Hans Galliker, the co-founder of fashion brand NEEMIC, is a man with vision. Having grown up on a dairy farm in Switzerland, Galliker came to Beijing in 2008 to study Chinese, an event that would alter his life path. Realizing the environmental and agricultural challenges in China, Galliker was inspired help change the farming industry. He started NEEMIC, a line of organic clothes that operates from a holistic view combining creativity and sustainability. We listen in as Galliker answers questions from Grade 6 students at Beijing City International School (BCIS) about organic fashion and the farming industry.
Sherry He, 12, China
What gave you the idea to start Neemic?
I simply wanted to support the natural agriculture industry in China with projects to help farmers and stores that sell eco-friendly products. But I also thought why not support fashion because fashion is a polluting industry. If you can promote a Chinese brand that people know is eco-friendly, then why not do that?
Siri Mueller, 12, Germany
Don’t you want your clothes to have designs and patterns and for those designs to change so you can make a bigger profit?
That’s how the fashion industry works, and the cycle isn’t sustainable. If you
always have new collections, what happens sometimes is that companies destroy the old ones so the market cannot buy it cheap. What I try to do – and also tell my friends to do – is buy quality clothes that will last many years.
Ella Deinum, 12, Netherlands
Why did you choose to make organic clothes and not other organic products?
When I became an eco-entrepreneur, my goal was to support sustainable Chinese agriculture; it’s my farming background, it’s my IT background [at IBM]. I wanted to help other entrepreneurs create organic projects and over the years, one of those projects developed into a fashion project. I realized eco-fashion is really good because you really can have a positive impact on the environment.
Elizabeth McEnroe, 12, US
Are there different dyes that aren’t harmful but can still make bright colors?
In the past, it wasn’t possible to use any dyes for organic clothes. People wanted organic but using brighter colors, so the industry came to a compromise by making a list of tested, colored, and eco-friendly dyes. Even if there’s some chemistry, it’s still organic. But it’s tested in advance and afterwards, the factories test the waters to make sure there are no harmful substances.
Hwan Choi, 12, South Korea
Where do you get your ideas for clothes from?
I let myself be inspired from life. I don’t read fashion magazines or watch TV. I just try to meet interesting people and listen to what they have to say. Our designer does it in quite the same way; he sometimes reads fashion magazines to see where trends are going, because we’re also a business and sometimes that can inspire us. But we don’t want to look like everyone else. NEEMIC design is very minimal. There are not many prints or patterns, so our pieces are never out of fashion and you can wear them
comfortably for years.
Helen Li, 12, China
Who’s your target audience?
Our average customer is in her 20s or 30s, usually an educated woman who can appreciate our sustainability goals. Our target customer has a low-key look; not loud. Our clothes are handmade in Beijing using eco-friendly materials.
Allan Hsiao, 13, US
Does it cost more to have an organic farm than a normal farm?
Not necessarily but because not many organic farms exist, that makes it more expensive. But for the last ten years, organic farms have become more popular and now organic products sometimes are not much higher than for other food or clothing products. Here in China, the situation is a bit different because eco-friendly food and clothes are still more expensive than normal products.
What are the environmental effects of non-organic farming?
Farming organically is usually better for the environment but there are also many farmers around the world who do eco-friendly production without having this organic label.
Sally Kang, 13, South Korea
Does it affect your health to wear non-organic clothes?
Some people have very strong skin and it doesn’t really matter what they wear, but others have allergies and problems with artificial fabrics and dyes. In baby fashion and kids’ wear, you can see more clothes being organically certified and using all-natural fabrics. It must be comfortable and it must be safe.
Photos by PIXstudio
This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of beijingkids. To view it online for free, click here. To find out how you can obtain your own copy, email email@example.com.