The manager of Synergy Organic Clothing’s  Mission location said that being on Valencia Street has brought in a lot of great business for the brand, but sustainable clothing remains a new concept – even for shoppers on Valencia Street.

“Everyone knows the importance of organic food, but not a lot know about organic clothing,” said store manager Claire Stetina.

Holly Battey, an associate, agreed. Customers who come in the storefront are unclear about what “organic even means.”

In fact, its a billion business and organic cotton alone represents 20 percent of the cotton market, according to a post in the Huffington Post. 

Organic clothing is generally created without the use of pesticides and uses less water than conventionally grown materials, such as cotton. It includes sustainable materials like bamboo, hemp, and organic cotton – all just as soft as clothing made from conventionally grown cotton.

The Synergy store on Valencia is part of a Santa Cruz-based business started by Kate Fisher and her husband, Henry Schwab.  It was inspired by Fisher’s visits to India and Nepal more than 20 years ago. During those trips, Fisher paid attention to the touch and look of various fabrics, prints, and textiles. When she and Schwab decided to launch Synergy Organic Clothing their aim was to provide quality, versatile garments in a socially responsible way. Synergy began to branch out by opening a flagship store in Santa Cruz, eventually leaping to San Francisco and into wholesale. Nowadays, major department stores like H&M and Zara also sell organic clothing.

Jules Waite, a spokesperson for the company, said that all garments are manufactured in Nepal where Synergy employs a large number of locals, predominately women. The company is also in the process of receiving certification from Fair Trade Practices, according to Waite.

“We have worked with the same people for 15 years, which is a testament to how much we care about our production team,” said Waite.


Inside Synergy Organic Clothing’s Mission location, located at 969 Valencia Street. Photo by Meira Gebel.


Organic cotton scarves hang on a wooden display in Synergy Organic Clothing’s Mission location. Photo by Meira Gebel.

The Valencia store is filled with functional, everyday basics, where every piece feels almost as soft as butter melting in your hand. Synergy Organic offers this type of feel, alongside trendy tunics, pencil skirts, and the ever-so-simple T-shirt. Battey described the clothes as “effortlessly chic.”

Their Spring/Summer 2015 catalog is out, but Stetina said the summer yoga line has been delayed by the earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, where Synergy’s workshop is located. None of Synergy’s employees were injured, but the space has been deemed “unsafe” so the company is in the process of relocating.


Locally made jewelry is displayed in a glass case at Synergy Organic Clothing’s Mission location. Photo by Meira Gebel.

The store also displays jewelry from artists in San Francisco.

Though some consumers still seem to be obtuse to the idea of sustainability in fashion, the team at Synergy Organic Clothing remains optimistic about the future for its brand, and brands alike.

“It seems so simple to us that we believe once more companies see how practical it is to switch to sustainability, the more will make the change,” said Waite. “We also hope to empower consumers to push for these changes as they are really the ones with the power to do so.”