Monday, 30 November 2009

Meet a Cutter

This is Pandiyan. He is a cutter at the KVKuppam Tailoring Society. He works as part of a team of 12 cutters who prepare the pieces for the tailors to sew together into garments. Being a cutter is a senior position within the Tailoring Societies as it's essential that this first stage of the Cut Make Trim stage of production is done accurately and swiftly. Like most of the cutters, Pandiyan joined the societies as a tailor, in 2004 he was promoted to the position of cutter. He has worked at the societies for 19 years. He lives with his wife in the village of Mel Vilachule on the outskirts of KVKuppam.

It is very common for members of the Tailoring Societies to stay working at the units for many years, some of the original tailors employed when the company started in 1985 are still working there. This is because opportunities for well-paid stable employment are few and far between in rural South India. Bishopston Trading Company is proud to be able to offer long-term employment to the villagers of KVKuppam and enable them to earn a living wage for themselves and their families without having to leave their villages and move to the urban areas of the country.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Cotton On Too...

Earlier this year we worked with Oxfam, Soil Association, Bristol City Council and Bristol Fairtrade Network to host the Cotton On conference here in Bristol.

The event was a great success:

130 delegates; speakers ranging from Lucy Siegle of The Observer to representatives from Monsoon, the Fairtrade Foundation, Pesticide Action Network, Labour Behind the Label, Traidcraft, Ethical Fashion Forum; workshops on Organics, Fairtrade, Supply Chains, and Sustainable Design. And the day was finished off with a huge Open Space discussion between all delegates focusing on the key issues of the day and facilitated by William Lana of Green Fibres.

After a brief recovery period we got back together as the Cotton On team and after looking through all the feedback forms decided there was a big demand for a sequel to take what had been learnt from this one and move forward. Interestingly some of the most compelling feedback came from students who'd attended the event because they were interested in the issues and found their fashion/textiles/design tutors unable to teach them anything about it.

With this in mind we got Fashioning an Ethical Industry on board and decided to organise a sequel aimed specifically at young people with more interactive sessions and with a broader scope - textiles/fashion rather than just cotton.

And here it is: Fashion Victims, hosted by UWE on Friday 26th February, open to all 14-18 year olds and their tutors. Workshop sessions will encompass: Textile Waste, Recycling and Climate Change; Fairtrade Cotton; Garment Workers' Rights; Sustainable Design; Organic Supply Chains. The day will be opened by Tara Starlet of BBC3's Blood Sweat and Tshirts fame, and is sure to be as informative and inspiring as this year's event.

Book your place online here.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Fair Trade Blogging

I wanted to reassure you that despite my lack of postings over the last few weeks, I haven't forgotten about blogging. In fact on the contrary, I've been busy reading other people's blogs!

Here are four of my favourites that I wanted to share with you: together they give a nice picture of the diversity of the Fair Trade movement and the interactions between producers and buyers.

Laden with awards and rightly so, Pachacuti are the real-deal. Carry's blog offers a window into the Fair Trade fashion-house, with fascinating stories from her producer-partners in the mountainous areas of Ecudor.

Shared Interest are the UK's Fair Trade bank, they finance Fair Trade producer groups all over the world. Don't let the recent crisis tarnish your view of all banks, Shared Interest is exemplary and their blog reports on their work with producers and with the Fair Trade campaigning movement here in the UK.

The soft-drinks industry has become emblematic of our globalised world and its inequalities. But Ubuntu Cola proves that it can be part of the solution. This blog by Elod Kafaukoma is a very personal account of life and Fair Trade from the producers' end.

Second only to arch-rival Wales in the stakes for the world's first Fairtrade Countries. The Scottish Fairtrade Forum contains a wealth of information on the campaign for fairer terms of trade.