Thursday 29 March 2012

On The Right Course with Pier32's Golf Clothes

Clothing designed for the golf course has come a long way from the days of the plus-four and eye-melting neon tartan. The emphasis these days is on a clean, sharp look with strong attention to detail.

Pier32 believe that golfing apparel can look good and be ethically correct. We offer clothes from well-known brands like Glenmuir, Ashcroft and Stormtech. We can offer advice on all your corporate or club needs on the best way to brand and personalise everything in our extensive range. From baseball caps with magnetic golf markers to high-tech compression wear to brollies and bags, we believe we have everything you, your company or club need to cut a dash on the green this summer.

To find out more, check out our latest newsletter, or give our team a ring on 020 8398 2847.

Pier32's Golf Clothing Newsletter

Wednesday 28 March 2012

One Dress To Rule Them All

The central dichotomy with the ethical fashion biz is that it's actually better for the environment if we buy fewer clothes. Less strain on the water supply, on power, on the earth.

However, you can still think your way around this problem. Multifunction clothing is a smart way to address the situation, and I don't mean the sort of crumple-free roll-up travel wear that'll make you look like a backpacker.

Let me introduce you to Loomstate and their 321 collection. They offer simple, colourful garments that can be used in many different ways. Essentially you can have a capsule wardrobe with a couple of pieces.

There are seven styles in total, including dresses, sleeveless tops and a cardigan, that can be mixed, matched, rotated and reversed in an almost limitless number of combinations. For spring, the colour ways are neutral-based, khaki and black spiced with pops of bright pink and yellow. The pieces are made from tencel, which is quick-drying, shrugs off wrinkles and is sourced from natural fibres. Lean and green.

Loomstate's designer, Ronan Gregory, says of the collection:
"321 gives women the freedom and creativity to transform their look, based on their mood and functional need, with one piece.”
Can't say fairer than that. As Pier Crush Vivienne Westwood always says, green fashion thinking is all about buying fewer clothes that are more likely to last. And Loomstate's 321 solution seems to have all the bases covered.

Check out the range at Loomstate's website.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Uncharitable behaviour from George Osborne

Budget Day is never an occasion to celebrate, but yesterday's announcement from Chancellor and unlikable swot George Osborne is likely to leave charities feeling more than a little hard done by.

His plans to cap personal tax relief at £50,000 might seem like a good idea in an era of loopholes and avoidance schemes. But the Charities Aid Foundation, who deal with finance for the voluntary sector, has warned that it will lead to a major drop in philanthropic donations from high earners. John Low, the head of the foundation, points out that charitable donations are not tax avoidance, saying of personal tax relief:

"It is supporting major donations by people who, in some cases, are donating the proceeds of a lifetime's work to charity. Such a change risks reducing major donations by Britain's richest individuals at a time when charity budgets are being squeezed."

The figures would seem to suggest this is already happening. Figures filed with the Charities Commission show a 2% drop in revenue from last year.

Should we be surprised that Osborne is shooting a hole in a central tenet of Tory thinking; the trickledown economy, enabling the rich to bolster the economy through increased spending?

No, not really. This is just another example of the Government's inability to show joined up thinking on the so-called "big society". Pushing charities to take a greater role in social care while at the same time hamstringing their ability to do so is something we've seen time and again from the Cameron administration. As ever, it's those most in need that feel the pinch.

Monday 19 March 2012

Biodegradable shoes? What a Stella idea!

I had no idea that fashion doyen Stella McCartney has solid green credentials. I shouldn't have been so surprised. After all, her dad the pop star Paul (you might remember him from hits like The Frog Song and Mull of Kintyre in the 70s and 80s) has been an outspoken spokesman for a sustainable vegetarian lifestyle for 30 years now. She has never used leather or fur in her designs.

But Stella has taken another step into the ethical fashion arena with the unveiling of a range of biodegradable shoe in her latest collection. The vegan-friendly faux-croc design features a chunky white sole made from bioplastics sourced from renewable raw materials. They'll decompose naturally - if you can ever bear to bin this hot pair of heels, that is!

