Fairtrade Fashion

Monday, 2 August 2010

Perhaps I'm just tight with my money but I can't countenance spending all my disposable income on clothes. I do like the occasional splurge but always within a budget.

So what's a girl to do when faced with the problem of shopping ethically? I try hard but I think I'm just as bad as anyone else in a lot of ways. I have a bit of a quandry when it comes to Primark. Sometimes I just can't resist going a bit mad in there but the effect that it, and similar shops, have had on the general shopping mentality really isn't good. I find myself baulking at paying normal prices in other shops because I know it can be got cheaper elsewhere. Yet how cheap can clothes get? There's a basic price to fabric, design and manufacture. Someone's got to make them and I hate the thought that by mindlessly seeking out a dirt-cheap deal I'm somehow condoning paying someone halfway across the world a pittance.

I think that perhaps the way forward for me is to stop the impulse buying and think about what I actually need. I'm not the world's worst offender but if I don't buy so much random stuff then perhaps I'll be able to up the amount I can spend on individual pieces and I can start to shop more with companies that are trying to make a real difference. And it doesn't limit my shopping so much because I don't own that many clothes so there's still a fair bit to buy. Plus there's always still second-hand shopping (more to follow on this later in the week).

But in the meantime, I'm still easily persuaded by a good deal. My latest purchase is from People Tree. I'm probably way behind the times when it comes to learning about this brand (as per usual!) and think I only discovered it a few months ago when searching for a cricket sweater. The Emma Watson designed one on their website was a little beyond my price range (£90? Ouch!) but I had a browse through the rest of the site and there was some lovely stuff on there. Plus their ethical policies are so impressive - Fairtrade, organic cotton and they seem really dedicated to helping their suppliers.

I spotted a deal on the MSE forums last week, pondered over it for ooh, 5 minutes and then bought it. There's a goody bag offer in their sale - £30 for a goody bag containing 4 or 5 items of clothing worth £100. (For extra money saving-ness, I used a 10% off and free delivery code and went through Quidco for cashback). Pick your size and wait eagerly to see what turns up! The feedback on the forums is a little mixed but I suppose that's always going to be the case when it comes to buying sight unseen. I was more than happy with mine. I would have liked a dress or two - some people are getting gorgeous silk dresses and beaded pieces - but I got a lovely green tshirt, a black long sleeved top/tunic with really interesting tucks and tweaks, some navy leggings and a chunky knit cardi. Plus this beauty which I would happily have spent the £30 on just by itself! It feels gorgeous - such nice fabric.

My autumn/winter mission is to get more tweed and classic English styling in my wardrobe so I think the only thing they could have sent me that I'd have got more excited by would have been the aforementioned cricket sweater.

I'm now pondering whether to use up my limited clothing spends for the rest of the month on one or two more bits and bobs from their site. I'm going shopping in Birmingham tomorrow - can I resist the lure of cheap, short-life stuff Primark in favour of buying one or two well made and eco-friendly dresses? I'm currently leaning towards a madly striped number and something a little plainer

And just to state, I'm not doing this as advertising or anything, I'm just really quite excited about what turned up! No-one in "real life" shares my occasional giddiness when it comes to clothing.


  1. That stripey dress is gorgeous. Go on buy it!
    Thats a really good deal you got, i love waiting to see what appears when you order mystery bags x

  2. i could so see you in that stripy dress, I think it would be a great purchase. The skirt is beautiful and it sounds like you got a good 'un =) x

  3. Have you seen the Made jewellery site? Gorgeous things, all fairtrade, lovely for gifts and wee occasional treats for self! xx

  4. I have the same problem. I drop way too much money on clothes and most of the time without thinking. I see something I like and I buy it instantly! I've had to make a change to my horrible habits and now I have rules for myself: 1) I go into a store with a list of exactly what I NEED after I go through my closet 2) I make a list of three items I want, and only permit myself to ONE when I shop 3) Of my "want" list, I can only buy on sale 4) If I want something expensive/not on either list, I have to wait a week to decide if I really need it.

    So far...it's working well! I've only bought two pairs of shoes this week for eight dollars each:)

  5. There was a thought provoking article along these lines in our Christchurch paper today.Hmmmmm.

  6. What a great post Alex. It is all too easy these days to snap up cheap fashion without a second thought and it does make you reluctant to pay more. I like your idea to really consider what you need and build your wardrobe a bit slower in that manner. The stripey dress is very pretty. x

  7. I know very little about people tree, the goody bag sounds like a really good idea though- I personally would be excited at the prospect of surprise goodies arriving, not quite knowing what's going to be in the package.
    I really do like that stripey dress too x

  8. Excellent article, Alex! I'm not a Primark fan, not because I think that the clothes are rubbish but I hate the mentality that means people buy more than they need merely because of it being cheap, then never wear it and dump it. As it's so cheap to start with charity shops can't shift it and it ends up as landfill in the East.
    I'd rather buy good quality second hand but confronted by that beautiful stripey dress it's a tough one. xxx

  9. That stripy dress is fab! I think I need to start being abit more conscientious with what I buy, both for ethical and financial reasons!

  10. Great post, i love the little stripey number. I agree with so much of what you said, i think primark has it's place but you only have to be in there on a Saturday afternoon to realise some people take it too the excess. I suppose what i look for is items that will work a few different ways, i hate the idea of disposable clothes. I like to think that when i no longer want an item i can pass it on. Only when something is beyond repair will it be confined to the dustbin. Great thought provoking post!!

    Sharron x

  11. Such an interesting post. I often shop in Primark but I'm very careful with the items I choose. I try to stay away from synthetic fabrics and always check seams. I do love People Tree but find it too expensive. You're right - Primark does spoil me! I can't bear to pay Topshop prices any more. x


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