Eco-Feminism & Eco-Queer
It hasn’t been a month since the launching of our latest underwear collection called Natura, and it’s already been one of our best-selling ones! We had started designing Natura during the long Covid-19 period in the midst of the multiple lockdowns and social-distancing restrictions that were in place, a period that seemed never-ending and suffocating and took a heavy toll on the mental and physical health of all of us. One could say that this collection was born out of a burning longing for a kind of freedom closely associated with nature and the natural in general. The date of the launching right before summer, the name of the collection itself, the photo-shootings, and the names of the products of which is comprised that bear the names of various minerals are all a testament to this yearning for a naturalness. In this blog article, we are going to present our new-brand collection and explore the multiple meanings the word natural holds for us as a queer and environmentally conscious brand.
Let’s start with the basics, shall we? Ecce Homo’s Natura Collection is completely made of supreme quality cotton fabric. This particular cotton is a completely natural -cellulosic- textile fiber, one of the most used materials for apparel in the world. The specific properties of such a fabric make it perfect for manufacturing undergarments since it resists static electricity built-up, it is comfortable to wear, soft to the touch, breathable, and absorbent. Furthermore, cotton is really strong and resilient as it can easily withstand detergents, heat, and bleach, qualities that make it irresistible when it comes to underwear that requires regular washing in order to keep a high level of hygiene. Regarding the sustainability aspect of things, both financially and ecologically, over 60 percent of the world’s cotton is cultivated and processed in developing countries and provides a livelihood for over 100 million farmers and an income for more than 250 million people worldwide. However, intensive farming is sometimes the case in order to meet the growing demand of the fast-fashion market. In such cases, the overuse of water, soil, and pesticides threatens the ecosystems on which cotton depends.
Yet, cotton itself as an all-natural fiber is environmentally sustainable given the fact that it is a renewable, recyclable -using old garments and textile leftovers- and biodegradable resource, all of which play a significant role in reducing or avoiding pollution. Hence, cotton itself as a plant-based fiber is more sustainable than synthetic ones, yet the production methods used vary, and as such its long-term sustainability can be seriously compromised. On the other hand, the cotton Ecce Homo uses to manufacture its undergarments meets the human and ecological requirements of STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®, the global standard certification which ensures that ‘every component of this article, i.e. every thread, button, and other accessories, has been tested for harmful substances and that the article, therefore, is harmless for human health’. Furthermore, we keep on being committed to a slow fashion production process. This translates into two things.
On the one hand, we aim at designing and manufacturing long-lasting undergarments of high quality so that you don’t have to cycle through your closet as quickly. On the other, each of our products is handmade on demand in order to avoid the overproduction and subsequent destruction of unsold stock. We also make sure our wastage of fabric doesn’t end up in landfills and rather be recycled. On top of that, it’s been a year since we have introduced the ‘custom-made’ option available to our customers at an extra cost of just 5 euros. This means that we are more than happy to literally sew underwear according to each customer’s needs in order to ensure the perfect fit. Such a gesture also runs against the current of hyper-consumerism by elevating each piece of clothing to conscious long-term investment. Let us finally remind you that everyone involved in our supply chain has the best labour practices possible, and follows the environmental protocols of the EU, including taking waste and emission reduction measures. And of course, both our bag and our bamboo packaging are handmade, recyclable, and designed in such a way as to be easily reusable and repurposed by our customers.
To be honest, there is much more to be done! We have found ourselves in a quite unprecedented situation due to the fact that we have entered the market in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. On the one hand, both companies and consumers have turned once again to the cheapest yet far from eco-friendly materials, such as synthetic fibers, overturning this way a decade-long worldwide attempt at reducing their usage. On the other hand, given the heavy financial crisis that the Covid-19 precautionary measures have left in their wake and the devastating impact the latter has on an already struggling Greek economy, our hands have been pretty tied so far. All the above are just preliminary steps Ecce Homo was able to take towards minimizing its ecological imprint in every stage of the production process, but it’s not the end of the story as we are truly committed to making our company more sustainable in the future.
Why? Because we genuinely believe in the lessons we have been taught by both the feminist and queer ecological movements, lessons that seem all the more invaluable after the Covid-19 pandemic that made obvious the fact that we have entered the Anthropocene for good. This new geological epoch denotes the most recent period in Earth’s history when human activity is the most impactful driving force on the planet’s climate and ecosystem. Anthropocene urges us to take serious action against climate change and ecological catastrophe by pointing to our global inter-dependence in the face of a gloomy unsustainable future. As a queer underwear brand, Ecce Homo is inspired by the twin movements of eco-feminism and eco-queer that bring forth the inextricable interconnections among gender, sexuality, and ecology, three notions that we are not used to thinking together. On the one hand, since the 70s, eco-feminism has emphasized the ways both nature and women are (mis)treated by the patriarchy given the long history of associating women with nature that had led to the oppression of both. Just bring in mind the age-old characterization of both women and nature as irrational, raw, and uncontrollable in stark contrast to men and culture as rational, cultivated, and controllable. For centuries, at least in the ‘western’ cultural imaginary, both women and nature have been the untameable other for men to conquer, explore, decipher, and control.
On the other hand, the more recent -at least since the 90s- eco-queer movement challenges a series of heteronormative assumptions that structure our thinking about nature via a set of binaries, such as natural/unnatural, human/nonhuman, and normal/abnormal, that are to the detriment of both queer persons and environmental sustainability. Take for example the stereotypical view of heterosexuality as something that belongs unproblematically to the order of the natural, while homosexuality is considered to be something ‘out of place’, an unnatural thing. Furthermore, the adjectives natural and unnatural are far from innocent descriptive categories for at least two reasons: firstly, they are used strategically to align social phenomena and social groups with a preconceived and unexamined notion of what nature is and hence naturalizing their socially constructed character, and secondly, these terms are heavily imbued with moralizing connotations. In other words, people evoke the term unnatural usually to treat something or someone as immoral. Behind these descriptive terms, a series of normative evaluations and moral judgments lurks. Gays or trans are unnatural, hence abnormal, hence immoral, according to this rationale.
For us in Ecce Homo, Natura Collection stands for everything that is not judged as natural by the standards of the hetero-patriarchal society. Natural is anything that feels natural to each and every one of us. Natural is anything that makes one feel at home in one’s own body. Natural is any piece of clothing that makes one wear one’s true colors! This summer let’s get natural with Ecce Homo’s Natura Collection!
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