Sound the bugles; telephone the Queen, Prince Harry and Meghan too. Our stylish, covetable, Fair trade Christmas Gift Guide in association with Traidcraft is here! We invite you to vote with your wallets and support the talented artisans, producers and organic farmers who have lovingly created this magnificent, handpicked selection of twinkling, fair trade, sustainable luxury gifts from organic olive oil from Jericho to sumptuous festive dates. We want to be kids again and delight in the incredible, handcrafted toy, red London bus, destined to become a family heirloom. And what woman wouldn’t want to receive the perfect pair of pearl and tourmaline earrings, fit for a philanthropic duchess? Or an exquisitely handcrafted cushion cover? AJ, our editor describes Traidcraft as ‘one of my best-kept secret discoveries for fabulous, well-made, slow luxury gifts’. We think that should change. We want the world to know that by buying Fair trade gifts at Christmas, you are empowering the many, not the few, lifting communities out of poverty and protecting our environment – we think that is a wonderful way to celebrate the festive season.
There’s more than a dash of 007 about this cool, two-tone, fair-trade sweater with the perfect mix of mannish, monotone charisma and literary heritage. Girls! Buy it for your man and steal it as the perfect boyfriend jumper. Inspired by Duncan Grant of the Bloomsbury set (think Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, or Clive Bell), it’s made without microfibres and uses only natural materials such as hemp and ramie. Just like the Bloomsbury set, the producer, Thought, is revolutionising the fashion industry through a strong sense of style with ethics. Perfect for getting cosy as the temperature drops. Price: £79.90.
Our fair trade Christmas Gift Guide is sponsored by Traidcraft.
Traidcraft is the pioneering Fair trade charity, founded in 1979. Traidcraft stands for changing people’s lives through fair trade, saving vanishing traditional skills from extinction, and celebrating a world of creativity and culture through quality fair trade products. We’re the original fair trade pioneers, and advocate the importance of organic farming, sustainability, and transparency to the lives of growers and artisans around the world.
Written, researched and compiled by Alison Jane Reid, Beatriz Liberatti and Gwyneth Duesbery.
Conscious Couturier to the stars, Lucy Tammam headed to Australia to tour her latest couture art project One Dress. When she wasn’t showcasing her gown, she was discovering the delights of #ecochicAustralia – here are her top tips for the best eco-friendly travel experiences of the country.
We stayed at the fabulous Kingfisher Bay Resort– a gorgeous and indulgent lodging on the west coast of the Island, a little taste of luxury in amongst the wilderness. Immediately we were warned to stand tall and be confident if we saw wild dingoes. We could choose to relax in the pool, go to the beach or indulge in the many incredible activities the hotel has to offer.
The food at Maheno Restaurant was made from local, organic and sustainable ingredients while still being completely decadent. For sustainable, eco-conscious travellers, ask the staff about the hotel’s eco chic credentials, you won’t be disappointed.
Top tip: Get the sunset ferry back to the mainland for beautiful views.
You can’t get more local and sustainable than food picked straight from the bush. We did the talk at Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island and got to try an array of exciting, exotic and delicious flavours. For meat-eaters, there’s also kangaroo, crocodile, and emu, but mostly it’s seeds and berries for the plant based curious.
An amazing sustainable, eco-chic residence, the Tiny House in Glenwood. We spotted wild kangaroos on the way and, from the veranda in the morning, saw a little Joey giving his poor mother the jump around. Our host, Leroy, built this little lodging himself, a scaled down version of his own home on the same land. It has every amenity you could want – harvested rain water, compost toilet and organic snacks. All sparkling clean and luxurious in its simplicity.
For the adrenalin junkies, Sunreef’s Swimming with Whales is an absolute must-do! Don your wetsuit, flippers, snorkel and shark repellent band. Yes, really.
Jump into the sea to watch the migration of the incredible humpback whales in their natural and wonderfully untouched habitat. Sunreef is eco-tourism certified and they really care for those whales. You can get close but only if the whales agree. It a truly unforgettable experience seeing a 15ft, 40 tonnes whale swim right past your goggles!
For city girls like me, save yourself the thrill (and immense fear) and do the whale watching tour instead. I personally enjoyed the view much more from the boat – and skin-tight neoprene really doesn’t suit me!
There are plenty of local, artisan, eco-chic and hand-made shops around in Oz and vintage is big too. We liked the cool and luxurious vibe at Meraki in Mooloolaba. Stop in on your way to whale watching.
