By Heather Fulton
One designer’s vision for sustainable fashion proves Prophetik.
“We all have a story to tell; we all have a canvas, and my canvas is clothes.” – Jeff Garner
Raised living off the woods on a horse farm in historic Franklin, Tennessee, designer Jeff Garner wove his passion for nature and fashion into a clothing line that respects both. Inspired by Civil War-era clothing, Garner’s Prophetik line pays homage to the historic dressmakers that incorporated sustainability out of necessity.
Natural dyes brewed from marigold flowers, Japanese indigo and other roots and plants grown in their Nashville-based community garden color the line’s certified natural fabrics. “Nature teaches us so much,” Garner said. “If you really ponder its ways, the solutions to most design challenges have been answered.”
Local sewers stitch vintage buttons to Prophetik’s reclaimed, recycled and organic materials – even some made from flax and hemp. “I love hemp as a fabric,” Garner said. “Hemp is the longest natural fiber, thus the strongest fiber, and has the least amount of impact on its growth of any fiber.” While Garner has his favorites, he is also testing new fabrics, like cactus silk, for future lines.
Prophetik’s spring/summer 2011 line, “Midnight Garden,” features flowing Southern ball gowns trimmed with beaded leather ropes and lace, tailored jackets and waistcoats with antique buttons, pin-tucked tea dresses, hooded tunics and long-hemmed bloomers, all in earthy shades ranging from oatmeal and lavender to copper and raspberry.
While Garner emphasizes sustainable practice, he is also an avid supporter of the ethical side of making clothes. “Prophetik is striking out against the ‘norm’ of the industry,” Garner said. “We are here to help prove that production and manufacturing a fashion label in whole can truly have a positive impact.” Prophetik employees are sourced locally, receive fair pay, and work in a chemical-free environment. People worldwide have taken notice of Garner’s fashion-forward approach with Prophetik; in fact, he was named “2010 Eco Men’s Designer of Year” at London Fashion Week.
“I have not worn a chemically dyed garment in four years,” Garner said, but his commitment to sustainability doesn’t stop after the sewing machines retire. Garner often speaks at universities about sustainable fashion, and will partner with Lipscomb University in Nashville to start a school of sustainability. He lives and maintains his family farm, keeping the tradition of living off the land and working with what he has. He tends a garden and chickens, drives a Prius, and can even be seen commuting on horseback.
Garner hopes people will continue to become aware of their community’s needs and make conscious choices that will benefit those communities and nature. When it comes to fashion, “Always flip over the label to see who made it, where, and the materials it was made from,” Garner advises.
When asked where he sees the future of sustainable fashion heading, Garner humorously said, “I pray one day the gentleman walking down Main Street in his golf poly chemically dyed polo will be called out, as if it was so 2000.”