Tag Archives: fair trade

Beading Beautiful

5 Dec

Fashion Editor Zoe Robinson delves into the world of decorative hand-work and asks how a high street bag can possibly be cheaper than a sarnie.

Azuni fair trade beaded bracelet, £56

The new fair trade jewellery collection from Azuni got me thinking about the beaded skeletons in my closet.

Ten years ago, I bought a beaded evening bag from Primark.  I loved the colours, pattern and the price tag (£2) seemed too good to be true.

Fast forward ten years and I am now a far more conscious shopper. Whereas in my teens and early 20s I used to fuel my shopping addiction regularly and blindly, I now stop to consider the provenance of what I spend my money on.  Now I vote with my wallet.  If something seems too good – or too cheap – to be true, it probably is.

Back then it didn’t occur to me to think “how can a bag, covered in thousands of tiny beads cost less than a sandwich from M&S?” I never wondered whether the beading was done by hand or a machine – even if it was the latter, when you consider the profits of the producers, middlemen and retailer, surely the machinist can’t have been paid enough for the time it must have taken them to produce.

I am reminded of Lucy Siegle’s book To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing out the World, where she questions the production methods of embellished fashion:

There are machines that can apply and attach sequins and other decorations in seemingly random patterns that look like handwork, but they require a considerable capital investment by a garment factory.  Ask yourself this: is it likely that the piece you are buying has been sourced from a production facility that has invested in that scale of equipment?  If it’s from a fast-fashion label, particularly from the value end, that is highly unlikely.  Industry estimates suggest that 20 to 60 per cent of garment production (particularly children’s and women’s clothing) is produced at home by informal workers.  They are most likely to be adding beading, embroidery and general embellishment.

People Tree Hairband

People Tree embroidered hairband, hand-made in India, £22

And clearly working from home “in some of the poorest regions on earth” doesn’t bring an improved quality of life (associated with cutting down on that pesky commute) that many of us hanker after in the developed world. Siegle goes on to explain, “Millions of workers, hunched over, stitching and embroidering the contents of the global wardrobe in their own living spaces in slums where a whole family can live in a single room…they are at the bottom of the pile when it comes to rights and remuneration.”

People Tree Folk dress, hand-woven and hand cross-stitched in Bangladesh, £70

Uncovering the production methods of embellished garments and accessories may feel like a guessing-game, and in many cases avoidance might seem like the safest strategy.  However, some brands are transparent and do recognise the necessity to treat workers with respect, offering them a fair wage, training and community development.

Fair Trade pioneers People Tree create work for artisans by designing garments requiring detailed hand-work.  The embellishments on one garment might provide a decorative worker with three day’s paid employment.

This feather-inspired collection by Azuni (below) which launches this month, is hand-made by Mayan Indians using traditional, specialist beading techniques from Central America.

Long Tasselled earrings, £30

Beaded bracelet, £56

Advertisements

‘Tis the season…

12 Jul

EggMag’s fashion editor Zoe Robinson explains how to do nuptials, naturally

The royal wedding may be a distant memory, but for many of us, wedding season is in full swing. For the perfect wedding accessories look no further than the sublime creations of A Alicia who crafts beautiful pieces from vintage, organic and fair trade fabrics.  There is something for everyone, from blue vintage satin garters for the bride (something old, new and blue), stunning and simple fascinators for bridesmaids or wedding guests, and pinholes for the groom and ushers.

Oh, and she also runs workshops too – perfect for some stylish hen afternoon fun (and you get to come away with something beautiful, rather than just a hangover and hazy memories of drunken hen night exploits you’d really rather forget)

If you don’t happen to have any wedding invites this year, and listening to music in a muddy field is more your thing, A Alicia has got festival season covered too with a gorgeous array of colourful pieces that would stylishly accessorise a straw Trilby and wellingtons.

If you’re going to Lovebox next weekend, have a look for A Alicia’s stall where you’ll be lucky enough to get a sneaky peak of her A/W collection which doesn’t launch officially until September.

Tiny Blossoms Boutonniere / Button-hole in fair trade organic cotton £10

Fascinator

Large Camellia with Vintage Net Fascinator in Fairtrade Organic Cotton

Bangle earings

Bangle Earrings in vintage kimono fabric £30

Crow necklace

Crow Necklace in organic fair trade cotton £60

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See Zoe’s blog here and website here

UK Aware 2011

18 Mar

It’s UK Aware next week, and I highly recommend a visit there if you can. In fact, we still have a bunch of free tickets up for grabs on the EggMag website. It promises to be a good show this year, with all sorts of companies present from natural beauty brands to electric scooters. Yours truly is off on a well needed holiday, but there will be a few EggMags around at the event, so make sure you hunt one out if you still haven’t picked up your White Issue. For more details, click here

And read the UK Aware blog here

Be inspired and enjoy!