Yesterday afternoon when I told one of my friends that I cannot join them for dinner as I am going to the Ethical Fashion Forum Social, he asked ‘So what is this ethical fashion thing? Do they wear old clothes or make new ones out of rubber or what?’
Well. The answer is: not quite, but sort of and in fact, there are a number of inspiring people, who work on establishing the ethical fashion as the ‘new’ industry.
The Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF) is a not for profit network focusing upon social and environmental sustainability in the fashion industry and the network connects thousands of individuals, businesses, and organisations interested in a more sustainable future for fashion. So basically, it aims to unite people who want to improve the global impact we as consumers have on fragile societies and the environment.
The social, which is held once each month, took place at the flagship shop of TRAID (Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development) just a couple of minutes walk away from Camden Town tube station. Before the general talk on the work of EFF, TRAID and One World Action, I had a stroll around the shop and I must say I discovered a whole bunch of gorgeous dresses and tops, which I would say were more from an intermediate price range.
This led me to the question ‘What is so special about TRAID? What makes it different from other ethical retailers?’ With the help of two amazingly enthusiastic ladies Lyla Patel, who is the Head of Education at TRAID and Leigh McAlea, responsible for Communications, I managed to get a rather good picture of the organisation’s work. TRAID is a charity-fashion retailer-foundation in one being. The way TRAID works is that it has 900 collection boxes all over the UK, where people can donate the clothes they do not anymore need.
The clothes are then taken to the TRAID warehouse, where the clothes are sorted according to the quality and garments or bits from damaged clothing are used to design new pieces of clothing or footware under the TRAIDremade label.
What personally impressed me was how TRAID makes sure that the profits gained from their 11 shops go back to helping people, who work for the retail industry in the Global South. All together TRAID has funded projects with over 2 million pounds and a great example of this is a project run by One World Action to support the home-based female workers in Delhi to establish a cooperative and cut out the middle-men and secure a fair pay for their work. In addition to that, TRAID runs fashion workshops and classroom activities for students and lectures at universities to discuss waste, reuse and recycling, ethical fashion and world poverty.
The micro-cosmos of TRAID and the enthusiasm surrounding has already influenced Timberland and Topshop to choose to donate their old stock to them, instead of selling it to the likes of TK Maxx and I had the impression that this might only be the start of giving the retail industry more of an ethical side. Leigh McAlea explained that when bigger retailers like Tesco, make their choice for Fairtrade cotton, one can see the impact on a larger scale. As for myself, I wish I could have known about the collection boxes before I moved from my old place. Oh well.