Uni Project Turned Brit Business: Get Made in Britain Clothes Online

British manufacturing UK design shirt

The British Clothing Co is a brand new online retailer of sustainably sourced, British manufactured accessories and clothing.

The idea was originally dreamed up as part of a university project in 2013, as Hollie, then studying Fashion Marketing at Nottingham Trent, wanted to research into an area she felt strongly about; ethical and sustainable fashion. At the time, there was becoming slightly more awareness of British manufacturing due to the likes of Mary Portas’ “Kinky Knickers” campaign, along with some major retailers releasing British made ranges.

From here she researched into consumer attitudes towards fashion consumption, whilst also speaking to a range of manufacturers within the British Isles. She found that most of these manufacture small-scale production lines and even bespoke products, making sure they are of the highest quality, and meaning they will last for season after season. This is the complete antithesis of the disposable, fast-fashion many British consumers have become accustomed too.

After graduating, gaining industry experience and doing some traveling, Hollie decided in early 2015 to put the ideas into action and started The British Clothing Co. Putting together a brand with a strong ethos and range of suppliers who resonate the same values of quality and craftsmanship. The mission being to educate and inspire consumers of the wide selection of quality garments produced from a variety of brands within Britain, proving that fashion can be sustainable, for the environment and their local economy.

At present, The British Clothing Co stocks pieces from a variety of brands from across the British Isles. For the sartorial gentleman they stock garments by Meccanica Cycles and Quantock Clothing, including Chinos, Polo Shirts, Merino Knitwear and Polo Shirts, along with a small preview-collection from Living in Light. For the classically stylish woman, there is a wider range of boho-inspired dresses from Living In Light, along with Hugget Jackets and incredibly feminine workwear by Client London. Along with accessories, including hard-wearing canvas backpacks by Sidewinder Apparel and up-cycled clutch bags by Reniqlo.

Check out these pieces and more at www.thebritishclothingco.co.uk. Additional lines to be added soon!

100% British wool pencil skirt, £69

100% British wool pencil skirt, £69

Made in London stripe backpack, £139

Made in London stripe backpack, £139

Made in Britain menswear

Made in Britain menswear

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Mother’s Day: Just another greeting card day or a chance to say I love you?

original_love-hearts-card

When I popped into my local shop this morning to pick up the paper there was a queue of people in front of me buying flowers, chocolates, and greeting cards. It could be any celebratory day: Valentine’s, Christmas, birthday, but it is in fact, Mother’s Day. Over on Ethical High Street I wrote about gift ideas for Mother’s Day that didn’t involve buying a lot of stuff, but that doesn’t mean buying stuff for special occasions is a bad thing. Consumerism is often thought of as a dirty word and ‘greeting card days’ just a chance for shops to push their well, greetings cards. What though, if we consider shopping as an act of love?

This is exactly what Danny Miller proposed in his book A Theory of Shopping (1999). An anthropologist at University College London he was the first person to talk about shopping in this way; shopping as a way of showing love. Miller argues for the importance of the relationship between people and things and how this affects every day social and family life. The type of shopping that Miller talks of is not so much shopping for televisions and fashionable party dresses, but rather the type of shopping needed for everyday provisioning such as for food and basic clothes. Miller argues that everyday consumption practices are more than just fulfilling the most basic physical needs, but they are also linked to social relations, love and care. This is just the kind of shopping a mother does, so on Mother’s Day it’s no surprised we’d want to give something back. Flowers and chocolates say ‘I’m thinking of you’ and a simple ‘thank you’.

Whether we’re buying food for the family or jewellery for a friend’s birthday, shopping is both a form of nurturing and a message to say we care. It’s a way of spreading love through something material. If we give the right gift it can be something the receiver keeps forever, as a reminder of a particular time, place and person. Memory lockets are an example of a thoughtful gift because they are timeless. The same is true for collectable items, books or family heirlooms. Although I’m sure the best gift a mum could receive is the chance to put her feet up.

