Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ethical Shoes

The stylish but ethical vegan shoe company, Beyond Skin, which boasts Natalie Portman and Chrissie Hynde as fans. All their footwear is hand-made in England and produced in a manner that is non-exploitative to humans, animals and wherever possible the wider environment.

Beyond Skin was established by Natalie Dean in 2001. A former make-up artist in the music and fashion industry, she set up the label out of pure frustration; she found there were no footwear brands dedicated to designing style-led shoes for fashionable but also ethically conscious women.
The brand’s overall objective is to be the leading producer of fashionable, ethical footwear with an identifiable eco message to both businesses and consumers worldwide. Dean endeavours not to exploit animals, humans or wherever possible, the wider environment. Dean is attempting to eventually phase out the use of PU fabrics and replacing them with eco-friendly and organic alternatives. She is also pursuing the use of hemp plastics and other sustainable materials and is trying to raise awareness of non-leather alternatives. The shoes here have been developed for the exhibition and herald a new direction for Dean as she experiments with using old fabrics to create new shoes.

Monday, March 5, 2007

London and Paris Fashion Week goes Ethical

Paris Fashion Week has had an area devoted to ethical fashion since 2006 and features around 70 labels this year -, including La Redoute

From lingerie and jewellery to handbags and shoes, ethical fashion is increasingly a la mode, as outfits on display at London Fashion Week showed Thursday.

Estethica is an area devoted to eco-friendly clothing which has been set up in the temporary tented village outside west London's Natural History Museum which is hosting fashion week, running until Friday.

Some 21 mainly young designers are showing off their work for the 2007 autumn/winter collection there, compared to 12 at September's spring/summer show.

To be included, they must meet at least one of three ecological golden rules: use fair trade products; use products which have been produced organically or use only recycled materials.

The aim is to show that it is possible to make cutting-edge clothes while being kind to the environment. Designers in the ethical range included Jewellery designer Vivien Johnston who sources her gold from mines in South America with strict rules on employment conditions and the environment. Another label, Makepiece, uses wool from its own herd of 60 sheep and 20 goats which graze metres from their base in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales town of Todmorden, northern England for a range in each of their collections.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Project Kenya: Faces behind the stories

This is a short film that Illiad my partner on my recent trip to Kenya produced.
We visited the Khaame group, a community based initiative set up to help HIV orphaned children based in the Eastern Province of Kenya. The initiative has helped single parents by giving the women jobs making baskets and the men jobs weaving ropes. The profits they make on the selling of the baskets and ropes is then shared amongst the orphans and their families. In addition, on World AIDS day they make special HIV ribbons which you will see on the models and volunteers in the show.

The impact of the profit share isn’t just a direct benefit to the children’s life, but to everyone around them. Parents can afford to send their children to school, pay health costs and even educate themselves. In addition community based initiatives like this one are also teaching people how to save and manage their earnings and giving them access to newspapers or radios, little things that we take for granted.

The film presentation is entitled the Faces behind the stories and starts by presenting the community from which the Khaame basket weavers come from, and it ends by specific images of orphans and a family that have benefited as a result of the group’s efforts.

Initiatives like this give people the dignity to help themselves out of poverty, and in turn help those around them in the community. Young people can grow up knowing how to make a living instead of holding out their hands for charity. We can see that the small amount of money we spend on a piece of clothing or jewelry can have a massive impact on these producers, their family’s lives and their community lives.