Turtle Doves: recycled cashmere

Turtle Doves is a British brand that buys woollen items from charity shops and turns them into new products. This is great for so many reasons and their story of success is inspiring. Turtle Doves started very small but now employs over 20 people, including ex-Laura Ashley seamstresses whose jobs disappeared when production was moved to the Far East.

TD-17_0.jpg

I suffer really badly with cold hands (cheers Raynaurd’s disease) and a few months ago my Mam surprised me with some Turtle Doves finger-less gloves (rhymes!). Considering they are finger-less they amazingly cure ‘white finger’.

 

Turtle Doves don’t just make finger-less gloves, they do all sorts of top quality, cosy and ethical products. It’s getting colder every day and Christmas is looming closer and closer, Turtle Doves would make a great present and if you join their Friends Club they’ll give you 10% off your next order.

Winter Coats

I suddenly realised earlier this month, when it started to get cold, that I didn’t actually own a winter coat. And so… the hunt began. All I wanted was a plain, black, warm coat. Not much to ask you’d of thought?!

What I found was a great selection of ethically made coats, but they were wayyyyyy out of my price range. Here’s some of my favourites:

 

Lanius – €299,90

 

Jan’n June – €230

 

Langerchen – €279

 

Lowie – £389

As these lovely coats we’re a tad (*cough cough*) too expensive for me, I admitted defeat and looked at high street brands. I had a 20% off Sparks voucher for Marks & Spencers to use and so bit the bullet and bought a coat from there.

fullsizeoutput_1088

In theory, this coat is exactly what I wanted. Plain, black and warm. It comes in 8 different colours and is a fraction of the cost compared to the coats mentioned earlier (£119, but I got it for £95 with my voucher).

 

M&S aren’t the worst offenders in the fast fashion industry. They have very good policies, are one of the first high street retailers to start being transparent and even have an interactive map on their website where you can find information on their supply chain. But as mentioned in one of my previous posts where I investigated into ‘Who made my clothes?’ for an M&S shirt, there have been some scandals regarding sweatshop conditions, using Syrian refugees for labour and UK worker union issues.

My search for a winter coat has proven that sometimes the ethical choice is much more expensive. But I shan’t feel guilty for this high street purchase. It is not just buying from ethical brands that will encourage fast fashion retailers to become more ethical, it is about buying less and asking brands the question ‘who made my clothes?’ over and over again.

This is a coat I love. It will be taken care of and worn for years to come. Moral of the story; if you cannot buy ethical, buy less, and buy something you love.

5 Fairtrade Faves

Happy Friday guys!

October is Fairtrade month, so here are five of my Fairtrade favourites:

  1. Bananas – I have at least one banana a day, they couldn’t NOT be top of my list. Always make sure they are organic AND Fairtrade (good for the worker and the environment).e39735728ce807279bf68871862cce30
  2. Jyoti Fair Works – Earlier this year I bought a beautiful skirt from Jyoti who are a German-Indian fair fashion label. Seriously check them out because their designs are great and they do some amazing stuff with their workers and supply-chain.
  3. Divine Chocolate – Not just tasty and Fairtrade, Divine scored really highly with Ethical Consumer magazine on their supply-chain management, company ethos, environmental reporting and animal welfare.Divine - Jenny Botwe_Anidasonyame 750x482
  4. People Tree – I’ve got a few People Tree items in my wardrobe now. They are very reasonably priced and stylish, great for wardrobe essentials.fullsizeoutput_fe0
  5. Honeystreet Handmade – You might remember that I’ve written about these guys before, their body butters are just brilliant. wftd6

Well there they are.

Hope you have a great weekend! xxx

Who Made My Clothes?

Three weeks ago I enrolled on a free online course hosted by Future Learn with Fashion Revolution and Exeter University. The purpose of the course is to understand the issues within the fashion industry, how a fashion supply chain works, and to share a variety of simple techniques to find the answer to ‘Who Made My Clothes?‘. It also explains how to use the findings to press the fashion industry to value people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure.

During the course you are asked to write a story about an item of clothing. Here is mine…

whomademy3

“The first time I was worn was at an Austrian Rolling Stones gig (who turned out to actually be from Birmingham) in a village hall, Melbourne, Derbyshire. I danced to Little Red Rooster, Honky Tonk Woman and got my ‘Jagger On’ to Brown Sugar.