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Competition: Inspire the Next Wolftress Collection

Native Roots by Wolftress

Native Roots by Wolftress

Wolftress is an Australian fashion label that discovers traditional textiles hidden among indigenous cultures and aims to preserve the dying crafts through fashion. By collaborating with local artisans Wolftress support these crafts and give us all the chance to buy into their beautiful cultures. Each Wolftress collections aims to support the economic sustainability of the producers, whilst supporting the environmental sustainability of the environment.

The 2014/15 collection featured the Highlands of Ecuador. Alpaca plain weaves were created in the town of Quinchuqui where Wolftress collaborated with one single family to spin the cloth. Intricately woven colourful cotton weaves were created in the town of Agato and hand moulded felt hats were created in a town called Iluman. The result of these collaborations was a rich and intricate collection of alpaca cover-ups, trendy fedora style hats and solid silver contemporary jewellery.

So what’s the competition about?

Wolftress are on the hunt for their next inspiration and want your help. Where should they travel to next? Where will they find hidden talents of artisan craft?

Wolftress also design jewellery

Wolftress also design jewellery

How to enter the competition

Starting today, you can inspire Wolftress by sharing a travel photo on Instagram of a place where you think Wolftress should explore for theirr next collection #inspirewolftress and tag @wolftresspack

The image that inspires Wolftress the most will be the location where Wolftress will explore and base their upcoming collection on.

The winner receives a $150 voucher to spend on the upcoming collection.

The winner will be announced on the 25/03/15.

www.wolftress.com

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Why I Went Veggie

About six months ago I woke up one morning and decided I didn’t want to eat meat anymore. If you’d said to me even seven months ago that that would happen I’d have been incredibly sceptical. A life without meat? Why would I want that? Half a year later and the transition has been remarkably easy. I can’t entirely say I haven’t missed meat, but I’ve certainly never been tempted to actually put it in my mouth.

And this is the thing, it doesn’t really feel like a conscious decision of mine to not eat meat. I’d long considered the benefits of being vegetarian for environmental and sustainability reasons. According to the Soil Association 35–40% of all cereals produced worldwide are fed to livestock, and this could rise to 50% by 2050 if meat consumption continues to rise as predicted. But if all cereals were fed to people not animals, we could feed an extra 3.5 billion people. With this in mind I do think it’s irresponsible and unnecessary to eat a lot of meat. For these reasons and of course due to the expense I haven’t eaten much meat for years. Maybe once a week at home and more often if I was eating out, so why didn’t I just continue like that?

It was an accumulation of factors I think. There’s so much evil in the world (and good as well), but it was the evil that got me thinking – how can humans be so dramatically different as a species? How can people who commit murder be in any way the same as me? Some animals show more kindness than some people. And that’s what got me; suddenly the divides of species-ism blurred and meat didn’t look like meat anymore, it looked like flesh. And I couldn’t eat it. I think I would be sick if I were made to eat meat. I do eat fish, although I’m not sure how long that will last.

Cultural norms, we follow like sheep

Culture is a strange thing. We balk at the thought of horse meat but routinely eat cows. They eat guinea pig in parts of South America, yet that horrifies us because we think of them as cute pets. People have sheep and pigs as pets, and they’re cute too, but pork and lamb are still staple foods for us in the UK. Men were selling their wives at auction right up until the early 20th Century. Not quite like animals, but they were still treated like meat. Our thoughts and behaviours are innately influenced by cultural norms. Vegetarianism currently goes against that cultural norm in the UK (although I’d anecdotally say it’s growing), but it’s perfectly plausible that in 200 years time people will look back and consider it primitive that we ate meat, such like we consider wife-selling barbaric.

Happy potato

I’ve been reading a lot of academic work on posthumanism over the last 18 months which does away with nature-culture/human-nonhuman dualisms. This led me to the philosophical thought of Spinoza, a philosopher who held a monistic worldview, i.e. nature is all things and unbiased towards all things, humans are no more important than the non-human. Spinoza is often cited as equating God with Nature, but this should not be confused with a religious God per say, but more that there is a unity of all that exists. I’m not religious anymore, but I am a spiritual person. We don’t know anything about life really which is why I do my best to put positive energy out into the world and limit the harm I do, to people, planet and animals.

