Thursday, 28 February 2013

Fair Game

It's that time of year again... with Spring lurking just around the corner comes the threat of short skirts, sleeveless t-shirts and - to be dreaded most - bikini season! After having hibernated for three months, five if you live in Ireland, we wake up and realise our bodies are completely inadequate to be exposed to daylight and the public eye. So we make our yearly resolutions to "get out more", go to the gym, run before work and just "be active".
Now, I don't know about you, but when I go running it does not look like the lovely lady in this picture... There is nothing serene about me running. I'm a graceless, fat-wobbling, huffing and puffing, red-faced, sweaty mess... But alas, if we can't look good while doing sport, at least we can feel good about the clothes we do it in. So here are some of the brands that not only care about selling neon coloured sweatbands and stretchy pants, but also about the people that made them and the world they're made in.

Outdoor and Running


Patagonia produce outdoor and sportswear to dress you on your rock-climbing, off-piste skiing, or fly fishing adventures. From as early on as 1985, they have invested in protecting and rebuilding the world we're destroying. Patagonia are open about the footprint of their goods, support local and international initiatives, such as the World Trout Initiative, and they invest 1% of their sales back into our planet. Over the years, they have invested over $46 million in grassroots environmental groups and are encouraging other businesses to do the same. 
Patagonia also pledged itself to the Common Threads partnership in an attempt to work with its customers to reduce waste and bring about a more sustainable way of living. Watch this beautiful video, to find out more:


Yew create women's and men's running and active wear out of 100% recycled polyester and organic cotton. The polyester is recycled out of post-consumer waste, meaning the t-shirt you buy was probably at one point a soft drink bottle!
Their prices are very affordable and they do free UK delivery. Unfortunately their range is quite limited and they mainly sell t-shirts, tops and jumpers. 

NikePuma & New Balance

Big brands such as Nike, Puma, New Balance and others have since jumped on the eco-bandwagon and are investing in more sustainable business practices. You may have seen this yourself, but some of the Nike gear now has tags on it claiming that 70% of the materials used in this garment are recycled. Both Puma and Nike have launched shoe recycle campaigns; Nike's is called Worn Out. Play On. and Puma's is the Bring Me Back campaign. The idea behind both is the same; you drop your old runners or trainers into the recycle bin provided in their shop, they are sliced up, ground up and the materials re-used to build athletic tracks, football fields and playground surfacing. 

The sports label New Balance has taken steps against the trend to manifacture cheaply in Asian countries and are producing part of their line in the US and the UK. Their Made in UK sports shoe collection is produced in their factory in Flimby, Cumbria, which employs over 210 people. Unfortunately, the collection is limited to men's shoes only so far.

With big labels such as these, I always find it difficult to know how much of it is just paying lip-service to a current trend, but at least the big ones are aware that eco-friendly and ethically made goods is what consumers want. 


Asquith London & Gossypium

Among other things, Asquith and Gossypium sell a range of organic and ethically made yoga clothing. These mainly consist of stretchy and very very comfortable looking pants and tops in various colours. Compared to Asquith, Gossypium's range is a bit more limited. Asquith's garments are all manufactured in the family-run factory in Southern Turkey and they guarantee fair wages and treatment of employees. Gossypium work with various fairtrade enterprises and factories in India and England. Both companies use sustainable fabrics, such as organic cotton and bamboo.


We live in a nation of football lovers. Football is truly everywhere. However, the sport, and the balls in particular, have attracted a lot of negative publicity in recent times, when it was revealed that the millions of sports balls we kick about daily are hand-stitched by children in in-human conditions. So here are two alternatives where you can purchase your football and keep a clean conscience: 
Senda Athletics and Fair Corp both produce fairtrade certified sportsballs. While Senda seems to only focus on footballs, Fair Corp also sells volleyballs and rugby balls. 

So this year why not purchase some ethical and sustainable sportswear to help you on your way to fitness and that bikini body? Consider it your first step and you won't have to train for the rest of the week!

Do you know any other ethical or sustainable sports labels? Let me know!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Esthetica @ London Fashion Week

With London Fashion Week just over, let's have a taste of what is going on in the high-end fashion world regarding fairtrade and sustainable fashion. Founded by the British Fashion Council, Esthetica has been promoting eco-friendly, sustainable and ethical fashion at London Fashion week for six years now. This year 14 cutting-edge designers have been showing their work at Esthetica. All designers wanting to show at esthetica must adhere to at least one of the three Esthetica principles of fairtrade, ethical practices and using organic or recycled materials.

Image by Goodone
Goodone are one of the labels that has shown their work at the Esthetica fashion fair at London Fashion week this year. The lable produces easy, wear-able pieces "with a humorous twist," and specialises in up-cycling. The label combines new British and sustainable fabrics with reclaimed textiles. In their 2013 Autumn/Winter collection for instance they re-imagined traditional Aran knitted jumpers, which you can have a look at here.
Designer Liora Lasselle was the winner of this years Esthetica/Veolia Resource competition. Veolia is the UK's leading recycle and waste management company. You may know the name from having seen it on public transport or high-vis jackets. The aim of the competition is to find a fashion student to develop creative and sustainable solutions in fashion. The gorgeous video below shows the Liora Lasselle Wig and Triangle collection designed re-using high-end textile waste such as vintage lace and upcycling old high-vis jackets from Veolia.

