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#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 →

Why Gender Neutral & Unisex Kid’s Clothes Can Actually Harm Girls

Why Gender Neutral Clothing is Harming Girls

Why Gender Neutral Clothing is Harming Girls

With an explosion of gender neutral lines for kids & babies* have you ever wondered who these clothes are really benefiting? There is it turns out a dirty truth in the supply chain of some ‘gender neutral’ clothing: the empowerment of girls in the west on the back of the misery of the world’s poorest women and girls.

 

Clothing is, at its Heart, a Business Propelled by Women & Girls Continue Reading →

21 Ethical Fashion Brands for Cool Women (Who are also Parents)

and maybe a few more too...

and maybe a few more too…

You know I am not a big fan (understatement of the year) of the use of the word mother as a modifying descriptor – the word mumtrepreneur is actually my pet peeve of the decade (after hair on soap that is). Basically where being a parent has no bearing on the topic why mention it? However, where clothing is concerned joining the cult of parenthood does actually change or at least influence clothing needs, so I want to talk about ethical fashion and ethical fashion brands for women who also happen to be parents (and those who are not too!).

I started muka kids (which includes a marketplace to trade pre-loved ethical kids clothing) because I believe that ethical fashion & sustainable clothing could be more accessible and more connected to the women whose lives it is meant to improve . Kid’s clothes seemed a good place to start because the turnover rate is pretty high. However, I also wear clothes and care about the people who grow the cotton, weave the fibre, dye the fabric, cut and sew the cloth as well as the environment this processing all happens in. So finding ethical clothing & ethical fashion designers that met both my personal style AND life style with kids is important.

Let Start with “What is Ethical Fashion?”

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 →

Women – Just not Sufficiently Committed to (Social) Enterprise?

Women in Social Enterprise: Wobbles on the Tracks

Women in (Social) Enterprise: Wobbles on the Tracks

As part of this journey of muka kids I don’t just write about how fantastic social enterprise is, why I want to do what I do, the changes that need to happen in the clothing industry, and the systems that need innovating in the way we buy and use clothes, I write about when the wheels start to come off. Or as we call it in our house the ”Thomas and the Wobbly Wheels” scenario. This particular wobble relates to the best model to ensure social enterprise or business success.

I know from my life as a researcher and psychologist, good intentions are no indicator of success. In fact good intentions without good planing, research and investment are a bloody terrible thing because they raise up expectations all over the place and then drop them flat down on their face. The question I have had to ask myself a lot in the last few days is – am I well intentioned but not well qualified and not well prepared? These are really good questions to ask, all people should ask themselves this a lot, about lots of things, but especially when they are spending a lot of personal resources (all types) on a project that many other people make sacrifices for also. Continue Reading →

Why travel made me a social entrepreneur

Me on my first memorable journey to a different reality

Me on my first memorable journey to a different reality

We are madly preparing for our trip to India next month to meet our producers, and I have become buried in an avalanche of lists: passports, jabs, visas, grumpy bum medications, DEET spray (or as we call it in our house  F*** off spray, seriously been to the West coast of NZ?  The bugs there bring out a fair tirade of foul language), and lists for grandparents on taking care of the children, (includes a detailed  pictogram of how to work the telly). However I had time to reflect on the great gift and burden that travel and immersing yourself in a world of strangeness can be.

Continue Reading →

Work with a big W?

Work (big W) and work (little w) or is that two big W?..

Work (big W) and work (little w) or is that two big Ws?..

Since starting the muka kids journey I have found life to act in a strange series of serendipitous events. 

For example, a day of serious self-doubt (and what I see as quite reasonable desire to just have a straight forward job with a predictable income and a level of security for my kids) is followed up by chancing upon this interview . It was with a soil scientist (Stephen Nortcliff) about changing the lives of women in rural India via a self-composting toilet, which not only gave them a loo when they had never had one, and better hygiene but also brought about an organic crop growing system with the ummm proceeds would you call them?

Continue Reading →