Before my first outing though I originally started as a combination of two materials. I’m HTB1j0XeIpXXXXb0XpXXq6xXFXXXJmade of 76% polyester and 24% metallised fibres which were produced in factories in China. The factories were hot, very hot, highs of 270°C are used in the manufacturing process. In the Chinese factories I didn’t see many people, mainly just machines. The first time I really heard conversations and felt a human touch was when I was being transported by ship to Turkey.

When I arrived in Turkey I found myself in another factory. This time there were loads of people, the majority seemed to be Turkish, around the age of 40 and male. However I did Syrian Refguees Trying To Survive In Turkey Work For Minimum Wagesnotice a small group of workers that seemed distant from the others. Whilst under a needle and thread on a tightly packed sewing machine I overheard them whispering about where they came from, Syria, and the horrid civil war that was taking place there. They had to whisper as the man who gave them their 90p an hour wage was always keeping an eye on them.

Before I was popped into a plastic bag my creases were ironed out by a young boy, I overheard him telling a fellow worker that he had worked 15 hours yesterday and that he would just love to go home and play football with his brothers. 

From Turkey I was shipped to a distribution centre in Swindon. While I was there the union GMB for the distribution centre workers turned up and said the workers there were being Marks__Spencer_Reading_290_153_c1treated like lumps of meat. I wondered what this meant, but it turns out the union were outraged as they had been given less than one week’s notice that workers currently employment by agency Tempay Ltd were to be transferred to another employer, 24-7 Recruitment Services without any consultation. It was not a happy place to be.

Finally on November 1st 2016 in Munich as a birthday present to herself, Anna woke up hungover after many German beers and bought me online from Marks and Spencer’s. I left Swindon by truck and was delivered to Anna’s flat in Leicestershire. Hurray!”

whomademy2

whomademy1

Writing the above story was so difficult. Please note that photos and facts used in the story are all related to news articles found on the Independent, BBC and GMB website. I am obviously not 100% certain that Syrian refugees were used in the specific factory that made my shirt. From M&S supply chain map you can see there are many factories in Turkey. This does however show how difficult it is to trace an item of clothing!

The Future Learn course has been great in guiding the research done to create my story. As a last ‘assignment’ the course asks you to make a pledge to do at least one thing to support the Fashion Revolution movement to help improve the lives of the people who make your clothes.

I have previously followed Fashion Revolution’s ‘Get Involved’ Guide; I asked Fred Perry ‘Who Made My Clothes?’, I wrote a love story on a wedding outfit and I hosted a Swap Shop.

My pledge is to continue with my blog and bring awareness to others, continue doing research on the clothes I buy and challenge brands to find out #whomademyclothes, continue to buy second hand, vintage or swap with my friends and continue to support Labour Behind the Label.

What do you pledge to do?

whomademy5

Super Sunday Swap Shop

People now buy four times more clothes than they did in the 80’s. To meet these increasing demands fashion brands are cutting corners in regards to worker rights, pay and safety. It also has huge consequences for the environment, on average UK consumers send 30kg of clothing to landfill each year.

ssp1ssp

Labour Behind the Label are a charity that are dedicated to changing this. Throughout the year I’m doing a couple of challenges to raise money for them and today I held a Swap Shop to encourage the reuse of clothes and raise awareness of the issue.

A Swap Shop is simple, people bring any unwanted clothes, jewellery, books, toiletries etc. to swap. Anything that takes your fancy you can take and any left over bits will be donated to charity. One man/woman’s trash is another man/woman’s treasure.

With support from my amazing friends and family on the day we managed to raise a whopping £123!!!! It was great fun and we took away some cool pieces. My personal favourite is a demin jacket my mate Niamh brought. She had bought it from Dawn O’Porter who sold it on instagram for charity. And now it has been swapped, again for charity! A jacket that just keeps on giving.

unnamed.png

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported this so far. You’re all absolute legends. Especially my Mam, Alison, who today was a superstar! If you would like to donate click here.  Also, keep your ears to the ground as I’ll be hosting another Swap Shop soon!

Hope you’ve all had a great weekend, I know I certainly have. Good night x

 

Is High Fashion Slow Fashion?