There are lots of good reasons to not eat meat (like the facts listed below) but – having self-analysed myself – for me it has to about control, linked to what we do and what we don’t know as I’ve tried to explain above. I can’t control much in the world but I can choose not to contribute to the bad things, in this case killing animals for meat.

If I wake up one morning and decide I want to eat meat then fine, I’ll eat meat (ideally organic, certainly responsibly farmed) but that doesn’t seem likely soon.

Vegetarian resources

Going veggie will make you a better cook (with some effort).

I care greatly about health and fitness so it’s important to me to make sure my body is getting the fuel it needs. I went veggie just weeks before I ran my first half-marathon so that was an incentive to look into the nutritional values of various foods and make sure I got the vitamins and minerals I needed along with protein. I did get really run down and ill just before Christmas which I’m sure had nothing at all to do with going veggie but I started taking multi-vitamins with zinc to boost my immune system. Generally I don’t think supplements are necessary.

The Jamie Oliver website is brilliant for recipes. There are vegetarian and vegan sections filled with colourful images and easy to follow ideas (check out the baking too). BBC Food is a great go-to place for searching for particular recipes. I used their nutroast recipe for my Christmas dinner, see below!

Nut roast

If you really struggle with finding the time and enthusiasm to cook, you could sign up to one of the box-delivery services. Gousto (as seen on Dragon’s Den so I believe) deliver to your door everything you need to make delicious healthy meals. Just use their website to select the number of people you need to feed and which recipes you’d like to make. They have meat and vegetarian options. Click here for £15 off your first order with the code HOORAY.

Facts and figures

• In the UK over 2.5 million land animals are slaughtered daily and 600,000 tonnes of fish are killed each year (https://www.vegsoc.org/goveggie).

• 760 million tonnes of grain are fed to animals on factory farms each year and it can take up to 16kg of grain to produce just 1kg of meat. The world’s cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people. Basically, we can feed everyone on Earth for that (http://www.peta.org.uk/issues/animals-are-not-ours-to-eat/meat-and-the-environment/).

• You can feed 20 vegetarians on the amount of land needed to feed one person on a meat-based diet (http://www.peta.org.uk/issues/animals-are-not-ours-to-eat/how-meat-harms-humans/).

• Cattle-rearing generates more global warming greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalent, than transportation (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=20772#.VPsIL7OsXjY).

Find out more

The Vegetarian Society – Friendly and non-preachy website with advice and information for going veggie www.vegsoc.org

Peta – More preachy, but with loads of information www.peta.org.uk

Farms not Factories – A campaign to encourage less and more ethical meat consumption if you don’t want to go veggie but want to create change farmsnotfactories.org

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Spring Beauty: The Story of the Daffodil

"Narcisa 0012" by Martinas Angel

“Narcisa 0012″ by Martinas Angel

Signs of spring are starting to shine through. On the way to work today I passed lots of daffodils. Daffodils are my favourite flower! They are a sure sign of spring, a bright yellow beacon of life emerging from the (wet) ground. I love how they ‘spring’ up all over the place – at the side of the road, on roundabouts, outside your window. When people plant daffodils they provide pleasure year after year.

Daffodils have quite a history. They are more than just a sign of spring, they have other symbolism attached to them. Daffodils are officially known as by the name ‘Narcissus’ and native to Europe, North Africa and West Asia, traditionally appearing in woodlands. Narcissus is a figure from Greek mythology who drowned whilst gazing at his own reflection in water. It’s not known if the two are actually related but certainly in the West the daffodil is seen to symbolise vanity and egotism. In popular culture the two are often associated, for example in the Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dali. The oil painting depicts Narcissus sitting in a pool, gazing down. Not far away there is a decaying stone figure which corresponds closely to him but is perceived quite differently; as a hand holding up a bulb or egg from which a daffodil is growing. Could a story of such gloom be related to a flower of such life?

