Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ethical Fashion - who, what, where, how?

Image courtesy of and copyright Edun. Shows design from Edun Autumn/Winter range.
Ethical fashion is big news these days, and so it should be. However, in practice, few of us really know where or how to buy ethical items, or we assume that they will be badly designed or prohibitively expensive. This is not the case.

One of the most widely known ethical clothing brands is Edun, which describes itself as a "socially conscious clothing company" and is the brainchild of Ali Hewson, Bono and Rogan Gregory. With an emphasis on providing "trade not aid" for the people who produce the clothes, Edun uses factories in Africa, South America and India. Edun clothes are stylish and well-designed, perfect for the chic but practical individual (male or female). The upcoming Spring/Summer 2007 collection has three ranges: Madder Red, Primrose and Quill and White Symphony. The inspiration for these collections is very much the natural world. Some of the fabrics used to manufacture items are also part of a sustainable development. The Coco jacket is woven out of a wild silk from Namibia, the cultivation and use of which provides jobs for people in the rural areas where the silk is cultivated. Delicate dresses, tailored jackets and cool separates are key for the women's range; casual separates, funky detailing and modern lines are key to the men's range. Edun garments range in price, making it affordable for anyone. At the moment, Edun also have a special edition t-shirt in conjunction with ONE campaign.The t-shirt is made in Lesotho from 100% African cotton. For every t-shirt sold, Edun gives $10 to the ALAFA fund to fight AIDS by providing vital medicines for those affected in the area.

There are also other, lesser known ethical brands available in the UK. Topshop stocks several Fairtrade ranges (Gossypium, Hug and People Tree) in certain flagship stores and over the internet. Marks and Spencers has also started to produce several items from Fairtrade cotton. For items to be designated Fairtrade, they are awarded the Fairtrade mark. This is awarded to products which meet internationally agreed standards by the Fairtrade foundation, an independent body. It is an independent guarantee that disadvantaged producers are getting a better deal. The ranges stocked by Topshop also have their own websites and online shops (for details see below). Gossypium is particularly good. It produces stylish, affordable, natural yogawear, casual wear, underwear and even maternity wear. It also has men's, children's and baby ranges and household ranges. The items are sleek and chic, in a range of elegant colours and innovative designs. Hug has similar items, although not such an extensive range. However, it does also produce jeans. People Tree has a particularly wide range of items including dresses and a very good selection of accessories.

So, this Christmas, or in fact at any time of the year, why don't you buy someone (or yourself) some "ethical clothing". No longer does it mean clunky shoes and a hemp skirt. There are some wonderful, affordable items out there. Plus, you can feel good that someone else, somewhere else in the world, someone who you will never meet, is being benefitted by your actions. Indeed, just think of this little-known statistic, pointed out by Edun's Ali Hewson, " Africa has lost six percent of the world trade since the Seventies. If they could regain one percent of that, Africa would earn $70 billion a year. They currently receive only $22 billion a year in aid. "

Where To Buy:
Edun: UK - Selfridges, Harrods, Harvey Nichols. Ireland - Brown Thomas. Canada - Holt
Renfrew. Spain - El Corte Ingles. Japan - Beams, Club 21, Isetan. USA - Barneys,
Nordstrom and Fred Segal.
Topshop: selected stores nationwide (UK).
People Tree:

For Further Information On Issues Raised:;

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