Teaching Resources: Ethical and Sustainable Fashion

With Fashion Revolution Week just around the corner (23rd -29th April), I have been thinking about my children and how I can develop an understanding of the environmental and ethical implications of fashion and help them to make informed choices as they get older. My oldest daughter is studying textiles and so is starting to an understanding of the complexities of the supply chain. My youngest daughter who is still at primary school is beginning to show an interest in fashion but is yet to get a fuller understanding of what is involved in the manufacture of clothing and its impact on the environment. So for any parents or teachers that would like to teach their children more about ethical and sustainable fashion, I have compiled a list of useful teaching resources.

Collaboroo, a teaching community has an interesting lesson idea for debating around fast fashion and its impact including the environment and rights of workers.

Fashion Revolution have a range of ethical fashion resource available to download including a design a Fashion Revolution Day poster, play our Fashion Ethics Trump Card Game or try our Quiz. University students can also get involved by becoming Fashion Revolution Ambassadors.

TRAID is a charity working to stop clothes from being thrown away. They provide a selection of high quality free education resources to support teachers and educators to investigate the impacts of the fashion industry. Most of these resources can be used in informal education settings, as well as in the classroom.

Redress have created a sustainable fashion education pack for higher education. It includes teaching materials, exercises and project briefs and covers a number of topics including a Garment’s Lifecycle, Zero-waste, Up-cycling and Reconstruction.

BBC Northern Ireland has a number of resources about ethical and sustainable fashion for KS3 children. This includes Art and Design – New Clothes from Old, Citizenship – The Cost of Cheap Fashion and Personal Development – Fashion and Self Image

The Clothes Line is a resource by Oxfam exploring cotton production and the textile industry in India for learners aged 7–11. It includes lesson plans covering fairtrade, India, cotton growth and print making.

For secondary teachers, Labour Behind the Label provide a sustainable fashion handbook for educators which includes practical ideas on how to teach about social and environmental responsibility in the fashion industry. It includes ideas for assignments, class based interactive activities, project briefs, course outlines, case studies, teaching experiences and reading lists.

If you know of any other useful resources, please do let me know!

Eco Undies, Swim and Fitness Wear!

One of my favourite eco fashion discoveries of late is ColiCo on Etsy! If you want to treat yourself to some new underwear that is beautifully and ethically handmade in Portugal, I really recommend this store. There is a massive selection of lovely designs to suit all different shapes, sizes and tastes. You can even pick from an array of different patterned fabrics to have your choice made to order.

I also really love the ColieCo swimwear and fitness wear with a range of different bikini styles, swimming costumes and crop top/bras, again made to order in your choice of fabrics. If you aren’t a standard size (let’s face it, who is?) you can order different size tops and bottoms. I wasn’t quite sure on sizing so emailed the owner Nicole for some help which resulted in a perfectly fitting bikini for my hols in May. I chose the palm tree print in the style pictured below.

I also treated myself to some other pieces from the ColieCo store back in April and was really pleased with the quality of both the fabrics and manufacture. This Porto cut out sports bra (pictured below) was one of my purchases. It is perfect for wearing with leggings for super sweaty summer workouts, when it is really hot, particularly on hols. They even do a pair of leggings in the same fabric, if you like to coordinate your whole workout outfit.

It is made from RPET recycled polyester fabric which helps to minimise its environmental impact. Not only does it make a really nice difference to wear a unique style and print instead of the usual sportwear brands that I so many people wearing. I also feel much happier knowing where and how it has been made. In making items to order ColieCo’s production processes focus on minimising waste and saving energy.

Next on my wishlist is the Layla sport bra (below)

Layla sports bra

I would definitely recommend checking out the store as there are so many lovely styles, colours and patterns!

This post does contain affiliate links however all items bought from this store and reviewed /mentioned in this post were bought by myself and this post contains my honest opinion. You can read more about my affiliate links here.

With warmest wishes


Visit StyleEyes’s profile on Pinterest.

