Archive | fair trade

RSS feed for this section

#who made your clothes Kate?

Ethical Fashion is Cooler Kate

Ethical Fashion is Cooler Kate

While I would not call myself a monarchist – there are far too many issues of inequality attached the the institution of monarchy for me to be comfortable with the idea- I do recognise the huge platform the UK royals, notably the young ones, have. Especially notable is the power they have to highlight important global issues. Given that fashion and clothing is where much of the focus is when the global gaze falls (with unrelenting frequency) on Kate Middleton (The Duchess of Cambridge), the opportunity to do good in that space is immense.

I was therefore disappointed to see that on the latest Royal visit to India (#RoyalVisitIndia), Kate was wearing a  75 pound Topshop dress. A ‘Fast Fashion’ brand that makes its profits, and Kate’s dress, off the backs of the exploitation of Asian women garment workers.

Given that the very same day the Royal couple had met to talk about advancing women’s rights in India, this seemed to be both a massive missed opportunity and an extraordinary misstep in public relations.

Let me explain why. Continue Reading →

Adult’s Clothing is GO!

 

adults and kids ethical clothing marketplace

Adults and Kids Ethical Clothing Marketplace is Open for Business

Start Trading Your Ethical Sustainable Adults Clothing For Free!

muka kids marketplace is now taking adults (mens and womens) ethical and sustainable clothing. Pop over to the shop and sell your preloved ethical and sustainable brands for free (no fees at all we promise). While you are there pick up some stylish threads that, as one of our accredited brands says, don’t kill the environment or kill people. By ‘ReGooding’ and using our marketplace you become eligible for discounts with many of our accredited brands.

It all makes perfect sense! So get trading!

Our 41 accredited adult brands include Kowtow, People Tree, Everlane, Patagonia, Chalkydigits, Thunderwear, The Goodnight Society, Veja Shoes and a load more! See the full list of the near 90 brands! you can trade with us (kids and adults).

Learn more about how we accredit brands.

Expanding Muka Kids To The Grown-Ups

Adults clothing at muka

Let make this short and sweet: We have a problem with our clothes, but we also have a solution and you will love it!

We need more ethically made, organic, durable clothes for kids that we can swap, sell, pass on and eventually recycle (hence why muka kids was created). BUT really the nature of the clothing industry has changed so much (especially for women’s clothing) that we now buy, wear, discard, reuse, repurpose our clothes as adults at near the same rate as kids do (all be it for different reasons).

We SHOULD all buy less BUT….

Continue Reading →

A Mad World, A Revelation & A Choice

I promise this (might) all make sense

I promise this (might) all make sense

The title of this blog is a little like the song ‘So Long and Thanks for all the Fish”, makes NO sense at all if you have not read a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and only marginally more if you have read it. So read on and perhaps you will feel marginally less confused by the end (no promises though, but questions welcome).

The Madness

I have always thought (at some times more than others) that it is a mad world that engenders a little bit (or a lot) of crazy in us all, but that assuming your world is more mad than the person’s next to you on the bus/at work/in a parent group is a dangerous path to go down, because chances are it totally is NOT. However, I always believed that (mostly) my world is maddest for me, while yours is maddest for you.

So, on that note I think it is always good to know that the people who start businesses, want to change the world, do social enterprise and post random stuff on social media to increase the following of said social enterprise are a little mad, just like you.

I, I am quite comfortable saying, am going through a little bit of crazy. We moved house (WHY on earth anyone would do this with small children is beyond me, but needless to say I am now looking for a community support group of fellow ”post movers with children and too many unpacked boxes in their houses”). I started new and fabulous permanent work (because social enterprise and good intentions, alas like clouds, cannot be eaten), which feels great AND draining. Oh and cancer came to our family. I tell you this not  to explain the madness, or garner sympathy, but because I want to emphasis the very human and shared experience that, stress, big change, and serious illness is. That it makes us all a little mad, but hopefully a little more human too.

So muka kids had retreated a little for me, then came back again, both because it keeps me focused on the big stuff that matters in our mad world, and because, well I guess as Leonard Cohen says “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

 

The Revelation

So, I started thinking about how to make muka kids happen on a smaller but active scale for everyone (including me),  until I can build a bigger trading platform for pre-loved ethical and sustainable clothing . What I have come up with is moving muka kids into an active facebook group. One our community can start to trade our ethical and sustainable clothes between ourselves. At this end we will work with the Accredited Brands (here are some that we will approach first up) to get muka ‘ReGooders” (you the group members) rewards for trading on the group page, and each month there will be a  feature on a women entrepreneur in the developing world, who needs a microloan, which members can choose to support if they are so inclined. For this particular aspect we will initially work with existing and trusted organisations like Kiva and Global Sisters, until we can establish a long term relationship with our cotton farming groups in India.

