Sunday, 9 December 2012

The FAIR Shop

Trying to find ethical fashion on the high street is a nightmare. When I'm buying ethical fashion I constantly find myself limited to online shopping. Yes, it is convenient in this winters miserable weather, I can shop from the comfort of my own bed, but when it comes to clothes, I like to try before I buy. I also want to take every opportunity to support local independent business's especially ones stepping out of the normal highstreet fashion comfort zone and looking into ethical alternatives.

In Brighton we have a plethora of vintage, second hand and charity shops but we have very few shops selling brand spanking new ethical clothes. This is where FAIR comes in. FAIR is an independent ethical retailer stocking brand new Fairly Traded clothing, accessories and homewares. They pick out the best bits from womens clothing brands such as People Tree, Komodo, Nancy Dee, Bibico and O So Shika focusing on beautiful dresses and bright knitwear. They stock stunning jewelry from Fair Trade brands like Bombolulu and Love That Stuff that also supply to bigger stockists like People Tree.

Ethical fashion for men is an area which needs some more effort put in and FAIR are doing just this with their exapanding mens collection. They stock the usual suspects like People Tree, Komodo and Pants for Poverty, but also stock newer Fair Trade brands such as Arthur & Henry who make stunning formal shirts for men. Along with mens clothes, FAIR stock brands for kids; the adorable Little Green Radicals that have cute animal designs on tops, hats and babygrows for the little ones in your life. 

FAIR are doing what not many other shops have the guts to do. They are going out on a limb and challenging the fast fashion monopoly. They provide a space where Fair Trade fashion can be showcased and bought by the ethically conscious consumer in an environment where it competes against retail giants following unethical and fast fashion practices. FAIR collects the best of ethical fashion and brings it straight to the public so that we can still maintain the shopping experience that most ethical brands do not provide us with. So, lets say thanks to the ethical fashion boutiques like FAIR who provide us with real life clothes instead of pixelated images online and support them with our business this Christmas.

P.S. Vote for FAIR in the 'Dress for Success' window dressing competition held by Brighton and Hove City Council here

Photo: first-, last-, all others my own

@TheFairShop   #dressed2012   #ethicalfashion

Monday, 19 November 2012

It's that time of year again folks...

So it's definitely warming up to that time of year again...Christmas. This pre-Christmas time slot just stikes fear into my heart because of one reason only- Christmas shopping. Erugh! The mayhem! The panic! The pre-Christmas sales!!

You can find out how I'll cope with this years Christmas shopping panic, right here, at the Oxfam Fashion Blog

Friday, 16 November 2012

Neals Yard Evening with FAIR

Last night a couple of friends and I went along to The FAIR Shop's late night Thursday event down in Brighton town. Now I know I'm biased because I work there, but it really was a lovely evening. We had fair trade vanilla scented candles burning, white wine and nibbles, and of course, we had the lovely Fi Feehan with all of her delicious smelling Neal's Yard remedies. The scent of Rose and Frankincense were drawing me over to her products!

I talked to Fi about my problem skin and scarring and she walked me through the products that she thought would help relaying her personal experience with the organic products to me. She recommended I use the 'Wild Rose Beauty Balm' -an all in one miracle product that I can use as both a cleanser and a moisturiser and as an added bonus on my eczema. She gave me a tester pot that should last a couple of weeks so I can see how the product suits  my skin before I purchase. I used it this morning as a cleanser and it felt so super soft on my skin! My skin didn't feel tight afterwards at all and it smelt divine! I'm not sure if it might be a little too heavy as a moisturiser for me, but I'm going to stick it out and see how I get on with it as a moisturiser as well. 

It's funny, as soon as I walked into The FAIR Shop as a customer instead of an employee, I couldn't stop myself from buying a few items that I have had my eye on for weeks! I tried on mountains of clothes before I finally settled on two People Tree items- a gorgeous blue, loose knit jumper and tight fitting black jersey pencil skirt. I think it's really important to support small local businesses, especially when the staff are so helpful, so I'm very happy to have bought my People Tree items from FAIR and I will be purchasing any  future Neal's Yard products from Fi Feehan. I'm so happy with my purchases! Thank you to both The FAIR Shop and Neal's Yard for such a wonderful evening! I'll let you know how I get on with the 'Wild Rose Beauty Balm' in a few weeks...

