Bell and Beau for great organic cotton basics

Belle and Beau are a great brand if you’re after basic organic cotton staples. Belle and Beau clothes are NZ-made and I love their ethos about nasty chemicals on the About page of their site. They state:

The brands core values are based on social and environmental sustainability and prove that style does not have to be at the expense of the planet. Belle and Beau source and use only organic textiles certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), including luxuriously soft organic cotton and premium New Zealand organic merino. All dyes used in the colouring process are also GOTS certified and are free from conventionally used nasties like formaldehyde, heavy metals and AZO compounds.

I’ve worn my dress to work and on out and about the weekend. I am loving how ultra versatile and comfy it is!

The other great thing about this dress (and one of the main reasons I bought it) is that it is made of organic cotton. Now you might be asking “Who cares? Why would you worry about organic cotton?” Great question. It could probably take up a whole blog post. But the short answer is the cost to our beautiful planet: Water. Land. Chemicals. None of this is measured when taking into account the true cost of cotton production.

Believe it or not, non-organic cotton uses up an unthinkable amount of the earth’s natural resources. It’s unseen by the eyes of the world but the practice of cotton farming is wasteful and lacking in long-term vision.

Until I publish another post on organic cotton, here’s a great read about the truth about non-organic cotton farming – written by someone who’s not even a fan of organics!

Belle and Beau dress

My Belle and Beau organic cotton dress

Kilt knows how to surprise and delight

I was walking around on my lunch break a few weeks ago when I got a phone call from an unknown number. Expecting a bank or an insurance company, I was surprised to hear that it was someone from Kilt. She was calling to let me know that my free earrings were available for me to pick up. Why? Because it was my birthday month!

Not many brands actually go to the effort of doing this, but when they do it really does make a difference. I’ve always been fans of Kilt and their NZ-made ethos, but this was super lovely and a real point of difference.

It’s small gestures like this that can really make a brand stand out from the crowd. Thanks Kilt!

Check out the goodies Kilt has

Kilt earrings image1 (3)

My two-tone merino scarf experiment

In Wellington, the wind can mean that you need a thick wide scarf to snuggle into while you’re walking around. I couldn’t find one that was wide enough, so I decided to make my own.

You can buy infinity scarves, but they aren’t cheap (around $40-60). I made one by watching this ‘how-to’ video. I spent a grand total of $21 getting my merino in the Global Fabrics sale.

For this super simple project, you need:

  • fabric that you love, length 24 inches, width 54-60 inches (stretch is what I used)
  • measuring tape
  • good pair of scissors
  • thread
  • a sewing needle
  • of course, your sewing machine.

Here’s how mine turned out. For mine, it was a variation on the video tutorial. Basically instead of folding over the same piece of merino, I cut out two wide pieces in different colours. I then followed the basic instructions on the video.

Try it out and see how easy it is!

Merino scarf

Good on you ‘Good’ magazine!

I’ve always loved Good magazine and get excited every time my subscription arrives in the mail. But now I think they’re the bees knees for writing about the topic of ethical clothing practices on a regular basis. Especially after the tragedy in Bangladesh.

They are challenging well known companies to explain how their supply chain works so that we can have faith in buying their clothes. Who better to hear it from than the horse’s mouth?

What is the challenge put to the companies?

The editor of Good pens a letter to company owners to make them accountable. It goes something like this:

Dear so-and-so,

In the wake of April’s Bangladesh garment factory collapse, we witnessed a wave of concern from New Zealanders wanting to know how they could guarantee the workers who made their clothing have a safe environment and a fair wage.

As much as we love ‘Made in New Zealand’, we recognise that this country doesn’t have the infrastructure to efficiently produce garments on a large scale, and that manufacturing locally isn’t an option for many major clothing brands.

Apart from Fairtrade, there is currently no local third-party certification system for ethical or sustainable clothing. The next best option would seem to be transparency from brands such as yours. A lack of information about these matters leaves us feeling powerless to make good consumer choices.

