I have been a fan of the Fairtrade & organic fashion brand, People Tree for quite some time. That goes far beyond the ethical checkmarks of their use of raw materials like organic cotton and wool and production processes that - rather than exploiting communities and workers - give them via Fairtrade a path to independence and prosperity. No, what I particularly Iike about People Tree is that their clothes fit perfectly, are affordable, have beautiful soft fabrics and great designs, many of which are smart enough to go to work in (a rarity in ethical fashion). In other words, they perform. This ideal of ethics, affordability and performance resonates with me as it’s always what we strive towards with Essential Care too.
I was fortunate enough to attend the launch party for People Tree’s autumn winter collection this weekend. It was an experience that took all my willpower not to go on a bank-account-endangering spending spree. The new dresses http://peopletree.co.uk/womens/dresses are particularly beautiful. But what also encouraged me to spend was the talk that opened the party by People Tree founder Safia Minney and one of her suppliers from Kumbeshwar Technical School (KTS) in Nepal.
I will share it with you here as it’s a tremendous example of how Fairtrade can sustainably tackle poverty in developing countries: KTS was founded in the early 1980s to provide skills and income for the so-called “untouchables”; the sudra or lowest of the “caste” groups in Nepal. Average lifespan was a mere 25 years because they swept sewage for a pittance and ate food scraps that richer people threw out. KTS began by offering training in carpet weaving, then hand-knitting for adults as well as literacy and hygiene classes. Initially trading with Oxfam and Traidcraft, their sales grew steadily until establishing a relationship with People Tree in the early 1990s which led to an exponential rise in revenue. Over time these Fairtrade partnerships have enabled KTS to set up a primary school for 250 children, a day care centre and an orphanage, as well as a huge amount of vocational training and qualifications. Ex-students either continue to work in producing goods (health insurance provided) or go back to their villages and start their own business. The School has essentially kick-started a very dynamic Fairtrade movement across the Kathmandu Valley, linking all through the supply chain. Amazing stuff.
Talking of autumn / winter collections, look out for a series of new autumn / winter makeup looks appearing on our website later this week with our lovely new makeup range.