P.S. After we left The FAIR Shop, we wandered a couple of doors down to Taylor St. Baristas for a late night snack... We had some delicious bread, oil and dukkah which we shared, along with a savory goats cheese and spinach muffin- so TASTY! And the staff we really friendly; a lovely coffee shop and a fantastic end to our evening.

@TheFAIRShop  @nyrorganicuk  @taylorstbtown  @PeopleTree  #ethicalfashion  #latenightthursdays

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Better The Devil You Sew

Last week I had the very good fortune of being invited to the launch of Oxfam Brighton's new collection from their unique line 'Better The Devil You Sew'. The line is completely unique and exclusive to the Brighton North Street shop and made entirely by the work of creative generous volunteers. You can read my Oxfam Fashion Blog post on the launch here!

@OxfamBrighton     #OxfamSewingClub    @OxfamFashion    #btdys

Monday, 5 November 2012

Caipora Jewellery

I was recently made aware of this incredible ethical jewellery brand- Caipora- which was the 2011 Innovation Award Ethical Fashion Forum winner:

“With today’s resources being depleted faster than most people can realise, I’ve chosen to work with designers who use natural, recycled and eco-friendly materials, as well as to support the development of artisanal communities and to maintain the values they share with Caipora – a passion for people and the environment.”

The jewellery is both incredibly beautiful and ethical so of course I am in love with it! The designs are incredibly unique and varied within the brand due to their range of designers. The brand splits its designs into four categories- air, earth, fire and water. It turns out I am a earth and fire kinda gal...

These beautiful necklaces are in the fire collection and are made out of ethically produced PVC rubber- such an innovative material!

Designed using up-cycled paper, these pieces are handcrafted and utilise locally sourced materials.The leather on the bracelet is also recycled and all of the lengths are adjustable. I just think they are absolutely stunning! Big statement pieces really pull out fits together and this brand have gone to every length to make sure these pieces are ethical. Not only are the materials used ethically sourced but local artisans in Brazil create the beautiful jewellery for this collection. Love love love! Someone buy me some pleeeaase!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Beyond Biba

As an employee of The FAIR Shop in Brighton, I was given the great pleasure of being one of the first visitors to the Beyond Biba exhibition in the Royal Brighton Pavilion. I have written a blog post about my experience { here } at the Oxfam Fashion Blog- I hope you like it!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Ethical Fashion for Men?

One of my most frequently asked questions is "Where is all the ethical fashion for men?". Well boys, I'm here to tell you, it is on it's way! The bigger ethical fashion brands are starting to work harder on their men's collections- and so they should! I have a lot of male friends who are interested in ethical fashion and I know for a fact that most of them spend more money on clothes than I do. The men's fashion market is a big one and it needs to be broken by the ethical brands.

Ok, so first of all we've got People Tree- we can tell its an emerging market for them as they have quite a limited collection at the moment but I like the direction they're headed. I like the simple shirts and long sleeve tee's they have going on- simple is a good place to start in men's fashion, I think the tailoring is really important to enhance a mans physique. I can't guarantee these tee's look great on but on the site they are looking pretty darn good. There are a few questionable efforts here too (see the dodgy eagle and wolf prints) that aren't all to my taste but they do have some great, casual comfortable looking pieces that I would be very happy to see on my boyfriend.

* I am especially loving this fairisle knit- every man should have one!

Next up we have Komodo, again only a dinky collection here too. Now I said People Tree had a couple of tees that were a little too wacky for my taste but I think Komodo may have played it a little too safe... Don't get me wrong, what they have is great but a man doesn't need ten long sleeved grey tops- a little more variation in the next collection would definitely get me a bit more excited! Having said that, we do have some winners here- the Ringo jumper looks incredibly shnuggly- I love the rolled neck. I only wish I could check out how soft these are in real life though because they look like they are going to feel divine- I need to find out!!


