Sfdoubletake's Blog

I’d like to introduce you to People Tree | August 27, 2009

People Tree is the “Fair Trade fashion pioneer”. Not to be confused with the label Free People… or maybe that’s just me. They’re based in the UK  &  are way ahead of a lot of other labels that I know of, in terms of doing good for the world. I would love to follow in their footsteps by starting a similar company, but for now that’s just a pipe dream.

Let me explain.

They care about garment worker ethics as well as using sustainable processes for making the products. As they put it (much more eloquently), “For every beautiful garment People Tree makes, there’s an equally beautiful change happening somewhere in the world.”

Most of the cotton is fair trade and organic, and all of the dyes used are safe and natural. They source locally and choose natural materials over synthetics. They reduce their carbon emissions by employing handcraft techniques rather than machinery.

They work with 50 fair trade groups in 15 different countries in order to benefit as many people as possible. The groups are involved not just in making the products, but in crop growing, dyeing, weaving and more. To provide as much trade as possible, People Tree prefer to design items with extra features and employ techniques done by hand instead of machine, like weaving, knitting and embroidery.

Here’s an excerpt from their site, about one of the communities they are helping:

If you’re born to the ‘pode’ caste in Nepal, you are expected to clean the sewers and streets of the areas inhabited by higher castes. In return, you will be paid a pittance – sometimes no more than scraps of left-over food.

The Kumbeshwar Technical School in Kathmandu provides education, vocational training, and then paid employment to these most underprivileged of people. In the six years since People Tree became involved with KTS, the group of knitters and dyers has grown from 15 to over 240.

People use the money they earn to educate their children at the KTS primary school (which People Tree funds 50% of), which is something that they could never have dreamed of previously.

One knitter, Laxmi, describes it like this; “People Tree’s orders are vital to KTS, to me, my family, my colleagues and grass-roots female producers in my country. Fair Trade orders empower these people socially and economically and mean we can educate ourselves and our children. Knowing this inspires me to work hard. I wish and pray for the success of Fair Trade fashion and People Tree.”

I was captivated by the words on their site. They are plentiful and inspiring. I love that they are so open about their supply chain and their practices. They have nothing to hide. That is so refreshing when many labels withhold their suppliers, preferring to shield themselves from the blame in case one of the many levels is found out to be unethical.

The next time I need something I can’t find second-hand I’m shopping there despite the expense.

Here are some items I’d love to own:

They also stock accessories, menswear, kidswear and and some home products. Check it out: People Tree
Ann R.

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