Those who know me know just how much I adore Alexa Chung’s style. A mix of band t-shirts, 60’s mod, English eccentric, scruffy hair, pumps, satchels and high waisted jeans.

So today when she launched her very own fashion label I was eager to see what was on offer.

ac

I headed to the website and what I found was a great selection of clothes, shoes and accessories but at ridiculously high prices… And this made me think about the ethics and transparency behind high fashion labels. They charge the earth, but why, is it merely because of a brand name? OR Does the garment truly cost that much? Are the cotton farmers, factory workers, shipping merchants, leather dyers paid a fair wage? Given good working conditions? Are the materials extremely good quality? Grown organically? Sourced locally? Rare? Handmade? Do they even know who their suppliers are? Where they are? What conditions they are working in?

Much of the ethical focus is on those fast fashion brands (Primark, H&M, ASOS, Boohoo etc.) because they are cheap and mass produced. Many investigations have been carried out and widely published in the media. However high fashion brands seem to have been left untouched and unscathed.

Is high fashion slow fashion?

I decided to send an email. Within 15 minutes I had a response:

“We understand your concerns. All factories had been visited and approved by our team.

We are also part of the UN Global Compact Program. 

We are happy to make fashion and to make it right as fair as we can.

Here is the link to UN Global Compact website if you want to learn more about it.

This response was a good first step, it shows they believe in making fashion fairly, but it merely just generated more questions. “Where are your factories? What did you find on your visits? How did the workers seem? What about the farmers? Where did the materials come from?”… So I will keep pestering until I get those answers.

But I am only one person. The only way we can get brands to own up and be transparent about where their clothes come from, the only way we can then get brands to ensure where their clothes come from is fair is by all of us asking those questions before we buy. If we keep asking brands the questions and not buying from them until they answer those questions well, they will be forced to ensure their clothes are made ethically.

Petals, keep on asking #whomademyclothes xxx

Beautiful Bank Holiday in Berlin

This time last week I was begrudgingly returning to work following a long weekend in Berlin (which now seems a lifetime ago). Having visited the city just last March, this trip’s aim was to practice our German ‘skills’, see the sights we didn’t manage to see last time and to experience some of the cool suburbs Berlin has to offer.

Whilst there we racked up a daily average of 27,000 steps. But do not fear, the calories burnt were soon topped up with booze and food.

Friday night after lots of German beer in Neukölln we headed to the Quasimodo jazz club in Charlottenburg to see Alexandra Savior perform. She was good, but as often happens didn’t even play our favourite song Shades!

berlin3

Saturday was spent mooching round the many vintage and independent shops. My will power somehow miraculously kicked in stopping me from spending a fortune on a beautiful handmade belt from Hoffnung or on a new pair of brogues from Zeha. That evening we hit Torstraße, having a different gin in each place and returning to our favourite smoky cocktail bar – Neue Odessa.

Berlin has a huge hipster scene. After watching a Rick Stein programme earlier in the year where he visited Berlin and called every cool place he entered ‘noir’, we also began calling these hipsters ‘noir’ and created a ‘noir scale’.

Sunday morning we ticked off the Reichstag from the tourist list. We’d booked to do this tour of the German parliament buildings last time but were too hungover to turn up. That was silly of us because I definitely recommend doing it, the views are amazing and you get a great overview of Berlin’s history, so make sure to pre-book before your visit and pick up the audio guide. Final pointer on this… it is FREE!

For lunch we headed to Kreuzberg for a famous Burgermeister and then crossed the Spree to the East Side Gallery to look at the graffiti and umpteen selfies being taken on the Berliner Mauer (wall).

On our way back to the hotel I was determined to find a Photoautomat machine just like Richard Ayoade in Travel Man. Nearly making the full journey back to Alexanderplatz and not finding a machine we decided to follow a ‘noir’ looking fellow to see what cool place he was heading to. This ‘noir’ chap all of a sudden dipped off the path under some old bits of wood, so we followed. On the other side of the wood stood what I’d been looking for, a Photoautomat machine! There was also a mini beach, fire pit, food huts, a bar and Bob Dylan blasting from the speakers. Holzmarkt was an amazing find.

Berlin, once again you were a blast. See you next year! x