Brand Watch: Nomads Clothing Fairtrade Since 1989

Nomads Clothing began with a beautiful story. Founded by a pair who met whilst backpacking around India in the 1980s, they snapped up £200 worth of ethnic clothing and headed back to sell it in the UK. Returning to India with the profits they made they decided to start Nomads Clothing, inspired by the Indian culture and gorgeous fabrics and artisan crafts they came across. Nomads continue to travel to India several times a year to develop their collections, which make use of print and detail to create contemporary, covetable pieces.

There is plenty of information online about Nomads fair trade policies. Supporting handicraft artisan skills, you will find traditional methods such as patchwork and block printing in their collections. Equality of pay for male and female workers is guaranteed, as is no child labour. Keen to protect the environment too, Nomads continue to increase their use of organic cotton.

You can pick up a wide range of womenswear from Nomads – dresses, tunics, trousers, coats, tops and blouses. Pictured here you can see me in the Jasmine Print Cowl Neck Dress (now on sale at £42 from £60) which I absolutely love! Made from organic cotton with an easy side zip fastening and just the right amount of stretch, it’s the perfect go-to dress for any occasion. The print is quite Christmassy too!

Nomads fair trade organic dress

Alongside all the great prints they have plain basics including quality long-sleeved t-shirts and shirts. Jewellery, bags, scarves and gloves can be found in their accessories collection including cashmere fingerless gloves for just £20. You can find a stockist list online and head to your local fair trade retailer, or else, now is the time to check out their collections online where they have 30% off many products www.nomadsclothing.com.

Nomads have been trading for 15 years and have refined a business model to support workers, protect the environment wherever possible and offer lovely, and affordable clothing for conscious consumers. They should be a staple in any women’s wardrobe.
Nomads fair trade ethical clothing

Post to Twitter

Posted in Environment, Ethical Fashion, Fair trade, Fashion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brand Watch: Naturally Selina Scott Mohair Socks

It seems everyone has been a bit ill recently, including me, so it really cheered me up when I received a gift from Naturally Selina Scott. What better for winter than some cosy luxury socks, they have been worn many, many times already I can tell you. Knitted from a mohair/nylon blend, these socks are sustainably produced and ethically sourced and most importantly will keep my feet warm even on the coldest of days.

SelinaScott Socks

Famed as a BBC journalist and presenter, Selina Scott was one of the first female newsreaders in the 80s. It was whilst filming a documentary in Scotland twenty years ago that she came across and subsequently adopted 6 Angora goats! Back at her 200 acre farm in North Yorkshire, Selina decided to start selling beautiful Mohair socks, using the lustrous Mohair fibre from these gentle animals.

The business has gone from strength to strength and as her own goats have hit retirement (I’ve been assured they still live happily on the farm!), the Mohair is now sourced from selected farms in South Africa where the socks are also made. The brand also sells cashmere shawls and scarves from Outer Mongolia and hat, glove and scarf cashmere sets sourced from Afghanistan.

Mohair makes a great choice for socks. Sheared from Angora goats in ‘long glamorous ringlets’ twice a year, Mohair is a strong, sustainable fibre. It washes well, not that you’ll need to wash them every wear, the anti-bacterial properties of the fibre keep your feet smelling fresh for days! Providing warmth when you need it, but still being breathable, these are the most comfortable socks I’ve ever worn.

Ankle socks start at £9.95, Kids day socks are £14.95 and long walking socks are £17.95.

You can also buy their superfine cashmere shawls and support the Born Free Foundation. In super glam leopard and snow leopard prints, £25 is donated to the wildlife foundation for each £149 shawl. Cost per wear, I don’t think that works out too bad as I’d want to wear it every day.

https://www.selinascott.com/

Post to Twitter

Posted in Environment, Ethical Fashion, Fashion | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SWAGS World do Christmas with Sustainable Artisan Crafts

SWAGS World

Christmas is fully upon us. I know this because my weekly Sunday paper has doubled in size under the weight of branded gift guides, the Christmas market has opened in town and television adverts are united in a singular voice – buy our stuff for your best Christmas ever. We don’t have to partake in this commercialised view of Christmas though, should we want to do it differently. When it comes to buying gifts and decorating the home in the lead up to the big day, there are ways to give a gift that goes further than simply that received by the recipient.

Take SWAGS World for example. Buy one of their products – bags, sandals and dolls – and you are helping to empower a woman in South East Asia to earn her own income through her artisan craft. Joanne White founded SWAGS World (Simply Women and Girls Sustainable World) as a social enterprise offering affordable, accessible products for socially responsible shoppers, all handmade by women in South East Asia. The artisan women involved receive a fair price for their products through sustainable employment that will accommodate their family life and other commitments. SWAGS World pay 50% of the price of each item to the producers upfront, and the SWAGS Academy programme helps by providing training and support in creating a long-term artisan trade.

