Thursday 31 December 2015

2015: The Year At The Pier


2015 has been, to put it mildly, an eventful year. In our little corner of the world, we've seen all sorts of changes and innovations. As usual, I'd like to take a bit of time on the last day of the year to look back on our coverage of ethical fashion and the charity world over the last twelve months.


In January, we celebrated with our friends at Sea Shepherd as they used a huge donation in the best way possible: they bought a new ship! We also took a look at a fascinating web series that took Norwegian fashion bloggers a little closer than comfortable to the Cambodian factories where many of the clothes they wrote about were sewn: Life In The Sweatshop.


February gave yr humble author the chance to talk film, as I looked at the ethical tailoring that was front and centre in the spy thriller Kingsman: The Secret Service. Not surprising, when Colin and Livia Firth are involved... We also reviewed the brilliant work done by our chums at East African Playgrounds for the kids (and parents) of Uganda, giving the gift of play.


March brought a new campaign from our pals at the charity Delete Blood Cancer, showing just how simple and easy it is to register as a blood stem cell donor. Meanwhile, in a trend that became much more happily prevalent in 2015, Levi's released data on their water use, and revealed how they plan to improve matters.


April saw us delightedly reviewing John Oliver's take on the state of the fashion industry on his satirical news show Last Week Tonight, bringing the subject to a wider audience. It was a good month for visual media, as we also previewed an exciting new documentary on the fashion scene, The True Cost.


May came along with a new play showing the gamification of the fashion industry (and how easy it can be to treat the people who make the clothes as disposable assets): The World Factory. We also took a peek at how our chums at Hubbub are making it fun to keep the streets of London a bit tidier: #neatstreets.


Halfway through the year already? Blimey! In June we introduced Tom Cridwell's fast-fashion busting 30-Year Sweatshirt, a clever subversion of the buy-and-buy-again model (and a celebration of Pier Crush Vivienne Westwood's notion of Choose Well, Spend More, Buy Less). In the same vein, we agreed with upcycling guru Orsola De Castro on how true sustainability can only come when clothes are built to last (which also gave us the opportunity to post a video to a disco classic): Use it Up, Wear It Out.


In July we carried on in that theme, looking at the ultimate in throw-away clothing: the 99p Dress. We also cast a worried eye over the demonisation of charity fund-raising, following the death by suicide of Olive Cooke, who it was feared had died under the pressure she felt she was under to donate. This story was one of the mainstays of the year in charity...


...although the big news story of 2015 for the Third Sector dropped in August with the collapse of Kid's Company. David Cameron's favourite charity combusted spectacularly, with major questions about their fund-raising and influence in high places. In the US, we examined American Apparel's change of direction, as they moved away from sexy ads following the sacking of controversial CEO Dov Charney.


September brought Pier Crush Vivienne Westwood out onto the front lines, as she used London Fashion Week to protest against fracking, and rolled a tank into David Cameron's home village. We also celebrated the work of our pals at Animal Defenders International, who are working to make circuses a cruelty-free zone.


And all of a sudden, it's autumn. October saw us looking at alternatives to leather that included banana and jellyfish! We also reviewed a new look for the Ethical Fashion Forum, as they launched an umbrella initiative, Mysource.


November rolled around, and with it applause for John Lewis. They launched the most talked about Christmas ad of the year in conjunction with Age UK, bringing the plight of lonely older people in the festive season well and truly into the public eye. We also took a look at a new idea from The Big Issue–retraining homeless people as coffee baristas. This caffeine-fuelled writer strongly approves...


And all of a sudden it's December! We welcomed a big new name in the charity sector–none other than Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. We also looked at the work of Raven & Lily, an ethical fashion house giving refugees in Bangladeshi camps the chance to bring themselves out of poverty. As the crisis in Syria deepens, responses like this become ever more necessary. We need to understand and empower, not demonise and blame.


So, that's 2015 at The Pier. It's been a good year for us, and we hope to build on our successes in 2016 to bring you the best and latest news from the worlds of ethical fashion and charity. Don't forget, our offices reopen at 9am on Monday the 4th for all your customisable needs. We look forward to talking to you.


From Gerry, Ian and I: HAPPY NEW YEAR!



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