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Six Items Challenge: One Year On

This time last year, I was weeks into the Six Items Challenge. It’s a brilliant campaign run by the charity Labour Behind the Label to raise money and awareness for garment workers across the world. I wrote a whole blog about the experience, you can read it here.

I’m not taking part this year but what I wear and how I shop have changed immeasurably since completing the challenge: I run a capsule wardrobe and am mindful about how much I buy and where I shop.

I started writing this post when it was snowing. On the coldest day I was wrapped up for sub zero conditions: black MUD jeans, grey H&M vest, white and navy People Tree Breton t-shirt and Fair Isle Sea Salt jumper for indoors with a thick Barbour coat and winter DMs for the short yet practically arctic school run. Today is much more spring like and considerably warmer. Today I’m wearing a black and white stripey People Tree dress, tights and some Po-Zu ankle boots. Jeans, ankle boots and stripey dress aside, I owned all of these items this time last year. The Breton was one of the 6 items I chose for the challenge and the jumper is the same one that I wore in the photo on my fundraising page. I’m really proud that all of these items are still going strong, especially the Breton t-shirt.

 

Different year, different bedroom, same t-shirt. Long live the Breton!

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One of my newer purchases. A black and white dress from People Tree bought in August last year and worn at least weekly since. 

If you’re a fellow mum, you’ll know that the school run can feel quite daunting. A bit like being at school again but somehow worse. I *think* I’m much scruffier than most of the well heeled mums in the playground but I don’t think I look too bad all things considered. When you’re a stay at home mum and live semi-rurally, you can get away with a, shall we say, more casual look. Yet at the age of 36, I just don’t care as much. Maybe its an age thing or a shortage of time thing or a Mum thing or maybe I’m lucky to live in a village where everyone is lovely and friendly. I actually think it’s a self-esteem thing. I really, truly believe in my heart that I’m more, so much more, than my outer appearance and clothes. This is huge for me. I’ve never thought like this before. And it’s one of the biggest things I took from the challenge. Be confident in who you are and in your choices. Remember that what you do and how you treat others is so much more important than how on trend you are. Have you ever thought about the garment workers who make your clothes? I hadn’t until I read about the challenge last year and found out more about Rana Plaza. Garment workers may be invisible to us when we’re buying new clothes but they’re there and they’re real humans. Perhaps if we all thought a little bit more about them and a little less about ourselves, they’d be less invisible and their workers’ rights could be improved. And maybe, just maybe together we could help stop any more Rana Plazas.

I haven’t bought any fast fashion items since completing the challenge. I’m completely aware that boycott is a contentious issue. In fact, Labour Behind the Label and Fashion Revolution are both anti-boycott. And as consumers, we can’t take the full brunt of an exploitative industry fully on our own shoulders. But as consumers we do have choice. And I choose ethical. How you spend your money in my eyes is pretty much a vote for what you believe to be acceptable. I believe it really is that simple.

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MUD jeans bought in October 2017 from The Fair Shop, Brighton. The only pair of jeans I now own. MUD are a fantastic ethical brand, well worth a look if you’re in need of a new pair of jeans. http://www.mudjeans.eu

I own and continue to wear 5 of the items chosen for the challenge last year. The 6th, one of the pairs of jeans have been replaced with a pair of MUD jeans. I wore and wore the jeans from the challenge until they literally fell to pieces: knee hole, crotch hole, threadbare. I recycled them at the local rubbish dump. A bit gutting as they weren’t really old. Just poor quality. This really annoys me actually. Why do we expect so little from our clothes? Why is it ok that they fall to pieces after just a few months?

It wasn’t uncommon for me to turf out a couple of bin bags (or more) of clothes once or twice a year. Most went to charity, some went in the bin. I’m not proud of this. I thought donating loads to charity was a responsible and kind thing to do. I didn’t know about fabric recycling. I’m now much more aware of being less wasteful and kinder to the environment. One of the best things to do? Buy less. And only donate items that are in pristine condition. If you wouldn’t gift the old clothes you’re donating, repurpose, repair or recycle them. Another thing to do? Buy from charity shops as well as donating to them.