The Choice

So here is the question, what to call this new group? Just stick with muka kids? Or perhaps be more focused on the sustainable wardrobe aspect, something like ”muka sustainable wardrobe”? Love to hear your thoughts on what would bring people in. Remember, this is not just for those people who are already converts to the sustainable clothing movement, but also uninitiated people just wanting to buy better quality, cooler clothes that happen to be sustainable & ethical for their kids (and eventually themselves too – as we include adult clothing). So comment below, or post on Facebook and let me know your thoughts…

Want to be actively involved in the community from here or afar?

If you would like to be more involved than just buying or selling, the new group will need administrators, so any help I can get to move this community along from good thoughts to good deeds, would be warmly and enthusiastically embraced (if a little madly!). Just email (info@mukakids.com), FB message etc etc.

Happily, madly yours

Jess

 

20 Ethical Clothing & Organic Clothing Brands for Kids We LOVE

Ethical clothes for kids we love

Ethical clothes for kids we love

We know it is hard sometimes to get hold of ethical clothing & organic clothing for kids. You mean well, intend well and then? Well the practicalities just get in the way of doing well. Muka kids is a social enterprise that exists to make it a lot easier to get hold of fantastic affordable ethical clothing & organic clothing for kids. One way we help is we have a marketplace for buying & selling accredited pre-loved (and some new) ethical and organic clothing. In this blog we want to tell you about the best of these accredited brands. Some of these brands actually offer discounts to those who trade on muka kids. So if you buy ethical sustainable clothes new &  ‘Regood’ them on our marketplace we reward you for being sustainable and well just super.

Ethical clothing all starts with some great small companies

In the muka model it all starts with those fantastic people pushing the boat out in small and independent ethical clothing and organic clothing brands, doing their darnedest to do the right thing and make clothes that meet ethical and sustainable standards. It is HARD: a hard slog, lower returns, with a small (but growing market) of customers.

These ethical clothing companies and the people who run them care. They care deeply about changing the way the clothing system works, and while all of them might not have the gold standard for ethical clothing or organic clothing in place right now, I tell you they are striving to do things a better way AND make sure they have a successful ethical business so they can keep making a difference.

Ethical Clothing Brands & Organic Clothing Brands We LOVE* (many of which you can find on our marketplace in affordable preloved condtion)

Continue Reading →

From Field to Factory – How Ethical Clothing is Made. A Photographic Journey.

The journey starts here

In November 2014 muka kids journeyed to India, that great dusty & green continent of tigers, elephants, emperors and empire.

With all my do-gooder intentions for muka kids I really needed to understand the complexities of the ethical clothing production chain. By ethical I mean a production chain where worker and environmental well-being sits at the heart of it.  So we went to India. We went to learn how ethical clothing is created and other clothing is not. We went to talk with those involved, in this very long production chain, about their day to day reality, their joys and their despair. We followed the journey of fairtrade organic cotton from field to factory across that beautiful and chaotic continent. We fell in love with the beauty of rural India, and despaired of the poverty we saw there. We felt brought down by the knowledge that the production we were seeing represented less than 1% of the industry, yet uplifted by the promise of the better way it represented. It is not a perfect system, but it strives at it at least. Here is our tale of ethical clothing, we hope you will see the promise it is too. Continue Reading →

I am the chattering languor monkey (or why muka kids is changing direction).

The Chattering Monkeys Of The Jungle Book

The Chattering Monkeys Of The Jungle Book

When I visited India in late 2014, and journeyed across the continent tracing the making of cotton garments from the rural cotton fields to the factories of industrial India, my guide and mentor for much of the journey was Ranga. Ranga is a man of the hour. His story is a fantastic one, but one I can tell you later. More pertinent to this particular post is the story Ranga himself tells.

