Q & A with Eco-Fashion Designer, John Patrick: The King of Sustainable Style

John Patrick is at the forefront of sustainable style. His trailblazing, eponymous brand, John Patrick Organic, has been setting the pace for eco-friendly clothing for years -- and hopefully for years to come. I have to admit, I'm a huge fan. Not only do his shirts fit me perfectly (which is huge, literally, as I'm 6'7"), but they're also stylish and made with organic cotton.

But John Patrick goes beyond sustainable as he eats, lives, and breathes an eco-friendly lifestyle from his home in the Hudson Valley. He's passionate about sustainability, style, and supporting small, local businesses. "I envision a world in the near future where people won't ask "is it organic?", but say "of course, it's organic!" says Patrick.

MindBodyGreen: How do you start your day?

John Patrick: I start the day as in "off to the races" — figuring out what's the next, what's the right thing to do, what needs immediate focus. Depending on where we are in the world and in what mode it can either be either semi-leisure or full-charge ahead. Right now, DIY is now my modus operandi and I am hands, hands, hands, on! It's like the theater all day long!

MBG: Do you have a particular morning drink you like?

JP: When I'm in London I'll have a cup of organic tea. When I'm in the Hudson River valley I'll have J.B. Peels Coffee. (It's locally roasted in Red Hook, NY).

MBG: The economy is forcing many to question meaning, purpose, and significance in their lives -- including how we choose to live and what we choose to purchase. In the long term, do you see this economy having a positive impact on the green movement?

JP: I think we need to retrain and retool our people our students our minds. We need farmers, we need sewers, we need painters — we need small factories that make great and useful things here on our own soil. We small companies are the new mini-establishment. We need bikes, also. …We need happy, beautiful, simple things.

MBG: You live in the Hudson Valley and it's a big part of your life. Why did you choose to live and work here?

JP: The Hudson Valley has great farmers and great produce (like heritage apples from Montgomery Place). And then there's amazing people like my neighbor, Severine von Tscharner Fleming, and her roving band of farmers who constantly inspire me. I enjoy and cherish my trees AND the great artists who chose to live here before me like Thomas Cole and Frederic Edwin Church -- they are my heroes and my mentors. I walk in the footsteps of people who were pioneers and were not afraid to be original.

MBG: What are you reading right now? Do you have any favorite books?

JP: I'm reading A Centennial Sermon: Design, Ecology, Ethics and the Making of Things (pdf) delivered by William McDonough at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City -- what a forward thinking visionary genius he is! I am also obsessed with Deep Economy, by Bill McKibben-obsessed!

MBG: What is your favorite place to shop for clothing?

JP: I prefer to have my things tailored though I have a deep respect for Hermes -- I enjoy looking there. I am obsessed with beautiful exquisite cloth that's organic...If I absolutely have to shop for mens clothing I will buy at Hollander & Lexer in Brooklyn. Hicham Benmira, who owns Hollander & Lexer, is a genius.

MBG: What inspires you?

JP: I am inspired by clear, honest, direct work. I'm inspired by the Amish aesthetic and also the shaker has had a profound influence on me. The history of the painted picture and art keeps me with a good supply of visual images.

MBG: What is your favorite way to exercise?

JP: Jump rope #1, and ride my bike #2. Or reverse...

MBG: Favorite guilty indulgence?

JP: Creams from Aveda and Mast Brothers Chocolate.

MBG: What can we expect from your next collection? What we can expect to see in 5 years from John Patrick Organic?

JP: I never reveal the next collection until its complete — even the release is controlled so it is released at the moment the press comes on to the set. I can not imagine what the world will be like in 5 years from now. I think by that time my new retail concept will be in place and open. I will be doing some urban farming as well.

MBG: If it was your Last Supper, what would your last meal be? Where would the meal be? Who would you like to be there (past/present/future)? What would you wear?

JP: My Last Supper would be at home with all of my family and friends. My partner, Walter, would cook an organic turkey from Awesome Farm, in Tivoli, NY and we'd have local root vegetables from Severine's garden. I would wear a hand made shirt of my own design and a pair of organic jeans that I wear everyday.

For more on John Patrick Organic, visit JohnPatrickOrganic.com.

Photo courtesy of the author

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