Fashion Revolution Week #Whomademyclothes

fashion revolution day
Necklace – People Tree
Dress- SkunkFunk
Leggings – Thought clothing
Shoes – Veja
Bag – Furla

Today marks the beginning of Fashion Revolution Week. 4 years ago, when the Rana Plaza building collapsed in Bangladesh killing 1138 people and injuring 2500, it became the worlds fourth biggest industrial disaster ever. But Rana Plaza was a big wake up call, any deaths in the name of fashion is devastating but this number of deaths is completely unacceptable. Since that awful day, Fashion Revolution has become a yearly event when a movement of people wanting change come together to raise awareness of the issues associated with the supply chain and to encouraging people to break their habit for buying fast fashion and to seek out more information about the clothes that they are buying. The #WhoMadeMyClothes campaign is a key part of fashion revolution week. It is a simple question that makes us think about the farmers, factory workers and artisans that are involved in making our clothes but more importantly to ask this question to brands, demanding more transparency and accountability.

I actively try to ensure that I buy all of my clothes from ethical and sustainable brands, so today I am going to ask and answer the question, #whomademyclothes?

SkunkFunk
Skunkfunk is one of my favourite ethical and sustainable brands. I think they have struck the perfect balance of fresh and timeless styles combined with great ethics and sustainable fabrics. Their clothes are made in factories in Portugal, China and India. Their website provides some great information about their makers, you can meet them here.

People Tree
When it comes to ethical fashion, People Tree are probably one of the best known brands. Their beautiful clothing makes the most of handbeading and traditional techniques to create beautiful clothing and accessories. People Tree clothing is labelled so you know where it has been made and who it has been made by. Their website also has a dedicated ‘meet the makers‘ page with lots of information about the fairtrade farmers, artisans and producers.

Veja
Veja is a transparent shoe brand that creates some amazing trainers. The trainers are made in Brazil in factories where workers are paid well above the legal minimum wage and where workers rights are well respected. You can find out more about their producers, factories and workers here.

Thought Clothing
Thought Clothing work in partnership with producers to share growth,share the same vision and create more jobs, protect wages, and develop skills as well as businesses. You can read more about their supply chain here.

Are you getting involved in Fashion Revolution Week?

With Warmest wishes


Visit StyleEyes’s profile on Pinterest.

The Leopard Dress

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Leopard dress – Johari (a social enterprise in Kenya), I can no longer find the online store but you can read more about this brand here.
Organic cotton leggings – Thought
Shoes – Veja 
Scarf – Oxfam, then upcycled

A few weeks ago, we went out for a weekend walk followed by dinner at the local carvery. I decided to combine comfy shoes by Veja and organic cotton leggings with something bright and colourful to cheer me up. I have had more than enough of dark dull winter clothes and am feeling more than ready for spring.

It makes me happy to make good use of the clothes that I have instead of buying new each season. This leopard dress is 3 or 4 years old and I still love the easy to wear cut, the bright pink colour and the leopard face on it. I have tryed to give it a fresh look by adding the scarf from Oxfam that I upcycled with orange pom pom trim a while back. I love combining pink and orange, the combination definitely reminds me of holidays to tropical destinations!

Whilst buying less is a good way of minimising my impact on the environment, I have recently seen a few articles about plastic pollution that is probably an even bigger environmental issue than fashion.  Whilst I already try and avoid using plastic bags, I am determined to try and cut down on the plastic that I use in other ways. According to Plastic Oceans, we use over 300 million tonnes of new plastic every year.  Half of this we use just once and usually for less than 12 minutes.  8 million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the ocean every year. I am planning a post about the ways to reduce plastic use, if you have any ideas that I could include, please do get in touch.

I hope that you are having a lovely weekend and enjoying the sunshine, if you have any. What are your favourite clothes that you have owned for years?

With warmest wishes


Visit StyleEyes’s profile on Pinterest.

Nomads

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Poncho – Nomads
Leggings – People Tree
Boots – TOMS

A few weeks ago, we took my parents in law out for their Christmas pressy which was dinner at a local Italian restaurant. I wore the outfit pictured above. The poncho is really soft and cosy so perfect for relaxing on a chilly weekend. It also happens to be my favourite colour so makes me super happy! It was a Christmas present from my mum and dad.

I have posted about Nomads clothing before but I thought they were definitely worth another mention. They are a fair trade clothing brand that uses artisanal techniques and sustainable fabrics to make individual designs.

I got to wear my poncho again for a little trip to Cardiff. We had a bit of a wander round, went to the Cinema to see T2 Trainspotting and then for dinner at Zizzi. This morning, we had a really relaxed breakfast at Cafe Rouge followed by a bracing walk around Bute Park and then out for a Sunday lunch with my parents.

What have you been up to the last few weeks. With the cold weather are you staying cosy inside or wrapping up warm and getting outdoors?

With warmest wishes


Visit StyleEyes’s profile on Pinterest.

Ethical Work Wear

ethical workwear

Dress and jacket – People Tree
Shoes – Swedish Hasbeens

Work wear is kind of an essential part of my wardrobe and for me it is equally important that it has been ethically made as it is for all of the clothes that I wear. At the moment my work wardrobe consists of lots of charity shop dresses and cardigans along with a few dresses and jackets by People Tree and Nancy Dee. The picture above shows one of these outfits that I wore in the summer but I will also wear with tigts and boots for the winter. Both brands which are committed to ethical manufacture and feature comfy organic cotton pieces in their collection which I find work really well for work.

In the interests of sustainability, I try not to buy many clothes and also to invest in pieces that really last. But following a promotion (yay!) and increase in my hours last month, I have decided that I might need a few extra pieces to get me through the winter. Namely a pair of smart but comfy trousers (something I find really tricky to buy), a pair of boots and another cardigan or jacket as I have been feeling quite cold at work. Here are the pieces that I have invested in (contains affiliate links)

Tencel Top

Loving the print and assymetric hem of the Lerwick Tencel Top which makes a change from the dark clothes I have in my wardrobe for autumn.

Navy Organic Cotton Trousers

The tailored fit but soft and comfiness of the Mimi organic trousers looks like it could be a winning combo for work.

Lichen Organic Cotton Throw

Seriously fed up dark clothes for auumn already. This Broderick Organic Cotton Throw add a pop of colour and some extra warmth.

 Toms LEILA Black

On the boots front, I won’t lie I have struggled to find something, ethical, smart with the right heel height. I was really pleased when I finally found these TOMS shoes. Under the TOMS “one for one” model, for every pair of shoes sold, a pair of shoes goes to a child in need.

Where do you shop for workwear? I hope you are having a lovely weekend?

With warmest wishes


Visit StyleEyes’s profile on Pinterest.

Fashion Revolution Week

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DSCN4974 (4)sDress – Nancy Dee
Jacket – charity shop
Shoes – Dream in Green
Bag – What Daisy Did

Today is the start of Fashion Revolution Week! A time when consumers around the globe ask #whomademyclothes? and a movement of ethical fashion advocates and campaigners come together to raise awareness of unethical practice in the fashion industry and work towards change.

As part of the Ethical Fashion Bloggers, Fashion Revolution round up, I wanted to share this outfit which I think fits particularly well with the principles of sustainable fashion described by Vivienne Westwood as ‘buy less, choose well, make it last’.

The jacket is from a local charity shop and the fun print immediatley jumped out at me. It makes a great alternative to a plain black jacket. The dress is from one of my favourite  brands, Nancy Dee and is ethically made in the UK from organic cotton. The shoes are made by Dream in Green, another favourite brand of mine with a great selection of shoes and boots made ethically from vegetable tanned leather. Last but not least, my colourful handbag is ethically made in India by What Daisy Did using upcycled leather. You can read more about the brand in my post here.

Last week I asked #WhoMadeMyClothes? of high street retailer Marks and Spencers here. No answer yet but I will keep you posted and let you know if and when I get answer. As a consumer, it can be difficult to find out and understand exactly what brands are doing to ensure sustainability and ethics in their supply chains which is why transparency is so important. Fashion Revolution have just launched a transparency index in partnership with Ethical Consumer which improving social and environmental standards and how much of that information they share with the public you can download it here.

Fashion Revolution Week

If you like the idea of a more ethical and sustainable fashion industry, there are lots of ways you can get involved. Visit the Fashion Revolution website to find out more.

What will you be wearing for Fashion Revolution Week?

With warmest wishes


Visit StyleEyes’s profile on Pinterest.

Marks and Spencers #WhoMadeMyClothes?

