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

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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

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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?

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Liv Organic Fashions ‘For Life, For Style’

Fern Top

Liv is a small clothing brand with big ideas. They believe that fashion can be beautiful and ethical, thinking clearly evident in their products. Liv first launched in 2005 with the belief that by building an ethical and sustainable business they could go some way to making a positive impact on the world. Liv produces women’s wear, scrumptious baby items, bed linen and bath towels.

Made in both the UK, and through fair trade projects in India, the clothes are designed to last with sustainability at the heart. Liv Brand Director, Dawn Foxall, has travelled extensively throughout the supply chain, visiting the cotton growers in India to see where the fibre grows, following it through right up until the point that the product is boxed and shipped to the UK. Whilst it’s clear that so many retailers have lost track of their supply chains, the ethically conscious consumer can put their trust in Liv. The brand has even topped the latest High Street Fashion Table in the Good Shopping Guide with a perfect score of 100%.

All of the cotton used in Liv products is 100% organically produced and as a Fairtrade Foundation licensee they proudly use the Fairtrade Foundation Mark to identify all of their licensed products. They also use beautiful, soft organic fine merino wool. This yarn has been sourced from South Africa where the breed has developed naturally over 50 years and has bred out the need for mulesing to eradicate ‘fly-strike’.

The classically designed Fern top (pictured) is made in the UK using organic and fair trade cotton. Embossed with a delicate leaf pattern it could be dressed up or down, worn at work or teamed with jeans, a great spring staple (£55). The cable knit, sleeved Marine top (£60) is equally elegant and available in cream, navy or jet black. As a supporter of British manufacturing, Liv have also been working with a UK based company who create innovative seam free garments.

Marine Top

Finally, you get to see me modelling the Island top (£55). A nod to the 80s and sports inspired style I can’t begin to describe how lovely this is to wear, as well of course as being super stylish. Again made using 100% organic and fairly traded cotton, the knit is the perfect weight – light enough to wear through summer, yet heavy enough to keep its shape and drape. Beautifully soft against the skin, I can see myself wearing mine both to the office, teamed with tailored trousers and open toed sandals, and to lounge around the house with jersey harems.

Liv Island Top

Liv Coral

Liv Blue

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Politicising Consumption: The Ethical Consumer

“Ultimately everyone thinks about themselves I think and it saves you money, affects your local environment, you go for it, but it’s very hard to see the effects of fair trade; you don’t know . . . They are all selfish acts really, ultimately, because you’re doing something to make you feel better, even you said didn’t you that you felt better for it. That is a kind of selfish act isn’t it? You make yourself feel happy about an issue.”

(Barnett et al. 2011 pg. 135)

This text is taken from the book, Globalizing Responsibility, and is a quote from one of the interviews set up by the authors to tackle ethical consumption. One of the authors is my supervisor, and I went to a seminar that he run last week, in which he discussed his findings.

This quote really jumped out at me because I found myself feeling quite defensive about what the participant was saying. Is ethical consumption a selfish act? ALL of it selfish, as the subject states? I don’t think anyone can deny that making ethical choices makes you feel good, but I would argue that when I make ethical choices it is less to make me feel good, and more to not make me feel bad. I would argue that there is a difference. I know I feel guilty when I don’t make the ethical choice, so I guess that it is still a selfish decision because I don’t enjoy feeling guilty.

But there is also the political stance behind my decisions, because by making an ethical purchase, I feel like I am making a point. I want to show the retailers that there is a demand for ethical choices and do my bit for the good of society. It is this political aspect which Barnett et al. focus their study on, looking at the way in which consumption can be a vehicle for political action. Organisations like Ethical Consumer and Traidcraft don’t just want to help individual consumers; they use this link to consumers as a way to influence policy. They generate data sets and use them to get stories into the media, aiming to become involved with global trade policy at the highest level.

A number of studies have proved that consumers find it very difficult to relate to the concept of fair trade, because the producers involved are simply so far away. That said, the majority of people will understand that something marked FAIRTRADE is good. The biggest consumption of Fairtrade actually comes from situations where consumers aren’t given the choice. The Fairtrade cities campaign works by targeting procurement officers in schools, museums and tourist attractions so that all of the products sold to consumers are Fairtrade. This is probably the best way forward as it boosts the demand for Fairtrade and helps to boost the reputation of the organisation. But with consumers struggling to understand the full significance of Fairtrade, the biggest challenge still remains.

Barnett, C., Clarke, N., Cloke, P. and Malpass, A., 2011. Globalizing Responsibility: The Political Rationalities of Ethical Consumption. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell

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Ethical Fashion Resources

This list of resources includes some of the key texts that I have come across over the last two to three years. It doesn’t cover every area of ethical fashion as the selections are based on my own research interests. The main areas not covered are the ethics of wearing fur, and recycling/waste, although these areas are touched upon in some of the generalised books.

Books

Prehistoric Textiles. Barber, E.J.W. 1992, Princeton University Press

Information on early textiles, relevant to explore how textiles have been important in our lives for thousands of years.

