I’m a massive fan of contemporary Indian art, and it was during a research trip in India that I witnessed the shocking reality of how some labels produce their clothing so cheaply. None of us would buy an item of clothing knowing it was made in a sweatshop, the problem is that when we buy clothes on the high street it’s almost impossible to find out about the conditions under which they were made.
The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent organisation which examines production methods in companies and then awards the Fairtrade mark. Wherever you see the Fairtrade mark you can be certain that no-one has been exploited during production and that your purchase has supported sustainable development. It also guarantees that no child or forced labour was involved, working conditions were healthy and safe and work is done with respect for the environment.
Our generation has really pushed forward ethical clothing and lifestyle issues. My trip to India was a catalyst to me setting up my own Fair trade clothing label. Tam & Rob is a women’s wear label dedicated to helping impoverished groups in developing countries. The clothes are produced in India and Nepal using organic fabrics and artisan techniques including hand tailoring and weaving. The entire production line is certified fair trade.
Fairtrade organisations specifically seek to work with marginalised and disadvantaged groups to help them overcome the barriers they face. The difference that fairtrade makes is that instead of living on the poverty line and constantly worrying where their next meal is coming from, workers have the opportunity to save money and make plans for the future.
Tam & Rob employs women who had a hard time finding work because they suffered discrimination for reasons such as their being victims of abuse. These people now have secure employment and we wanted to do something extra special for Christmas to help others in similar situations.
The idea was born of donating a sari to a woman through a suitable charity for every item of clothing sold. Social Action for Association and Development (SAAD) is a charity in Maharashtra, India, which gives skills training and legal advice to women outcast from society due to being descendant from Devdasi woman who had been married to idols or Gods. In previous generations they enjoyed a high status but changing beliefs mean they are now left ostracised and highly vulnerable. SAAD gives them the support they need to start an independent life and we hope the new sari will aid them in this. We named this idea Buy One Give One Free, a play on buy one get one free schemes which fuel so much unnecessary consumerism and waste.
One tenth of the worlds’ population works in the clothing industry and I for one feel so much more comfortable in my clothes knowing that everyone involved in the process of making them is treated fairly and lives a dignified life. To view our collections have a look on www.tamandrob.co.uk