I’ve bought most new clothes from ethical brand People Tree. People Tree pay and treat their employees fairly and use sustainable fabrics such as fair trade and organic cotton and Tencel. I’m a huge fan. I’ve bought from other labels too and I’m lucky enough to live near the Fair Shop in Brighton, which is an Aladdin’s Cave of fair trade clothes, gifts and accessories. I’d like to start buying from vintage shops again but if I’m honest I find shopping in vintage shops time consuming and time isn’t a luxury I have right now.

Since finishing the challenge at the beginning of April last year I’ve bought 13 new garments. I was gifted some gym clothes, a pair of trainers, a shirt dress, a jacket and a jumper for my birthday and a pair of Po-Zu boots for Christmas. For some people, this is excessive but compared to my old shopping habits this is very restrained. Proudly, no high street hauls, no bulging Zara or H&M carrier bags, and no massive ASOS parcels in the post. No new winter coat this year and just one pair of jeans in over a year. You could say that a lifetime of bad habits was overhauled by one 6 week long challenge.

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Micro-capsule for our summer holiday last year.

So what gems can I pass on a year after the challenge.

  • You need a lot less than you think.

 

  • Only buy clothes that you love. Truly love. Always have the 30 wear rule in mind. If you’re not going to wear it 30 times leave it on the rack or send it back.

 

  • Stop shopping as a hobby (including internet shopping). I dread to think how many hours I’ve wasted “shopping”. How about spending time with family and friends. Writing a poem. Keeping a journal. Watching a film. Reading a book. Looking at something awesome in nature. Baking a cake. Making something from scratch. You’ll be a happier and more interesting person for it.

 

  • Clothes don’t have to be seasonal. A vest is a vest, a pair of jeans is a pair of jeans. A black cotton jumpsuit can be worn on Christmas Day or the hottest day of the year.

 

  • Invest in key pieces not novelty pieces.  A proper warm and waterproof coat, jeans that fit like a glove, organic cotton base layers that will last for years and a jumper or sweater that will become an old, trusty friend.

 

  • Don’t be scared of less. Carefully planned, you can put 1,000 outfits together wth just 30 garments. Don’t believe me? Check out Wendy Mak’s book or website. Her style may not be your style but it’s a great starting point and will get you thinking in the right direction.

 

  • Shop ethically and sustainably. Remember, someone made your clothes. Not a robot, but a human. Were they paid enough? Did they work in a safe factory? What will happen to your purchase in the future? Heirloom? Donation? Scrap? Maybe try  buying second hand from a vintage or charity shop, swap with friends, recycle or upcycle, choose ethical labels. If you have a limited budget and don’t want to buy second hand, minimising your fast fashion consumption is better than nothing. Just please, resist the haul!

 

  • Lobby. Write to your MP. Write to your favourite high street store. Get involved in Fashion Revolution week. So much is changing as a direct result of people power. Your voice matters. Feel incensed? Get involved.

 

A year on, I still pinch myself saying that I have a capsule wardrobe, lived for 6 weeks with just 6 items of clothing and have inspired countless others to really think about their own consumption. If I can do it, anyone can.

Will you join in with Fashion Revolution this year (23rd April – 29th April 2018)? Why not have a quick look to see if there are any events near you. Would you consider challenging yourself to have a go at the Six Items Challenge in 2019? Or how about sorting through your clothes and setting up your very own capsule wardobe? 

Guest post by Katie Yarde, Mid-Sussex, UK.  Please visit Katie’s wonderful blog at practicallyethical.com 

How Can We Afford to Buy Ethical and Sustainable Clothing?

 
 

When you first start looking at ethical and sustainable clothing you might think, like I did ‘I can’t afford to buy these clothes’. However the more I learned about how most of the clothes on the high street are made the less I wanted to support these cruel and harmful ways of production. Even if a company was showing signs of trying to make improvements it just didn’t feel right or acceptable that people and the environment were currently suffering for my purchases.

Rewind 12 years back when I was a student sitting in my flatmate’s/shopping buddy’s bedroom. She was crying, complaining that she had nothing to wear and staring at her triple wardrobe full of clothes most of which we picked up in sales while browsing the shops after uni, which happened several times a week. She broke down saying that she has all these clothes but they are all rubbish. I thought how is it possible that she doesn’t like any of them? I too had built up quite a collection myself of random sale items. I remember looking down at myself one day thinking this outfit is awful, such a mismatch and not in a good way. I just put it down to not having an ‘eye for fashion’. 