Friday 16 March 2012

Ethically Styling The High Street

Here's something for your diary. To celebrate the relaunch of Ms Wanda's Wardrobe as a one-stop shop for all things ethically fashionable, the site is hosting a night out in London on the 4th April.

The event will discuss the many ways that ethical fashion is making its way onto the High Street, and what else we can do to keep that trend moving in the right direction. Christian Smith, CSR Manager from ASOS will be there talking about the ethical brands that They highlight in their Green Room. There'll also be input from successful UK ethical brands like GoodOne and Elvis & Cresse. Sounds like the place to be to snag some ideas!

The event is on April the 4th at Eat Drink Do in North London, starting at 6:30. Be advised - there will be bubbly and cupcakes.

There. Now you're interested.

For more details and to book your place the Eventbrite page is here.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Shirahime: radical thinking on ethical fashion

There are an awful lot of truisms about ethical fashion that deserve a second look. We've already seen how certification might not suit a business, and how it can deliver not just the wrong message, but the wrong results. We've also seen how claiming and actually being an ethical business can be two different things, particularly when you look at the way multinationals have jumped on the bandwagon.

Pamela Ravasio, a writer and ethical consultant, takes a clear-eyed look at our little world on her blog, Shirahime. She's very good at digging into the issues and shining a big, bright light on the contradictions. She's also excellent at taking a different perspective.

Her latest post reviews a book on the FairTrade phenomenon by French author Frédéric Karpy­ta and applies it's ideas to the ethical fashion field. And it's a bait of an eye-opener. Ravasio has clearly seen it all before, and is unimpressed with some of the lurid claims that manufacturers and NGOs make about how FairTrade is making a difference. Her, and indeed Karpyta's point is a simple one:
"He tries to cut slack when­ev­er pos­si­ble, but at the bot­tom line for him the real­i­ty remains that the extra money we’re pay­ing at the till (for FairTrade) doesn’t real­ly get to the poor­est of the poor, the small hold­ers whose life we want­ed to improve."
There's a lot more in a similar light, and I recommend the entire post. Karpyta's book is sadly only available in French at the moment, which makes the Shirahima post all the more essential. Ravasio is digging out some essential thoughts and ideas on ethical fashion which we would otherwise have no access to. Shirahime is a must on my reading list. Perhaps it should be on yours too!

Read the post on Shirahime.

Friday 9 March 2012

Sail Away

NewImageWe're starting to see a change in the weather. It's starting to look a lot like springtime. And what better way can there be to spend a bright crisp weekend than messing around in a boat?

As ever, Pier32 has you covered when you want to get out on the water. In our latest newsletter, we highlight our marine apparel and accessories. We can offer the lot, from lightweight polos to performance standard outerwear that'll keep you dry in the toughest of conditions. We offer clothes from specialists like Musto and Stormtech, that are proven at the highest levels of professional sailing.

Don't forget, even on dry land you can still cut a dash in our marine leisurewear. Our drill and rugby shirts fit the bill for all sorts of occasions and promotions, letting you feel confident that your team looks smart and stylish. Don't just take my word for it - check out the extensive marinewear catalogue at the Pier32 site.

Hope your weekend goes with a splash!

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Leaving Workers Behind In The Race For Olympic Profit

Disturbing news from Bangladesh, where it seems that leading sportswear manufacturers are backtracking on their ethical promises, as the upcoming Olympic Games gives them a chance to maximise profits at the expense of worker's well-being.

Investigators working in conjunction with War On Want and the Observer newspaper have found that factories in Bangladesh supplying Adidas, Nike and Puma ignore mimimum wage requirements, force workers into crippling 80-hour weeks, and attack and humiliate workers who stand up for their legal rights.

