Think Fair Trade, Think Fashion

We embrace the spirit of Fair Trade fortnight and investigate ethical fashion.

ethical fashion Fair Trade fashion Fair Trade fortnight


I am writing this having just returned from the Global Poverty Project (GPP) talk at the Corn Exchange and, I know it sounds clichéd, but I honestly feel inspired. Fairtrade was presented as a great way to do your bit and help ensure that money falls into the right pockets. When most people think of Fairtrade, they think food: often it is Cadbury’s chocolate and smiling cocoa farmers that come to mind. We rarely consider Fairtrade and its impact on fashion. As it is Fairtrade fortnight (22nd February- 7th March) I think it is time to consider the other places where you can make a difference by buying Fairtrade: through fashion.


The price others have to pay for our fashion can be extortionate. In a report made by the campaign group Labour Behind the Label (check out their work at, they unveiled how in some some factories in Bangladesh and China, the child-labour situation is as dangerous and exploitative as ever. I am sure you all remember the allegations about the exploitation Primark was involved in.  Although Primark has now insisted it has removed sweatshops from its repertoire, what was most interesting was that even in the light of such allegations the consumer did little. We did not boycott stores and demand fair-trade. The knowledge of the exploitation did not even compel the majority of us to feel guilty for the reason behind bargain prices. To paraphrase Wilberforce, you can look the other way but you can never again claim ignorance; (this quote springs to mind as Hugh Evans’ used it in his GPP speech….snaps for originality!) So if you did not know, now you do. As ignoring the issue is not really an option, what can you do?


Get in on ethical fashion! I have to say, although this is a great idea in principle, paying extra £££s is the one thing that puts me off Fairtrade fashion. Yes, we know it’s for a good cause, but fast and cheap fashion is addictive and much more suited to a student budget. However, Fairtrade fashion has recently become much more purse-friendly, but more importantly, think of it as an investment, and work out the cost-per-wear ratio on any new purchases. Then you can look and feel good knowing that your saving for something Fairtrade has really made a difference. Look out for:



Estethica: An initiative sponsored by Monsoon, is the centre of the ethical fashion industry in London. It is great as it ranges from 28 designers is very mainstream and yet completely eco-sustainable.



People Tree: One of the original Fairtrade clothing companies, and a joy. Their tshirts are lovely, and Emma Watson has collaborated with them on a range, so be sure to check it out, it’s neat, chic and stylish and full of classics.


Fashion Conscience: A seriously stylish website that is sure to assuage any fears you had that Fairtrade clothes aren’t hip. And they have a sale section.



Check out more conscience- and purse-friendly labels at:

In fact, the reason that Fairtrade fashion should be your lips is not just because of the moral issue, but also because it is definitely avant-garde. Ethical fashion is not like choosing a boring salad in the place of a G.B.K burger and chips, just to ease the food guilt and feel virtuous: ethical fashion is all about being at the cutting edge and being in the know. It is truly a win-win situation…. you are reducing your carbon footprint, improving the quality of people’s lives, and you will still look fabulous! And Fairtrade fashion is in not only in vogue, it has political clout too: Lord Hunt the Minister for Sustainable Development and Energy, and the Minister for DEFRA, announced a new Sustainable Clothing Action plan at London Fashion Week last year.

Still not convinced? Well maybe you should consider the celeb following it has. If the likes of Sienna Miller, Cameron Diaz and our very own Lily Cole rave about it, it is probably a bandwagon you should jump on and fast!