 

Over the following years I gradually slowed down on my thoughtless impulse shopping, I made myself more aware of what I already had and began to edit down my wardrobe. I had bought a lot. I got rid of a lot, giving to charity things that I had hardly worn. I had more than I could possibly wear plus I had things that I couldn’t wear, that just were not practical for me, my shape or my lifestyle.

I later became more aware of ethical issues. Torn between the idea of spending more than I usually would on an item or buying an unethical product I ended up barely buying anything at all. I walked past shop windows refusing to be enticed by their big sales or individual items that caught my eye. I didn’t really need to do a lot more shopping but there were a few simple items I was missing, like jeans that fitted well, comfortable shoes and jumpers that were actually warm. Eventually I gave myself an allowance of £50 a month to spend ethically. If something was over £50 I would have to save up for the following month.

I put a lot of thought into my one purchase of the month, spending the whole of the rest of the month considering the next. Fast forward about a year and I have an amazing pair of MUD Jeans that I don’t want to take off at the end of the day, I want to wear every day and actually pretty much can as they don’t need to go in the wash after just one wear like many of my previous trousers. I have a couple of beautiful jumpers from People Tree that go with practically any outfit I wear. I have several soft organic cotton long sleeve base layer tops by Thought and one from Unoa. They are all so nice and comfy I wear them every chance I get.

I’m sure there are many others who shop like I used to, buying multiple ‘bargain’ items. I think most people probably have more clothes than they need, how else could so many high street stores be in business? Have you noticed how there are so many more clothes shops for women and the women’s sections are much bigger yet there aren’t a load of men walking around naked? Maybe we shop too much? That’s not to say some men don’t also have more than they need. How can these big high street stores and brands be so successful with huge profits when their prices are so low? Perhaps it’s because it’s a lot easier to get you to spend £10 ten times than it is to get you to spend £70 in one go.

Mass consumption of clothing is a relatively new thing. Clothes were not always as cheap in relation to our earnings, as we know them to be today. Sustainable and ethical clothing is seen as expensive, but it is merely what it costs to make and to keep the businesses going, there are no huge profits. You get better quality materials and workers are paid fairly for their work. Think of how much time it would take you to make an item of clothing, add the cost of the material to the value of your time and I think you will begin to ask ‘how can all the other clothes be so cheap?’

 

I originally decided to shop for ethical and sustainable clothing because I was concerned with the way workers were treated, their working conditions and how chemicals used in the production of materials affected the environment and peoples homes in the areas where they were made. I had not even begun to realise the benefits it would have on myself. My clothes feel so nice and comfortable. I know in my head they are made from lovely materials that don’t cause harm to the environment, no one has suffered to produce them, which makes me feel good about wearing them. Each piece is thoughtfully selected so I cherish and care for them and will wear them to death (which may take a while as they seem to last well). I actually save a lot of money by buying a lot less and getting more wears out of each item. My amount of washing each week has drastically reduced.  I have more space in my home. It’s quicker and easier to find an outfit in the morning and people have actually started complimenting me on what I wear!

So before you decide that ethical and sustainable clothing is too expensive for you, take a look in your wardrobe, start to add it up and see if you are getting your money’s worth. You might find you can’t afford not to buy ethical!

Guest Blog by Jenny Rolfe Herbert, Brighton UK  Instagram: @jrolfeh

World Factory – interactive theatre show in Brighton

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After a sold out and extended run at the Young Vic during 2015, World Factory  METIS’s latest interactive theatre show – returns with performances in Cambridge (Cambridge Festival of Ideas), Manchester and our home town Brighton. Just a week away from showing in Brighton, we thought we’d share our excitement for this immersive game- making theatre which spotlights what actually goes on behind the scenes during the process of mass production.

World Factory pulls the curtains back on how small decisions contribute to a much bigger picture of exploitation. This isn’t a show about where you buy your clothes, but rather about the global system in which we all live,” said World Factory co-creator, ZoeSvendsen.

The show offers audience members business insight, as they are given opportunities to make decisions that will affect revenue, commodities and quality of life. Through a scenario-based card game; audience members become factory managers of a Chinese clothing factory, where they must reckon with what success looks like, while considering profits, products and workers.

