Sapphire Lewis works for the ethical fashion company People Tree. She used to work for a big high street shop and says "being amongst so many garments that had just been churned out of machines really made me feel that this trend for throw-away fashion was really unhealthy". She accepted to be my expert in all things fair trade, and to share with you her Ten Tips about it.
♥ The internet is the best place to start when buying fair trade. There are tons of websites with fair trade fashion and ethical goods. Just search "fair trade" in google and see what you get! Asos and Net-a-porter also carry fair trade fashion.
♥ Whilst the price might be a bit more that your average high street store, the truth is that if they charged the true price for what it has cost in time, effort and shipping, fair trade garments would be a lot more expensive.
♥ Also, you should consider the price you pay as an investment because fair trade pieces are better made and undergo a very thorough quality control which means that fair trade garments will last for a very long time.
♥ Jewellery is made in sweatshops too! Look for fair trade jewellery brands like People Tree or Made (available in Topshop). People Tree collaborate with lots of designers so all the pieces are top quality and lots of them are made from brass which gives a vintage feel to the jewellery. When it comes to jewellery, if you can, buy second hand.
♥ You never hear much about fair trade shoes and, let's face it, a lot of fair trade shoes aren't that nice to look at. But you can still shop in high street shoes stores if you look for shoes that say "Made in Spain". These are not made in sweatshops so you can have nice shoes and a guilt free conscience! Terra Plana also have a lovely range of ethical shoes.
♥ When you are shopping, ask the shop assistants about the garments and where/how they're made. If they don't have a clue or have to look at the labels to tell you then you're definitely not going to find fair trade. But if they can tell you about the fair trade producers who have made the garments then you're shopping in the right place.
♥ It doesn't all have to be on the internet; Topshop (Oxford Circus) has a few fair trade concessions like Annie Greenabelle, Made, LaLesso and People Tree and if it's in Topshop then you know it's going to be fashionable. Topshop also have their own fair trade brand which is brilliant.
♥ If you're looking for jeans, Howies carry an excellent range on their website. They're made from organic cotton and are ethically made.
♥ After a party dress? Annie Greenabelle have the prettiest girly dresses and they're all organic and fair trade. They will not disappoint you!
♥ Look out for independent designers offering something different. Lots of these designers make everything by hand or employ seamstresses to help them. Not only will you be supporting grass roots design, you'll also have a beautiful garment that has had a lot of care and time. The Laden Showroom on Brick Lane is a good place to start as is Neet Magazine.
ps - At London Fashion Week this year, there is an area called Est'ethic'a which is full of ethical and fair trade brands.
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