Granit offers a clothing line full of perfect basics made of organic and Fairtrade-certified cotton. Make it last proudly presents the collection and an exclusive interview with the one's behind the collection.

Granit offers functional products for the home and the office, all characterized by their practicality, simple shapes, fair prices and good qualities. And – they are all made to last.  There is also a clothing line – perfect basics made of organic and Fairtrade-certified cotton. 

Make it last talks to Eva-Lena Degerhäll and Linda Åkeson, marketing director and head of buying at Granit, about the company’s journey in general – and the making of the perfect basics in particular.

Words by Lisa Corneliusson
Photography by Emma Elwin
See the full image feature here

Granit aims to offer long-lasting products. How do the customers reason when it comes to the durability of the products?

– Very differently! But generally, our customers are conscious and particularly interested in investing in products that they can live with for a long time. We have customers who come back after 10-15 years and ask for products they bought back then, which makes it even more fun when we’re able to help them. A lot of our storage products, like the boxes and abaca baskets, have been in our range since we opened in 1997.

Is there an overall environmental policy regarding the products at Granit?

– We aim for sustainability in all aspects, from the buying process to the product development and the choice of materials. To secure the working conditions and the production we have codes of conduct and agreements with our suppliers. We strive for long-lasting supplier relations that we can develop over time.

Is there a challenge in offering products in as many categories as Granit does?

– To have width in our range is definitely an important part our brand, we want the scope to inspire and contribute to the sense of wholeness. And yes, it’s definitely a challenge, especially since we’re a small organization with few people who all need vast knowledge about everything from materials and production to design, what customers want and what works well with our overall concept. But then again, it’s the scope that makes it fun to work with Granit, it never gets boring and we never run out of ideas.

When was the clothing line launched – and from where did you get the idea of creating a collection of perfect basics?

– The basic idea of our whole range is for things to be functional and useful, and that’s where we started with the clothes as well. Granit’s clothes are to be soft, comfortable and thought-through with a good fit. They are to fit on all occasions and have to be easily applicable to someone’s personal style. We want them to fit with a pair of denim shorts in the summer as well as a suit worn for work. We work with a timeless color range of blacks, whites and grey melange, and then add prints according to season.

– Most importantly, we want to make good quality clothes that are produced in a fair way. This is always as important, but especially with the clothes that you wear close to your skin. You want to be able to really live with the clothes.

How do you go about when working with the clothing line every season, and which are the bestsellers?

– As for all our products, we start with a moodboard for the season. Then, we want all our products to fit into that feeling. Before every season, we evaluate our basics and what needs to be updated and developed. We always strive to find a balance between our carry-overs and news for the season. The clothing line in particular is first and foremost made up of basics, so working with this is more about creating inspiration for the customers.

– The most popular garments are  the classic white t-shirt- and the scarf that you can use to carry your child in.

You produce clothes in organic and Fairtrade-certified cotton. Can you tell me about the cycle of production?

– We work with a supplier that has experience of clothing production since the seventies and they have a long-term collaboration with the factory in India. It’s a cycle characterized by transparency, with environmental and ethical consideration throughout the whole chain, from the very cotton field to the recycled packaging in the stores. The certifications ensure the quality of the work  in regards to questions of sustainability and environment.

Which are your main sources of inspiration when starting a new season?

– Inspiration can come from anywhere, when you least expect it. For the clothes, it’s a lot about watching people on the street and getting inspired by those who manage to portray that easy, comfortable style – but also those who really go all in. Personality is always exciting – and this applies to interiors too.

How are you planning on developing the clothing line in the future?

– When we started out, we had a long list of garments that we wanted to do. But it all boiled down to a rather limited collection of basics that fits all, and that’s what we’ll keep working with in the coming year – plus some seasonal news that might be prints on scarves, a thinner t-shirt or a caftan for summer.

How much do you work with recycled materials?

– As much as we can – recycled materials are  definitely preferable. . An example is our storage boxes made by recycled cardboard, and the grey melange pouf made of recycled PET bottles. To recycle textiles in a more efficient waywill be an important issue when talking about the development of materials in the coming years.

Looking around you, what are your eco predictions within your industry?

– Most important are the thoughts on conscious consumption. To choose products that last longer and are allowed to age is not just smart and considerate but also beautiful – a trend that we hope will last.

