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One One One Wear Interview

Established in 2007, One One One Wear is a quality French brand inspired by freedom and unity. Its new Fair Trade collection, made of organic cotton or tencel, lends truth to One One One’s mission of providing quality, conscious apparel for men, women, and children. Not only has One One One Wear been producing fresh fabrics in the most conscious way possible since its inception in 07’, but they’re truly dedicated to helping the world achieve a higher understanding and respect for one’s body, our planet, and Human Rights. Martin of One One One Wear gives us a better look into what makes this brand so dynamic and so unique.

TM: Who developed the concept for One One One Wear, and why?

Matthias-Karim & Martin, we’re friends from childhood in the 90′s in Paris France. It all came up naturally, MK being a graphic designer for over 10 years and M having worked in various fields from video games to kids fashion. When we both reached 30 we felt it was time to do our own work and to express ourselves in our own way, to spread our own message… Some friends do it with conscious music as a media, we do conscious t-shirts!

Most people have never heard of tencel. What are the benefits of organic cotton or tencel, as it relates to apparel, and how has its use enhanced the meaning behind the brand?

Tencel is a fiber from Eucalyptus with awesome properties, especially for clothing – silky softness and luxurious drape. Tencel® Lyocell is also the most environmentally friendly manmade cellulosic fibre available today. It is produced exclusively from the wood pulp of Eucalyptus trees certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC), and the fibre carries the Pan-European Forest Council (PEFC) quality seal.

The only chemical used in the Tencel® manufacturing processes is the non-toxic solvent, amine oxide, that allows closed-loop processing where up to 99% of the chemical is perpetually re-used, minimizing the impact on the environment and conserving energy and water. Using such fabrics is in accordance with the message & the meaning of the brand. Respect Mother Earth! But it’s more expensive too, so we had to go step by step to get to the product we have today…

One One One Wear believes that the children of today are the men and women of tomorrow. With that said, how important do you feel it is to teach our children love and respect for their bodies, their planet, and their rights, and at what age do you feel is appropriate to do so?

The kids rule, man! In France we say ‘Truth comes out of kids mouth!’ We believe it’s important not to lie to the kids and to show them what’s right. From their early age, kids are always in demand of learning everything. They learn fast and they trust you, but you have to cherish them… You may postpone showing them some of the harsh reality of the world to protect them. However they are never too young to learn the right things. That said, what kind of polluted world do you want to leave to your kids?

As creators of conscious wear, do you feel as if the world has a healthy respect for brands such as One One One Wear, or do you feel as if brands promoting a positive message tend to get lost amongst the masses of brands who promote the opposite?

We get plenty of positive feedback from people who discover our brand every day. People receive too many provocative marketing messages all the time, as it’s an easy way for many brands to create the buzz. Therefore ONE ONE ONE’s conscious message is often taken as a breathe of fresh air. Most of our customers really take pride in contributing to spread the brand’s message, and it makes us feel we’re doing the right thing.

We know that One One One promotes endless love and respect of nature, cultures, identities, and differences. What are some of the other inspirations behind the designs found on One One One Wear?

I see you got the message… But in terms of design the inspiration is wide. One of the first source of inspiration was Africa. MK the designer has lived in Cameroon & Mali. Even the name of the brand originates from Jamaican National Hero Marcus Garvey’s prophecy ‘One God, One Aim, One Destiny’. Africa repatriation rather than China importation! Then the whole world inspires us. From music to movies & TV series, everything, everywhere, local or international, traditional or contemporary, everlasting or gone already…

Anything can be the starting point for a new design, as long as you look at it in a conscious way. As we expected Brazil to be under the spotlights this year, we wanted to pay a tribute and show the country the way we see it. Therefore we designed 3 T-shirts highlighting 3 sides of the country : One ‘National Flag’ T-shirt for the strong nation and the proud people of Brazil. One ‘Corcovado’s Cristo Redentor’ T-shirt for the country’s beauty and richness. One ‘Favela’ T-shirt for the often forgotten poverty, violence and inequalities. For over 5 years MKA was the only designer, but in the past 2 years we have worked with other great designers, like Valerie Hugo or Loseou recently. We also do collabs’ with musical artists & labels…

In addition to apparel, One One One also sells exclusive ‘conscious’ accessories. Tell us more about that.