“…at a time when citizen engagement with economic issues is becoming increasingly vital for the maintenance of meaningful democracy, World Factory is an excellent way to encourage people to think about the economy in a systemic and nuanced way,” said author and economist, Ha-Joon Chang.

World Factory interweaves real-life accounts of mass production – both here and abroad – with a moving score, video and live performance. The level of audience participation however, is up to each individual’s discretion.

In addition to theatre, METIS has extended their World Factory vision and have gone further, creating their own shirt, which has a barcode that you scan with your phone to reveal the people and processes involved in its production.

World Factory runs from 18 October – 10 December in Cambridge, Brighton and Manchester.

Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, BrightonPerformances: Tuesday 15 November – Friday 18 November 2016

See Tickets to book

Box Office: 01273 678822

HOME, Manchester

Performances: Wednesday 7 December – Saturday 10 December 2016

See Tickets to book

Box Office: 0161 200 1500

http://metisarts.co.uk/world-factory/

 

 

Organic September

This September celebrates Organic September, a national awareness month of all that is organic. The aim is to make a pact to replace something in your daily life with something organic. Here at FAIR we thought we would give you plenty of excuses for that something to be your clothes!  Especially with the back to school rush, as we understand it isn’t just the school kids that like their wardrobe to look fresh as they go back to hard work. Around 80% of the clothes in our store are organic, including People Tree, Pants To Poverty and Veleco giving you tonnes of choice.

#thefairshop #brighton #organicseptember #fairtradefashion #fashion

 

 

 

 

 

Be the change you want to see!

Exciting things from The University of Brighton

 

shoot2This month has seen some exciting things from The University of Brighton! Including Graduate Fashion Week and the exhibition of all creative final years work. Of course we have a special interest in any projects based on sustainability and Kate Brooks’ collection has exactly that. Comprised of 22 individual interchangeable components, Brooks creates a capsule wardrobe that can suit any season.

The idea being that you don’t need to buy new clothes every time the trend changes, instead you adapt the clothes you already own. This decreases the social and environmental harm caused from the production and disposal of unneeded clothes. Here at Fair we are establishing a similar idea, carefully choosing items to create a capsule wardrobe that can be mixed and matched to suit any season or occasion. We want you to fall in love with your clothes, and we want that love affair to last much longer than a trend or season!

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There’s still two days left of the exhibition at Grand Parade Campus, Brighton. Not to be missed if you’re interests are anything or everything creative!

Have a look at Kate Brooks collection on: www.katehollybrooks.com

 

‘The True Cost’- A Fashion Documentary Movie

search     We wanted to give you a heads up about a great educational film that has just premiered in New York, ‘The True Cost’ Daily News Washington says ‘ Don’t expect easy answers from “The True Cost,” but expect to feel like you need to find some, and urgently.’ We hope that this film will help to start opening peoples eyes to the real repercussions behind our over-consumption and we would love for you to help spread the word too.

Watch the trailer to this very moving film

Here’s a link to their site where you can watch the whole thing

Swishing at FAIR! June 2015

Another exciting Date for your Diary: 13th June

Here at FAIR we believe in ethical fashion in all senses. For this reason, we’d love to introduce you to Rags Revival. An amazing chance to swap in those garments that have been hiding in the back of your wardrobe for something you may just fall in love with.  For £5 you can bring up to 10 items of clothing or accessories to swap! From experience, we can safely say there are always plenty of gems to be swapped! We will also be offering you lovely swishers 10% off all clothing at FAIR from 11am-7pm. Do come and join in the fabulous fun!

