- Published on Ecojam.org -
In the first of my series of pieces taking a look the ethical fashion designers and brands in and around Bristol, I thought it only right to begin with the founders of ethical fashion. Happily enough, they’re right on our doorstep.
Bishopston Trading Company
Recently in the blogging community, there has been some debate establishing ‘just who started Ethical Fashion?’
Bagsful, written by the clothing researcher of Ethical Consumer, lists Bishopston Trading Company as the first on the scene.
In 1985, Carolyn Whitwell (a Bristol local) travelled to K.V.Kuppam, a village in South India.
Her mission: to set up a tailoring unit with the sole aim of fair trading with the locals, providing them with work - not charity.
26 years later, Carolyn is still designing and Bishopston Trading Co. has 4 retail stores with HQ here, in our own Bishopston, on Gloucester Road.
Fair Trade Certified and, with the Spring/Summer collection made entirely from organic cotton, Bishopston Trading remains steadfast in its primary objective:
“Trading and retailing with regard to helping to promote the social welfare and wellbeing of suppliers and producers.”
Sourcing their fabrics from GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) accredited Agrocel farming group, the collections’ ethics are refreshingly transparent. Sub contractors are regularly checked. Members of the Bishopston Workers’ Co-Operative are paid a living wage. Alongside this, they are given maternity leave, retirement gratuity, sick pay and a bonus for festivals.
But with the recession falling heavily on the retailing sector and global cotton prices suffering a crippling inflation of 120%, how is Bishopston Trading coping?
“Like most other retailers, we have had to raise some of our prices in response to the sharp increase in the cost of raw cotton. At Bishopston Trading, we are adding new and accessible designs to our collections each season - allowing customers to make ethical purchases regardless of their style or budget. We refuse to compromise on our ethics, and over the last 26 years, we’ve built up a pool of incredibly loyal customers. The new designs are now beginning to reach a wider market - and are attracting interest from a younger generation of ethically minded consumers - despite the economic crisis.”
With an exclusive preview of the new Spring/Summer collection due to arrive from late February, it does not fail to deliver. Inspired by Crete, deep blues & purple tones are the predominant colour themes. Expect clean lines in their range of shirts - checked patterns are trending and will appeal to a younger market. The ladieswear range embraces the season’s colours and white tailored blouses, which can be teamed with the trousers and floral jackets for stylish effect.
But whilst you wait for the new collection to arrive, their Autumn/Winter sale is in full swing with many items better than half price. Luxurious velvets and corduroys took over the collection last season, with colours of charcoal, berry and a sumptuous mallard keeping the cold weather out with a clean conscience. Sale ends March.
Join Ecojam.org for an exclusive discount on the Bishopston Trading Co. range.
For more information on Bishopston Trading Co., go to www.bishopstontrading.co.uk
Follow us on Twitter @bishopstontrade
Follow me on Twitter @HJFantaskis
Next time, I’ll be updating you on what’s new in the Bristol Ethical Fashion world - Look out for me at The Swish at the CREATE Centre (13th February, 11am-3pm).