Tag: fair fashion

FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY SERIES ‘AVANT GARBAGE’ BY YMKE JANSEN

Fast forward to the Wunderwerk high summer ’17 collection – we love the photography series ‘avant garbage’ by photographer Ymke Jansen. ⠀

Jansen wanted to put sustainable fashion in the spotlight and shot a series for the American online magazine promo mag news, featuring the Wunderwerk High summer 17 collection.

‘My latest shoot was about something that I find very important; world pollution. I used pieces of garbage in some of the pictures and for the clothing I only worked with sustainable brands from small sustainable shops in Amsterdam. I want to make people think about the pollution in this world and change the way we care for our world. I also wanted to give some attention to the sustainable brands that really have the most beautiful pieces.’

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BEHIND THE SEAMS: ORGANIC GARMENT MANUFACTURING IN DELHI

Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills is a pioneer in organic garment manufacturing in India and is People Tree’s production partner for a large part of the knitted organic cotton pieces in their collections.

When we were in India Mr. Sanjay showed us around the two multiple stories Rajlakshmi factories he manages in Delhi.  We were guided through the production process floor by floor, as at both premises every floor houses a different department. 

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First a bit of history: Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills is a family business, which was founded in 1932 in Calcutta. In those days Rajlakshmi was specialised in making yarns and selling fabrics and later on developed into a company that produces high quality textiles, from fashion to bed linen. The company is located in Calcutta and in Delhi. 

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Mr. Sanjay explains us that in 2000 the owners of the company realised that running an ethical business and taking care of the environment is also good for business.

‘People want to know where the clothes they buy have been made and they don’t want to feel guilty’.

The last 15 years the company started to work backwards in the supply chain to make every step in the production process as fair and sustainable as possible. Rajlakshmi became the first Indian factory with a Fair Trade certification and is also organic certified.

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Mr. Sanjay tells us that the factory receives mainly production request from ‘smaller’ companies.

‘The costs for an organic and fair product are higher so making an organic product is not so high on the agenda of the bigger brands. But we realised this before we started to go in the organic business as we knew we would be more expensive and we would have a slow growth. It takes time for companies to pick up on this. But the environment has been exploited very badly and we believe the day will come where everybody will say enough is enough.’ 

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Although Rajlakshmi is mainly working with the ‘smaller’ brands at the moment, the size, facilities and neat organiation would suggest oherwise. Mr. Sanjay prefers quality over quantity though and chooses his partners carefully. 

At Rajlakshmi we work together with brands who share the same vision, like People Tree. Story telling is important, I believe that people who know about what’s going on behind the scenes of the fashion industry won’t run away from their responsibility.’

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When we ask Mr. Sanjay about how he feels about certifications he explains that an organic certificate can’t guarantee everything.

‘It is also about trust, having an ethical mind and humanising a company. One of the things I try to teach the people in the factory is not the be scared and to be honest about how their work is going. I believe that you can solve 9 out of 10 problems by being transparent. In our culture we are taught that saying no is a bad thing. But people will respect each other and take care of each other more when you are transparent.’

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One of the brands we produce for is a Fair Trade USA member, meaning a 5% premium is paid on everything they buy from our factory. A committee, which is operated by workers decides where these premiums are spend on.

A few examples of what the premiums have been spent on so far are induction plates + utensils and monthly health kits.

If the premiums are spend in a good way this is also good for the business.  I used to receive about 10 applications a day from workers who coudn’t come to work because they needed to get cooking gas.’

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Rajlakshmi was the first company in metropolitan area of Delhi to offer this Fair Trade premium.

Rajlakshmi works together with Chetna Organic to ensure Fair Trade is practiced throughout the supply chain right down to the cotton farmers. Chetna Organic works with marginalised farmers from Maharashtra, Odessa and Andhra Pradesh towards improving their livelihoods and making farming a sustainable occupation.

Together with the Chetna project, Rajlakshmi has helped to set up many vocational training centres for women in rural farming villages. This educational training and support enables women become more financially secure.

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In addition to this Rajlakshmi has sponsored organic vegetable gardens in local schools, as well as contributing to more advanced school facilities such as science laboratories.

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WHAT DOES SUSTAINABLE FASHION MEAN ANYWAY? DUTCH TV PRESENTER MILOUSKA MEULENS SHARES HER JOURNEY

Since becoming a mother, pursuing an ethical and sustainable life has been a high priority for Dutch TV and radio presenter Milouska Meulens (43).  Below, Milouska reflects on her sustainability journey and offers sound, practice advice for others. Lucy von Sturmer reports. 

An Awakening

Like many young women, sustainability wasn’t always the driving force behind Milouska’s purchasing decisions.

“When I went shopping in my early 20s, I only wanted to look good, and when I ordered something to eat, I didn’t think too much about where the ingredients came from.”

However all of this changed when she became pregnant.

“It’s a cliche, but I suddenly had this instinct to do whatever I could to protect the planet. I had this immediate feeling that I didn’t want to put any more pollution into the world.”