I have never been so enchanted by a place. One of the staff told me he used to visit as a boy and requested to work here as an adult, I can see why! Go on the hikes and soak up the opportunity to experience incredible nature and wildlife all around you. During a walk, we came across a large-scaled creature, which made us turn and get back to the lodge with great haste. Despite this, Binna Burra is still one of out favourite places in Australia.
The dining room, which has an impressive view of the valley, is where all the travellers meet for meals. A quirky library, with a decor of preserved wildlife in jars, is perfect for watching the sunset over cheese and biscuits.
The drive up to Tamborine Mountain is definitely worth it, if only to visit the Glow worms, a conservation project aiming to reduce the negative impacts of deforestation on wild glow worm colonies. When entering the climate controlled, man-made cave, you are instantly greeted with thousands of tiny glowing specs. Such an incredible experience! And such funny poetry too:
I wish I was a glow-worm,
a glow-worm’s never glum
‘cos how can you be grumpy
when the sun shines out your bum!
Top tip: On your way out, stop for coffee at Green Lane, they have an organic plantation right behind their bijoux cafe.
The lighthouse at Byron Bay is worth the trek, not least for incredible ocean views below. If you’re there at the right time of the year, you might spot some humpback whales or dolphins in the waters.
Top tip: When you’ve had enough of the views, it’s time for some shopping! Take the short drive over to Mullumbimby, a little happy hippy town. There are plenty of delightful local, artisan and eco-chic shops around and there is a market full of handmade and local goodies every Friday morning. I especially loved the handmade, sustainable Camphor Laurel timber chopping boards by lechop.com.au.
Guest Contributor Lucy Tammam. Edited by Alison Jane Reid and Beatriz Liberatti. Page Design by Beatriz Liberatti.
Flora Davidson is the co-founder of Supply Compass a company that bridges the gap between fashion and interiors companies and the manufacturing sector. Here she writes about moving the fashion and homewares industry towards a more sustainable future by looking at five fabrics that make a difference from organic cotton to Tencel, derived from wood pulp, and spider silk from fermented sugar. The focus is on reconsidering the materials used for fashion and homewares and ensuring they are both socially and environmentally kind.
To assess the sustainability of a fabric, you need to consider its social and environmental impact in four main areas:
1. The extraction of the raw material.
2. Textile production.
3. Dyeing, printing, washing and finishing colour fix.
4. End of life, biodegradability, and ability to be recycled.
Here are five sustainable fashion fabrics that will help to make fashion and homewares brands more sustainable now and in the future:
People have been spinning the cotton plant into thread, clothing and other textiles for millennia but much of the world’s cotton is now Bt (genetically modified cotton). Organic cotton is a better for people and the environment than its non-organic counterpart.
No pesticides are used in the production of organic cotton, which is important as not only are pesticides bad for the soil and the environment, but they are extremely harmful to the health of those working with them. They can be deadly and cause a multitude of chronic illnesses.
The Benefits of Organic Cotton
Organic cotton replenishes and maintains soil fertility rather than depleting it. Crop rotation is required with organic farming, which helps lock in C02 and build stronger soil. Organic farming techniques use less water because crops are predominantly rainfed and the increased organic matter in the soil means it holds water better.
Fairtrade organic cotton means farmers can command a higher price and be certain of a more stable income. Organic cotton is grown using natural, untreated, GMO-free seeds which means farmers don’t need to rely on expensive chemicals and risk spiralling into debt.
As the world grows steadily more environmentally conscious, more and more brands are beginning to experiment with using the latest generation of recycled fabrics to meet public demand for sustainable options. One of these new materials rapidly gaining in popularity, especially in the swimwear industry, is Econyl. Econyl is a form of nylon that is made entirely from waste products. It is made from a range of post-consumer waste including abandoned fishing nets, carpets and rigid textiles and aims to be a green alternative to the original product which is made from a derivative of oil.
To make Econyl; waste products, such as reclaimed fishing nets, are first taken to pretreatment facilities where they are sorted and shredded into pieces small enough to be put through the Econyl process. The shredded material is then moved to a regeneration plant where it is put into huge chemical reactors that, through a process of de- and re-polymerisation break down the components of the material and re-generate the polyamide 6. The final product is then processed into yarn.
Econyl has great eco-friendly credentials. Firstly the use of abandoned fishing nets is helping to clean up the seas; entanglement in abandoned nets causes the death of many thousands of whales, dolphins and other sea life every year. For every 10,000 tonnes of raw materials recycled into Econyl 70,000 barrels of crude oil are saved, and 57,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions are avoided compared to traditional production methods. Econyl fabrics can be recycled infinitely without losing quality, supporting the vision of a more circular fashion industry.