Every time Ranga visits the city of Tirupur in southern India he also visits his parents in a small village about an hour away. Every time he visits his father sits him down and asks him in his own very Indian way whether all the hard work Ranga is putting into pushing the garment industry to be a more ethical, more sustainable one, is really worth the pain. On our particular visit there was a uniquely and beautifully Indian analogy that had something to do with grasping the tails of crocodiles, and there was also this one:

Over that classic southern Indian breakfast of idly and sambal Ranga’s father looked at him across the table and said ‘when the Bengal tiger is hunting in the jungle the languor monkeys chatter loudly to warn all the other creatures in the jungle that danger is near; a tiger is hungry and hunting, they are saying ‘flee’!’ Then he looks at Ranga and says are you the chattering monkey and are the other creatures in the jungle still listening to your warnings?’

Continue Reading →

I’ve Got a Golden Ticket. What I Learnt About Fair trade & Women’s Education in India

I love Charlie and the Chocolate factory; Roald Dahl’s stories infuse my memories of childhood. His world was filled with irrigable grown-ups, clever but terribly misunderstood children, fantastical gob-stopping sweets and great miracles, and when I was small they appealed immeasurably to my understanding of how life worked – when the only time that mattered was how long until I was finally big. The dream of getting a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory, that land of childhood fantasy (and nightmares) is something that has never quite left me. To this day I wistfully hope for a little glimpse of the shiny golden stuff whenever I open a bar of chocolate (fairtrade naturally).

In November 2014 we headed to India to trace the journey of muka kids fairtrade organic cotton, from cotton seed to garment. That journey started in rural India, in the state of Orissa and in the villages of the cotton farmers who are part of the Pratima Agro fairtrade cooperative there. I want to tell you a little bit of the story of the women & girls I met  in those villages, and why I left there feeling like Charlie Bucket – like I may have already got the golden ticket.

Rural Orissa. North East India

Rural Orissa. North East India

It was hot in Orissa, not dripping, searing heat, as this was India in winter, but still 30c or so, and dry, so dry. In this dry warm winter, India has an intriguing colour pallet. The earth and dust is brick red, and the sky is a wash of colour, gentle and soft, the green of the rice crops is iridescent, and birds alight like tiny shimmering jewels on the trees. Rural India is an achingly beautiful place, but its beauty belies its harsh reality. Continue Reading →

The Great Indian Journey

In one week we are off to India on our producer journey. A journey that has been made possible by those super people who supported our spark my potential crowdfunding campaign. The generosity of people during (and following) just blew me away, and made something that looked a long way away (and was kind of an abstract idea), utterly possible. So let me just say again thank you to you all for both your resources and your positive messages about muka kids attempts to do things a new way.

So what is this trip all about? It is about two things:

Ready to tell the story

Ready to tell the story

1) Documenting the footsteps of muka kids clothing production chain, from the growing of the cotton in fairtrade organic farming cooperatives right through to the making of the clothing in ethical factories at both ends of the country (and everything in between).

AND more importantly

2) Giving you the opportunity to really see how a social enterprise like muka kids can have a significant impact on real women, their families and their lives. We hope to show you that by supporting muka kids you are not just a part of some abstract solution for some imagined people on the other side of the world, but the key to creating a new story for real people (women and their families) in India. That is the good stuff we are there to get. Continue Reading →

Why are ethical kids clothes so expensive?

Why are most kids clothes that you buy so costly and especially ethical kids clothes?

Well a lot of it is to do with the way they are made. Lets start with standard kids clothing. There are A LOT of stages in the long journey from a cotton seed to garment (most kids clothing is made of cotton or cotton mix) and for every step in that journey there is a cost. Here is a pictogram neatly summarizing all the steps in how cotton clothing gets made. Needless to say it is long, with lots of people involved and lots of processing. It is kind of interesting in a ‘how stuff works’ way.

Anyway, what exactly are all these costs and at what points in the chain do they apply? The following infographic sums up the costs nicely….

 

 non ethical kids clothes are costly is many ways

costly huh?

So, at every step there are some serious costs in production. Costs borne mainly by women, by children and by the environment.

So I know you get that I am being ironic to make a point, and that I am kind of beating you over the head with my lack of subtlety. I cannot disagree. But for all my lack of subtlety the point is, I think, an important one. We often talk about the cost of kids clothes (standard AND ethical kids clothes), only in relation to our immediate cash flow, what is in our bank account at the time we are needing to re-dress whatever particular child has worn a hole, grown 2cm, or beaten a piece of clothing into submission. Continue Reading →