You can check out their products online. Their fabric covered Christmas tree decorations (£6) are absolutely gorgeous and are great stocking fillers. Each one has a special meaning, the globe symbolises celebration with family and friends. The recycled newspaper print shopper is practical, fun and classically designed, but my favourite product has to be the Harmony Dolls. Designed to spark curiosity in children, and an acceptance of diversity in the world, they are made by a co-operative of women on the island of Atauro, East Timor and are totally delightful.

SWAGS World christmas globe
SWAGS world recycled Handbag Newsprint

SWAGS World are based locally to me in Hampshire, so I got to ask the team about their future plans:

1. Where can we buy your stuff?

Our exclusive handmade products are currently available in our online store at swagsworld.com. We share the stories of the artisans we work with, so our customers can connect with the women who have created the products they are buying.

2. What’s the SWAGS Worldwide marketplace?

Our dream has always been to make ethical products desirable, accessible and affordable. With our Marketplace, we hope to offer a global collection of products for socially responsible consumers; an alternative to mass-produced, throwaway fashion, poor working conditions and undervalued labour. We will provide an online platform for consumers to purchase handmade items from artisans all around the world, with the knowledge that they are having a positive impact on people who really need it.

3. What would a real SWAGS world look like?

We believe a true SWAGS World would be positive, honest, educational, supportive and sustainable. We hope that with the continuing growth of ethical, sustainable brands and increasing choice for consumers, we are getting closer to this vision!

SWAGS World Harmony Dolls

Post to Twitter

Posted in Environment, Ethical Fashion, Fair trade, Sustainable textiles | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who IS to blame? Critiquing the fast fashion model after the 2013 factory disaster in Bangladesh

A new journal article has been published critiquing the events that led to the tragic 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh where 1,127 people were killed. Published in Critical Perspectives on International Business, 10(1/2) Ian Taplin asks ‘Who is to blame? A re-examination of fast fashion after the 2013 factory disaster in Bangladesh’. The paper is freely available to the general public until Christmas so you can read it for yourself here. In the article, Taplin provides an overview of global clothing supply chains and how increased consumer demand and trade law liberalisation created the context for the precarious supply chains and ‘race to the bottom’ that ultimately led to the Rana Plaza fatalities along with hundreds of other factory deaths in Bangladesh alone.

So who is to blame? I’m going to start with Taplin’s abstract. Granted, abstracts are tricky to write but assuming that an author tries to cover the paper’s key points, Taplin’s take home message is the following:

Finally, blame is apportioned to Western consumers whose insatiable appetite for ‘fashionable’ goods merely feeds a retail system that was set up to resolve earlier supply chain problems and ended up taking advantage of changing international trade regimes.

Normally, I’d be quick to place responsibility on consumers but place all the blame? I don’t think so. It’s like the chicken or the egg – what came first, consumer demand for cheap stuff? Or cheap stuff? If you switch the question around to ask who is the victim, rather than who’s to blame, I think everyone comes off the victim except the retailer. Consumers fall victim to being manipulated by mass media, postmodern culture and retail advertising to part with their cash on the belief that owning another dress will make them happier in some way. Suppliers are victim to retailer demands, who, at the click of their fingers can switch to a supplier/country offering a better deal (the race to the bottom), and of course workers are victims, exploited for their labour because they have few other options to earn a living (especially as states for example, favour exports over small scale local industries).

It’s an incredibly complex issue as myself and so many others continue to repeat. Taplin captures much of this complexity in his paper and if you read the whole thing, he doesn’t only lay blame on consumers. That said, I’m not sure what the ‘earlier supply chain problems’ that needed to be resolved actually are. He goes on to say (p.74) that:

Manufacturing in the clothing industry is labour-intensive, hence competitive success for manufacturers has been achieved through cost-minimisation strategies that generally revolve around the search for low wage labour.

Perhaps this is the problem he speaks of, the fact that clothes manufacturing is labour intensive and hence expensive. This isn’t the consumer’s fault though, and we’d be better, more sustainable consumers if more manufacturing had stayed in the Global North, protecting jobs even if goods where a bit more expensive. Towards the end of the paper Taplin claims that ‘the average Western consumer remains largely indifferent to the plight of those workers overseas’. I don’t disagree with this in entirety but his only evidence is reference to an Evening Standard article on Primark shoppers, so do Primark shoppers constitute the ‘average’ shopper?

Interestingly last weekend I overheard two young teenage girls discussing Primark and child labour whilst in the fitting rooms of TKMaxx. One wanted to go there and one didn’t for the very reason that their clothes were ‘made in sweatshops’. They also talked about Apple, the other girl claiming it was good she didn’t have an i-Phone as they use child labour too. I expect they still went to Primark and spent their allowance there, but maybe in 5 years time or so they will be able to turn that knowledge into action. So I don’t think we can make any claims about the ‘average’ shopper when attitudes and awareness is changing faster than ever.