Men- I want to know what you are thinking! Are these styles to your taste? Do you want more variation? Do you think you have enough choice in the ethical fashion market? I really think this area needs more discussion so watch out for some more posts on men's fashion coming soon and let me know your thoughts! 

Pictures left to right top down: Buddy blue jumper, Harley blue top, Gregg cream fairisle jumper, Ringo jumper, Smith jacket, Charlie organic cotton tee

Monday, 22 October 2012

Fur in Fashion: The Debate

For me the 'ethicalness' of clothes comes down to waste, the environment and the treatment of people in the manufacturing process. The treatment of animals just hasn't ever really crossed my radar. 

When I was visiting a friend this weekend we were discussing fashion and she brought downstairs some of her recent purchases. Reaching into the bag she halted, looked at me and blushed. "Ermmm... I'm not really sure if your gonna appreciate this one... I know it's fur but it was vintage so it's been dead for ages and it would be a waste not to wear it- don't be mad!"

And I wasn't.

I realised then that a) I need to tone it down when lecturing/scolding my friends on unethical fashion purchases (!) and b) I don't really have an opinion on fur. So I started to think about it and here's what I've got so far...

When I consider the idea of becoming vegetarian, for me its not so much about the morals of consuming another living thing, its more about the impact that intensive farming has on our land and the huge additions of methane to our atmosphere that comes from farming cattle. Its about greed, over consumption and the difference between a want and a need. I think that animal products deserve more respect than they generally receive and we need an attitude change when it comes to our consumption habits and waste.

These thoughts on food are reflected in my ideas about ethical fashion. My friends fur coat is vintage and I think its more important to make use out of unwanted fashion than to throw it away. Is it not more respectful and less wasteful to make use of this vintage fur coat by wearing it, tailoring it and treasuring it, than to send it to landfill?

There also seems to be quite a focus on the ethics of fur but not any that I have heard of on the ethics of leather- where do you think all of those shoes and handbags come from? Is it deemed more ethical to wear leather than fur because the animal it originates from isn't cute and fluffy? Maybe it comes from fur being seen as only affordable for the very rich so it stems from a class debate? I think some people assume that as we eat meat, the skin is a by-product but from only a little research, it is becoming clear that this is not the case. Leather is a co-product not a by-product of the animal industry. I'm not sure, but I think that peoples views on fur and leather should probably be matching up to similar levels as they are ultimately the same product- animal skin.

[Left: Vintage Fur Coat, Right: Faux Fur Hood]

As you can see, this is more a musing than an argument; I am really not sure where I stand on the debate. I think that recycling fur and leather in the form of vintage is totally acceptable and probably a good way forward. New fur and leather- I am not so sure, can you buy these products knowing what the environmental impact really is? Can we know that the animals have been treated to a fair life and death? I've not seen much free range leather about.

So maybe we should be looking into non-animal materials to replace our leather shoes and handbags. Faux fur for our coats that is not just animal friendly but environmentally and people friendly too. While these replacements are on the rise, I think vintage products are still the most ethical. They both reduce waste and create a whole attitude change for the fast fashion industry that is based on over consumption and short life fashion.

Whether your clothes are animal based or otherwise, they deserve respect and should be seen as a long term investment not a quick fix that will be thrown out next season and sent to landfill. I don't think I have the answer when it comes what is ethical in fashion but with education comes knowledge and with debate comes ideas. So I think we need to read about it, we need to talk about it and we need to question it to be able to decide for ourselves where our personal ethics lie.

P.S. If you want to take a look at the video below, be warned, it is pretty gruesome...and remember it is only one point of view- there is a lot of different research out there- feel free to check out the articles below and let me know what you think. I would love to hear some other opinions!

