Two women wearing knickers
Image by Bedstraw + Madder

Wearing natural fibres is good for your health

Your skin is the largest organ in your body. That’s pretty common knowledge. But have you ever considered the impact of wearing synthetic fibres on your skin? Wearing natural fibres is good for your health. And no one knows that better than Bedstraw + Madder.

Bedstraw + Madder is a new sustainable fashion brand focusing on ethical and sustainable underwear. If you didn’t know that natural knickers were a thing, just think about it. You wear them every day. And they always touch your skin.

Bedstraw + Madder (named after plants used in traditional dyes) creates GOTS-certified organic cotton knickers using no nasty chemicals. They are fully biodegradable, meaning they’ll go back to nature at the end of their life.

I met co-founder, Primrose Matheson online to discuss the benefits of chemical-free underwear on your health and the planet.

Your partner, Vanessa Barker, has been in the fashion industry for more than 15 years. But how did you become interested in sustainable clothing, and, more specifically, sustainable underwear?

I became interested in natural underwear after a long journey. I suffered with ME and glandular fever when I was young, and I went to every type of health practitioner under the sun. This led me to start eating organic whole foods. I took organic supplements and eventually trained as a homeopath. Then I started learning about the importance of supporting local producers.

I met Vanessa at a family christening. We spoke about natural materials and the mother plant, hemp. We agreed that as a society we are able to make sustainable decisions around food. But we also knew that there are other areas of our lives that have an impact such as clothing.

All of your items use plant-based dyes. Why is this?

It’s about connecting the circle. There are 8,000 chemicals used in standards dying and bleaching. And while everyone wants perfect white sheets, people need to realise that white is not a natural colour. Unlike conventional dyes, plant dyes are hypoallergenic. And they have natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Vanessa and I knew that while we readily apply the organic philosophy to our food, we often forget it when it comes to clothing. The use of plant-based dyes is nothing new. We’re simply returning to the ancient wisdom of our ancestors. Clothing should have vitality. It should be cherished and loved. That’s why our philosophy is to go back to nature, from soil to soil.

Bedstraw + Madder works hard to promote regenerative agriculture. What is this and why is it important?

Our cotton is produced in India where they’ve been living through the Monsanto years. Farmers have been committing suicide because of the high debt related to chemicals and pesticides. And that’s not to mention the environmental effects of modern farming.

No-till farming keeps carbon in the soil. Instead of digging, our farmers use cover cropping. Nitrogen-fixing plants such as indigo give us a double whammy. It can be dug back into the soil or animals can graze on it. This way of combining brings symbiosis. And it increases water retention in the soil.

We’re working on eliminating pesticides, instead using plants such as garlic and chili to deter pests.

What’s next for Bedstraw + Madder?

This is an exciting time to be in the business. At the moment, we’re not buying clothes at the true cost it takes to make them. And no one is taking responsibility for that. There are days when we get anxious. But we’re interested in true sustainability with no greenwashing.

Now we’re focusing on other close-to-the-skin items. And we’ll be adding a more basic range to our collection in three colours.

When you think about it, it’s obvious that wearing natural fibres is good for your health, especially when it comes to the items that sit next to your skin. To get your hands on some of these ethical undies, visit Bedstraw + Madder.