Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Where do you buy ethical clothes from?

The Dispatches programme broadcast on Monday 8th November got you hooked within the first few minutes. Footage of a windowless basement paying little regard to essential health and safety measures looked like a third world sweatshop. It was unbelievable that is was happening right here in the UK. It really was an eye opener, and a valuable addition to the coverage that tends to focus on third world sweatshops. So here’s my question:

What are the realistic alternatives to high-street clothes?

We’ve all been to New Look and bought some relatively cheap clothing or ill-fitting shoes (“your feet look gorgeous”), but how can we actually get away from buying from the high street when they’re so convenient, and let’s face it, cheap!

Scratching my head at first, I head to the War on Want website – the charity featured in the Dispatches programme. Investigating and campaigning against sweatshops is only one of their worthwhile campaigns. No Sweat campaigns against sweatshop exploitation and supports people to organise in order to fight for their rights. A political and just cause, but whilst sweatshops still exist, I’m looking for ethical clothing right now.

I came across People Tree via this 2004 Guardian article on ethical clothing. People Tree recently won the ‘Most Sustainable Brand’ award at the 2010 Global Fashion Awards. They seem to do a wide variety of clothing – from belts to nightwear, office wear to comfy knits. So far so good.

Unfortunately, we’re talking over £100 for some cardigans which seems expensive. But hang on a minute. When you think how much money you spend on throw-away fashion. You can only wash a Primark cardigan (for say £12) a few times before it loses its shape. And to be fair to People Tree, you can buy simple cardigans for £25. They’ve got some really nice basic tops for £25 and some really nice skirts for £50. We tend to buy too much anyway. As Mastercard would say, a top and skirt from People Tree: £75. A limited wardrobe of sweatshop free clothes: priceless.

I’m definitely going to try People Tree. Have you shopped there before, or from any other ethical retailers? Here’s a list of other ethical clothing companies:

Bishopston Trading
Chandi Chowk
Natural Collection

And my favourite place for accessories? Shared Earth

Please let us know your experience of ethical shopping below...

Further Reading: Labour rights violations in the garment industry in Bangladesh (.pdf) http://www.waronwant.org/attachments/Ignoring%20the%20Law%20-%20Labour%20Rights%20Violations%20and%20the%20Bangladeshi%20Garment%20Industry.pdf

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Where can I get an ethical football shirt?

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