Friday 26 February 2010

Ethical clothing from strength to strength

As we head into the teenies (and the decade hopefully will not turn out to be known by that name!) it's useful to look around the market place to see further sign of the market for ethical clothing developing, and for pointers on whether abuses in the clothing industry are on the way out.

The promotional clothing market itself is likely to follow trends rather than set them. To see where the future heading it's the likes of independent fashion clothing brands that are likely to be setting the pace.

For example, Fashion United reports the trade fair for independent brands, Margin, in London attracting major international retailers alongside the leading independents you would expect to see. Major stores attending Margin included House of Fraser, Harvey Nichols, Liberty, Top Shop, Next and Fenwick, as well as online retailers such as ASOS and Coggles. The article particularly highlights an increase in these visiting stores interested in fair-trade and organic clothing with correspondingly more ethical fashion labels such as Frank & Faith showcasing their products.

In fact Frank & Faith said "we may be an Eco fashion brand but we want our ethics to be the norm not the exception.... .....we were opened up to great boutiques, buyers and press who just loved us because we are a great indie fashion brand with soul".

We think that's a great quote because there's a danger with ethical stances that it's just the marketing man speaking. Pier 32 likes people with soul....

The main London fair specialising in ethical clothing is Pure, that's some way off yet but their main sponsor, the Ethical fashion Forum is busy around the year and on Twitter they provide a constant steam of titbits (my preferred name for tweets) highlighting the progress being made in the industry.

Something that caught my eye was the reference to a blog article by Jamie Burdett reporting on the DEFRA Sustainable Clothing Roadmap conference and shown there, a new machine in production soon to new machine to separate waste textile and create new thread even from short fibre denim, apparently prompting "the man from Tesco to say, 'we'll buy that from you tomorrow!'".

Unfortunately there are some who do not seem to get the point with the minister from Defra quoted as saying, 'lovely to see so many brands here today, although one is clearly missing, Primark'.

Yesterday's news alert from Business Trading Ethically unfortunately finds it necessary to highlight the other end of the spectrum, referring a new report by the Environmental Justice Foundation labelling Uzbekistan a "Slave Nation" - the government there "continues to lie to the international community while routinely compelling hundreds of thousands of children as labourers in the country's annual cotton harvest". We reported on the situation in Uzbekistan two years ago - it seems that little has changed.

On the theme that every News Alert should have a silver lining, BTE also reported that Ben & Jerry's would be 100% sourced from fair trade certified products by the end of 2013. Can't wait!

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