How did the two of you meet? Was it kismet at first sight?
For a moment, close your eyes and envision a pleasant summer afternoon. A playful breeze tickles your neck and murmurs sweet secrets in your ear as notes of wildflower bouquets lazily drift by. As you bite into a freshly picked crisp apple, it sends explosions of flavor rolling down your tongue. How do you feel?
This scene describes many serene afternoons growing up in Portland, Oregon. We were raised with an appetite for nature, local food, community, and aesthetics with an international, particularly Japanese, presence.
From a young age we asked questions about where our food came from: Who was growing it? Where did it come from? What chemicals were used? We were very intentional about what we put into our bodies.
Fast-forward a few years we were working separately in the clothing industry and discovering that conventional production and dyeing was non-organic, wasteful, and utterly harmful. Finding it difficult to answer questions about origins, chemical usage, and fair labor.
“We emphatically agreed to take the same level of consideration of the ‘slow food’ movement and bring it to clothing with our own light-hearted spirit.”
We’re grateful to our fathers, who introduced us. As soon as we connected, we bonded and began concocting ways we could make clothing differently. We emphatically agreed to take the same level of consideration of the “slow food” movement and bring it to clothing with our own light-hearted spirit.
Where does the Olderbrother name come from?
The archetypal older brother—blazing new trails, reminding us of good times, and celebrating you as you are.
How does Olderbrother contribute to the “slow fashion“slow fashion” revolution?
With all of our intention.
Each naturally dyed garment is subtly unique and completely free of heavy metals, salts, and toxins. After being loved to death, they can be buried in your backyard to organically decompose. Just remove zippers.
We work exclusively with eco-conscious textiles that range from small-batch organics to renewable plant-based synthetics. We carefully select our textiles based on quality, environmental impact, and social responsibility.
We’re not perfect but our compass is pointed towards improvement.
We’ve heard you talk about your wabi sabi process, particularly when it comes to dyeing. How large of a role does does the Japanese Zen philosophy, which finds beauty in the imperfect, play in your label?
We interpret wabi sabi as a celebration of imperfection and appreciating ourselves as we are.
Aesthetically, when we began naturally dyeing, each batch would come out different, with light and dark marks across the garments. Instead of getting frustrated in search of cookie-cutter perfection, we embraced the uniqueness of every piece.
Philosophically, it’s a liberating concept. From growing up with a majority of Western teaching, we learned that angles must be perfect, surfaces are better shiny and clothes should be in pristine condition.
We felt like there was a piece of the puzzle missing, however. On the road to a perfection, we’d stripped the spirit from our environment, the boxes we house ourselves in, and the clothes we live in.
“We infuse our garments with spirit and humanity through handmade production, earth conscious textiles and natural dyeing.”
We infuse our garments with spirit and humanity through handmade production, earth-conscious textiles and natural dyeing.
When did you first become immersed in the world of natural dyes?
By complete accident: while we were young and picking wild blackberries. Reaching up to grab the juicy blackberry at the top…just out of grasp. Swaying on tiptoes, we caused the entire cluster to topple and splat on our shirt.
After the initial surprise and guilt of staining our shirts, we unleashed devilish grins and began to smash more berries, creating a sugary psychedelic tie-dye.
Where do you obtain or grow your dyes?
We import from fair0trade sources locally and all around the globe. As we grow, it’s a goal to grow our own dyes.
Why do you choose to use Cleaner Cotton?
What we love about Cleaner Cotton is its model of success and the feeling of natural fabric on our skin.
Cleaner Cotton’s farm program brought together a community of family farmers growing cotton in California’s Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties to grow cotton sustainably.
The growers implemented biologically based practices, which protect the land, air, and water resources in the region.
We get excited about textiles that are making a move in the right direction.
What inspired you to create garments that can be universally worn? Was it challenging process to develop the right fit for multiple body types?
In Japanese, kimono literally means “a thing to wear.” [There is] no division between sex, size, or race. We take this same spirit to heart when we design by carefully considering and championing the human form.
“We’re going to breathe life into past seasons through indigo dyeing, natural distressing, and hand-stitched patches to create one-of-a-kind pieces.”
What does you fashion calendar look like?
Tell us about your “Hand Me Downs” line, which consists of refashioned bits of unsold inventory.
Envision your most treasured hand-me-down, imbued with memories, good vibrations, and a playful spirit.
We’re going to breathe life into past seasons through indigo dyeing, natural distressing, and hand-stitched patches to create one-of-a-kind pieces.
We want to re-envision the market by slowing things down a bit and hopefully inspire people to patch their clothes instead of throwing them out.