In modern times, the daffodil is used as a symbol of Easter and iconic for Mother’s Day. It’s also the national flower of Wales, chosen because it is in bloom for St David’s Day on March 1st. From the sixteenth century, the daffodil was given fun synonyms such as ‘Daffadown Dilly’ and ‘Daffydowndilly’. Narcissus has had various uses from ancient times. Romans used narcissus ointment to create a fragrance called Narcissinum. Arabs used it in their perfumery, as well as to cure baldness. In India, the oil of narcissus, as well as fragrant oils of sandal, jasmine, and rose, is applied to body before prayer. In France it was used for treating epilepsy and hysteria. The scent of the oil is strong and rich, and is used in some famous perfumes although you probably wouldn’t have noticed.
Personally I think the best use for daffodils is to leave them be. Even with their dark mythology, I still see them as happy, playful flowers and a sure sign of the changing seasons. Their beautiful yellow hue brightens up the dullest of settings. They grow easily here in the UK so you can snip off your garden surplus and bring them into the house, carbon footprint free!

With Mother’s Day coming up, Marks and Spencer have the most beautiful bouquet of 80 sunny daffodils and 20 purple tulips, currently on offer for £25.

Daffodil bouquet, M&S

Daffodil bouquet, M&S

You can also check out my recent post for Fairtrade Fortnight on Ethical High Street where I look at Fairtrade cut flowers and why such certification is necessary in an industry we rarely consider past the beauty of the blooms. Fairtrade flowers are available from a number of places including Marks and Spencer and online at Arena Flowers who offer free delivery 7 days a week, perfect for Mother’s Day.

Arena Flowers are currently offering 15% off all products. Click here to browse and enter MUM15 at the checkout to apply the discount, until 15th March.

I’m currently writing about a different Fairtrade product each day for Fairtrade Fortnight, see them all at ethicalhighstreet.co.uk

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Nominate your Eco Champions for Observer Ethical Awards 2015

Observer Ethical Awards 2015 - nominate image

I’ve taken an interest in the Observer Ethical Awards for years, but I don’t think I’ve ever submitted a nomination. Which is terrible considering a) how easy it is to nominate online and b) how many brilliant people and projects I know deserve recognition. Perhaps that’s why I never nominated, because I simply couldn’t choose one over others, but then that’s an awful excuse too considering you can submit multiple different nominations for each category. With this in mind, I don’t feel entirely comfortable sitting here and telling you to vote, but, you really should vote.

For a start, it’s the tenth anniversary year of the awards. And secondly, Ethical High Street (my ‘baby’) was asked to be an official supporter for 2015. Ten years ago the Observer Ethical Awards launched with the idea that a lot of good people were doing brilliant things for environmental and social justice in the UK and that such acts should be celebrated. Despite national policies to cut carbon emissions and support the vulnerable, it is often up to pioneering individuals and small enterprises to make a real difference to local communities and the environment.

The Observer Ethical Awards celebrate individuals, businesses and groups. You can check out all of the categories below. Nominations have been open since the end of January and are only open for another month, but who has the tricky task of picking the winners? Well, in part you do. Three of the awards will be voted for by the public, that’s,

Best Ethical Product of the Decade
Campaigner of the Year
Green Briton of the Year

The responsibility of awarding the other categories falls on the shoulders of an exceptionally strong team of judges, including:

Stuart Bailey, head of sustainability and climate change, National Grid plc
Dr Damian Carrington, head of environment, the Guardian
Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder and chief executive, Kids Company
Liz Earle MBE, founder, Liz Earle Wellbeing
Ben Fogle, TV presenter, writer and adventurer
Livia Firth, creative director of Eco-Age Limited, founder of the Green Carpet Challenge®
Jane Goodall, primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace
And more!

They will be wading through the nominations for the ethical wildlife award, sustainable style award, community energy project, and categories for arts and culture, film and television and the Ecover Young Green Champion.

The results will be announced at a packed awards ceremony in July. Stay tuned for more updates and get online to vote for your favourites.

Find out more: ethicalhighstreet.co.uk/observer-ethical-awards-2015/

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