Check out more details on the facebook event

https://www.facebook.com/events/968932539824094/

or to know more about swishing with Rag Revival have a peek at their website

http://swishing.wix.com/rags-revival

 

 

 

 

 

Pop-up Shoe Shop at FAIR May-June 2015

Coming up at FAIR…

 Date for your Diary: 30th May

The brilliant shoes of Bourgeois Boheme will be making an appearance in FAIR! We will be holding a Pop Up event from 12-4pm on the 30th May, as we are sure you will love BoBo shoes as much as we do! Check out their website below for a preview of the type of selection we will have in store. There will also be healthy drinks and nibbles on offer as you browse. If you’re fancying a lovely outfit to go with your new shoes, you’re in luck! FAIR will also be offering 10% off all clothing to all BoBo customers!

http://www.bboheme.com/blog/popping-up-in-brighton/

 

 

Our Visit to Calcutta Rescue

At FAIR, we have been selling key rings from Calcutta Rescue for over 10 years, even before the shop on Queens Road opened its doors.  They have always been really popular.  Each visit to see this organisation in Kolkata, India opens our eyes even more to the many different things they do.  Calcutta Rescue provides free medical services as so many people cannot access medical services here in Kolkata.  We work with their Fair Trade unit that fundraises for the medical services, two schools for street children, educational outreach programs about health and provides employment to ex-patients.  Yesterday at the Fair Trade unit we bumped into James Fox who is over from the UK working in child psychiatry at the organisation.    Read about his fascinating experience so far with the organisation here.  We’ll be back from India with new stock from Calcutta Rescue next week.  They are made by women that work on the key rings in between other chores.  The key rings are so colourful and useful and buying them as gifts or for yourself is a great way to support the work of this great organisation.   Thanks so much to Sudeshna, Mithali and all the artisans for hosting us yesterday.

A TOP TIP from our colleague Maura in Kolkata is to use them on school bags or suitcases!  With their bright colours it makes the bags so easy to find.

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Fashion Takes Action

FASHION TAKES ACTION!

On Tuesday 29th October, over a hundred people came to an event hosted by People Tree, to hear where the Fashion Industry was at 6 months after the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh. A number of topics were covered, with different representatives sharing their experiences and understandings of what makes Fair Trade stand out. The room was a mix of people, individuals yet to be convinced, others there for research and some converts ready to carry the campaign through. The Rag Rage campaign pioneered by People Tree, alongside campaigns from War on Want and the Clean Clothes Campaign has so far seen a hundred brands pledge to the Bangladesh Safety Accord, but hundreds more names need to be added.

In amongst all of the talks and presentations, it was a straight question asked to Lord Peter Melchett from the Soil Association, that got me thinking most of all – “What will it take for the British general public to buy ethically produced clothes?” His answer paralleled the fashion industry to the food industry. He drew our minds to the ‘sourced locally’, ‘free range’ and ‘Best of British’ tags we expect to see, from the market stall to the supermarkets. You almost have to go out of your way to buy meat from another country and seasonal veg is celebrated in magazines and on cooking programmes. Jamie Oliver has gathered a huge following and seen changes to animal welfare and school dinners for the better whilst Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has inspired many veg patches in our back gardens. For some it is not uncommon to know of individuals going ‘foraging’ on a Sunday afternoon. And why not? A connection with food and where it came from, with peace of mind, brings joy to cooking, sharing and eating.
So when will we begin to get this stirred up and convicted about the clothes which we wear day in day out? When will we demand for transparency in the supply chain and not settle for less than ‘made by people with choice’ on our tags? How long will it be before we ask who made our clothes not just what brand name it has on the label? By considering who, we may see their talent and creativity, taking joy and care in wearing it. Lord Melchett believes it will take this type of compassionate thinking about clothes for the culture to change. The food industry isn’t there yet, but the fashion industry has a lot of catching up to do.

It’s a challenge to many to keep our wardrobes aboveboard, so thank you to FAIR for being part of the alternative.

Lizzy Dalby

Lizzy is our first guest blogger, a great customer and part of the Brighton affiliate of STOP THE TRAFFIK www.stopthetraffik.org/

BAFTS Week and Autumn Collections: Celebrate Thursday September 26th

Introducing Autumn Collections 2013, BAFTS Week, The Fashion Revolution AND….look out for us in this month’s ELLE magazine!

Celebrate the First BAFTS WEEK ever…21st-28th September

BAFTS is the UK body for certification of Fair Trade shops and importers.  It certifies that all members sell a minimum of 70% of products by recognised Fair Trade organisations such as Fairtrade Foundation and WFTO. FAIR has been a member since 2009 and has just received a renewed certification for the next 12 months.    We are celebrating BAFTS week by holding our Autumn Collection event this Thursday. We will also be letting people know about the Fashion Revolution that will take place on April 24th, 2014 to commemorate the 1,129 lives lost in Rana Plaza, Bangladesh this year and current plans for this event.  We will bring you the first taste of our Autumn styles with organic cottons, warm woollens and soft sustainable fabrics in gorgeous classic styles.  It is clothing that respects the environment and the people that make it.