Tencel is the registered brand name of a revolutionary sustainable fibre of botanical origin, produced by the Lenzing Group. Based in Austria, the Lenzing company was founded in 1938 and has built an impressive worldwide reputation among aficionados of ethical fashion by focusing on the manufacture and development of highly sustainable fabrics.
The fibre, also known by the generic name lyocell, is a variety of rayon. It is made entirely from regenerated cellulose, and as such, it is exceptionally environmentally friendly. The source material used in the manufacturing process is dissolved wood pulp, which makes it one of the most sustainable options available to the ethically minded clothing manufacturer.
Hailed by many as a modern wonder material, lyocell was first synthesised in 1972 at Enka, North Carolina, under the working title of ‘Newcell’. Having captured the imaginations of forward-thinking innovators within the clothing industry, the fabric was further refined at the Courtaulds factory in Coventry, England during the 1980s, and it was there that the name ‘Tencel’ was first used.
The first stage in the manufacturing process is the sourcing of suitable wood pulp. The major factor which sets this material apart from other forms of rayon is the choice of raw materials, which are specifically chosen for their eco-friendliness. All the wood pulp used in its manufacture is harvested from eucalyptus trees, which have been specifically farmed for the purpose, on land which would otherwise not be used as it is unsuitable for agricultural development.
Full Marks for Sustainability
Unlike many other man-made materials, the farming process scores highly in terms of environmental sustainability. No existing forests are depleted, no pesticides are used, and absolutely no genetic manipulation is involved in the process of farming the raw materials.
This offers a significant advantage over many other synthetic fibres, which generally require extensive chemical processing. The synthesis of most other forms of rayon involves the use of chemical catalysts such as cobalt and manganese. Both of these can be highly toxic to the environment, resulting in high levels of air and water pollution which can have a potentially catastrophic effect upon the ecosystem.
A life cycle assessment conducted in 2008 by the University of Leipzig reported that the production of lyocell is far more eco-friendly than the harvesting of cotton. The study found that the manufacturing process consumes ten to twenty times less water than would be used in the production of an equivalent amount of cotton.
4. Spider silk
Despite the name, spiders are not used in the production of this material. The company that invented spider silk, Bolt Threads, studied spiders and their DNA to learn how the fibre was produced and work out a way to develop their own version. No spider DNA is used in its manufacture and the end product is completely synthetic.
The main input in the fibre-making process is sugar from plants that are grown, harvested and replanted. The sugars from these plants are fermented and this produces a protein that is then spun into a fibre; spider silk. The great thing about this material is that it is made from renewable resources so the environmental impact is also lower.
In the manufacturing of leather, skins are stripped of hair, degreased and cured with salt, before being submerged in water for up to two days to desalinate and moisturise the hide. The next and most vital stage is tanning, which helps to fortify and preserve the hide. Without this stage of the process, the untreated skins would rapidly decompose and become unsuitable for most purposes.
One major criticism of the industry hinges on the ecological impact of the tanning process. In ancient times, the process used purely natural ingredients, but since the industrial revolution, the use of highly abrasive chemicals such as Chromium Sulphate has become standard throughout the industry.
Natural Preservatives from Tree Bark
One alternative is the use of ‘Eco Leather’, a relatively recent development within the fashion industry. The ‘Eco’ variant still uses genuine animal hides (i.e. it is not vegan), but the manufacturing process sidesteps the more environmentally damaging impact of mainstream tanning. Rather than using abrasive chemicals, this far more ethical approach utilises natural, plant-based products such as tannin, extracted from the bark and leaves of trees, to create the same preservative effect.
By working with manufacturers who use sustainable fabrics you can ensure your fashion or homewares brand is looking to the future of both the planet and its people.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Flora Davidson is the co-founder of Supplycompass, a tech-enabled end-to-end production management platform for responsible brands that want to find and work with the best international manufacturers. It enables brands to find their perfect manufacturing partner at home or overseas. Brands can create tech packs, get matched with a manufacturer and use the platform to manage production from design to delivery. Supplycompass works with brands and manufacturers to embed responsible and sustainable practices in their businesses and deliver value and create opportunities for growth.
Do you enjoy reading our in-depth interviews, features, and news on sustainable fashion? Then check out this long-form feature and an exclusive interview with V&A curator Edwina Ehrman by our founding editor, journalist Alison Jane Reid – Ethical Hedonist Fashioned From Nature Documentary at the V&A
As in art, so in life. So, Frida Kahlo is our inspiration for this month’s icon of style. Frida was always the consummate artist, transforming her body into a living, painted canvas as an extension of her feminism, her political ideas, and her experience of chronic pain and disability following a tragic teenage accident.
