Nuts about fairtrade fashion
This year’s Bexhill Fairtrade Fashion show was held last Friday at the new Izzard Theatre in Bexhill 6th Form College. This new intimate venue was the ideal place to see fashion up close, writes HOT’s style correspondent Bevali Francis. The evening showcased clothes from Fairtrade fashion companies as well as work made by the students using Fairtrade cotton or recycled materials.
We were treated to two interesting talks by Kate Gaskell from Liberation Nuts and Romain Renoux from Pants to Poverty. Both these companies promote Fairtrade. Pants to Poverty sell fun funky cotton pants and vests for men and women. I particularly liked the vibrant colours and missed a bargain as they were being sold for £7.50 trade price – on their website they are double this price, but I shall definitely be purchasing some because I loved the design and quality and Fairtrade ethos behind their production.
Kate Gaskell from Liberation Nuts seemed out of place at a fashion show until she explained that to promote their nuts they had commissioned Central St Martins fashion students to design jewellery made from their products. We were treated to photos of glamorous actors wearing necklaces and hats made from various types of nuts and even dried apricots! As with all Fairtrade products the nut producers are paid a living wage and their production makes sure all workers are treated fairly.
The Bexhill technology, textiles, art and design students proudly modelled the designs they had been making for various parts of their design courses. Students were briefed to design products for specific customers or given clothes they had to deconstruct and reconstruct to create different items of clothing, so we had skirts made into trousers and jackets made into skirts.
The students managed to create some beautiful wearable clothes, embellishing them with their own print work. I liked Isobel Stewart’s Pretty Pencil skirt and top made from a bedsheet, while Nancy Myers’ Mediterranean inspired skirt and top (which went on to win the evening couture award) was simple but striking in its elegance. Abigail Harcourt-Smith’s textural kimono was covetable too.
This year’s fashion had been made to a very high standard and there had to be an overall winning design. It was not an easy task for the judges to choose a winner from such a variety of designs, but they chose the resplendent fairy godmother costume made for the school’s Cinderella pantomime with fairy lights woven into old lace curtains made collaboratively by Ellie Bonney-Jarmen and Tayla Davidson-Mitchell.
“We’re very happy with the event after all the preparation and aspirations,” said Jack Doherty, chairman of the Bexhill Fairtrade Committee. “The cotton clothing industry must be one of the worst on the planet, and so many of the poorest people are trapped there trying to eke out what is more an existence than a living, from fields to factory to shop. The headless drive for cheap clothes drives small cotton farmers to distraction, leading to the horrible catastrophes of factory fires and collapses and a suicide rate in parts of India of one farmer every 32 minutes.
“On Friday evening hundred of pounds were spent on buying fairly traded cotton garments produced by farmers and factory workers who have been lifted out of these woeful conditions.”
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