Jill Danyelle

DESIGNER PROFILE: Katharine Hamnett

by , 08/12/07

katharine hamnett, organic cotton, eco design, fashion, sustainable, sustainable fashion, eco fashion

Earlier this year we mentioned Katharine Hamnett’s Cotton Campaign. Now with the recent launch of her new ethical line, Katharine E Hamnett, we felt it was time to take another look at the career of this designer who has long co-mingled social and environmental causes with her design work.


katharine hamnett organic cotton eco design fashion sustainable

Katharine Hamnett has been designing since the 70′s and was using contemporary heavyweights Ellen von Unwerth, Juergen Teller and Terry Richardson to shoot ad campaigns long before others. So, it is no surprise her fashion designs have pushed the envelope in other areas as well.

In 1983 she launched her protest t-shirt line for which she has become famous, donating a portion of the proceeds to charity. In 1989 she became active in researching the environmental impact of the clothing and textiles industry. Realizing that conventional cotton agriculture was responsible for 10,000 deaths annually from accidental pesticide poisoning, desertification, and long-term contamination of water, with working in conditions less than desirable, she decided to try to change the industry from within. In 1990, Katharine gave a speech on the dangers of conventional cotton cultivation in New York and launched an environmental cotton campaign in association with the Pesticide Action Network. Throughout the 90′s Katharine continued to weave social and political messages into her work and onto her clothing.

OXFAM invited Katharine to Mali in 2003. There she visited with cotton farmers and governmental officials. In this year, four years after her initial attempts to promote the benefits of organic cotton, she decided to cancel her current licensing agreement and go into production on her new ethical Katharine E Hamnett line. Katharine also relaunched her protest t-shirts last year. Both lines and more information about the designer are available at her website below.

+ Katharine Hamnett

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4 Comments

  1. Inhabitat » ESTET... September 23, 2007 at 12:43 am

    [...] The exhibition will feature Ciel, Davina Hawthorne, Enamore, From Somewhere; Gary Harvey, Katharine Hamnett, Noir, Nature vs Future and Veja to name a few. Stay tuned as we will highlight some of the best of [...]

  2. Michael Chan August 21, 2007 at 3:04 am

    I am planning a fashion show to raise funds for multiple of charitable organizations at Hyatt Regency, SFO, Calif. Do you wan tot show case your design?

    Michael

  3. v August 13, 2007 at 10:16 am

    oh look, just like iqons.

  4. Abigail Doan August 12, 2007 at 10:47 am

    Bravo for Katherine E Hamnett and her current focus and mission. Her tackling of the evils of the cotton textile industry amongst other planetary environmental and social ills makes her an uber-responsible-designer in my opinion.

    I think that it is refreshing to see this level of responsibility at the couture level as well. We have surely seen it with companies like Patagonia (also a forerunner in banning the use of non-organic cotton and pesticide-laden textiles in their products), but her website and even it’s graphic severity really conveys that she means good clean, stripped down business. Her rather vocal, “time to get off one’s bum campaign” is as sexy as her designs.

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