Sunday, March 23, 2014

Made with Love, Made in Africa

This is my most recent contribution to Miss Greens Wardrobe, check out the link for more ethical and sustainable fashion and lifestyle pieces.

There is no doubting that the world we live in is rapidly moving forward, as consumers and shoppers we demand more for less, we want it now and we are treating fashion as something that is disposable. With little thought as to the negative impact that it may be having on our world.

I myself, have far too many clothes, yet never seem to have anything to wear. When I think about it (which is something I prefer not to do, it’s easier to stay in denial about these things!) my consumption of fashion is very unnecessary and a little over the top at times. Although, since going back to uni I have had to massively slam on the breaks in regards to my overzealous purchasing behavior.

It can be hard, especially when on a budget, to buy pass the bargains that high street stores offer, I mean a pair of pants at Zara for $59? It’s a crime not to…right?  Yeah I may glance at the label and see they are made in Bangladesh but I honestly don’t give much thought to it, which is something we all need to change.

I am happy to admit that I am a bit of a fashion nerd, it’s something I love. I don’t just love it because it’s pretty, I love it because it makes me feel good about myself and it’s something that crosses language barriers and time zones. It is also something that is very influential. Many people often disregard fashion or those who are passionate about it as shallow and stupid. But this is far from the case, there are many savvy brains behind the most influential names in fashion and a few of these amazing people are trying to make a significant difference in the industry.

Most people would be aware of Stella McCartney, if not for what she has done for fashion at least for her famous Dad. McCartney is known in the fashion world for her stance on ethical and sustainable fashion. McCartney is one of the most significant designers to have taken a public stance on the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion. It wasn't until reading an article on McCartney in the October issue of Elle Australia that I realised the extent that McCartney goes to, to ensure that her brand is ethical and sustainable. There are no animal products used in her collections, soles on shoes are biodegradable, lingerie uses recycled metal hardware, 50 percent of the materials used in her eye wear range are from natural sources and organic cotton is used on her denim and jersey range.

She is also a partner with the International Trade Center’s Ethical Fashion Initiative. An initiative that includes the likes of Vivienne Westwood and those closer to home Sass and Bide. An initiative that brings together over 7,000 artisans whose skills are used to create beautiful pieces, which in turn gives these artisans jobs and helps to support their communities.

“We work with our fashion partners to develop products that are feasible, using the skills and materials available locally. Our business and production hubs in Nairobi, Accra and Port-au-Prince process orders, guaranteeing they will be delivered at high quality and on time, while complex organization ensures workflow to those in urban slums and disadvantaged rural areas right off the grid.” – Ethical Fashion Initiate.

With brands such as Sass and Bide supporting ethical and sustainable fashion, it makes it a little easier for the ones who can’t afford to dabble in Stella McCartney to support a wonderful cause. Sass and Bide have joined with women from the Kikuyu, Masai, Samburu & other East African tribes to create a limited edition collection of bags that utilize the wonderful skills of these artists along with supporting a wonderful cause. ‘Made withLove, Made in Africa’ features a handmade purse, clutch and tote bag each adorned with the beautiful handy work of the women in these African communities.

Things like this take time, it’s a matter of brands standing up and making a point of telling consumers they need to be more aware of where there products are coming from and the impact fashion has on the world. Knowledge is power and with brands like Stella McCartney and Sass and Bide supporting causes such as the Ethical Fashion Initiative they are informing consumers.

Most of us are already making massive changes with our food consumption, going free range, cruelty free and organic. It only makes sense that fashion follows.

Shop ‘Made with Love, Made in Africa’ HERE

For more information on the Ethical Fashion Initiative click HERE

* Since writing this piece Karen Walker has also released a line in conjunction with the Ethical Fashion Initiative, the line is called 'Visible'. Info on her contribution to the cause can be found  here.

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