I’m not anti-capitalist but I do think Taplin’s article would benefit from a radical critique of the particular capitalist model that has fed the fashion retail industry as it stands today. He hasn’t gone far enough to consider the factors leading to the Rana Plaza disaster and ultimately situates such tragedies as inevitable without apportioning significant blame on the retailers and broader societal norms.

Ian M. Taplin , (2014) “Who is to blame?: A re-examination of fast fashion after the 2013 factory disaster in Bangladesh”, Critical Perspectives on International Business, Vol. 10 Iss: 1/2, pp.72 – 83

Post to Twitter

Posted in Economics, Ethical Fashion, Fashion, Garment workers | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Shop Traidcraft for the UK’s Widest Range of Fair Trade Products

Do we buy fair trade goods to make a political statement, because we want to help others or because we believe it’s morally just? It’s a question that circles debates on ethical consumption, but whether consumers seek out fair trade goods or just stumble across them, sales are up and we have more choice of fair trade goods than ever. You’ve probably heard of Traidcraft, they’ve been around since 1979 when they started as a Christian response to poverty. Traidcraft is now a combined trading company and development charity selling a wide range of great fairly traded goods.

Traidcraft stock clothing, food, gifts and cards, toys, household and homewares so they are a great first-stop for your Christmas shopping list. Always looking out for traditional toys for my niece and nephew, I recently took delivery of the Traidcraft wooden pull-along dog. It’s a really sweet gift for young children and certain to be loved by all. In this case, my sister had just got an 8-week old real puppy who seemed to relish not being the smallest thing in the house anymore, dragging the wooden dog around when the kids turned their backs!

Traidcraft have an extensive range of groceries – toiletries, jams, cereals, biscuits, fruit juices and more! My personal favourite, Divine chocolate is also available on their website in more flavours than you could ever imagine! Made with the finest quality Fairtrade cocoa beans from Kuapa Kokoo, Divine comes from a co-operative of smallholder farmers in Ghana. Traidcraft also stock clean and fair eco-friendly Fairtrade household cleaning products and soaps, made with natural, plant-based ingredients. They have gorgeous handmade cards and notepads and plenty of Christmas things, cards, decorations and gifts. The Divine advent calendar is just £3.99.

Traidcraft pull-along puppy
Traidcraft fairtrade wooden puppy

Check out their special offers for sale items. I love this ceramic blue bowl/planter made by Mai Handicrafts, a social enterprise based in Vietnam which aims to find work for neglected families by selling handicraft products to local and export markets. You can find out more about all their producers online – every product has a story.

You can request a Traidcraft catalogue here, or perhaps you’d like to be a fair trader yourself and sell to others?

Post to Twitter

Posted in Fair trade | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

COSSAC Cool: Ethical Fashion

COSSAC ethical fashion yoga

I get approached by new ethical fashion brands quite regularly but COSSAC is different because COSSAC is a fashion label that just so happens to be consciously ethical in approach. This means that rather than relying on ethics alone to make a brand profile, COSSAC is a trend-led label for the youthful woman who loves life, loves fashion and wants to make a stand for what she believes in.

COSSAC launched yesterday, 24th October 2014, and currently has two small women’s collections. Utilising conscious design with low environmental impact, the label was founded by the lovely Agata Natalia Kozak who says:

“The reason for starting COSSAC is the desire to make something good, something I believe in and love doing that additionally will have a positive impact on fashion, society and environment. It’s not about making money, it’s about starting a positive change, a little fashion revolution.”

Agata uses fabric suppliers in the UK, India, Germany and Turkey and currently bases production in the UK and India. At present 80% of the fabrics are fair trade, organic, recycled and/or sustainable with Agata working towards 100%.

For the Eye’ is a fashion-forward collection of trendy separates. The look is minimalist, pieces for going out in the evening or heading to parties. This top (£75) for example, is made from organic cotton velvet and recycled fur with a sheer organza panel at the hem. The organic cotton top I’m wearing above (£25) is part of the ‘For the Soul’ collection, a range of lounge/casual/yoga gear featuring my favourite – slogan tees. I will definitely wear mine for yoga, but right now I’m wearing it with a long grey jersey skirt. I can’t wait to see what COSSAC have in store for future collections!

To view the full collection visit: www.COSSAC.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/COSSACfashion

Twitter: www.twitter.com/COSSACfashion

Instagram: www.instagram.com/COSSACfashion
Watch COSSAC Behind The Scenes. A/W14 photo-shoot on You Tube: http://youtu.be/U98OZ7Mnd-c

You can support COSSAC through their Kickstarter campaign and get your own piece of Eco-Hot fashion here https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1393449163/cossac-ss15-eco-hot-fashion

Post to Twitter

Posted in Ethical Fashion, Fashion | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment