Revival of the Ancient Textile Tradition
Ramie is a textile material that has been used as far back as Egyptian mummies. However with less than 100 craftsmen who make ramie cloth in China, the traditional textile technique is a dying art. Summerwood is a sustainable textile production company that was founded in July 2013, and dedicated to the production of ramie (also known as summer fabric). Hongbo (the founder of Summerwood) and many independent Fashion Designers are together reviving the production of the traditional textile in a modern expression. Slowly changing the nature of textile usage in China.
Interviewer: Jean DONG
Interview with Summerwood Founder: Yi Hongbo
Q: Can you briefly introduce your motivation in running a sustainable fashion textiles business? What is your main focus and what are your recent goals in the business?
A: Our goal is to create relevance for the sustainable material in a modern expression. Currently, Summerwood is mainly cooperating with the Fashion industry, but we hope to expand the business further into the Home Textile industry.
Q: You have been working collaboratively with independent fashion designers in China; can you describe your experience of the cooperation?
A: Summerwood has been founded since July 2013, and has been cooperating with many independent fashion brands that have similar goals to our company. We teamed up with NEEMIC, who I met when I was still an editor at Outlook Magazine, to create a black maxi skirt and top (made with up cycled leather) for the Neemic 2013 AW ‘Cocoon’ collection. The handmade garment was bleached and dyed with natural based substance, the black dye made from root substances found in Yunnan. We have also been cooperating with Ban Xiao Xue, who used to be the chief designer of EXCEPTION de Mixmind, and founded his own brand BANXIAOXUE in 2013. Summerwood also collaborated with mymymy from Xiamen. We are currently collaborating with international fashion brands, such a Ramiesu- a newly emerged British fashion brand.
Q: What is your choice of dyeing process? What are the advantages and disadvantages of your chosen dyeing procedure?
A: The dyeing process is a very important step in making Summerwood textiles. The whole process of natural plant dyeing is environmentally friendly, causing less air pollution, this allows for healthier working conditions in dyeing factories. However this dyeing method comes with certain constrictions, for example, the stability in coloration. Due to the only being able to dye small quantities at once, differences in colour can be found depending on cloths dyed in different phases.
Q: Our SFDC team is trying to make sustainable/organic fabric available to various retail channels; this will allow fashion designers to have access to suitable/ organic fabric more easily. From your perspective, what do you think could be adjusted?
A: I have high hopes for the SFDC (Sustainable Fashion Design Center) project. There are a large number of foreign trade companies and clothing factories in the Pearl River Delta and the Changjiang River, but no integrity due to poor connections between the manufacturing process and the design process. A project like SFDC is beneficial to the integrity of the supply chain, where through strengthening cooperation, a successful supply cycle can be achieved.
Q: Have you witnessed some change in people’s perception from your interaction with designers/garment companies?
A: I mainly see the changes from people around me. Consumers are starting to consider the quality of materials more, and are becoming more environmentally aware of their purchases.
Posted by Stephanie 10 July, 2014