Articles of Interest
Guardian article
Article by 'GOOD'
Ecouterre article

Leather Naturally (the other side of the argument)

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Autumn Shades

So apparently England wasn't allowed a summer this year... We seem to have skipped from spring straight into autumn with a smidge of torrential rain along the way! I barely got a chance to show off any of my floaty summer dresses but at least Autumn has arrived with an array of beautiful colours to make up for it. I think Autumn is probably my favorite fashion season. I can't wait to finally pack away my summer Tom's and bring my boots out again! Boots, jackets, cardigans... I love layering up, mainly because I get to wear more clothes, but I also love to co-ordinate the colours. This season there is such a beautiful array of oranges- Rust, Mandarin, Terracota, Flame, Pumpkin, Carrot, Tangerine, Gold, Sunset and Mahogany. Here are some of my favorite Autumnul pieces...

Top to Bottom: Dress, Cardigan, Leggings (all Netl) Trainers (Ethletic) Jumper (People Tree) Raincoat (Raffauf)

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Procrastination and People Tree

First of all, an apology. I know it's been very quiet over here of late but it has all been down to the invisible chain that has magically attached itself between me and my desk. Essays and exams are plaguing my summer and getting right in the way of regular blogging- but have no fear; they are nearly done and after completing two of my essays, I have found the time to begin some much needed procrastination... So here is the first procrastination post!

I was delighted to finally see People Tree's Autumn Collection hit their online store. I have been waiting to see it up for sale since last November when I got my first glimpse of the collection. Now it's been a bloomin' long time since November but straight away I saw the outfits that had grabbed me so much back then and more besides...

The Georgina Shirt Dress in black and white gingham was the one that really had me head over heals all the way back in November. The material is so soft it feels almost like felt and lovely and thick for winter wearing. It also looks great with an open collar and with the waist tie in a loose bow at the front. 

The Orla Kiely Cream Owl Dress you may recognise from previous collections. I have the exact shape in a green teacup design from last winter that was also by Orla Kiely and it's probably my favorite dress ever! The shape is just so easy to wear and the stiffness in the material helps it to keep its voluminous shape wash after wash. And who doesn't love those cute little owls?

Finally, the Michelle Wrap Print Dress- I hadn't noticed this one first time around but I couldn't fail to spot it in the promotional video of the photo shoot for this collection. The shape is one of their classic jersey wrap arounds but the print harks back to a best seller from a summer or two ago which I still absolutely love!

Also, how great is the photography this season? Feels like a real step forward to me. It's got an artsy independent feel that maintains real professionalism. And the sixties vibe with the liquid eyeliner and beehives is very cool...

So, these are my favorites from the collection- which ones are yours?

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Guest Blogging

So, I just thought I would share the link to my most recent Komodo guest blog post with you all!

This month I have the pleasure of being the guest blogger for the wonderful green fashion brand, Komodo. The post talks about why I decided to start blogging about ethical fashion and hopefully it will inspire a few more of you to get involved in the area. Blogging really is a very simple tool that can be used to generate widespread interest in a field and express your views and opinions to the big wide world... 

Find my guest blog post here!

Also, in case you missed it, I recently posted for Oxfam's Fashion Blog on my last fairtrade purchases from People Tree from one of their sample sales- keep an eye on their website for future sample sales, they are well worth a visit!

Find my post for Oxfam here!

Saturday, 23 June 2012


This years 'Fashion Targets Breast Cancer' campaign has more pizazz than any of its previous ones! The extra umph has been added in order to celebrate the Queens diamond Jubilee and the British held Olympic Games. This years campaign has reigned in two of Britain's youngest and most and up and coming celebrities: Georgia May Jagger and Pixie Geldof. The girls bring a great energy and youthfulness to the campaign and help to create some truly stunning campaign posters that I keep spotting at every railway station I roll up to.

This year, Fashion Targets Breast Cancer has again brought on board a range of huge fashion companies to sell a selection of clothes for the charity. These include; Marks and Spencer, Laura Ashley, Topshop, Debenhams, River Island, Coast, Warehouse, Shavata, Daisy and more. For each garment from the range sold, 30% of the sale price is donated to Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

This years range has some really gorgeous pieces in it. There are a lot of jewelry pieces and accessories but only a few dresses and tops. Here is a selection of our favorite pieces: