Guest post for Fair Trade Fortnight – Is it worth it? Fashion, are you getting a Fair Trade?
As a family we try to buy Fair trade as much as possible.And it’s not just about bananas or chocolate.Rick of Feze Fair Trade has kindly agreed to do a guest post for me to explain a bit more why you should buy Fair Trade too.
18 months ago I decided that I was going to buy fair trade clothing wherever possible. Before I made that decision I was very much a fan of designer clothing, most of the clothes that I bought carried some kind of designer label and I had associated the label with looking good. To me the label represented good quality. At the time being a smart consumer meant having the designer look at the best price, searching the internet, searching TK Maxx, smart sales shopping.
It was an article, in the Times, about a factory making jeans for Gap and Levi Strauss that was illegally dumping chemical waste in a river that made me think. I questioned if I might have things wrong when it came to my judgements about the quality clothing. (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article6736290.ece)
I started to think that if Levis were allowing this kind of thing to happen, what did that say about the quality of their jeans, were they worth paying more for? I started to look more closely at the story behind the labels that I was paying a lot of money for. Ralph Lauren, an all American brand for example, I always felt clever when I found something discounted in TK Maxx, and then I looked at the label, never made in America, always somewhere in the developing world. This was what made me start to ask is it worth it? What am I paying for here?
It is a question a lot of people are asking now? Clothing companies spend millions each year on advertising and promoting their brand. They have to nowadays because the strong stories that created their brands often no longer apply. The problem for the major clothing designers is that the internet opens up so many more opportunities to people. The long tail of fashion is now available, we can look beyond the high street, ignore the fashion magazines and find small, independent clothing labels, and we can buy from people anywhere in the world, our own global supply chain. The internet gives you the ability to make more interesting decisions about what you buy, to ignore they hype and search out authentic fashion brands. Companies that have remained true to their routes and make their clothing in the same factory that they have for years, or new manufacturers who operate on a small scale making more unique pieces.
Often buying Fair Trade is seen as a nice thing to do but it’s expensive and unaffordable. Times are hard at the moment but it’s at times like this that opportunities to change are strongest. Switching to Fair Trade clothing saved me a fortune the first year because I stopped buying clothes and wore the ones I had. Now I expect to pay a little more for Made in England clothing but I also expect it to be better made and last longer. By choosing simple classic styles, I know I am going to look good and get lots of wear which means I buy less.
Thank you for taking the time to write for me on such an important subject that sometimes we over look when shopping for clothes.I hope my readers take the time to have a look at your wonderful site.