Almost 14 years after launching its first eco-friendly collection, RespecTerre will definitively stop all of its activities. On Wednesday, March 31st at 10pm, we will stop transactions on our website. Customers will have a month to return or exchange their most recent orders. After that, it won't be possible to buy or return RespecTerre garments.
From individuals who bought and worn our clothes with pride to independent boutiques who trusted us and with whom we built relation of friendship throughout the years. To every single one of you who has been supporting us for many years : Thank You ! We wouldn't have gotten this far without you.
We'd like to thank everyone who worked hard to create and maintain this enterprise since its start. Many people took the lead over the years. Some are still part of the ecovillage. Some aren't. This company is the result of a collaborative effort from several individuals working for a common goal over many decades. Thank You !
Why is this journey coming to an end ?
Sometimes, in life, we have to make choices. Two paths are clearly visible. We have to choose which path is better for us. For we want to live a happy and balanced life.
This conclusion has nothing to do with the current COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, we made this decision in February of last year. Before any of us knew how much this virus would impact our lives. If anything, the pandemic made us last a bit longer. We originally planned to stop at the end of 2020.
As time goes by, we grow older. Our parents, who pioneered the birth of our intentional community / ecovillage "La Cite Ecologique", are now at the age of retirement. Additionally, over the last 30 years, more people left than joined the community. As a result, the group's workforce is getting smaller and smaller. Thus, we have to choose carefully the activities we want to carry in the future.
Making the hard decision to stop RespecTerre was a part of this context. There are simply not enough people – who will lead the company and give unconditional extra hours – to keep all our projects going and we chose to let this one go.
If you feel the urge to join our community to save this company, you are about 10 years too late. It isn't something that can be fixed overnight. Joining the community is a long process which requires over 3 years and a lot of work for current members. Reversing this trend would take many years. Besides, living in a community – sharing food, cars, homes, jobs, decisions, responsibilities, feelings, moods, personal growth and more – isn't for everyone.
The end of a chapter
Sewing has been at the heart of our economic activities from the early 90s and a cornerstone to climb ourselves out of bankruptcy. Everyone here knows how to sew. Putting an end to the last economic activity related to garment making sure feels like turning the page on a new chapter.
The workshop will remain and be available for members of the community to repair their clothes or create amazing costumes.
Since the early 2000s most of our country's expertise in textiles has been exported to Asia where manual labour is cheaper. Over the last year, we saw a lot of initiatives to bring back and keep this expertise here. Let's hope this trend continues.
Even in the niche market of ethical clothing, finding a quality product that is locally made remains a challenge. Popular Canadian brands like tentree or nomads hempwear are and will remain made in China.
Let me ask you a question, what does "made in Canada" means for you ?
1. The fabric is cut and the garment sewn here ?
2. The fabric is knitted or woven, printed or dyed here + 1 ?
3. The fibre is processed and yarn is spun here + 1 and 2 ?
4. The fibre was farmed and/or transformed here + 1, 2 and 3 ?
1. That's the exact legal definition to label your clothes "made in Canada".
2. That rarer, but about half of our clothes met that criteria.
3. There still are spinning mills in our country but we were never able to go that far.
4. After a lot of research, I can confidently say : this does not exist. Sure, some tests are underway with locally grown hemp by Logistik Unicorp and Eko-Terre. But it's far from being on the market.
Sometimes even when you think you buy a product locally made it's very hard to avoid a raw material that comes from Asia. And the problem is, most of the time there is no way to get this information when we make a purchase.
As an activist for change, what I'd like to see when I buy a product is :
1. Where has this garment been cut & sewn ?
2. Where has the fabric been printed or dyed ?
3. Where has the fabric been knitted or woven ?
4. Where has the fiber been processed and spun ?
5. Where has the fiber been transformed ?
6. Where has the raw material been harvested ?
And when I say "where" I want to know an exact factory location (country, states/province, city, address). I know the supply chain is complex and fragmented. I ran into this same problem while trying to provide transparency for our customers. But unless we (customers, retailers, brands, manufacturers, knitter, dyers, printers, spinners, importers, farmers) ask those questions, real change will not happen in the fashion industry.
If you have at heart the environment and the working conditions of garment workers and you'd like to do the best for both. Here is my finest advice :
1. Shop 2nd hand, repair, up-cycle your clothes
2. Ask the above 6 questions to your favourite brands
3. Shop less & curate your wardrobe
4. When you do buy new, support a brand which has ethics at the core of its mission (fair trade, organic material, radical transparency, small productions)
5. Learn & follow Fashion Revolution
I've often questioned myself : by making new clothes (even with eco-friendly low impact materials, dyes, etc.) are we part of the problem or the solution ? As you may have noticed in the just-mentioned advice, buying new clothes comes 4th, not 1st or even 2nd or 3rd... 4th.
Will creating a new brand, more offers of new clothes in an overly saturated market really help the environment. Or is it still a pretext for personal flourishing & gain ?
In the end, I think we had a positive impact on people's hearts and minds. I hope we made you aware of the fashionable dangers threatening our planet. I wish it created a spark in you to strive for change and move towards a sustainable fashion industry. I know we took part in leaving this industry better than we found it when we started in 2007. It's up to other designers and brands now to carry on this mission. We'll still be conscious consumers and activists for change.
I might still do more youtube videos even if the company is no longer active. I've been meaning to explain and vulgarize the multiple facets of viscose in a video as I noticed there is a big gap between the public's understanding and what really happens in the industry. Also, my underwear is still buried in my back yard as a lyocell biodegradability test... Besides, I just love making videos.