Design for Sustainability: A practical approach. Bhamra, T. 2007, Gower Publishing

Covers sustainable design in general, covers the whole life cycle.

Eco-Chic: The Fashion Paradox. Black, S. 2008, Black Dog Publishing

Key ethical fashion text written by London College of Fashion professor, Sandy Black.

Future fashion: White Papers. Hoffman, L. 2007, Earth Pledge

Fantastic resource for ethical/sustainable fashion and textiles. Compilation of detailed academic papers covering most topics.

Sustainable Textiles: Life cycle and environmental impact. Blackburn, R.S. 2009, Woodhead Publishing in Textiles

Fantastic edited book of various journal papers. Extremely detailed and useful information, but book is very difficult to get hold of.

Environmental Life Cycle Analysis. D. F. Ciambrone 1997, CRC Press.

This is a very specific book for LCA, not needed for undergrads but useful for business or professional research purposes. Hard going without background knowledge, but essential for anyone trying to compile a comprehensive LCA.

Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys. Fletcher, K. 2008, Earthscan.

Fantastic book by Dr Kate Fletcher of London College of Fashion. Covers whole textile life cycle, really useful read.

The Textile Book. Gale, C.; Kaur, J. 2002, Berg

Puts textiles into a social and creative context. Great final chapter called, ‘Ecology’ which covers ethical issues.

Ecological Intelligence, Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy. Goleman, D.
2009, Penguin Group

A great read on consumption and ethics in general. Detailed discussion on LCA.

Sustainable Fashion, Why Now? Hethorn, J.; Ulasewicz, C. 2008, Fairchild Books

A collection of critical essays, fantastic. Something for everyone.

Ethics in the Fashion Industry. Hillery, J.L.; Paulins, V.A. 2009, Fairchild Books

A slightly different angle on ethics, concerns more the decisions that fashion professionals have to make. Retail/human perspective.

The Apparel Industry. Jones, R.M. 2006, Blackwell Publishing

Not specifically from an ethical angle, but a detailed look at the global clothing industry including a chapter on UK production, labour issues, offshore production and trade barriers.

Eco Chic: The Savvy Shoppers Guide to Ethical Fashion. Lee, M.; Hamnett, K. 2007, Octopus Publishing.

Nice read, good background info but not an academic text.

The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy. Rivoli, P. 2006, John Wiley & Sons

As the title says. Very interesting look at production stage from cotton farms to consumer.

Slaves to Fashion. Ross, R. 2004, The University of Michigan Press

American perspective, history and impact of sweatshop labour. Essential for labour studies.

Explaining Environmentalism: In search of a new social movement. Sutton, P.W. 2000, Ashgate Publishing

Provides theoretical basis to justify ethical fashion perspectives.

Trigger Issues: T-shirt. Wells, T. 2007, New Internationalist Publications

Ethical issues in producing a cotton t-shirt, pesticide use, sweatshops.

Eco Fashion. Brown, S. 2010, Laurence King

A catalogue of ethical designers, great resource for case studies.

Making Sweatshops: The globalisation of the US apparel industry. Rosen, E. 2002, University of California Press

An historical analysis of the US clothing industry and the rise of sweatshops.

Reports

Environmental Assessment of Textiles. 2007, Danish Environmental Protection Agency

Scientific study, only needed for detailed assessment.

Public Understanding of Sustainable Clothing: A report to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Cooper, T.; Fisher, T.; Goworek, H.; Hiller, A.; Woodward. 2008, Defra

Defra report, very useful for consumer study data.

Ethical Clothing. Mintel, 2009, Mintel Group

Respected market research, look out for future updated reports.

Are We Well Dressed? Allwood, J.M.; Broken, N.M.P.; Laursen, S.E.; Rodriguez, C.M. 2006, University of Cambridge.

Excellent reference report looking at UK textile industry and LCA for different products.

Fashioning the Future. 2008, Centre for Sustainable Fashion, London College of Fashion

Documents the debates raised from a conference, therefore more of a conversation amongst key representatives than an informative report.

Fashioning Sustainability. 2007, Forum for the Future

A useful and very readable summary of all ethical fashion issues.

Websites

http://www.ethicalfashionforum.com/

A fab source for resources, designers and events.

http://www.fashioninganethicalindustry.org/

http://www.labourbehindthelabel.org/

http://www.pan-uk.org/

http://www.forumforthefuture.org/

http://www.sustainable-fashion.com/

http://www.waronwant.org/

http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/products/cotton/default.aspx

http://slowtextiles.org/

http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/fur.aspx

http://www.trackmyt.com/

http://www.soilassociation.org/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/thread/

http://www.ecochiccollection.co.uk/magazine/

http://www.ecofashionworld.com/

http://www.offsetwarehouse.com/

http://www.peopletree.co.uk/

I haven’t included a list of journal articles because I would only be able to list specific papers that I have used, missing many out. Newspapers, magazines and trade magazines also have helpful news stories, especially Drapers.

If you know of any other key resources please let me know! Leave your additions as a comment below, this list certainly isn’t exhaustive.

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