."
Rather than keeping up with fast fashion cycles Because of Nature chooses to transcend seasonal trends by repeating classic silhouettes/designs in varying weights of Khadi to balance and harmonise throughout the seasons of a wardrobe. The sizing is more generous and caters broadly between small, medium and large to reduce production quantities. Minimal stock for initial orders has been created for the launch of the collection thus reducing the likelihood of dead stock. Once this first batch is sold out the team can then create made-to-order garments using pre-dyed Khadi fabric from Kathy's studio.
"Our work is minimalist, we are not producing a massive quantity of stock that we “might” sell, this is against all our environmental practice beliefs. Artisan work should be unique and of quality, this takes time and effort and in return should find due respect. It means so much to me that all my work is circular. Everything I take from the earth is used and returned with minimal impact. Our ultimate goal for Because of Nature is to plant the fibre, grow the fibre, plant the dye plants, grow the dyes plants, harvest, sit with the spinners, laugh with the weavers, marvel at the designers and dance in our garments.”