Carbon Neutral Lingerie a Success for M&S

Last April M&S launched a range of carbon neutral lingerie under the Autograph collection, called ‘Leaves’. Now they have announced that their Leaves collection multi-way bra has been a best seller. M&S have hailed the success to customer’s desire for high quality and ethical values, but do they have any proof for this? Have they asked their customers why they chose to buy the carbon neutral bra? No, I don’t think so. They are just going on the fact that the bra has sold 250 units a day across the UK.

The bra is very pretty and costs £22, not a bad price for M&S who’s other multi-way bras at Autograph retail for £18 to £22. They did have a silk mix style on sale for £35 (currently reduced to £28) as well. Would the sales figures for the Leaves range be any different without the ethical credentials? I don’t think they would vary much to be honest, although there may be people who like the idea of a carbon neutral bra.

The range is made in a Sri Lankan factory which supports the M&S eco model. The factory produces 30% fewer emissions, and the remaining 70% is offset through local rainforest replantation. The factory has achieved a 30% reduction in carbon emissions by using renewable energy and waste initiatives. They have worked in partnership with nine local farmers to plant 6000 trees in desolate land between Kanneliya and Polgahkanda.

The range supports the climate change initiative of M&S’s Plan A promise to make business operations carbon neutral by 2012. Find out more about Plan A here.

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Lost Property of London

I got this fabulous Lost Property of London bag for my birthday. I wanted a rucksack to use on a daily basis for uni (thank god rucksacks are cool again . . . they are cool again aren’t they?). The bag is made from an old coffee bean sack, it doesn’t even faintly smell of coffee now mind you, with the softest leather straps and Liberty print lining.

Lost Property of London takes abandoned fabrics and transforms them into upcycled bags. The label was started by Saint Martin’s graduate Katy Bell in 2009. Find out more here.

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Vivienne Westwood Ethical Kenyan Bags

Vivienne Westwood is often considered responsible for bringing modern punk into mainstream fashion, maybe now she can do the same for ethical fashion.

Vivienne Westwood has launched a new range of ethical bags for A/W ’11-’12. Previewed at trade show Pitti Uomo in Florence, the range is now available to buy online. Each bag is handmade in Nairobi, Kenya, in collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Programme with the aim of supporting marginalised communities of women.

The result is a collection of travel, clutch, shopping and banana bags which retain Westwood’s signature punk-rock style but with the ethical provenance to shop guilt free. Not only are these bags supporting communities in a social way, but they are using local waste materials. Items such as roadside advertisement banners, safari tents and old clothes have been upcycled to produce these fashionable items.

Among the items is the weekender bag (pictured) made from recycled canvas with artisan golden metal orb and studs. It costs £200 and can be expanded to provide more space for travel essentials. There is also the eagle print shopper, lined with a patchwork of recycled clothing fabrics and with a leather tassel and handles for £155. Clutch bags are priced £140 and large banana are £200.

The Ethical Fashion Programme supports 7000 women who live in extreme poverty but want to improve their lives, both for themselves and their children. The Vivienne Westwood programme works with disadvantaged women who may be single mothers, widows or HIV/AIDs victims. The holistic approach put into practice gives these women access to jobs and an income so that they can afford school fees and medical care, as well as boosting their skills and confidence.

Vivienne Westwood has used her designs to make political and ethical statements in the past and previously expressed anti consumerist views which may seem a contradiction to selling luxury fashion. However she said that people should not buy more than they need and I do indeed think that luxury fashion encourages more thoughtful purchasing rather than the throw away culture that is encouraged on the High Street. She has also spoken about climate change, and supports various environmental actions.

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WWF Stand at Ikea: World Environment Day

Last Sunday (5th June 2011) I helped to run a WWF stand at Ikea Southampton. WWF is the world’s leading conservation body, working towards safeguarding the natural world. They have been working with Ikea for ten years on a number of ethical initiatives and wanted to set up an information stand to recognise World Environment Day. I hadn’t volunteered for WWF before, but I had a great time, although at times it felt like I was running a WWF themed crèche for busy shopping parents!

There were plenty of WWF resources available for customers to take away. Indeed it proved very successful to pull the kids in first with a colouring competition, and let the inquisitive adults follow. WWF and Ikea have been working together in three key areas –

Forests – The Ikea-WWF partnership has 7 forest conservation projects in China, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. They aim to increase the availability of wood from forests certified as responsibly and sustainably managed and to combat illegal logging. So far they have increased the area of certified forest in Russia from 3.3 million hectares to 20 million hectares.

Cotton – The partnership has 2 cotton conservation projects in India and Pakistan, with the aim of developing farming methods that reduce farmers’ use of water, pesticides and fertiliser from growing cotton. So far their farmers have had their income increased by 26%, using 39% less fertiliser and 47% less pesticides.

Climate – They are working towards steps to become a more sustainable business with a lower carbon footprint by 2020.

Ikea have had charities and other organisations in all month, creating awareness of a number of social and environmental issues, whether local, national or international. Having met the Ikea sustainability manager, I was hugely impressed by his enthusiasm and Ikea taking genuine steps to be more sustainable and encourage their customers to be more sustainable also.

Here are some photos of the stand, sadly I didn’t get one of the panda!

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From One Uni to Another

Yesterday was a very hectic day. It was the day that I officially started my PhD, and it was the day of Solent University’s fashion show in London. I started the day by popping into Solent (my old uni) to get my MPhil thesis bound for my viva, and then went up to the University of Southampton (my new uni) to have my PhD induction. I got shown my desk, introduced to people, had a tour of the campus and was told the all important regular Friday plans of cake and pub. I’m really looking forward to being surrounded by other research students and chatting ideas over.

From here I went up to London, and after picking up my sister’s birthday present, arrived at Solent’s fashion show which was held at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. It is the first time that they have held a show in London (they are doing a Southampton show as well) and it was very cool! As guests arrived they were greeted by the sight of a live fashion shoot, with photography, styling and make up students all working together. Student portfolios were on display showing a selection of work from all of the fashion degree pathways. The fashion show made me proud to be a Solent graduate! Here are some of the pictures.

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