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Organically Speaking

John Patrick Explores His Passion

by Joseph Montebello

John Patrick grew up in the post-Vietnam War years, a time of optimism and hope. His parents were free spirits and much of his childhood was spent in a commune where he learned the importance of farm to table long before it became the rage of the 21st century. He has always been concerned about the environment and as such has sought to make clothes that are both unique and ecofriendly.

“I didn’t think of fashion at first,” said Patrick. “I always wanted to be an artist and I came to New York City at the beginning of the East Village renaissance. I used to make water colors and sell them in Tomkins Square Park, but I began to realize that I needed to focus on a more practical way to earn a living.”

Patrick was introduced to a man named Walter Fleming, who would become his life partner as well as his business partner. Their apartment was in the hat district of Manhattan and Patrick decided to take a millinery class at FIT. He produced his first collection of hats and sold them to Barneys, which at the time was the most fashion forward store in the city.

After one of his hats appeared on a model in a fashion magazine spread, Patrick decided to branch out into clothing.

“We cut fabric and patterns out on the office floor,” he recalled. “As we began to get orders, we realized we needed to become serious about our business.”

Organic had not yet become a prevalent movement but Patrick believed that it was a way of the future. Susie Tomkins of Esprit had begun to design collections that were environmentally friendly and presented clothing made of organic fabrics. The seed had been planted and soon Patrick was at the forefront of this movement.

He and Fleming decided that the pace and frenzy of Seventh Avenue and the city were not conducive to their business. So they packed up, sold their apartment and moved to their house in the Hudson Valley. They bought an old warehouse and opened the Organic offices.

“It was important to us that we create clothing that was timeless, ageless, and organically acceptable,” Patrick explained. “It is a very specific product and that’s what sets us apart from everyone else.”

Patrick researches fabric sources that complement his designs and uphold his philosophy. He was one of the first designers to establish a relationship with organic farm collectives in Peru. He has also worked to encourage more sustainable manufacturing methods in other parts of the world. He firmly believes that being ecologically aware contributes to the success of his product.

Clothes in the Organic collection are both functional, beautiful and never go out of style. They are worn by confident women who appreciate quality and don’t fall prey to trends. These are pieces that can be worn separately, layered or combined with other pieces of a woman’s wardrobe.

“The women who wear my clothes retain their own identity and understand the natural functionality of the garment. I care most about our customers and working with artisans to develop new ideas and new materials.”

John Patrick will be doing his first trunk show at J Seitz in New Preston on Saturday April 30th from 2-5PM.