Rapanui – The Green Clothing Company (Podcast – part two)

The Drake-Knight boys tell us about their ambitions for their clothing company Rapanui.

Rapanui LadsA couple of weeks ago, we treated you to part one of our podcast with Mart and Rob Drake-Knight, the two guys behind Rapanui, the green clothing company from the Isle of Wight.

In this second part of our interview (listen out for the discount code for online purchases), Rob and Mart tell us more about their ‘traffic light system’, the new hunky-dory Rapanui Web site, as well as their views on greenwash.

Traffic Light System
We touched on the traffic light system that Rapanui have implemented in the first part of the podcast. The lads tell us in a bit more detail in part two how it works and what it’s purpose is.

It’s all fairly simple and makes good sense with the intention to give their customers the information needed, in order to make the right choices about their clothing purchases.

It works like this ….

Rapanui Grade A
Clothing in this category is among the most ethically progressive on earth, leading the field in sustainability. It addresses the entire product lifecycle; The Environment, with natural organic fabrics. Human Ethics with a Fair Wear Foundation auditing in place and Climate Change, being powered wherever possible by on-site renewable energy generation.

Green Light
Clothing taking extra steps towards a sustainable future, employing organic, natural fabrics and showing active endeavour to minimise environmental impact, on a foundation of ethical manufacture, i.e. Fair Wear Foundation Certified.

Amber Light
We believe that this is the minimum any clothing manufacturer should achieve; independently verified certification ensuring no child labour, good rates of pay, clean and safe working conditions and job security. i.e. Fair Wear Foundation Certified.

Red Light
This is below the standards that we believe is acceptable. Like a large fraction of high-street clothing, transparency has broken down to such an extent that companies cannot control their own manufacture. Case Study: Primark admitting that it “did not know its own clothes were being made using child labour.”

These guys continue to research their subject and talk about the mix of products they use, such as bamboo. It’s an incredibly soft product, in fact one of the softest next to silk and doesn’t need much water. With amazing growth rates, such as a foot a day, you can see why it is becoming a popular alternative to cotton.

But like most products, it does have to be processed and Rapanui don’t hide this fact. They try to take an holistic approach to their product line. Some come from the renewable energy powered factory, all are Fair Wear accredited, the majority of the products are organic (except bamboo), but what’s over-riding is their aim to be as open as possible about the product lifecycle.

Rapanui - Traffic Light System PetitionSign the Petition: Traffic Lights For Retail Clothing
What was clear from talking to Mart and Rob is that they are people who are keen to inspire. With the traffic light system, they’ve create a model which they hope can be used elsewhere, providing an example of how it can be done.

Interestingly enough since meeting up with the lads, they have started an online petition on the PM’s Web site. They are calling for the Government to encourage an Ethical Traffic Light System for all retail clothing, in the same way that we currently have for food products in supermarkets.

So far, the petition has gathered 95 signatures, so do tell all your friends about it and get them to sign up too.

Fancy Pants New Web Site
With a new product range comes a new Web site for Rapanui Clothing and very lovely it looks too.

The new collection is a bit more edgy than last years and goes some way to reflecting the personalities of Mart and Rob a bit more.

You’ll find the full product range on the site where you can also order online and the traffic light system mentioned above works within pop up menus.

Process involved with product creation
One new feature of the Web site that we love is the ‘planet’ page. An illustrative map is displayed which you can click around to find out more about the lifecycle of Rapanui products.

Rapanui Website - Planet MapSimply choose what part of the lifecycle you want to learn about about, click on the links and a pop up window takes you through with photos and a description. Whether it’s details about where cotton is sourced, or information about other initiatives that the company are involved with, such as the mega beach clean that takes place in Brighstone every three months in collaboration with the Marine Conservation Society.

You’ll learn that even though the lads aren’t making millions, they donate 5% of their pre-tax profits to environmental charities and have recently sponsored Joe Coleman on a Coral Reef Conservation trip to Fiji.

On the Island
Not everything happens over at the factory in India though. Blank garments come back to London where Rapanui have a carbon neutral warehouse. It’s energy efficient, paper free and provides centralised distribution.

Most of the products are hand finished on the Island, with stitching carried out by FTP in Lake and a hardcore of ladies in Brading who take care of the hand stitching.

Mart tells us that there is almost an entire street of semi retired seamstress who act like a sewing circle, hand finishing products – which came in very handy with a previous large order for uber-delicious ice-cream makers, Ben and Jerry’s.

The launch of the new Website and traffic light system took place recently and Rapanui were totally stoked to get the support of so many local businesses for their launch party.

From the Ventnor Brewery to Farmer Jacks and Goodman’s Deli – it seems as though everyone is getting stuck in to provide support for each other, even if their businesses are not related in any way.

Before we said goodbye to Mart and Rob they wanted to offer a special discount to all readers of VentnorBlog (what lovely lads they are).

Somewhere during the podcast you’ll hear Mart mention the special code word which will get you 10% off any Rapanui product (with free p&p) ordered through their brand spanking new Web site.

Pop the kettle on, make yourself a cuppa, grab a biscuit and listen to part two.

Wednesday, 17th September, 2008 8:22am


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Filed under: Business, Green Issues, podcast, South Wight

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1 Comment on "Rapanui – The Green Clothing Company (Podcast – part two)"

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I’ve known Mart and Rob for years. I know they have a real drive to create change and that they will. The traffic light system seems so cool and simple that its amazing that its not already everywhere. You heard it first from the Isle of Wight!