The North Circular is another of the design labels that showed at Esthetica this year. The North Circular creates beautiful and modern knitwear and it's all hand-made in the UK, from the sheep to the knitting. Using the wool of Wensleydale Longwool sheep, their pieces are knitted by lovely mums and grannies from around the UK, such as Gran Eileen. The label is so personal, it will even tell you who knitted your garment. Find out more about them by watching the video below.

image by the North Circular

Another favourite of mine is Beautiful Soul. I especially love their feminine and elegant dresses in gorgeous bold prints. Beautiful Soul uses luxurious, high-quality British-made and sustainable fabrics in their collections. Watch the video to see just how lovely the results are:

Did you visit or follow London Fashion Week? What was your favourite moment/ designer/ piece?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A Trip to Zurich

I'm back from a little trip to my snowy home country Switzerland... and aside from a lot of eating, drinking and catching up with friends I explored beautiful Zurich in search of fairtrade, Swiss-made and sustainable fashion and accessories. If you ever visit Zurich, here are four shops you must see!

 Ankerstrasse 14, Zurich,
Situated just off the buzzing Langstrasse, one of the many cultural hubs of Zurich, is the hip Boutique Luxplus, where shoppers can buy high-end vintage garments and accessories, as well as unique pieces from Zurich Designers. Upon entering the shop, I'm immediately struck by the elegant and sophisticated feel of the place. Here, every item seems carefully selected to fit in with the overall design aesthetic; which makes for such an assortment of incredibly beautiful things that I am tempted to buy them all. Unfortunately the prices, although still affordable, are on the rather high end of the scale.

Bottom: my friend is having a look through the cute Luxconcept dresses

Under their own brand Luxconcept, Luxplus sell a range of cute dresses that are made in direct cooperation with a seamstress in Bangkok. The pieces are not fairtrade, but at least there is no middle man and the consumer knows where the goods are made.

The shop also sells a range of luxury fairtrade accessories by La Nomada. Pascale Krippendorf, the face behind the brand, explains to me that she sources her products from various faitrade cooperatives and enterprises all over Asia. I personally fell in love with this hand-died mustard yellow to golden brown scarf!

Marktgasse 10, Zurich,

Okay, Change Maker was possibly my favourite out of the four. This shop is so gorgeous, I would love to move in and live there till the end of my days. But not only is the space bright, airy and beautiful, but the products sold here are also just wonderful. As is clear from its name, this shop does things differently. Change Maker specialises in ethically-made, sustainable and eco-friendly home-wares and accessories. To make the shopping experience even easier and more transparent, change maker has devised seven little icons that inform the customer about the product. There is a little hand that signifies hand-made products, a light bulb indicating energy efficiency and a plant lets the customer know that the item is made out of organic materials.

Some of the beautiful products to be found at Change Maker; Top left: the fun felt stones and pebbles by Ronel Jordaan
wallets by Karlen Swiss

One of the highlights at Change Maker were definitely the ingenious felt pebbles and stones (image: top left) by Ronel Jordaan. They look so real, it was a surprise to find out they're actually soft pillows and cushions! The label Ronel Jordaan gives unemployed women in Johannesburg the opportunity to learn a trade from scratch and offers them employment in the company.

Change Maker also promotes Swiss designers and locally made products. These wallets, purses and bags made out of old Swiss army blankets are a classic. Designed by label Karlen Swiss, the accessories are hand-made in a quaint village in the Swiss mountains.

Change Maker has been highly successful and has opened shops in seven Swiss cities, including the capital Bern, Luzern and Winterthur. You can also buy their products online on their website.

Ankerstrasse 14,

Top: Fairtrade trolley bags; Bottom: Made in Switzeland,
a skirt from Let's Rock.
Also situated on Ankerstrasse, Saus & Braus offers young and up-and-coming designers a retail space in the heart of Zurich. The shop offers a wide variety of clothes, accessories and jewellery.

Some of their pieces, such as this modern take on the granny trolley bag, are fairtrade.

Under their house label Let's Rock, Saus & Braus sells quirky and colourful dresses and skirts that can be produced and changed to the customers' wishes. You can even chose the fabric you want, or bring your own! Let's Rock garments are made in the shop's studio in Zurich.

And finally one for the men! In Saus & Braus you can also buy the cool Swiss label Tarzan that sells hip and affordable hoodies, jackets and t-shirts for guys. Almost all of the ethically conscious label's collections are made from organic certified cotton.

This was also the perfect excuse to get the husband to pose for my blog! He is wearing a Tarzan shirt with hand shadow animals.

Preyergasse 6, Zurich,

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2012, Fizzen has been around for a while. The company started out as a dingy second-hand shop in Bern and has evolved into a versatile boutique selling vintage & second-hand, as well as recycled and new clothing in Basel, Bern, Luzern and Zurich. Despite a revamp to make the shop look brighter, it's kept its treasure trove feel and is by far the most affordable out of all the shops. Fizzen is a paradise for hipsters, students and retro-maniacs alike.

The branch in Zurich is split into three sections; new clothes by small independent labels, reworked vintage & second-hand products on the ground floor and a 'pure' vintage section in the basement. The vintage section offers the usual leather bags, jeans jackets, fair isle jumpers and 80s stretch-pants.

Top: The Vintage Section, Bottom: Reworked dresses by Fizzen
The reworked garments are produced by Fizzen either in Bangkok by their label Ark or in the Fizzen workshop in Switzerland. Vintage garments are given more modern shapes, old leather jackets are reworked into laptop or ipod cases and every product is unique. I was tempted by that little rose petal dress (picture: bottom right). The reworked products also promise that no sweatshop labor was involved in their making (yay!).

There is, of course, much more to Zurich than just shopping, so make sure that you hit some sights, drink excellent Swiss coffee and taste the best chocolate in the world between checking out the shops! To make shop-hopping even easier for you, I've created a little map.

Have you ever been to Zurich? What were your favourite places? Wanna share any other vintage or fairtrade treasures you discovered when travelling?