Small Steps – Buy Less & Start Swapping!

One of the simple ways Milouska and her partner Joris Marseille, (also a news presenter, and yes – they did meet on the job), have worked to become more sustainable is through simply consuming less and eating vegetarian.

“I feel fortunate because within my circle of friends, we share and exchange baby clothes and other things. It’s a nice experience, and because the children are all of various ages, we almost completely avoid having to buy new things. ”

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Sustainability – What does it mean?

For Milouska, sustainability isn’t just about individual actions such as using less plastic or reducing her carbon dioxide consumption. It’s bigger than that.

“Sustainability is about reaching out and connecting with one another, and also with nature. It’s about having an awareness that when we destroy the environment, we destroy ourselves.”

Ditching the High Street

If it were up to her, she might just wear her favourite sweater each day while presenting in her current role on “Early Birds”, a Dutch TV show dedicated to exploring themes around animal welfare and the environment in The Netherlands.

However, her stylist Chananja de Kok, has different ideas. Last year, when Milouska expressed her interest in only wearing sustainable clothing, the two of them embarked on a journey to find attractive, yet sustainable clothing brands.

“I knew exactly which fast fashion stores I wanted to avoid, and the “no” list was long, but we soon realised our “yes” list was empty.”

After some initial research, they found a few brands which promised safer materials and working conditions for those who made them, but Milouska couldn’t identify with the look. “It was too “outdoorsy.”

“I didn’t always want to look like I was on the verge of climbing a mountain, so it was a relief when my stylist found sustainable fashion stores like Charlie + Mary.

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Milouska wears her Hoodlamb parka in this cosy family picture. It’s made of hemp and has a sustainable fake fur lining!

Sustainable Fashion – An Urgent Issue

Today, fast fashion is widely recognised as the second most polluting industry in the world, and almost every month horrific events unfold such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in 2013 and the death of over 1000 workers, or child refugees being discovered on the supply chain.

Pursuing sustainability in fashion has never been more urgent, and Milouska believes we can no longer afford to keep our head in the sand.

“My generation was really able to say “we didn’t know” – because we didn’t. But we do now! Today, I refuse to wear things that I know were made by others in oppressive or dangerous situations. And I struggle to understand how we can ignore this.

Milouska believes that fashion is not only about how good something makes you look, but how good something makes you feel.

“And this is not only about your appearance, but who you are in the world too.”

 
Further Reading:

STUDIO JUX ACCESSORIES HANDMADE IN NEPAL

When we were in Nepal last month we visited Studio JUX’ own factory as well as JUX’ other production partners. It was great to meet the makers of the colourful and stylish handmade accessories that complement the Studio JUX collections each season. As it is Studio JUX’ mission to bring work and economic benefits to Nepal their accessory collections are made in the city of Kathmandu as well.

BEADS

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On a 2 minute stroll from the Studio JUX factory, the place where Studio JUX’ beaded jewelry is made, is located in a beautiful Nepali house with a garden overlooking Kathmandu valley. We were welcomed and shown around by founder and owner Ms. Nimdiki Sherpa.

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This passionate lady started her company 10 years ago to help Nepali women to be independent by providing them with a nice job. She currently employs 25 to 30 ladies, some of them working in this beautiful house in Kathmandu and others from their homes so they can take care of their families at the same time.

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The ladies we met like to dress up for a day at work – they looked so beautiful! Ms. Nimdiki Sherpa tells us that a lot of ladies want to work with her as the company provides good facilities. ‘Unfortunately there is only so much work.’

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The beads are bought from the local market and sometimes imported from India. Making a necklace can take up to four days. We saw the ladies at work, super concentrated – this job takes a lot of precision, skilled hands and patience, wow!

 

RECYCLED BRASS

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From the ladies to the gentlemen – After visiting the beautiful beads project we drove a few hours to see the recycled brass items being made in the workplace of Mr. Raj. Mr. Raj’s workshop is located in the so called ‘crafts area’ of Kathmandu. In this area you’ll find lots of small work spaces where people are carving wooden statues and instruments.

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Brass is made out of recycled metal from India. It consists of 70% copper and 30% zinc. Mr. Raj has been in the accessories business for 20 years and started his own company 5 years ago, employing 7 people from the area. Besides the brass jewellery items Mr Raj also makes the buttons for the Studio JUX garments, as Studio JUX tries to source everything as locally as possible.

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It was great to see how a piece of brass jewelry is made from a brass plate, which is then cut, hammered and finished by hand. Mind you, this is a precision job ladies & gentlemen!

WUNDERWERK HIGH SUMMER 2016

Get your additional styles for Summer 2016 with the Wunderwerk High Summer collection. This collection gives you the opportunity to refresh the collections in your store, in season.

The Wunderwerk High summer collection offers new styles as well as spin off designs from bestseller styles from the regular season, in new colours and fabrics.  

The on-trend kimono styles bring interesting newness to the collection and are great pieces for layering in summer. Colours run from gorgeous faded ton-sur-ton options to summer brights. Fabrics are light and have a beautiful drape.