We will be offering 20% off new collections ALL DAY (10am to 8pm) and a chance to win an outfit to the value of £100 if you enter our raffle.  We will announce the winner at the end of the evening.  Refreshments and nibbles will be available between 5 and 7:30pm.  Please find a taste below of the offers available:-)

People Tree Brooke Ruched Organic Cotton Skirt in black or floral pattern will be reduced from £35 to £28.00.

Komodo Fling Dress in Herringbone will be reduced from £95 to £76

Bibico 100% Wool will be reduced from £79 to £63.20

FAIR visit from WFTO President Rudi Dalvai

FAIR was thrilled to have a surprise visit from World Fair Trade Organisation President Rudi Dalvai and Christine Gent, who has been working on their new Guarantee System. The WFTO is the main Fair Trade certification body for many of the producers who make the products at FAIR. We had a quick chat about labelling for Fair Trade clothing and the need for WFTO to have a bigger presence here in the UK alongside the well known Fairtrade Foundation.  The visit was far too brief and we look forward to meeting him again soon and giving you the chance to talk to him too.

Fair Trade Film for Brighton and Hove Schools

Recently we were involved in the making of a film for local schools to enable students to understand how fair trade works from the development of products: from design to manufacture to the shop floor.  We filmed a segment here with discussions with Teddy from Teddy Exports in India and Louise Birchmore from the lovely children’s Fair Trade Brighton brand Believe You Can


It will give the students of Brighton and Hove Schools a great insight into how Fair Trade really works and the breadth of products that Fair Trade producers now make.

Elle Magazine!

FAIR has been featured in this month’s Elle Magazine in”Secret Addresses” a listing of all the Elle Fashion Intern’s favourite places around the country.  We’re are so excited that they have selected an ethical fashion venue for the list!

Launching Oh So Shika’s NEW Collection

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Our clothes tell a story…. from the disadvantaged women who take pride in producing beautiful garments as a means of providing for their families.  To the unique fabrics which have been thoughtfully sourced in Africa.  To the statement you make when you wear oh so shika.  To the vulnerable young people who are given a real chance to change their lives through education thanks to profits generated by oh so Shika garments.  Passionate about Africa!

The oh so Shika story

Who are we?
We are a collaboration of hard working and talented women from two continents who have come together to make beautiful sustainable fashion.  Our clothing is mostly designed in the UK by designers who know Africa well, are passionate about the the continent and its potential as a destination for trade and fashion.  We love spending time there sourcing the best African prints and trims to make our garments.  The fabric stays in Africa where a group of talented but disadvantaged women transform it into stunning African print dresses, skirts and jackets.

While we are passionate about our clothing, we are also passionate about some of the issues causing the biggest problems in Africa.  Poverty, lack of education, lack of trade opportunities.  We want to use our clothing to not only to reflect the promise, passion and ability available in the continent but also how trade with Africa can work and can pose a viable business option to those looking for manufacturing opportunities there.

Did you know?

“Africa will have the world’s fastest-growing economy during the next five years of any continent”

According to the International Monetary Fund, 7 out of 10 of the world’s fastest growing economies will be African.

Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria expected to expand by more than 6 per cent a year until 2015.

While we want to shout about the economic potential of Africa, we also want to promote sustainable, economic development and wise investment in the future of Tanzania through education.  And this is exactly what we do with oh so Shika.

Why are our clothes so special? They look special because we source the best fabrics from Africa ourselves.  We use small quantities of each print fabric so every garment is a limited edition.   It is highly unlikely that you will ever meet somebody wearing the same garment.  Each piece feels special because it has been produced by a great group of talented but happy people whose work enables them to earn a fair wage, doing something they love.  Our garments are not churned out on a production line in their thousands every day.  Each garment is laboured over by individual seamstresses who add their personal touches.  These women are poor by western standards but their jobs with oh so Shika enables them to support their families and provide them with best chance they will get to work their way out of poverty. In addition, all profits generated by oh so Shika support Shika’s educational programmes to wisely invest in Tanzania’s future generations

Who benefits from the dress you buy?  Everyone from the small scale fabric sellers that we purchase our fabric from to the women who earn a good wage producing our clothing.   Ultimately the vulnerable children and young people we support through our educational programmes benefit as all the profits go to help finance our other activities.