Another trend is the development of new materials that are both based on the recycling of existing materials and the making of new materials by treating for example plant fibers, giving them new qualities. For example, there’s a lot of research being made on wood cellulose and how to turn it into textiles, and materials that, with different environmentally friendly components, can be given qualities that are similar to that of plastic. We hope that manufacturers are fast to take on new techniques and that we’ll see these products in stores soon.

– The consumer is increasingly conscious, and a lot of customers ask us about anything from manufacturing to possible alternative uses for a specific item. It’s challenging, but more than anything, it’s fun – and it helps us develop.

Make it last asks Elisabet Lim of Fairtrade Sweden about what characterizes products made in Fairtrade-certified cotton – and why they are so important.

There is a wide range of Fairtrade-certified products such as coffee and bananas on the market – but how good are Swedish brands when it comes to offering products of Fairtrade-certified cotton? ?

– The interest increases every year, and the sale of products with Fairtrade-certified cotton increased with 47 percent in Sweden during 2014 (counted in kilograms of cotton). A substantial part of the increase is due to profiled products that brands and organizations offer, but we also have brands such as Mini Rodini that grew rapidly in 2014 and has 20 percent of their collection made of Fairtrade-certified cotton. Nudie Jeans, Tshirt Store and Swegmarks also offer products since many years, but a lot of fashion brands have challenges launching products made of certified cotton, as the collections are launched in such rapid pace. Working more sustainably and ethically is not always easy in the fast fashion industry.

Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is based on a partnership between producers and consumers. What are the most important measures for Fairtrade right now when it comes to the cotton industry?

– The world market price for cotton has fallen in recent decades, which has resulted in farmers becoming increasingly less able to make a living from cotton production. Although prices have recovered since the turn of the millennium, when price levels reached their lowest level in 30 years, the world market price today is only a third of what it was around 1980. In 2011, cotton prices increased rapidly after the floods in Pakistan, banned export of Indian cotton, reduced harvests in Australia and increased buying by China. The high prices however rarely reach the farmers, as they are at the end of a long supply chain.

– Another problem for many cotton farmers are the difficulties in establishing good trade channels and access to the world market. Often they are forced to sell through a number of intermediaries that take a large share of the profits.

Cotton is sometimes called ”the white gold” and many farmers go into debt to start growing cotton. Production methods, which often include using large quantities of pesticides, combined with the workers lacking protective clothing, lead to many poor people being injured in production. Many of the cotton-producing countries with widespread poverty have a more favorable climate than, say, the United States and can grow at half the cost compared to US cotton producers. Cotton cultivation in West Africa is rain-fed, unlike many other countries where irrigation is used. Despite these naturally good conditions, most cotton producers in countries with widespread poverty are struggling to compete on the world market against US producers. The reason for this is the large amounts of money, in the form of agricultural subsidies, which the US government gives to its own cotton farmers.

What distinguishes Granit’s clothing production from Fairtrade’s perspective?

– We think it is positive that a known brand such as Granit gets involved and wants to offer products in organic Fairtrade cotton. That the cotton is organic does not mean that farmers are paid better, unfortunately, the world price of organic cotton is way too low, so a Fairtrade certification is needed to ensure this.

The factories manufacturing the products are also in the forefront when it comes to the conditions of textile workers, but there is still much to do to improve the situation in India where production takes place. But the more companies that get involved and pay more for their products, the easier it is to survive for the factories that try to improve the conditions for their workers.

What does Fairtrade do?

  • Explicit rules for handling chemicals, including health promotion.
  • Requirements for democracy, for example, that every grower/member has the right to express their views and be involved in the decision-making within a producer organization.
  • The producer organization shall be paid at least a minimum price, i.e a price that will cover the cost of a sustainable production. The minimum price for cotton varies between regions and countries, and depends on whether it is organic or not.
  • If the world market price is higher than the minimum price, the world market price level applies as a minimum in negotiations between farmers and buyers.
  • A premium per sold kilogram of cotton is paid to the producer organization with the purpose to stimulate investment in the local community and business. The members decide jointly how the premium is to be used. Examples of what the premium has been used by are: school construction in the local community, investments in the local health services, micro-credit funds, investments in organic farming, diversification of crops to increase income opportunities and production facilities such as drip irrigation, which can save up to 70 % water.

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