The stories are horrific, and make a mockery of the sustainable, ethical stand that these companies have made to their consumer base. The factories are largely staffed by women, many of whom have reported abuse and assault from line-bosses and supervisors, including denial of toilet breaks. Many have been forced to strip, slapped, kicked and verbally abused. All this for wages that are nowhere near the 94p a day minimum wage. On average, workers are getting 16p an hour, or 72p a day.
The reasons are pretty obvious. Adidas is the official outfitter of the UK Olympic team. Nike and Puma sponsor 30 national teams between them, including the US, China, and Usain Bolt's Jamaica. The companies stand to make massive profits over and above the billions they make every year. Adidas alone plan to sell £100 million of Olympic-branded sportswear. War On Want's campaign and policy drector Greg Muttitt says:
"Companies such as Adidas, Nike and Puma make huge profits from this abuse, while soiling the Olympic flag in which they wrap themselves. Let's focus on what's great about the Olympics and end the corporate free-for-all. If companies want to benefit by sponsoring teams, athletes and the Games themselves, they must ensure their workers are treated with respect."
All three companies are scurrying to launch investigations into the abuses, claiming that they have been exaggerated and that all their suppliers conform to stringent checks and regular audits. A spokeswoman for Adidas says:
"We are working closely with Nike and Puma to coordinate efforts and to respond to War on Want's report."
I'll bet they are.

You can read the War On Want report, entitled Race To The Bottom, on their website. Required reading today, I think.

Friday 2 March 2012

The Price Of Cotton

Sometimes, thinking ethically about a subject means that you end up asking some uncomfortable questions. Questions that don't have the answer you'd like to see.

Take the vexed subject of cotton. We're seeing more clothing that has been made with ethically produced, organic cotton. But the fact remains that cotton itself is an environmental time bomb.

Consider. Cotton uses over a third of available arable land worldwide, larger than food or fuel crops. Although organic cotton is on the rise, the vast majority of the fibre is grown using pesticides and fertilisers that are anything but environmentally friendly.

And we haven't even thought about the impact of global warming. Flash floods in Pakistan, India and Australia last year have led to the price of cotton going through the roof. It's a high-paying crop. It always has been. But now everyone is fighting to get on the bandwagon. Farmers have rushed to grow cotton at the expense of their food crops, leading to an abundance. The price that farmers get for their cotton is likely to drop quickly and massively. They will therefore drop a crop that is troublesome to grow in favour of food and fuel. The knock on effect for the fashion trade is likely to be much more expensive cotton, and some very uncomfortable decisions are going to have to be made.

Pamela Ravasio, a specialist in sustainable fashion business practices has spelled out what those choices might be in an article for The Guardian. She says:
"First, (manufacturers will) squeeze their sup­pli­ers' mar­gins. In other words, man­u­fac­tur­ers rather than retail­ers, will be required to absorb raw mate­r­i­al price increas­es. In turn, sup­pli­ers may com­pen­sate by reduc­ing salaries paid to work­ers (or reduce staff and increase hours). Given that numer­ous NGOs are sen­si­tised to this dan­ger, it will not take long to raise the alarm in the glob­al media, and brands' rep­u­ta­tions and ulti­mate­ly sales could suf­fer. Alter­na­tive­ly, retail­ers could absorb the raw mate­r­i­al price hike them­selves in return for lower mar­gins or final­ly, raw mate­r­i­al price hikes are ulti­mate­ly passed on to con­sumers."
In other words, the end to dirt-cheap, disposable fashion. This might not be such a bad thing, of course. Many ethical thinkers, including Pier Crush Vivienne Westwood, are convinced that there needs to be a sea change in the way we make and buy clothes if we are to consider ourselves to be ethical consumers and manufacturers. That change could be closer than we think; Ravasio predicts that the bottom will fall out of the cotton market in the next couple of years. That's nobody's idea of good news. If changing weather patterns continue to impact agriculture as they have been--if farmers can't sell their crops and no-one's growing food, a humanitarian disaster could be on the cards as well.

 Like I said at the beginning, uncomfortable questions can lead to answers that nobody wants to hear.