Established in 2017 by Kate Anderson, Ecosophy is a homeware brand specialising in textile items that are thoughtfully designed and sustainably made. Kate founded Ecosophy after she discovered that there were hardly any places in the UK selling sustainable and high-quality home furnishings. After deciding to find out how to bring such products to the market, she set off on a journey that took her through India, Bangladesh and South-East Asia, meeting with farmers and artisanal groups who were pioneering sustainable forms of textile production. Partnerships with these groups soon followed, and Ecosophy was officially born.
Ecosophy's vision is hinted at in its name, which combines eco (from the Greek oikos meaning household) and sophy (from sophia meaning wisdom). This dual meaning of 'ecological wisdom' and 'household wisdom' reflects our goal, which is to help our customers make ecologically wise choices when decorating their homes.
Ecosophy's product range is focused on textiles as they represent concrete and symbolic links between our homes and the wider world. Just as a piece of fabric is woven together, textiles symbolise the inter-wovenness of our globalised world, connecting us to farmers, weavers, and communities of wildlife on the land and in the soil. The textile industry is one of the largest industries in the world and its potential to affect the world in both a positive and a negative way is huge. We want to harness the positive side of this potential and show how responsible textile production can create not only beautiful homes, but also a more beautiful world.
We are inspired by natural patterns and materials, and we believe beauty comes from designing with nature rather than against it. For this reason, we work with natural fibres only, which have been produced in the most sustainable way possible. We also, where possible, use natural dyes and work with artisans rather than factories. The main exception to this is our bed linen fabric, which is too large for a handloom, so is woven in a fair trade factory. For further information on our production processes, see below.
We use natural fibres only, which have been produced in the most sustainable way possible. Natural fibres biodegrade fairly easily, so do not have the same negative consequences for the environment as synthetic fibres do at the end of their lives. However, they can take their toll on the environment at production stage through the pesticides and chemical fertilisers used in their cultivation. We therefore try to use fibres that are either recycled or have been cultivated in an organic or ecologically sensitive manner.
With the exception of white, which is produced using low-impact chemical bleaching agents, all of the dyes used to colour our products come from plants or other natural sources. Our focus on natural dyes is due partly to their aesthetic appeal. Unlike synthetic dyes, which produce a flat, uniform colour, natural dyes have a multi-sensual appeal, exuding a faint fragrance and revealing subtle but deep colours that morph into different shades over time. At a microscopic level, they are made up of many different colours, which makes them soothing to look at.
Natural dyes also have some important social and environmental benefits. When grown and used sustainably, they do not pollute the environment and many can actually encourage environmental regeneration. They also contribute to rural livelihood creation.
To learn more about natural dyes and their benefits, click here.
With the exception of bed linen fabric, which is too large for a handloom so must be woven on a power loom, all of our products are woven by hand, and in many cases, the fibres have been spun by hand. The Indian term for this fabric is khadi.
Hand weaving is an art form that requires a lot of time and skill, hence its higher cost versus machine production, but unlike the uniform look of machine-made textiles, hand weaving results in fabrics that have a unique character and one-of-a-kind feel. Hand weaving also offers a sustainable form of livelihood as it usually requires no electricity or other carbon-intensive inputs. It is therefore a useful livelihood option in rural areas of developing countries where is often no electricity available and there are few sources of income outside of agriculture.
To learn more about hand weaving and its benefits, click here.