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27-08-2011
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Originally Posted by Eterna View Post
Such certificates are great, but usually implies an increase of the price in the final product, because to get them they have to pay for them (for the procedures that involve not talking about anything corrupt).

for me it is a good thing. Means that it is an issue that people care, and if people buy more at H&M that kind of clothes than those without the label "fair trade", "organic"... H&M will have more of these products and may come to have all products of that type.
H&M wants to sell, and if the consumer demand for "fair trade" products, that's what they'll sell
Personally, If I had to I'd rather pay more for something if I knew it was ethically sound rather then buy something cheep if it was made in unethical conditions. But that's just me. Certificates are great because they tend to ensure that an item was made in proper conditions. And I like knowing that sort of thing when I buy my clothes. But I know loads of people don't care about what condition clothes are made in because they just see it as a product but I like to see it as the end result of someone's hard work. Thus I'd want the person who made the shirt, dress, or whatever I just bought to be paid fairly and treated right. Just like I would hope that others would want me to be paid/treated fairly for my job. Often times people never stop and think about who made the clothes they are wearing which stems from our mass consumer culture.

Also, I see your point about how its a good thing that H&M are creating eco clothes because it shows that people obviously do want it. And that it does have a market in the high street fashions. Now, if only H&M would work on not throwing out unused clothing and treating workers better, then I think they could be a force to be reckoned with in terms of creating eco clothes. Maybe someday they wont need a tag that says "eco friendly" on it because everything they sell will be eco friendly.

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13-10-2011
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Ethical and environmental responsibilities of luxury brands
There was a really interesting article in the Guardian about luxury brands and ethical and environmental responsibilities. Just goes to show that just because you are paying more for clothes does not mean it has been produced more ethically. I was really surprised to hear about designers who are so vocal about ethical and environmental issues are not concerned when it comes to their own brands.

I was wondering what everyone thinks.

Does this concern you? would you still buy from these brands?

Quote:
Luxury brands must wake up to ethical and environmental responsibilities

Many of the world's biggest and most elite fashion houses pay virtually no regard to corporate ethics and have yet to take even the first steps on reporting on the social and environmental impact of their operations

London Fashion Week kicks off on Friday with a frenzy of champagne-fuelled fashion shows.


But of the world's biggest and most elite fashion houses now gathered in London how many will be sparing a thought for the workers who make the clothes for their multi-billion pound empires? Hardly any, according to Ethical Consumer's new buyers' guide to luxury clothing brands, written by Bryony Moore, and published on Wednesday.

While high street brands such as Gap and Primark have long been the target of anti-sweat shop campaigners, luxury brands from Armani to Valentino have largely managed to evade the ethical spotlight and have yet to be inconvenienced by reputation-damaging sweatshop scandals.

What we've found is that luxury brands pay virtually no regard to corporate ethics and have yet to take even the first steps on reporting on the social and environmental impact of their operations.

Even fashion's favourite ethical champion Stella McCartney came next to the bottom of our ethical rating table. Full marks for McCartney for championing animal rights but the bad news is that Gucci, the company that owns the brand, sanctions the use of fur in many of its other fashion brands. Gucci has neither an environmental nor supply chain policy in place.

It's the same story for Vivienne Westwood, fashion's other ethical pin-up company. Whilst Dame Vivienne may be personally committed to fighting climate change her company has no environmental policy in place to reduce the global warming impact of its operations.

We believe that it's unacceptable to charge such high premiums for clothing which don't have guarantees that they've been produced in a fair and responsible way, and we call on luxury brand companies to wake up to their ethical and environmental responsibilities.

The reality is that in terms of ethics, luxury clothing brands are now being outperformed by a number of high street clothing companies who sell clothing at vastly lower mark-ups.

In the latest Ethical Consumer buyers' guide to high street clothes shops we gave Monsoon and New Look top rating for their supply chain policies, meaning that the companies have made at least a basic commitment to providing decent working conditions for their overseas workers.

Overall though, if you're wanting to buy clothes which have been ethically produced, then you're not going to find them anywhere on the high street. Instead go online to visit one of the 12 companies which we rated as being a best buy in our alternative clothes shops buyers' guide, a list which includes Bishopston Trading, Gossypium and Greenfibres.

