:: Specific Design Brief




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.
www.labourbehindthelabel.org (2006)

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:
www.labourbehindthelabel.org (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 fashion company)

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 samples.

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: [email protected]  

For more information the People Tree website: www.peopletree.co.uk

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 [email protected]

If you 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.

Click here to access Sustain-a-balls