Archive for the ‘ Fair Trade ’ Category

Katharine Hamnett for Solidal Coop – a fair trade project

From today in all Coop supermarkets all over Italy is much easier to be ethical in style.

From the large and catchy phrases on the t-shirts the most fashionistas clients could guess that only a designer like Katharine Hamnett could have backed such an idea.

YOU/ME, STOP AND THINK, TOGETHER IS POSSIBLE, KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, SAVE THE FUTURE, GENIUS, LOVE

Solidal Coop is a known brand and identifies their sustainable products since few years now. This time they did it all. They put together great design, organic cotton and fair trade for both the textile and clothes production. Really a nice job.

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From recycled materials to Smateria

Sometimes beautiful projects and products are the result of an intuition, a coincidence and a chance. This is probably the case of Smateria. When Elisa and Jennifer, both from Italy, met in Cambodia they had no business plan nor product development schedule, just good will and a vision: helping local women earning their living through their work.

Smateria was in Paris at Ethical Fashion Show to present their new collection of fashion accessories made with fishing nets, mosquitoes nets, recycled motorbike seats and crocheted plastic bags. A wide range of bags for men and women, beautiful and strong travel accessories including the best seller weekender bag.

Everything started in 2005 from few unique pieces created by Elisa with recycled materials and Jennifer asking if she thought about selling all those beautiful things. From the obvious answer “no” to the creation of Smateria, the step was quick. It was not easy to crate from scratch a recycled material supply chain. Work organization and exports knowledge needed to be built in order to cope with large orders that immediately arrived.

Now more then 50 people are regularly involved in production and exports, products are sold worldwide and – yesterday news – they just opened a daycare center for employee’s kids in their premises.This shows how good products and good will can really make the difference and give a chance for a better life to artisans and their families.

Sustainable Udine

Going around Italy it is always a nice surprise to discover places, cities, shops and ateliers where sustainability and slow fashion are strongly considered or even a driving force in product production and buying choices.

The eastern region of Italy, Friuli, is well known for its wines, hard working people and a nice combination of seaside, hills and mountains in less then 200 Km. Udine, in the center of it, is a small city of less then 100.000 inhabitants with a lively university and a good soccer team.

During a nice walk in historical city center, here is what we found:

RECICLarté is a small but interesting shop where every piece is realized from recycled materials exclusively from Italian brands and designers. Among others Mnmur, garbageLAB, Chimajarno, Hibu di Alessandro Acerra, giovanni scafuro. Mostly a selection of accessories for this nice and innovative shop.

In her weaving atelier Arteviva, Liviana Di Giusto and her collaborators, produce hand made fashion and home accessories of exquisite taste and wise manufacture. They have their own creations but work also on custom made products to meet each and everyone’s taste all with beautiful italian yarns.

Cumini is a well known high hand lifestyle multi-brand series of stores in Udine and its surroundings. In Cumini Emporio, their shop dedicated to design among beautiful pieces from Artemide to Normann Copenhagen, from Brionvega to Marimekko there are some amazing baskets and fruit bowls from the dutch Fair Trade Original designed by Piet Hein Heek, oversize recycled tyre baskets by Tadé Pays de Levant, fascinating toys in reclaimed wood by Mook.

a me mi, a very new shop for mums and kids, is indeed a nice surprise for this city. Very interesting ideas in both accessories and clothing all from young artists and artisans many with an important sustainable component. Alienina contemporary fashion accessories from recycled common materials, Les Libellules presents a nice and elegant kids clothes collection in high quality and organic textiles, “Les Monstris” by Ninon and Italian born Berlin based softies maker, vicolopagliacorta with their fashion and home accessories made with “Lego”, Apple computer parts and other unusual materials.

Last but not least is Kobo Shop, famous in town for its fabulous imported books, music, gadgets and accessories. It’s all thanks to Steve, owner, DJ, people enthusiast and friend, if Kobo was and remains a pole of attraction for all design, fashion, textile, music and art addicted in the region. The selection of book on Sustainable Fashion and Textile is so interesting that before the summer 15 copies of Sass Brown’s Eco-Fashion – english version – were sold. Such an important sign considering the absence of fashion or design schools in town except for the Sello art school!

 

Here is how to find them:

Ethical Fashion in Paris

Paris, as in each season, confirms to be innovative and avantgarde and so sustainable fashion gains each season more and more a prominent position.

This year Ethical Fashion Show moved to renown Carrousel du Louvre and from this time onwards will be seasonal and not annual. More the 100 brands and designers from all over the exhibited in a nice and cosy atmosphere, from kids fashion to accessories, from bijoux to women ware. Beside the “usual suspects” who exhibit since years, like Jux, Trading For Development, Deux filles en fil, some new entries stood out for innovative design and materials.

Kondakis, young designer based in Kenya presenting a range of clothes realized with parachute fabric or non mulberry silk dyed with vegetable colours with a complementary collection of fashion jewellery in “dead wood” (not cut but picked in the forest).

Kondakis silk dresses

Kondakis wood bangles

Doreen Mashika, a fashion accessories brand from Zanzibar where the use of traditional african wax textiles merges with an innovative and modern design.

Doreen Mashika - Clutch bags

Smateria, if up-cycling is at its heights this Cambodian brand deserves a special place in it. The use of fishing and mosquitoes nets, crocheted plastic bags and recycled motorbike seats to make bags and travel accessories gives to their collection a peculiar and charming look.