Further evidence that high street clothing companies have yet to step up to the ethical plate comes from clothing campaigners Labour Behind the Label.
Their report this week, Let's Clean Up Fashion , shows that the workers who make the clothes for high street retailers still aren't being paid a living wage, the rates of pay being so low that they can't even afford to adequately feed, clothe or house their families.

Gap is singled out for particular criticism because in previous reports it has received a top grade. The company has recently backtracked on plans to work towards paying a living wage to workers and now will monitor payment only of a minimum wage, a figure which leaves workers struggling at the bottom of the poverty scale.


Sam Maher, one of the report's authors, said:
"As London Fashion Week is revealed in all its glamour, nowhere is the disparity between the huge profits reaped by fashion retailers and the reality of poverty for garment workers overseas more apparent. It's high time that fashion giants, such as Gap and H&M, took this seriously and committed to pay all their workers a living wage."
• Simon Birch writes for Ethical Consumer Magazine


Source: The Guardian

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18-12-2011
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This is very true. Unortunatelly many, if not all, big designers have lost the control their own brands. So they may have some good ethical philosophy, but with all the licences, outsourcing and big fashion groups, they can't really be sure how the products that carry their name are being produced...

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21-12-2011
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^Yep, completely true. It's really sad how many designers are all part of one large corporation. I don't think many people realize (well those who don't follow fashion avidly) that so many designer brands are owned by a few companies. And these companies are so large and they have so much power over the designers and the labels that it's impossible for a designer to stick to their guns. Unless they want to risk being sacked. So a designer might have good intentions, like Stella McCartney, but in the end the clothes that are produced aren't ethically sound like they think/hope they are. Plus, think about it, a person is paying a ton of money for a designer item yet it was quite possibly made in unethical conditions/not eco-friendly. People expect that when they buy a luxury item it'll be well made and in the correct conditions but as this research shows, it isn't necessarily true. Even designer clothing can't escape the unethical side to the fashion industry.

I just wish more people were concerned about this issue and took the opportunity to vocalize their opinions. Because then I feel like those who run luxury companies like Gucci or LVMH would feel more pressure to change their ways. Because until that happens people are going to continue to buy shoddy designer items (which you'd think are suppose to be better quality). And these companies are going to continue to treat workers poorly and do damage to the environment.

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29-06-2012
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Fascinating article on Maiyet in today's Wall Street Journal:

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Fashioning a Better World
By Meenal Mistry

The party that Barneys New York hosted at its Madison Avenue flagship to celebrate the launch of Maiyet, the new bohemian minimalist luxury label, looked in many ways like any other fashion event. The label's co-founders, Paul van Zyl and Kristy Caylor, posed for pictures. Guests sipped prosecco and browsed new spring clothes on racks, as well as leather bags, sandals and gold jewelry displayed on rustic wooden tables. Shortly afterward, the crowd trickled upstairs for dinner at the store's restaurant, lit glowingly for the occasion. However, when van Zyl and Caylor stood together to address the seated guests, it became clear how radically the world of Maiyet diverges from that of your usual high-end label. "If there's a metaphor that encapsulates what we're about," began van Zyl, with an ever-present boyish grin, "it's that we're at Barneys and we have Leymah Gbowee here with us."

Gbowee, the Liberian activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, had never set foot in Barneys. And anyone with a passing familiarity with van Zyl's background as a human rights lawyer would realize that his presence was equally improbable—enough to prompt a question. Why is this man working in fashion?

That's a question to which van Zyl—who served alongside Archbishop Desmond Tutu on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and then logged thousands of air miles traveling around the world, confronting human rights abuses and managing post-conflict situations—has grown accustomed to hearing since founding Maiyet about a year and a half ago. "Everybody who knows me for my past and for what I've done is always completely intrigued and bemused by what I'm doing," he says, sitting in Maiyet's sunny NoHo showroom a few weeks later.

In its simplest terms, the idea behind Maiyet is to prevent strife instead of mopping it up after the fact, and it was inspired by one of van Zyl's lifelong passions—promoting a better world in ways that are more constructive and engaged than simple philanthropy. Van Zyl and Caylor have built a new business model for luxury fashion: partnering with small artisans in places like Kenya, India, Colombia and Indonesia, where fostering the local economy can mitigate ethnic conflict and human rights abuses by creating a more stable society.

