Unafraid to call the fashion industry a “dirty bastard”, Organic Basics is a Copenhagen based clothing brand that is getting rid of big logos and big price tags while setting higher standards for fashion sustainability. From sustainable materials, production and workplace standards to the entire business model, Organic Basics is constantly optimizing its environmental and social footprints.
When I first came across Organic Basics on Instagram, I fell in love with the brand immediately. Its diverse casting, understated colors and essential silhouettes felt like an answer to my prayer: how can I wear my values down to my underwear and socks? I don’t know about you, but swapping underwear and socks at a clothing swap is never gonna happen in my life! 😜
For our June Humans of Fashion series, I am so lucky to have interviewed the co-founder of Organic Basics, Christoffer Immanuel! Continue reading below to learn more about Christoffer’s sustainable journey and this super chic Scandanavian brand!
Tell me more about Organic Basics. What inspired you to co-found this brand?
I’ve always been very inspired by the future. When I was a teenager, I realised that I could build something that would drive positive change to our society. I instantly knew then that I wanted to build my own brand/movement. Building Organic Basics together with my awesome team of sustainable changemakers is by far the most rewarding challenge I have ever worked with.
What is Organic Basics’ aesthetic?
Growing up in Denmark and Norway, and with our HQ in Copenhagen, I’m inspired by simple Scandinavian design.
What were you doing before you co-founded Organic Basics?
Before Organic Basics, I was partner and co-founder in a creative agency, Culture Works. I worked with concept development and brand activation for bigger Scandinavian brands, mainly in fashion. I sold my ownership back in 2017 because I wanted to fully focus on Organic Basics.
When did you first become interested in sustainability?
I became a boy scout when I was 5 years old, which taught me many great things about our nature. From a very young age, I realised that we need to take care of the planet that we call home. As I studied economics at university, I realised that environmental sustainability and minimizing our footprint are not to be found in capitalist focused textbooks. I wanted to explore and change this. That is also why we always say yes to universities and master students who wants to work with Organic Basics as a case company.
What has your journey been like as a sustainable designer?
Probably a lot like any other designers. However, being both the co-CEO and owner of Organic Basics, I have more influence to force sustainable change into other departments in our team.
Working with sustainability is not an end goal, it’s a process of optimization. I think the day we stop optimizing for sustainability in Organic Basics is the day we die.
What’s your typical day like?
I have very few routines. I like to break rules and I like my days to be creatively chaotic and different with 1000 new inputs. When I leave our office, my brain sorts out those inputs throughout the night. I’m never not thinking about Organic Basics. Some might find it stressful but I guess this is the only way I know.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
The more you know the less you need.
Do you feel like marketing Organic Basics as sustainable has helped or hindered the brand?
We try not to say that we are a sustainable brand but rather tell what sustainable practices we perform.
This interconnects with marketing. We try not to be pushy but rather tell how and what we do, and then we make sure to do the right things.
What are your thoughts on today’s fashion cycle?
Delusional and destructive.
How do you believe the fast fashion industry can begin to fix itself?
I think some of the old giants will have a hard time. New brands that challenge and do things differently will rise on the sustainable change they are creating.
How can brands manage their waste?
In Organic Basics, we go far to minimize our waste. We minimize the resources that we use from fiber to finished products. We only work with organic and recycled materials. All of our packaging is made from post-consumer waste.
What brands do you look up to?
What advice do you have for other designers interested in sustainability?
Curiosity and courage will take you far in sustainability development. Be bold and ask the “stupid” questions when working with product development. Ask how you could optimise your design to limit waste, which sustainable fabrics you could implement etc.
And now for some fun stuff. If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
I would probably be a farmer and grow my own plants. I love to see things grow. However, I really love building Organic Basics. So for now, there isn’t a job in the world that I would trade it with.
What are some things you do for fun?
I spend a lot of hours in the office and traveling with Organic Basics. When I’m off, I love spending time with my lovely wife and our friends. I try to spend as much time as I can in nature: camping or hiking.
What is something nobody knows about you?
I have an obsession with blue whales.
Who would you love to see in Organic Basics?
I love each and everyone of our customers supporting our mission and making the sustainable choice when they shop.
Where do you like to shop?
In general, I don’t like to shop. When I shop, I mostly do it in P-A-R in Nørrebro, Copenhagen. It’s a second hand store where you can sell your old clothes and use the credit to purchase other peoples clothes.
What is your favorite thing to wear?
I guess that depends a lot on the weather and the situation. However, I always find myself in our Silvertech active socks. Our Portuguese factory helped us develop the first sock in recycled wool. You can wear them winter through summer and your feet are always comfy.
How do you wear your values?
I mostly wear Organic Basics and second hand. As a designer, I love to test out the products that we are developing to see if they live up to our sustainable standards before we put it into production.