"Why are we okay with paying the same amount for a multipack of knickers that we do for a cup of coffee?"
For Phoebe Hunter-McIlveen and Isobel Williams-Ellis, founder of ethical underwear company Project Pico, bringing our attention to basics is key to building a fairer future. While we may choose vegan leather alternatives for a new investment bag or head to People Tree for trousers, we're likely to grab a cheap set-of-five when it comes to everyday knickers.
Their independent label spins out pants from Fairtrade, organic cotton. Their supply chain is fully traceable, from the farmer-runcooperatives in India, who sow and harvest the cotton, to the zero waste dye unit where the fabric is coloured to the Fairtrade factory in south India, where the products are run up. All designs are created by Phoebe and Isobel at their London home.
"For us, ethical production is all about transparency," says Phoebe, when we visit their pop-up at Hackney's The Henri Store, which gives temporary room for sustainable brands to sell their wares.
The cotton farmers in India who kickstart the process are supported fully: they are paid a fair wage and their communities are supported by organisations that can help them with finances, social issues and new organic farming techniques.
"Every piece of cotton is then used in some way, even low grade parts are sold on to go into mattresses, cow feed, seed oil, even human food. Cotton is in everything, it's crazy," Phoebe tells us.
When the cotton is dyed, all wasted dyed water is reused, with ninety five per cent being recycled back into drinking water and the remaining five per cent going into cement for building materials.
After the pants are sewn, they are flown to the UK, a current bugbear for Phoebe and Isobel, who one day hope for delivery by boat.
"I'm always putting feelers out, I want it to happen some day," Phoebe says.
With each pair ranging from £16 to £20 a pop, the knickers are admittedly far from your average bargain buy. But for the team, the tiny amount that we are prepared to spend on wardrobe basics reflects the fast pace that mainstream fashion is operating at: the carousel of buy, wear, throw.
"When I see high street brands bringing out new stuff every couple of weeks, I can't help but think it's crazy. This is not sustainable, and promotes such a throwaway culture."
The majority of clothes that end up in landfill will not bio-degrade, and for Phoebe this is maddening. For her, the only thing that makes sense is to encourage people to buy better, and buy less. Starting with your underwear.
"If people can start with their pants, hopefully that will help a movement towards a more holistic view of all your clothes."
Check out Project Pico's collaborative pop-up at The Henri Store, 274 Hackney Rd, London - running until 15 October.