Like many women, I buy clothes according to the season's trend or to reflect some current fantasy. Do I want the Jackie O, Virgin Bride or Earth Mother look this Summer? Or perhaps all of them rolled together. Abigail Petit, co-founder of Gossypium, has a completely different approach to fashion. To her, it is all about raw materials, global politics, ethics and craft. Abi and her partner Thomas battle against the whole culture of disposable clothing. Their philosophy is an occasional and conscientious purchase. "Maybe we don't want to change the way we look all the time, but prefer our lived-in clothes, ones that fit and that have travelled with us a while, holding memories of nice evenings, " she says in her book The Eye of the Needle. Could we ever be friends? I wonder. And how does their business survive when its ethos is based on not buying anything? I went over to the huge new Gossypium warehouse behind Tesco’s to find out.

I felt very humbled. After a degree in Textile Process Engineering, Abi set off to India, met up with Thomas, and the two of them embarked on a revolution to bring ethical practices to the cotton industry. They have swung M&S over to Fair Trade cotton and even have a line at Top Shop. Abi believes that Gossypium’s success is due to the support of the people of Lewes. From the early days, Lewesians banged on the door to buy their clothes in order to support the cause. Their incredibly soft pyjamas look good to me. And hey, I'd better keep up with the local shopping trend, if I want to hold my head up around here. JW

Seven Year Stitch. Fair Trade Gossypium Celebrates its Seventh
Anniversary in Lewes