As Frida tells us, she never ‘painted dreams’ only what she saw as Mexico’s most celebrated artist. Drop everything to go and get to know the real Frida in the V&A’s wonderfully intimate exhibition of her art and life – Frida Making Herself Up – and take a really good look at her painting of Mexico and the US border. Click here to book tickets.
Frida concealed her disability by adorning her body in vibrant traditional Mexican and Guatemalan coats, painting her lips red and wearing flowers in her hair. But what really lingers is that extraordinary red prosthetic boot – a testament to talent, style, the power of shopping and fearless spirit, no matter what.
A modern day interpretation of Frida Kahlo’s iconic headbands, this bold turban is part of a collaboration between British retailer ASOS and SOKO Kenya. Fully ethical and green, the brand has been seen on former first lady Michelle Obama and promotes community-driven, environmentally-aware trade in fashion. Go full Frida by adding flowers, real or make your own! Price £6.00, at ASOS. Frida Headband
Few things say Frida like a good red lip. RMS Beauty’s Wild with Desire lipstick pairs great colour with great sustainability. Crafted with high-quality organic and natural ingredients, bursting with antioxidants and in a completely recyclable packaging, this lipstick has got it all. Price £30.00, at SpaceNK. Red Lipstick
Handcrafted in India, this gorgeous fair-trade cushion cover is inspired by Frida Kahlo’s iconic self-portrait The Wounded Deer. Bold, paintbox colours contrast with skilled embroidery, making this a work of art that will brighten up any room. Price £29.95, at Natural Collection. Frida Cushion
Transform yourself into an extrovert, fearless, living work of art, just like Frida, in the designer to watch, Marianna Deri’s, opulent, red hot, sensuous, pencil skirt, embellished with a print of Kahlo’s portrait, bold flowers, and folk art symbolism. Sustainably made to last in Marianna’s atelier, this look at me, star piece is made in 100% eco cotton, fully lined, with back split and grown on waistband. Price £157, at Wolf and Badger. Frida Pencil Skirt
Channel your inner Frida with these Warby Parker sunglasses, inspired by a pair she owned, now exhibited at the V&A Museum. For every pair you buy, they donate one to someone in need. WP boasts to be one of the only carbon-neutral eyewear brands in the world, with original designs made in-house. We adore these, but they are only available to our US readers. Price $73.90, at Warby Parker. Cat Eye Sunglasses
This intricate stainless steel mug is painted by hand in India and made with ethically sourced materials. Perfect for your favourite cup of tea or simply as a decorative piece to admire, this fair-trade item is sure to impress. Price £17.00, at ASOS. Frida Mug
Sketch.inc’s collaboration with design collective Lucie Kass has resulted in a modern take on traditional Japanese Kokeshi dolls, including this adorable Frida Kahlo edition. All designs are created by English artist Becky Kemp in her home office. Price £35.00, at Selfridges. Frida Doll
Perfect for kids, with beautiful illustrations, this book tells the story of Frida Kahlo’s life. Following the tragic accident that changed her life, to becoming a world-renowned artist, it’s the perfect gift to encourage kids everywhere to never give up on your dreams. Price £9.99, at Liberty London. Frida Children’s Book
Woven in a home-based workshop in Mexico, rebozos can take up to ten days and ten different artisans to finish one piece, with minimal environmental impact. A staple in Frida’s wardrobe, it can be worn in multiple ways. Try this exclusive design swathed around your arms for a Kahlo flourish. Price £120.00, at the V&A Museum. Frida Rebozo
We are thoroughly bewitched by iconic designer Mary Katrantzou’s Kahlo chevron striped evening dress – a homage to Frida, which captures the wild spirit, femininity and power of the artist with sensuous ruffles fluttering about the shoulders and sweeping to the floor in shimmering sweetie wrapper stripes of green, blue and grey. Made in Britain, this wonderfully feminine dress is a timeless, handcrafted fashion work of art to invest in, treasure, and wear when you want to feel invincible, and fill your world with colour and fashion artistry. Lined in black silk. Price £1,550, at Matches. Striped Dress
This statement necklace by British designer Kirsty Ward is handmade in her home studio in London. A real piece of art to be worn around your neck, this beautiful design is as original as they come, a sure hit for bold fashionable women. Price £175, at Young British Designers. Frida Necklace
Written by Alison Jane Reid with additional writing and research by Beatriz Liberatti.