How is our clothing made?

Our clothing is made in a small workshop in the deprived area of Sinone in Arusha.  Located in the heart of the community, it is easily accessible for the women in the oh so Shika producer group.  It is very small scale.  We don’t use big factories with hundreds of machinists.  We have just four at the moment.   We use limited electricity.  Electricity isn’t always readily available in the community.  Our sturdy old singer machines are powered by good old pedal power – literally.  Our irons are mostly powered by charcoal – not electricity.   Our workshop isn’t hi-tech which means much of the clothing production is by hand. Our tailors are skilled but such is the quality demanded, every day each tailor will produce between 1- 2 finished garments.   We are all about quality not quantity.  Fair not fast fashion.

All our tailors are happy.  They work for a very good wage in good conditions with good benefits.  We think this makes are garments feel special as well as look special.  You should feel proud to wear oh so shika, knowing that you have invested in a garment which helps women living in poverty earn a living wage.  One which helps them pay for their children’s education, the home they live in and the food they eat.  Why should these women work for anything less than a living wage?

Who makes oh so Shika clothing?
We want you to connect to the women who make your clothing.  That’s why when you buy an oh so Shika garment, our swing tag will tell you who made it.

We currently have four seamtresses making our clothing in Arusha.

Let’s meet the ladies:
Mama Sonia – The linchpin is Mama Sonia.  Mama Sonia is a skilled tailor who has been making clothing for the local community for years.  She is clever, hard working, eager to learn and highly regarded among her community.  She is the perfect person to run the workshop in Tanzania.

Is oh so Shika different to Shika?
Yes, Shika is a UK registered charity that practices social enterprise providing quality education opportunities to orphaned and young people in Tanzania.  While also registered as a charity, oh so Shika is a self sustainable social enterprise which runs as a business.  We work with disadvantaged women to provide them training, equipment and jobs producing oh so Shika clothing.  We use a business model to run oh so Shika to ensure that we can be profitable and generate fair trade income and jobs for all concerned.

Our values
Sustainability | Passion | Awareness | Innovation

 

Fair Trade Beyond 2015

Fair Trade Beyond 2013

by Lucy, FAIR team member and ethical blogger

This May the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) will be holding its 12th Biennial  Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Timed to coincide with Global Fair Trade Week which takes place from 26th to 31st May 2013, Rio will carry the enviable title of Global Fair Trade Capital for the duration of the conference.

The theme of the event – Fair Trade Beyond 2015 – recognises that the deadline for the UN’s 2015 Millennium Development Goals, agreed upon by 189 nations in 2000, is fast approaching and a new vision is now needed.

The original aim of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals was to tackle extreme poverty and combat many forms of deprivation experienced across the world, with significant progress made towards this.

Want to be part of the discussion before the UN General Assembly meet in September to talk about this? Visit www.myworld2015.org today and complete the United Nations Global Survey for a Better World.

 

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May’s Monthly Tips

As promised here are our monthly ethical tips for May!

 

Good Guide
If you’re committed to using your purchasing power to boycott or support companies on the basis of how they conduct their business, the ultra-thorough Good Guide is for you. Its researchers mined mountains of public data and scientifically rate corporations on whether their products are safe, green, healthy and ethical. Barcode scanning makes it particularly simple to retrieve info about an item before buying it.

http://www.goodguide.com/about/mobile

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Zero waste home

If you have any specific household problems you need an ethical answer to, Zero waste home is your best bet! Ethical living Bea Johnson has a brilliant site with the tag line, refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot (and only in that order)!

http://www.zerowastehome.com/

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The real junk food project

A quarter to a third of food produced globally, is wasted. And yet, there’s estimated to be 795 million people who do not get enough to eat. This organisation intercepts this food waste otherwise destined for landfill and their talented chefs create amazingly tasty buffets of food for a pay as you feel café.

