Celebrating Women – Half the World’s Population

 

international women's day

A lady with raw cotton

It’s International Women’s Day on 6 March, falling towards the end of second week of Fairtrade Fortnight.

Women are our Mothers, Friends, Colleagues, Sisters and Daughters.  We could not exist without women. And yet women are one of the most put upon work forces in the world. So, as well as the dates coinciding, I can see lots of synergies between Fairtrade fortnight and international women’s day, especially when looking at the clothing industry.

 

 

 

Women making Clothes for Women

www.wheredoesitcomefrom.co.uk Where Does It Come From? International Women's Day

There is a bizarre fact when it comes to shopping and, in particular, fast fashion.  Women make up the huge majority – a massive 80% – of the  workforce that creates fast fashion.  These women endure terrible working conditions, including low pay and long hours.  They often have to live apart from their children and don’t see them for months at an end, and they can be prone to illness and health issues brought on by the kind of work they do.  These women spin, weave, sew and prepare our garments, working long hours in uncomfortable and sometimes downright dangerous conditions.

And do you know who to main customers are for the clothes that they toil over? Yes, you guessed it,  it’s us!   What’s bizarre is that women are the primary clothes shoppers for fast fashion.  So, unpalatable a truth as it is, we women in the developed world with a taste for bargains and fast fashion are condemning our sisters in the less developed world to a pretty tragic existence.

We CAN support our Sisters!

As I say, we make up half the world and we CAN make a difference.  We have the power of our purse!  Ok, so its not always easy – we are targeted by brands who want our purse contents and they make it easier to go along with them then to hunt for what we would consciously choose to buy.  Big brands with huge budgets can advertise during our favourite TV programmes, put up bill boards in the streets we walk down, fill our inboxes with special offers and offer us simple buying mechanisms.  But we can choose not to take the easy path.

funnel effect - ethical consumer conference www.wheredoesitcomefrom.co.uk Where Does It Come From?Bear in mind the funnel effect.  For all the millions of producers and all the millions of consumers, there are just a small band of buyers who are selecting, controlling and fixing prices on a relatively small selection that you actually get to see on the clothes rails of the major brands. Unless they are clearly telling you otherwise (no news is NOT good news in this situation), these are produced at the lowest cost possible so that the producers and makers are paid the minimal amount and the brand can take the biggest cut.

A Better Way to Shop

However, there are many, many ethically focused businesses who are linking directly with co-operatives, producer groups and artisans.   There are businesses run by people who travel directly to these communities, get to know the makers and work with them. These businesses are committed to providing quality products whilst treating with respect the people who make them and ensuring that the makers are not being swept under the carpet with the off cuts.  Often these brands have inspiring stories behind them.

It can be a bit harder to discover these businesses, but an advantage of the global marketplace we now live in is that you can generally find them online. There are also an increasing number of ethical online marketplaces too, which are bringing together ethical brands under one virtual roof. A simple way to find what you want is just to use your search engine, with phrases such as ‘ethical clothing’.

Inspiring Businesses to Explore

Here are a few ethical businesses that we love, who have a strong focus on supporting producers and their communities.  If you are looking for gifts for Mother’s Day then why not explore some of these?  It would seem to fit the women supporting women theme…..

First of all there’s us …. (Nothing wrong with a bit of self love!)

Pink Preeti Shirt from Where Does It Come From? wheredoesitcomefrom.co.uk ethical fashion Where Does It Come From? – our core ethos is traceability. All our garments are produced with close links to the co-operatives and artisan groups that are involved in producing them.  Each of our garments comes with a code on the label so you can get to know the people behind yours. We also have a strong environmental drive too. Our clothing is aimed at those looking for quality, timeless items that they will love to wear. We currently have a range of organic cotton shirts for men and women, beautiful handwoven scarves and a large range of practical, comfortable children’s clothes.

Here’s a video we made for International Women’s Day – you can see some of the amazing women behind our clothes!

One of our favourite ladies brands is the trail blazing Peopletree. With strong links to their producers, many of whom are social enterprises, they create stylish and glamorous pieces. Personally I’m a sucker for their dresses which make up most of my (fairly modest) summer wardrobe!

ethical gift ideas from Where Does It Come From? scarf and What Daisy Did bag wwwethical gift ideas from wheredoesitcomefrom.co.uk

What Daisy Did Messenger bag

Another firm favourite here is What Daisy Did and their increasing range of fantastic bags and purses.  They started with Fairtrade bags created from leather off-cuts, working with producers in India.  Recently they’ve grown their range to incorporate bags created in the UK (employing a marginalised workforce) re-using tarpaulin.

 

Bushbells Where Does It Come From? bushbells.com wheredoesitcomefrom.co.uk

Kikoy Beach Towels from Bushbells

 

 

A recent find is the wonderful Bushbells.  Beautiful Kenyan woven towels and beachwear with profits all going into providing infrastructure in local schools.

 

Arya Candles www.aryacandles.com Where Does It Come From? www.wheredoesitcomefrom.co.uk

Arya Candles

 

 

 

We also love Arya Candles – luxurious, handmade soy candles and the business supports women from wartorn communities.

 

 

 

Be the Change

This is shopping and supporting your sisters at the same time.  It’s your choice so don’t let anyone take your purse power away!  Be the change you want to see.