Over a year ago we teamed up with Grassroots California (GRC) on a release of 7 co-branded hats designed by ONE ONE ONE. GRC has been doing some great innovative hats for years, especially fitted & snapbacks with special features and unlimited design achievements.
Even though these hats were the only ‘ONE ONE ONE’ branded products ever produced in China, we were enthusiastic with GRC’s ‘give back to charity’ scheme. Anyway our focus has mostly been on T-shirts so far, but we have always been thinking of developing more hats and more conscious accessories in the future.

It is important to note that One One One Wear tees are made in India, using low-impact organic cotton, in manufacturing facilities using wind turbines and solar power. Why is this so important, and what kind of an impact do you think that the textile industry has on the environment, working practices, and health and Human Rights matters?

When we started in 2007 there was almost no quality organic clothing available on the market. Like everyone who starts in the business we had tight budgets and we first couldn’t afford buying organic T-shirts to print on. So we decided to use ‘clean’ inks on our t-shirts and not to produce in China. At that time no one really cared about that; and it was more costly too. But we felt we were on the right track. The textile industry has often been criticized for its bad practices. Big worldwide brands make huge profits & cause more pollution, more poverty, more inequalities everyday… Little by little, people get conscious after seeing & hearing about scandals in the fashion business on the news.

Consumers now tend to care about what is behind the products they buy. Last year’s Rana Plaza building collapse in Dhaka Bangladesh has been the strongest recent warning signal for the whole textile industry. Sadly it also takes such catastrophes to make things evolve.

What two pieces of advice would you give to new and upcoming ‘conscious’ wear brands as it relates to branding and global marketing?

First, conscious is right. Second, refer to first :) Do what you believe in & believe in what you do. That’s my advice! For instance during the 2008 Olympic Games in China, we decided to support the Tibetan people by placing an ad in the French issue of Vice magazine. This ad was simply saying “Free Tibet”, but in Tibetan! We knew most people would not get it, but those few who did loved it…

Has music influenced One One One Wear in any way; and if so, how?

Music is life. We listen to a lot of conscious music that have a really positive message. These conscious messages are also an inspiration for the brand, therefore music influences our work. Also many of our friends are musicians, DJs or producers. We love their music & they love our T-shirts. Music is infinite, there’s always new music… And T-shirts are infinite too! :)

What does it mean to produce products and apparel printed with clean inks that contain no PVC or phthalates, and how does that lend to the quality of One One One Wear?

Respect your planet & respect your body! Again we want to offer the best quality standard product while reducing as much as possible its impact on the environment. The textile industry has been using many toxic products especially when it comes to dying & fixing the colors. Most of the time these toxic chemicals can’t be recycled properly & end up being released into the environment, causing tremendous pollution to rivers & soils. In addition, it appears that exposure to these chemicals is also harmful for the human skin & body, as it could result in allergies & cancers for instance. ONE ONE ONE is therefore strongly avoiding the use of such hazardous components in its production process. That’s our definition of quality achievement.

We see people from all over reppin’ One One One Wear. From Usain Bolt to Cape Verde born, France raised, singer/songstress Mo’Kalamity. What is your vision for One One One Wear, and where do you see the brand in 5 to 10 years?

From the start the response was very positive. All kind of people appreci-love the concept of ONE ONE ONE and give us huge support. From sportsmen like Usain Bolt to movie actors like Vin Diesel, there are also many singers, dancers & musicians who wear the brand on the international scene. It would take a whole page to name them all, and I would still surely forget some of them… So thank you all once again! As many of our friends are musicians in various reggae bands, it’s true we have a special support from the international Reggae & Dancehall scene. But at the end we just hang on with friends & meet people, and that’s the most important.

When you give a set of ‘One Love Jamaica’ T-shirt & cap to Busy Signal & you see him wearing them proudly straight away, it’s the greatest reward you can get! Back a few years ago we never imagined we could design here in France a ‘Jamaica’ T-shirt that would please Jamaicans on tour in Paris! But the most important to us is the support we get from all the people. People like you, people like us, normal people, conscious people! In 5 to 10 years we would love to be able to do more for the people. Keep on doing our thing while helping out same time. Likely through Education. Donating from the sales to participate in building schools in poorer parts of the world, as well as hiring & training youths who want to work in the fashion industry. We’ll see…

Last week we’ve just opened a shop at 49 rue Leon Frot 75011 Paris France. We’re here for at least 6 months & even have the opportunity to stay there up to 9 years from now on!
Come and visit us when you’re in Paris, France! Anyway, there is still a lot of work & projects & collabs’ ahead, so stay tuned!

One Love

There you have it; Martin of One One One Wear. Shop the current collection and see more cool products at OneOneOneWear.com!
Posted in JUNE 2014 ISSUE, Spotlight.