Marks and Spencers dressDress – Marks and Spencers
Earrings – People Tree
Bag – vintage (Oxfam I think)
Shoes – Geox

Not long to go until Fashion Revolution Week and I thought I would get involved by asking Marks and Spencers, #whomademyclothes?

Just before Christmas I won an award at work and got to choose a £50 voucher from a high street shop to recieve. I generally consider Marks and Spencers to be one of the most ethical and sustainable options on the high street and on popping into Bath decided on this dress as it has such a comfy and flattering cut and will work well for both in and out of work for the spring and summer.

I was quite surprised to read on Morale Fibres that M&S had scored just 5 out of 20 in the Ethical Consumer Scorecard. It was explained that the score was largely as a result of the companies wider ethics and sourcing policies and did not apply exclusviely to its clothing. This did however prompt me to think about whether I should be asking more of Marks and Spencers and how ethical their clothing is, so I did a little research.

On the plus side Marks and Spencers have shown themselves to be committed to improving their sustsainability through their Plan A through which they provide detailed information on their website including exactly what they have and haven’t achieved. Amongst the achievements of Plan A so far are:

  • 32% of their cotton coming from better cotton initiative, fair trade, organic or recycled sources.
  • They have trained more than 652,000 workers in general merchandising supply chain since 2010 covering employment rights, health and financial literacy.
  • Global Sourcing Principles now cover a wider range of human rights issues. Launched on Human Rights Day in December 2014, They are now working with their suppliers to help them meet these requirements.
  • They have established a community Global Community Programme to benefit people in the key regions of the world where M&S products are sourced to strengthen the resilience of communities and security of supply by 2020 e.g. 8000 have been trained in Kenya and South Africa for the Emerging Leadership Initiative and the Project Hope Health Programme in Cambodia which has laready benefitted 14,500 workers.

Ethics and sustainability are never going to be a simple matter for such a large retailers with such a complex supply chain and there is no doubt that Marks and Spencers are making some really postive improvements.

My dress  is made in Turkey, so I looked for further information on factories used by Marks and Spencers in Turkey. There isn’t much information available on the M&S website.

I have since read about the use of Syrian refugee children in clothing factories in Turkey. Marks and Spencers have not been implicated in any way or found to be using child labour in their supply chain. But they were asked by Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), a non-profit organisation that monitors company ethics, about their Turkish suppliers and their strategies for combating the exploitation of Syrian children and adults. Marks and Spencers didn’t answer this questionaire but you can read their response here.  I feel like I would like to know a bit more.

So I am asking the question, Marks and Spencers #WhoMadeMyClothes?

I will let you know if I get an answer.

FR_week_orange

Fashion Revolution Week is on 18th-24th April and there are lots ways that you can get involved from asking your favourite brand #WhoMadeMyClothes to making your own haulternative video. Wouldn’t it be amazing to know more about who has made you clothes?

You can find out more on the website fashionrevolution.org

FRD_impact_makers_square

With warmest wishes


Visit StyleEyes’s profile on Pinterest.

Minnetonka Mocassins – Story Behind the Brand

massai

Today I wanted to post about Minnetonka Mocassins, an American brand that I have been interested in for some time. The brand has been around since 1946 but has become popular in the last decade as the festival footwear choice of celebs.

Minnetonka shoes are beautifully handcrafted and if looked after, they should last well, growing more comfortable with wear.The website provides some tips on how to care for your Minnetonka shoes or boots to ensure that they last for a long time. Most of the shoes and boots are made in a factory in Minnetonka’s own factory in the Dominican Republic using materials from the US.

Through the Mocs with Meaning initiative, Minnetonka have partnered with Me to We to help empower mamas in Kenya. Each pair of Mocs with Meaning shoes are hand beaded by  Mama in Kenya, providing her with a sustainable income and an opportunity to support her family. Minnetonka also provided a $10,000 donation to build the ME to WE Empowerment Centre in Kenya providing a safe place for the women to work. Financial literacy training is also provided to help with overcoming economic challenges. The Me to We website states that 80+ mamas are employed full time in Kenya as part of this initiative. Each pair of ‘Mocs with Meaning’ shoes has a unique code that can be tracked with trackyourimpact.com so that customers can see the positive impact that their purchase is making.

