:: Specific Design Brief
THE REAL COST OF FASHION
GENERIC DESIGN CONTEXT
Behind the window displays and advertising of high street fashion chains are
millions of workers round the world struggling to produce clothes as cheaply and
quickly those chains demand.
The fashion industry is often held responsible for its impact on people and the
environment across the world. But is fair trade fashion at the forefront of
designers thinking in the 21st century?
Develop a product (or a range) for a fashion company who have strong fair trade
and environmental values.
A number of organisations selling clothes that are calling themselves ethical or
fairly produced have sprung up to meet the rising number of concerns that
consumers have about environmental issues and impact on people involved in the
production of clothes.
In the 1980s and 1990s, a few companies in the clothing industry responded to
consumer pressure around environmental issues, favouring products that were
natural and earthy (such as cotton).
Increasingly, the UK public is being exposed to campaigns to expose the ethics
behind high street brands. One example was, the NIKE boycotts in the 1990s which
challenged the sportswear industry to address workers rights and conditions
around the globe.
For background information and resources on clothing campaigns and fair-trade
companies in textiles. Visit,
www.oxfam.org.uk (fair trade)
For inspirational products visit:
(resources) for a list of companies that meet criteria that comply with the
Clean Clothes Campaign.
www.stepin.org (Eco-fashion case-study)
www.peopletree.co.uk (Fair Trade
People Tree is a fair-trade fashion company based in London, that works with
producer groups across the globe.
The design team, based in the UK, look at colours, trends and predictions and
then use the skills of their overseas producer groups. Together they come up
with a collection of unique and stylish products that benefit producer groups.
Once producers receive their first specification they begin to create first
People Tree are looking to extend their range of products for a European market
(aged 25-40), whilst working with a producer group Swallows based in a village
in Northern Bangladesh.
People Tree selects which producers it works with very carefully to
ensure their eco and fair trade policies are maintained. With all producers
a steady balance must be found between utilising local skills, and producing
a desirable product that will appeal to its audience in the UK.
Using local materials: the design team must be very versatile, designing
garments from fabrics available rather than sourcing the correct fabric for
a garment after it has been designed.
Not using plastisol for printing tee shirts means lighter colours can not be
printed over darker colours.
Handmade clothing can take up to three times longer to make than those made
in factories and sold on the high street. Orders are shipped rather than
flown to the UK to lessen environmental impacts which adds an extra month
onto the lead time, therefore trends and fashions must be anticipated well
in advance. People Tree must design a session ahead of other
If you want to know
more about The People Tree design brief and support information visit
www.sda-uk.org and Ian Capewell at
Practical Action email:
information the People Tree website:
They are a small
team, so please use the website as much as possible. But if you need to contact
a member of the People Tree team email Bren Hellier first on
decide to work on this design brief, don't forget to consider the issues of
sustainability in the different phases of your designing and making.
here to access Sustain-a-balls