I was very excited to hear from designer, yogi and surfer, Helen in Cornwall about her ethical clothing brand Earth Kind Originals – EKO. I’m always on the look out for yoga clothes that are comfortable, breathable, and ideally ethical and organic. In this case, I’m happy to report that I have finally found an ethical clothing brand with very fair prices, and the clothes are simple, stunning and beautiful quality.
Helen and her team sent me a couple of items to try out. I received the Spa wrap top and a pair of black Crop Organic leggings, and tested both during my yoga classes. The wrap top is perfect at the end of class as we cool down, and can quickly be put on and knotted at the waist or buttoned at the back for poses where you don’t want any knots in the way (actually I’m wearing it now as I type too). The leggings have a roll top waist band (my favourite type), are super soft and very importantly not see-through like some leggings from the highstreet – yes, I have seen a few bottoms shining through leggings in my time.
Designed by Helen in Cornwall, the clothing items I have received have both been ethically created, from the soil up, in Turkey… but read on because I interviewed Helen about the EKO brand, her love of yoga, surfing and more about the process of creating her gorgeous, kind clothing range.
Helen, what inspired you to create a clothing brand that is ethically produced and organic?
I set up EKO after wanting to relocate back to the Cornwall where I grew up, from London where I had established my fashion career. This was a fantastic experience but not an environment I could see myself working in forever. I always imagined myself working and designing by the sea. My Father and Grandfather had their own businesses and I always felt that I wanted to do the same, I think its was in my blood to do my own thing. So I took a leap of faith four years ago and ventured into the unknown and moved back to Cornwall to start EKO, and wow it’s been a real adventure!
I have both the yoga crop leggings and the wrap top, I love the quality and feel of the pieces and I noticed the pieces say ‘ethically produced in Turkey’. Could you tell us more about the factory and the sourcing of fabrics?
We use Turkish organic cotton which has a fully traceable supply chain, it is GOTS approved by the Soil Association and can be tracked back the farmers and fields, this is very important to us. Our organic cotton is grown, spun, knitted and garments are produced all in the same area of Turkey which makes the supply chain efficient and lowering the environmental impact. We also use Tencel, which is made from eucalyptus fibre from European suppliers Lenzing in Austria, again we can track back to source. We work closely with fibre, fabric and garment manufacturers to understand exactly where and how our clothes are made from ground to garment.
I read that you enjoy both surfing and yoga you down in Cornwall, how long have you done yoga for and how have you found it most helpful?
Iyengar is my practice and my switch off at the end of the day. I have been practising for seven years now. After a fast paced job in London, travelling and working long hours in the clothing industry, yoga gave me sanity from the stresses and strains of everyday life. I moved to Cornwall (4 years ago now) and found a great iyengar teacher that I still go today. It helps me develop my practice and also helps my surfing and general well being. What I love about yoga is that you never stop learning and developing your practice, so for me it fits and I wouldn’t be without it. Together with surfing, my surfboard and yoga mat are my sanctuary.
It is great to pop the board in the car and head to the beach after a day in the studio and switch off. I started surfing after relocating back to Cornwall and starting a fitness class called beach fit where I met some like minded girlfriends who loved being by the sea and in the water. There is something about being in the water that is so calming and my favourite time of year is now…being in the water as the sun goes down is just great!
How do those two activities influence your designs?
I guess yoga and surfing both give me the space to think and come up with new ideas and designs. Surfing gives you great perspective of the Cornish coast, from the beautiful blues of the rough seas, to the hazey lavender of the armeria found along our cliffs. Yoga is a great place to research the practicalities of new designs, from breathability of fabrics, to the ease of movement. We have a selection yoga teachers that trial new styles for us to we can develop a truly functional collection that is simple, stylish and multi functional.
What are your personal favourite pieces from your range?
My favourite pieces are the Emily Jane Dress and the Savasana Wrap. Our E J Dress is a signature look that we created when we first started and has all the elements of EKO, simple, sculptural, practical and looks great on all body shapes dressed up or down. The Savasana Wrap was created after chatting to yoga teachers, spa therapists, new mums and travelers, who loved the quality of our fabric and wanted something simple that could be used as a breast feeding cover-up, shrug and scarf….just a good all rounder that fold up into your bag.
Can you share with us briefly the process of creating an item from idea to finished product?
In a nutshell : It all starts with a sketchbook of ideas, from sculptural shapes, catwalk tear sheets and colour baords to market research and fabric swatches. We usually attent Premier Vision in Paris to select new season fabrics and go and see our suppliers to talk over new ranges and go through production schedules. Then I create seasonal boards including a range plan, colour board and fabric board, that is then broken down style by style to design sheets (CADS of each style) and specification packs that include design measurements, colours and etchnical details of seam finishes etc. We then receive fit samples of our range followed by salesman samples that are used to shoot our look book and handed to our agents to hit the road and see buyers. Our production is then approved and then we start the entire process all over again a few months later. Although we do have a base collection that is non seasonal and rolls through all seasons – just plain, simple and organic base layers that feel great in timeless shapes. But every production run is reviewed and we always want better based on feedback we get.
I find many organic and ethical products are fairly expensive. Although most ethically conscious consumers are prepared to pay more knowing products are kind to the earth and people, unfortunately pricing does affect whether people are prepared to spend more on ethical brands. Considering the quality and ethics of the EKO brand, I think the pieces are actually very reasonably priced… was this part of developing the brand? And is this important to you?
Yes, we create true and transparent prices that are not hugely inflated as it fits with our ethical business structure. We believe organic and ethical clothing should not cost the earth, and used to create positive change.
Where do you hope to take the EKO clothing range in future?
We want to bring manufacture back to Cornwall and will be launching a limited line next year made along these Cornish shores. We are a little brand with a big personality and constantly looking to grow sustainably, do things better and enjoy the journey…combining our love for Cornwall and wellbeing to create something unique and special. We hope you like the collection as much as we do!
I certainly do! Take a look at the EKO website here. And even better… EKO have given me a discount code to pass on to my lovely readers. All you have to do is type in the code hound in the promo box at check out – and this will offer 15% off until end of July.
Enjoy yogis! I’m off to go buy myself the Lucy Savasana Wrap.
Happy are the days we can buy beautiful things that we know are kind to the planet and the people there on.
PS: A big thank you to my housemate Emily for taking over my camera to snap me in my lovely EKO gear.