I am a big fan of social enterprises, those that benefit other people and support fair trade as well as the bottom line.
I received some combat trousers from Next the other day and was shocked at how appallingly made they were. The stitching was all jagged and frayed and the material was flimsy to say the least, you could almost picture the sweat shop that it came from somewhere in Asia. When you hear on the news that they are making record-breaking profits, you have to wonder about their profit margins.
People Tree is a company that offers fair trade fashion. It is obviously more expensive than Next but the cotton it uses is thicker and softer, the quality vastly superior and their ethical credentials excellent. Their catalogues feature pictures of the people in India who make the clothing and how People Tree are ensuring they get a fair deal and work in good conditions. It is not just marketing spiel, they really do care. However, their designs are just not for me. I have tried to wear a few of their dresses and they just make me feel fat and old – never a good combo. So I tend to stick to their two piece sets as I find these more flattering. I wish they did shoes, as I have yet to find a good fair trade shoe label.
Children’s clothing is slightly better with the range of fair trade brands, with Frugi being my favourite. From time to time Marks and Spencer sell products using Fair trade cotton, but this doesn’t extend across their range.
I think fashion still has a long way to go on ethical trading, which is why I am more comfortable hunting for items in charity shops than flicking through the sale rail of a high street brand.
Kate Middleton has been commended for supporting the British high street but I would like to see her using her profile to raise awareness of fair trade and wear brands that promote the social enterprise business model. She would be doing far more good this way – Baby George should be dressed ethically too.
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Thanks for reading.