For many men purchasing a sports car is a rite of passage. Nearly eighteen years ago, Scottish advertising executive Sebastian Runde almost drove away from the car dealership until he had a spark of buyer’s remorse. “Are you mad? Where have all your values gone?” He thought. “What is still important to you in your life?" At that moment, he decided to give away the car, his belongings, and closed his agency in Switzerland. With only 3,000 euros in his pocket, and not a word of Italian, Runde decided to settle in Italy. “I had never been to Italy before. And I came home. The first time in my life that I feel at home.” And it was that home where the eco-fashion t-shirt label, Right as Rain, was born.
Once settled Runde became an organic farmer in the hills of Umbria. On his farm he grows his own food including a variety of olives and fruit and he breeds donkeys and goats. It was during a dinner conversation with fashion designer Franceso Mugnaini that the two men questioned whether natural beauty really existed or “whether it is always a man-made concept, cultural or underlying a trend. It was a rather interesting talk as we have rather different backgrounds, are completely different characters. But it was exactly those differences gave rise to the idea of giving nature a platform to design clothing, merge the man-made with the natural.” The conversation led to the idea of fashioning t-shirts where Mother Nature contributes to the look and feel or as Runde says, to “experiment, grow and harvest. This came from the idea that human beings are part of nature, not separate from it.”
Materials used had to be of a kind that would react with the soil, water or sunlight. No synthetic fibers were used so as not to contribute in polluting the surrounding environs. After numerous tests with wide variety of natural fabrics, a high-quality organic silk from Northern Italy proved to be the best and offered the most interesting results. “We made many tests with different materials, which we exposed to nature’s forces, buried them, left them in a stream, covered them with leaves in the forest. Only silk gave satisfactory results as it kept its beautiful structure.” Other natural fibers, Runde noted such as cotton, hemp and nettle were rough against the skin or brittle to the touch after they had bee exposed to the elements.
The T-shirts heavily depend on the seasons and look very different according to which season they are harvested. On average the garments need to be in the ground for two or three months, depending whether they’ve been buried in fields or forest and how much water is available at that particular time of the year. The results are one-of-a-kind shirts that vary in color, with veined patterns of faded purple, brown or black.
Each shirt is shipped in a bare recycled box that has no printing or label—just a simple seal. The shirts are scented with essential oils made from indigenous plants from Runde’s organic farm. Like a limited run of prints, each garment is and included with the shirt is a provenance that traces its personal history, the conditions that it was planted and harvested. A metallic medallion on the shirt bears its individual ID number.
For Runde the environmental aspect of his life has become his top priority. “I try to live a life with as little impact to the environment as possible. All the animals on my farm are of rare breeds and almost extinct. I work a lot with wild plants and produce essential oils, herb remedies, and natural cosmetics. All on a very small scale and not commercially.”
Goats, herbs, fruit, olives and shirts all found under the Umbrian sun.
For more information and to purchase these unique shirts, please visit www.right-as-rain.com.