If van Zyl wasn't cosmically predestined for the path he's taken, he was pointed sharply in the right direction as a boy growing up in South Africa. His parents were among the minority of white Afrikaners opposed to apartheid. "From a very early age, I have images in my head of my father throwing couch pillows at the television during the nightly news because it was just blatant lies and propaganda," he says. "There was a sense that I was going to be an activist because I was constantly told that we live in an evil society."

While at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, he began to work with Bheki Mlangeni, a black lawyer fighting to commute the sentences of prisoners on death row. Once apartheid was brought down by international boycotts and protests, the thinking went, those unfairly imprisoned would be set free. Mlangeni was later murdered, and through meeting his mother, van Zyl began working with mothers whose activist children had been assassinated.
"If you want to encapsulate the tragedy of apartheid, it was these extraordinary African women who earned pitiful pay but saved up to educate their children," says van Zyl. "Those children become lawyers, and because you're black and South African, you don't become a real estate lawyer. You become a human rights lawyer. Then you campaign for these things and get assassinated." He continues: "Their child earns a decent living, is the pride and joy of their lives and then gets killed. So you lose a child but also your pension, your future. You're heartbroken."

Van Zyl helped to establish the first nationwide victims group to organize those women. He cited that experience when, as a 24-year-old, he went to Archbishop Tutu to present his strategy for the recently established Truth and Reconciliation Commission. "I went to him and said, 'I'm very young, but I've worked on this passionately for a long time, and I think I have an idea of how we can run the commission,' " recalls van Zyl. The archbishop made him the commission's executive secretary, and over the course of three years, they organized hearings across the country, ultimately taking 24,000 statements from victims and perpetrators. Two thousand people testified publicly, and it was broadcast live on national television. "There was a larger viewership for the Truth Commission hearings than for soccer matches," says van Zyl. "And South Africans are crazy for soccer."

At one of the final hearings, the commission brought in former president P.W. Botha for failing to appear when subpoenaed. ("Like going after Al Capone on a parking ticket," remarks van Zyl.) Since Botha had refused to testify, van Zyl instead recited a litany of the government's human rights abuses for the commission. Van Zyl was just 27 at the time, and probably looked almost like a bright-eyed child to the frail 82-year-old Botha. "You cannot imagine what it takes for a kid in his twenties—a white Boer in apartheid South Africa—to really step up," says Niclas Kjellström-Matseke, the half–South African, half-Swedish CEO of the Swedish Postcode Lottery, an organization that donates all of its profit to charity. "He has no reason whatsoever to do that besides feeling it's unjust. Everyone is actually against his decision." Kjellström-Matseke was the first to jump in during Maiyet's round of seed funding.

After the trial, van Zyl moved to New York to attend law school and joined a white-shoe law firm—but his activist past would intrude on his day job as a corporate lawyer. "Madeleine Albright's office would call and say, 'Can you go to Indonesia and help the new post-Suharto president?' " says van Zyl. "It became clear that I was going to spend as much time outside the law firm as inside it." He went on to help found the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), a New York City–based NGO, and worked in struggling regions such as East Timor, Peru, Morocco and Kenya.
The idea for Maiyet began in 2009, through a series of conversations with Daniel Lubetzky, the Mexican-Jewish founder of Kind Healthy Snacks, who has a long history of successful social entrepreneurship. He also gets credit as a founder of Maiyet. "Daniel had been coming at it through the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I had come from the South African setting," says van Zyl. "But I had also worked in 30 countries and had the strong sense that what they needed most was to have these small businesses that thrive. That was my rough intuition, which translated into a small step into fashion."

That step would require a partner with roots in the fashion industry. Together Lubetzky and van Zyl conducted a global search to find Caylor, a seasoned fashion executive whose experience included working on (Product) RED during her time at Gap Inc., volunteering her time to local artisans in Guatemala, and more straightforward consulting on strategy for brands such as Band of Outsiders. With a round of philanthropic seed funding in their pockets, van Zyl and Caylor set out on an intense six-month journey around the world, finding artisans and hashing out what Maiyet would be. "We wanted to put product first," says van Zyl. "But is it high end or low? Is it RED 2.0? I was open to all of those things."

