Category: Ethical Fashion

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/

 

 

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.

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!

SAHEL- New to FAIR

New to Fair:

SAHEL Design bags!

hereThese gorgeous new bags have a just as gorgeous story behind them. SAHEL began in the desert of Burkina Faso where the Fulani originate. Horse lovers by tradition, Fulani people used to dress their steeds in vibrant tassles to accentuate the horse’s movement and turn heads. Traditional Fulani horse harnesses have strong braided straps which are hand woven by highly skilled artisans.

All SAHEL bags and accessories employ this unique Fulani skill, some of the bags are made in Burkina Faso. Most are made in Devon, England using sustainably sourced leather and suede. All of them incorporate tassels or hand braided straps from the north of Burkina Faso.

Adhering to Fair trade principles, SAHEL invest into the people who make it possible to create their beautiful bags, providing better access to health care, primary education and clean water.