Minnetonka have also donated to Free the Children with funds being used to build a rain catchment system to provide clean water in Haiti and to build a school room in the Marialapa community.

On balance…

There are lots of reasons I love the Minnetonka brand, however they are made from animal skins so for someone who is vegan and does not want to wear leather/ suede shoes, they would not represent an ethical choice.

What do you think of Minnetonka Mocassins?

With warmest wishes


Visit StyleEyes’s profile on Pinterest.

5 Facts to Make you Re-think your Desire for Denim

slow jeans

Jeans have enjoyed a long and varied history. Today they are considered casual attire and the skinny and ripped trend seems to dominate the catwalk. However, once upon a time, durable denims were the staple choice of workmen across the western world.

Jean companies today strive to replicate this ‘authentic’ look. The process of pre-fading, dyeing and even tearing denim has destroyed the enduring quality of jeans.

We reveal five alarming facts about the Jean industry:

1. Deadly Denim

Ever wondered how your Jeans get their pre-worn look? Sand particles are used to blast jeans with a jet of air. Campaigners brought our attention to this deadly practice which can cause lung silicosis, if workers fail to receive adequate safety measures.

Since the campaign, many high street retailers have banned sandblasting in their production cycle. These include M&S, Arcadia, Primark, New Look, H&M and Calvin Klein.

2. Alarming Water consumption

It takes around 11,000 litres of water to make a single pair of jeans. The production process includes growing cotton and wet processing such as dyeing, treating and washing the fabric which all proves thirsty work.

Levi’s, the pioneers of the pre-faded blue design, have reacted to criticism and launched Water

3. The Problem with Cotton

As discussed above, cotton requires a lot of water to grow. However, the problem with cotton is not restricted just to the issue of water consumption. Only 2.4% of agriculture land is planted with cotton. However, it accounts for 11% of global pesticide sales. These pesticides which are used to kill cotton pests can also seriously damage farmers who come into contact with them. Ethical Fashion Forum (http://www.ethicalfashionforum.com/the-issues/pesticides) states that between 1 and 3% of agriculture farmers suffer from acute pesticide poisoning. This figure translates into between 25 million and 77 million farmers worldwide. Symptoms of the poisoning range from vomiting to death.

These appalling figures highlight the necessity of naturally grown cotton. Unfortunately, the sale of fair trade cotton dropped by 38% in 2015. Ethical Consumer’s research into Jean retailers confirms this decline as none of the brands in our shopping guide (http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/buyersguides/clothing/jeans.aspx) use fair trade cotton to produce their jeans.

While fair trade cotton currently appears to be in decline, the growth in use of GM and toxic-free organic cotton keeps us optimistic. For example, Jean brand, Nudie have achieved its target to use 100% organic cotton in its denim.

4. Lagging behind

Our recent research into Jean retailers (http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/buyersguides/clothing/jeans.aspx) confirms that Guess and Diesel, two of the most popular Jean companies, have received shockingly low results in our ethical shopping guide.

Many clothing companies have accepted new initiatives to improve supply chains and have committed to the use of more sustainable materials. However, both Guess and Diesel have kept quiet about supporting new efforts to make a fairer fashion industry that respects its workers and the environment.

5. Overseas production

Clothing production in the UK plummeted in the 1990s as financially focused companies outsourced production overseas to sweatshops with low wages and poor working conditions.

Prior to this transition, Cardigan in Wales, was recognised as a leading Jeans manufacturer. Dewhirst produced Jeans for a number of companies such as M&S. However, when M&S jumped on the immoral bandwagon and moved production to Morocco, the factory was left derelict.

We welcome an exciting new brand, Hiut Jeans, which has brought Jeans production back to Britain and specifically back to Cardigan. This company, which ranks in our top 5 ethical Jean retailers, uses organic cotton and prides itself to ‘make the best jeans we can and not the most jeans we can.”

These 5 facts reveal that some of the most recognised Jean retailers on the high street are failing their workers, consumers and the planet.

For ways in which you can prolong the life of your favourite pair of jeans, head to the Ethical Consumer website for our piece on ‘Slow Jeans’.

http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/ethicalreports/fashionindustry/slowjeans.aspx

This post was written by Georgina Rawes of Ethical Consumer magazine