The answer was an unquestionably luxurious brand that covers a range of products, from clothes to accessories, much of it manufactured in places where a lack of economic opportunity has bred conflict. In Kenya, Maiyet employs different ethnic groups in workshops in Nairobi to make fish-pendant necklaces. In the state of Gujarat in India, Muslims and Hindus work side by side to make delicately embroidered panels, which will then be sent to New York City or Italy to be sewn into simple but chic silk blouses and dresses. Caylor and her design team work closely with the artisans to create products that appeal to highly discerning customers back in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and as a result expose their goods to a market to which they'd otherwise have no access.

Apart from making sure his artisans are skilled enough to produce an Art Nouveau–esque 18-karat-gold cuff that might sell at Barneys for $2,400, van Zyl wants to build a sustainable infrastructure by supplying them with updated machinery and improving their working conditions. Of course, noble goals do not a luxury business make. What sets Maiyet apart is creations beautiful enough to hold their own on a runway in Paris, where the label has shown its collection for the past two seasons, and at Barneys on a floor that also houses Stella McCartney, Marni and Proenza Schouler. Maiyet's debut collection sold so well that the store placed reorders for ready-to-wear and jewelry. Sales that brisk don't happen on message alone.

Sustainable, ethical and fair-trade initiatives have popped up repeatedly in the fashion industry over the past decade, but few have gained traction. "No matter what they tell you in a survey, people don't buy products because of their social mission," says Lubetzky. "Certainly, they won't buy them again and again." The most visible example is Edun, a label started in 2005 by Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson, and now partly owned by LVMH. Its focus is on developing trade with Africa and supporting cotton farming in Uganda. But despite its considerable advantages of celebrity, capital and connections, Edun struggled in its early days both with the logistics of producing clothes in Africa and delivering them on time, as well as providing merchandise that excited retailers. The majority of the collection is now produced in China.

Which makes Maiyet's success after just one season all the more impressive. Van Zyl likes to tell the story of how he welcomed Barneys CEO Mark Lee and chief women's merchant Daniella Vitale into Maiyet's studio last August. As he prepared to deliver a stirring speech about Maiyet's mission, the two executives nearly pushed him out of the way to get their hands on the racks of clothing behind him. "We were skeptical, but they put product first," says Vitale. "The aesthetic is very much what's going on today—very clean, beautiful materials, minimal hardware. They did an incredible job of all these categories—leather goods, jewelry, ready-to-wear." Barneys placed an order for the first collection before Maiyet's debut show last September, and asked to carry it exclusively for spring. For fall, sales have branched out to Luisa Via Roma in Florence; Montaigne Market in Paris; Boon the Shop in Seoul; Barneys in Tokyo; and Boutique N in Kuwait City.

The beauty of well-structured social entrepreneurship is that financial success is a win-win—van Zyl doesn't see any disconnect in promoting peace by selling luxury products at a high price. "If you want to make Kenyan workers more money for the hour that they work, you have to be a very successful brand," he says. "If you're a social entrepreneur, and if you have a vision about what you have to do, the greatest risk is if you don't execute it properly." Certainly his investors, a group ranging from philanthropists such as Abby Disney to hedge funds, are pleased. One is a socially conscious venture capital firm called Double Bottom Line, whose partners are passionate—one sits on Maiyet's board—but still expect at least a five-time return on investment.

What might be most remarkable about van Zyl is that though he's both witnessed and heard firsthand testimony of the worst atrocities governments have inflicted on their own people, he still has an infectious sense of optimism—one that boosts his mission at Maiyet. He draws a parallel between solving issues with artisans and his human rights work. "They're not the kind of fixes that you impose from the outside," he explains. "They're the fixes where you get up alongside people, you respect them, and you hear what they need. With that, I'm totally in my element."
Archbishop Tutu, recounting their time together on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, attests to this: "We were a very diverse group—fractious and hypersensitive to slights, real or imagined. Paul had the right temperament to deal with such a bunch."

That charm is coupled with a grand ambition. Van Zyl and Caylor's plans include a foray into menswear and e-commerce. "We want to be a globally recognized brand that has a valuation significantly north of $100 million," says van Zyl. "And we want to demonstrate that you can do extraordinarily well and inspire people and give them beautiful products—and, simultaneously, do good in the world. That's not for small, quirky philanthropic brands to do. It's mainstream, super-successful companies that are perfectly capable of embedding it in what they do, not as a giveaway."

wsj.com

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29-06-2012
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^ Very cool ... wonder if they have this at my Barney's. Sounds like it's stocked in Designer ...

