EP 29: The Story Behind “Do Pants Grow on Trees?” –  A conversation with Jasmien Wynants & Judith Thomas on changing the World with a Read-Along Book

Published on 14.3.2024 By Ellie.Connect 

Welcome to the newest episode of our Ellie.Talks, your insights in the future of sustainable textiles and fashion. It’s a very important episode today because this time Julie was joined by two inspiring ladies. Today they will talk about Jasmien’s and Judith’s passion project: a children’s book (but not really) on the topic of sustainability in fashion “Do pants grow on trees? How is clothing being made and is it sustainable?” 

This episode delves into the world of “Changing the World with a Read-Along book”. Join us as we get personal insights from Jasmien and Judith about their book writing and publishing journey, about the importance of collaboration, their passion for sustainability and education and the numerous hurdles they overcame before they could hold the first copy of their book. 

Our highlights from this episode : 

  • Education is important: Sustainability in fashion can be complicated. It’s crucial to teach both kids and grown-ups about it. We need to simplify the message so everyone can understand it without losing its accuracy.
  • Small actions matter: Even if it feels like just a tiny step, each of us can make a difference. No one is too small to be a hero!
  • Fashion is about expressing yourself: Everyone should have the freedom to wear what they like. Imagine how dull it would be if we all dressed the same.
  • Overcoming challenges: Being strong and determined is essential when working towards a sustainable future, especially when faced with obstacles.
  • Never. Stop. Dreaming. 

Jasmien Wynants, expert in sustainable fashion, crowned Sustainability Professional of the Year 2023, brings a wealth of knowledge through her work with Masjien, advising companies and leading workshops on sustainability. Judith Thomas, an alumna of the Antwerp Fashion Academy, has a rich background in fashion design, having worked with renowned brands like Veronique Branquinho and JBC. Both ladies joined forces to create their book, “Do Pants Grow on Trees?” Their collaboration stems from a shared commitment to sustainability and a desire to educate readers of all ages about the fashion industry’s environmental impact. 

 Motivations and Collaborative Vision 

Before delving into the intricacies of their book, Jasmien and Judith shared insights into their motivations. Judith, as a mother, driven by a desire to leave a better world for future generations, aims to drive positive change within the fashion industry. Jasmien, inspired by Judith’s passion, emphasizes her mission to contribute positively towards a brighter future, particularly for the younger generation. 

The Genesis of “Do Pants Grow on Trees? – How is clothing being made and is it sustainable?” 

Their collaboration on “Do Pants Grow on Trees?” began with Judith’s idea, which crystallized during discussions with Jasmien about integrating sustainability into fashion design. Their shared enthusiasm propelled the project forward, leading to the creation of a book aimed at raising awareness about garment production and sustainability. 

The book seeks to demystify the process of creating clothing, highlighting the effort, resources, and passion invested in each garment’s journey from raw material to finished product. Additionally, it addresses sustainability concerns, emphasizing the environmental impacts of garment production, with a primary focus on fostering appreciation for the fashion industry’s value. 

Navigating Complexity Through Clarity 

In addressing the complex concept of sustainability, Jasmien and Judith stress the importance of clarity in conveying their message. While sustainability encompasses various facets and interpretations, they align on core principles, emphasizing garment quality and advocating for a “buy less, make it last” ethos, as quoted by Vivienne Westwood. 

Their collaboration underscores the power of collective action and shared purpose in driving positive change within the fashion industry and beyond. Through their book, Jasmien and Judith aim to inspire readers to view garments through a new lens, fostering a deeper understanding of their value and the need for sustainable practices. 

The Journey to Publication 

Their journey commenced with pitching their concept to publishers, armed with a storyboard and examples of book content. The response was overwhelmingly positive, leading them to partner with Lannoo, a publisher known for its quality. Thus, the groundwork was laid for an educational and visual exploration of garment production and sustainability. 

Research played a pivotal role in shaping the book’s content. Jasmien drew on a decade of experience in the field, supplemented by extensive desk research to ensure factual accuracy. The process involved engaging experts, reviewing scientific literature, and refining the message to resonate with readers while maintaining scientific integrity. 

The illustrations, crafted by Judith, serve as a visual narrative, complementing the text to enhance understanding and engagement. Beyond depicting the garment production process, the illustrations convey broader societal messages, promoting inclusion and challenging gender norms in fashion. 

Choosing the title and cover design for the book was quite a task. They wanted a title that would catch people’s attention without making them feel overwhelmed, so they went for something intriguing. They saved the sustainability aspect for the subtitle. As for the cover, instead of using typical images related to eco-friendly themes, they went for a design that looked visually pleasing and would appeal to everyone.

Challenges and Triumphs 

Reflecting on their journey, Judith highlighted the rollercoaster of emotions they experienced, from moments of doubt to the overwhelming sense of accomplishment upon completing the book. Despite facing obstacles along the way, their shared passion and determination drove them forward, ensuring they reached the finish line together. The positive reception of the book, including positive feedback from publishers and fellow authors, media coverage and readings in schools, reaffirmed the impact of their work. 

Their book, intended for readers aged 8 to 108, aims to transcend age barriers, offering valuable insights into sustainable fashion for both children and adults. Jasmien highlighted their hope that the book would catalyze conversations on sustainability, challenging readers to consider complex issues surrounding garment production and social impact. 

Future Aspirations 

Looking ahead, Jasmien and Judith discuss their aspirations for the book’s future, including translation into other languages and the development of educational resources. They also entertained ideas for multimedia expansion, such as movies or interactive exhibits, to further amplify the book’s impact. 

Words of Wisdom and Community Support 

In closing, Jasmien and Judith offer words of encouragement to Ellie.Connect community, urging members to persevere in making a difference, no matter how small. They express gratitude for all the community support they received and emphasize the importance of continued collaboration.  

Let’s connect!

Join us at Ellie.Connect along your journey towards sustainability, whether you’re a fashion addict, a sustainability advocate, or simply curious about the shift towards a more sustainable industry.. We trust that this episode with Jasmien Wynants and Judith Thomas has offered some enlightening perspectives