Smateria - Recycled motorbike seats begs

Smateria - Fishing net bags

In Port de Versailles, the official location of Paris pret a porter fairs, the section named So Ethic gathered more then 50 brands including Green Orange Collective where 22 Dutch designers presented their consciously produced creative fashion (among them Elementum by Daniela Pais , and Rianne De Witte), and a few interesting designers part of Now Showcase, a US based collective, extremely appealing the shoe designer Olsen Haus and the New York produced collections of Kelly Lane.

Also the new trends pavilions of Who’s Next and Premiere Class were constellated of sustainable fashion brands, from the amazing Misericordia, to the very italian ones as Heidi Ritsch, Reale slow fashion and Dalaleo.

Dalaleo - Recycled can pullrings

The growing presence of sustainable fashion brands in traditional fairs in an undoubtedly a positive sign so we ask to ourselves when will the Italian market start joining this wave with a successful fair dedicated to ethical fashion?

Impronte di pace: peace steps

Peace Steps is probably not the best translation of “Impronte di pace“, it would be better to talk about footprints or footmarks, but at the end of the day the meaning would be there: going somewhere towards peace. The idea behind this project is very much rooted in what really Fair Trade means. Peace can be reached trough work, from this assumption a small Italian NGO’s, Vento di Terra and a Fair Trade Cooperative, Nazca, started a shoemaking workshops in Palestine two refugee settlements near Jerusalem and Ramallah. Their presence at Tutta un Altra Festa, yearly Fair Trade event in Milan, is always a positive sign for the entire italian Fair Trade scenario, showing that new and challenging initiatives are possible and properly welcome by World Shops and costumers.

The production is arrived now to its second season and thanks to an Italian shoe expert, started to mode a little further, introducing new colours beside the leather ones and new products.

The potential and the capacity this project are promising, now it is time to consolidate business channels and find new markets to keep production going, introducing a winter collection and implementing always new innovative products.

You can find Impronte di Pace sandals and accessories in most of Italian Fair Trade Shops and online

The Green Closet @ Touch! neoZone

Thanks to an initiative of the British Consulate-General Milan it is possible to admire a selection of eight sustainable designers and brands as part of Milan Fashion City, exactly with-in Touch! neoZone, a dedicated area organized in collaboration with Pitti Immagine.

Eight designers for probably the most interesting Ethical Fashion event ever in Milan. The brand selection done by Marina Iremonger, Trade advisor, Head of Fashion and Design Unit at the British Consulate – General Milan, brought to The Green Closet both apparel and accessories with different and very interesting look.

Eco-friendly are the rare Peace Silk, Modal™ and Bemberg™ chiffon fabrics in the Ivana Basilotta collection; the Ecology Undyed and the Supersoft Shetland used for Eribé knitwear, and the organic jersey of People Tree garments. You can be green also when choosing production techniques that have a low environmental impact as in the up cycling process adopted by Ciel and From Somewhere. Vegetable tanned leathers characterise the collection designed by Henrietta Ludgate. Hand skills like weaving, knitting and embroidery are prominent in People Tree designs, a fashion brand that actively supports Fair Trade. With the help and cooperation of famous designers like Bora Aksu and Orla Kiely, People Tree has become a glamorous and trendy label. Industrial waste is the material used for the necklace – defined as the Next pashmina – created by designer Jianhui with hundreds of tiny, ethically-sourced, recycled and lightweight wood chippings. To recycle and intricately weave the precious and the discarded is also the ethos behind the fashion jewellery made by Little Glass Clementine.

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A chance to see in Italy, beside the new collection, the work of Orsola De Castro – the (italian) design soul behind From Somewhere – done in collaboration with Speedo in up-cycling their LZR. People Tree, now in stores (abroad) with their summer 2010 collection including the last Emma Watson designed range, presented a capsule of the work done in collaboration with Bora Aksu and Orla Kiely. Ciel showed a new range of recycled polyester jackets while Henrietta Ludgate and Ivan Basilotta focused on beautiful structured and architectural design, keeping the attention of the viewer on the form and the flow of the garment. The accessories of Little Glass Clementine and Jianhui gave the change of imagining complete looks within The Green Closet. Worth to underline the scottish knitwear presented by Eribé, a contemporary look on traditional apparel and accessories.

The high expectations from such event were met and the presence of many press and buyers – most busy making orders – gives the vision on how also the Italian market and fashion system are actually ready to receive well done, design oriented, beautiful Ethical Fashion.

Fair Trade, Weddings and Style

It was 1995 when a small group of people started a cultural association named “Cose dell’altro Mondo“. It was one of the first Fair Trade experiences in Milan. Later, after having opened in 2001 a new space all dedicated to weddings, in 2004 they launched the first Fair Trade clothes collection in Italy branded as “L’Orlo del Mondo“, that in 2008 become an exclusive wedding gowns collection.  

Behind this new direction there are different people and professionals. The clothes are all made in India by the artisans of Craft Resource Center – CRC, a Fair Trade Organization member of WFTO (the World Fair Trade Organization) since 2004. Every part of the dressed are hand made, from the fabric – mainly handwoven silks – to the embroidery then stitched and sewed together by master tailors in the outskirts of Kolkata. All designs and patterns are realized by the Cose dell’altro Mondo staff with the consultancy of Andrea Orazi. L’Orlo del Mondo wedding dresses are simple and charming with light embroidery in pastel colours. The fabrics are mainly off-white or cream doupion and khadi silks with some inserts of Aimsha silk – realized without killing the bug.L'Orlo del Mondo

Obviously in a wedding the dress is probably one of the most important parts, but of course there is much much more. Gifts for each invitee (“bomboniere” in Italian); traditional almond or chocolate candies, invitation cards, wedding gifts and accessories for maids of honor and groom’s moms.

All together a great and unique Fair Trade experience.

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