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If you have any tips you think should be included on here please send us an email on info@thefairshop.co.uk

Monthly tips!

 

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As promised here is our monthly ethical and sustainable tips and insights!

  1. www.ecosia.org.uk. The brilliant search engine that plants a tree in Africa every time you search! So your armchair curiosity, shopping or emailing can do good in the world!
  2. www.thefairphone.com. The world’s first ethical smartphone. Been around a while and yet people still haven’t heard of it and we think it deserves to be heard of!
  3. http://olioex.com/ The food sharing revolution! This App lets you advertise any left over food you have. Be it home grown or that pot of jam you know you’re never going to use! And in reverse it also lets you browse all of the surplus food around so you can go and pick up bits and bobs around your neighborhood. The aim- to reduce food waste!
  4. http://www.thinkdirtyapp.com/ This app aims to shed transparency on the cosmetic industry so you know exactly what is going into the products you put on your face and body!ecosia_logo

 

SCAP presents talk

When: 16th October 1:30-3:30pm

Where:  Sallis Benney Theatre, 56-58 Grand Parade, Brighton, East Sussex BN2 0JY

Resource efficiency experts WRAP, which leads the SCAP initiative, will present three short sessions in this hour long workshop. The workshop will focus on:

  • Re-inventing how we design, market and sell clothes.
  • Re-thinking how we use and consume clothes.
  • Re-defining what is possible through re-use and recycling of textiles.

Anne Prahl will start off showcasing new initiatives, processes and technology that can reduce the environmental impact of clothing followed by Ben Thomas from nonprofit fashion organisation Made BY.   Ben will discuss sourcing and benchmarking sustainable fibres for sustainable design. Carol Rose will finish the talks with the relevance of sustainability in the fashion industry tying the whole event together and giving you the opportunity to see how the sustainable fashion industry works from every angle.

The  SCAP workshops will be followed by an introduction and showing of the AEG film the “Next Black.”  New technologies, sustainability concerns and innovative minds are transforming our clothes. In the “Next Black” documentary film, you meet the designers, innovators and leaders that are shaping the future of what we will be wearing. This is not a film about what’s new, it’s about what’s next.

 

LFW Takes on Sustainability

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London Fashion week is often considered the epitome of showcasing the latest trends for each season. This year whilst collaborating with WRAP, Love Your Clothes and Esthetica, much like our very own Brighton Fashion Week, a handful of sustainable designers have been taking the catwalks by storm.

Christopher Raeburn was amongst the eight designers to incorporate eco- friendly qualities into their practice. Being a well renowned designer it was refreshing to see how he used upcycled and locally sourced materials as well as vegetable dyes to marry the idea of sustainability and contemporary style together. One of the most interesting aspects of this collection is how reused military materials, such as strips of old air break parachute fabric have been contrasted with delicate vegetable dyed patterns to highlight and compliment the female form. Here at The Fair Shop we are excited to see how having pioneers like this presented in such a prestigious event will change the course of fashion and hopefully steer future designers towards adopting similar practices into their own work.

Brighton Fashion Week

As October draws near Brighton prepares to host one of the most creative events in sustainable fashion, Brighton Fashion Week. As an event that The Fair Shop has supported throughout the past couple of years we are particularly excited to announce this years fashion week as the only completely sustainable fashion week in the UK. The line up showcases various designers from around the world using eco-friendly techniques to create innovative and unique collections. With fast fashion creating an array of problems for both the planet and the people living on it, this Brighton Fashion Week creates an amazing platform for up and coming creatives to inspire society on how one can help the planet whilst being stylish. As our values lie with the importance of fair labour and quality materials it is refreshing to see an affair promoting these qualities as the future of fashion.
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One of The Fair Shop’s favourite designers from this year’s selection is KellyDawn Riot who uses remnants of fabric from local scottish mills and natural materials to create a vibrant and exciting collection. An element that makes this collection particularly unique is the pirnts that she uses to pump life into her work. All hand painted prints by the designer herself adds an element of exclusivity to each garment. Seeing how the use of recycling has been mixed with craftsmanship is something that we love to see here at Fair with a lot of our accessory products following the same principles. We hope you all get the chance to see what wonderful things are in store at Brighton Fashion Week this october providing inspiration on how you can be on trend this season with a conscious mind.