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I've noticed Maiyet on style.com and the first two collections are really lovely. I knew a little bit of the brand's backstory but I didn't know how interesting it was, so thank you for sharing this article, it's really fascinating. And I love that someone who's been pretty involved in trying to achieve peace in his country and worldwide has ended up in fashion. It sounds like van Zyl has a unique way of looking at fashion and also looking at how fashion and human rights are interconnected. And it is this sort of thinking that can lead to innovative businesses and clothes. If I had tons of money to spend on clothes right now I know I'd definitely support Maiyet but for now I'll just have to support them from afar.

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Just wanted to mention that Maiyet is available on Barney's website ... looks good.

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29-10-2012
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did you guys hear about this? probably should be in another thread but i feels its appropriate to post since it is on the cusp of this collaboration.

http://fashionista.com/2012/10/hm-ac...22single%22%7D

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I'm taking a course this semester called enviroment and society and one of the things we will apparently be talking about is sustainablity in regards to clothing/fashion (which of course got me all excited). It also reminded me, has anyone read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline? I saw it in B&N and started reading it. It sounds like a throughly interesting book about what the cheap clothes we are buying are doing to our environment, society, and economy.

Also, I found this link, not sure if it's been posted in the thread before, but I think it's an interesting list of the best and worst brands in terms of companies promoting responsible shopping.
http://www.greenamerica.org/programs...y/clothing.cfm

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Quote:
Originally Posted by YoninahAliza View Post
I've noticed Maiyet on style.com and the first two collections are really lovely. I knew a little bit of the brand's backstory but I didn't know how interesting it was, so thank you for sharing this article, it's really fascinating. And I love that someone who's been pretty involved in trying to achieve peace in his country and worldwide has ended up in fashion. It sounds like van Zyl has a unique way of looking at fashion and also looking at how fashion and human rights are interconnected. And it is this sort of thinking that can lead to innovative businesses and clothes. If I had tons of money to spend on clothes right now I know I'd definitely support Maiyet but for now I'll just have to support them from afar.
I agree completely - they're clothes are lovely and I love their approach to fashion (and I too have to appreciate the brand from afar, because I can't afford anything they make )

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just read about this ... these are scarves hand-knit in the US by refugee women, who are able to support their families with the money they make: http://www.wornforpeace.com/

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^ Here is another similar to that, also makes scarves. So get your winter scarf from one and your summer scarf from the other

http://livefashionable.com/products/

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Very cool brands, thanks for sharing HeatherAnne and fashionista-ta! So I mentioned a little further up in the thread that I'm taking an environment & society course this semester and we have to do a "personal project" making a personal change in our lives (like going vegetarian, which I already am, so I've got to come up with something different) and also a "community based project" and what I'd really like to do for at least one of these assignments (if not both) is do something related to sustainable and fair trade fashion. Luckily it seems my professor is pretty receptive to the idea, she even lent me an old issue of Green American magazine which had several pages filled with information about green clothing; the dangers behind fast fashion (ex. sweatshops) and some brands which are green and other helpful information. But of course I'm a bit stumped as to what direction I should go in, so I was hoping for feedback from those who read this thread (though I thought about putting it in the homework thread I think it fits better here). I've thought of a few things for the community based project, like doing some work with my local fair trade business (which sells jewelry, clothes, etc from around the world) which a family friend owns. Or perhaps working on an organic farm learning about how sheep's wool is made. I'm pretty lucky though because the area which I'm from and the place I just moved too are pretty into the whole eco-friendly, fair trade thing so I probably have a lot of options. So any ideas for what I might want to focus on or look into? Thanks!

Also, while reading the Green American July/August 2012 issue I learned a bit more about different labels that sustainable/fair trade clothing can be given. I found the link to the article on their website, it seems like a pretty handy thing to know about while shopping around.

http://www.greenamerica.org/pubs/gre...fair-trade.cfm

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for the personal project, you could buy only fair trade/sustainable fashion for the semester ... that would be a nice challenge

i tried buying all organic clothes some years back, and at that time it just wasn't possible if you also wanted to have any aesthetic standards at all--and some items were just missing. i think the selection is much better now.

we have a fashion incubator here--do you have one there?

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