We realise that there are many challenges facing the garment industry and we want to make our readers aware of the issues brands deal with in providing clothing at an affordable price for New Zealanders. So we’d like to invite you to share with Good readers any information you have around the ethics and sustainability of your company’s products.

Maybe you personally visit the factories where your garments are made – our readers would love to know this. Ultimately, we’d like to lift the curtain and connect New Zealanders with the makers and suppliers of the clothes they wear everyday.

Over the next few months we will be publishing any responses we receive online at http://www.good.net.nz/fashion and we’d be thrilled if you would be willing to take part in this industry-wide conversation.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely yours,

Sarah Heeringa
Editor
Good

Read some of the replies

You can read letters written in response from companies here:

Check out the Good story on who makes your clothes

Bangladesh & Rana Plaza – did the corporates grow a conscience overnight?

How come it took one of the world’s worst industrial disasters to take some action on the appalling factory conditions in Bangladesh? Doing a quick google about Walmart (one of the manufacturers in the factory) threw up the astonishing figure of their net income for 2013.

Walmart net income: USD 16.999  billion (2013)

Wow. Each person in the Bangladesh factory makes NZD 133 per month (8,000 taka). You would think Walmart could have perhaps afforded to make the environment these people work in a lot safer.

At least now they and Gap are part of the growing number of companies that have finally signed an agreement to pledge to fix the problem.
Walmart and Gap sign agreement

Fact: Over 1,100 people died making Western clothes in Rana Plaza. It was entirely avoidable.

Companies that have agreed to make some sort of financial contribution, include: Primark (UK), El Corte Ingles (Spain), Loblaw (Canada), PVT (Denmark), Matalan (UK), Benetton (Italy) and Premier Clothing (UK).

Benetton released a statement on the 23rd of May saying that their support will include artificial limbs, surgery, psychological support and training for survivors and workers. They need to engage with the trade unions representing the workers, and to commit to compensate for loss of income, pain and suffering and support to education.
*source: cleanclothes.org

What you can do

By not buying from brands that don’t take safety and ethical practices in their factories seriously, you can show your support for the victims of the Bangladesh factory collapse. Vote with your wallet and choose to spend your hard earned cash somewhere that gives a damn.

Finally, some ethical jeans!

So since I started this, two things have me stumped – jeans and sports clothes. But I’m pleased to say that jeans are now off the list thanks to finding out about Monkee Genes.

Monkee Genes was born in 2006 out of the frustration of the denim market, to offer something fresh, vibrant and youthful. Disillusioned with Primark and disposable high street fashion, the Monkee Genes team decided to raise public consciousness. Monkee Genes is the first and only jeans label to have unique mix of astute accreditation from The Soil Association and the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS).

Innovative fits and styles in top of the range fabrics, classic denim with a retro twist and luscious sateen cottons in pop art inspired colours. In today’s fragile environment Monkee Genes is the independent label to watch, on trend, affordable and with an eco and ethical conscience. ” Read their manifesto.

They make women’s, men’s and children’s jeans as well as shorts. They also ship to anywhere in the world for 5 pounds.

Might have to order me some soon….

Monkee genes image

Melbourne trip & some brilliant 2nd hand scores

So this post is a bit of a long time coming, but in April I had the pleasure of visiting Melbourne. There was no shortage of great 2nd hand shops. Instead of the big blowout I could have made, I ended up spending a pretty reasonable grand total of $128.98.

For this I got (second hand):

  • two jackets – the white one: $8.99
  • the blue one: $10
  • a cardigan: $7.99
  • a necklace: $35
  • boots: $67.

The necklace isn’t second hand but is vintage. I bought it from the local Melbourne Rose St market. The blue coat was from ‘Value City’ op shop near Preston. The white jacket and cardigan were from the Sallies in Carnegie. The boots were from a second hand shop in Portsea right on the beach front. My friends managed to find some excellent $1 belts from an op shop in Portsea. Score!

Also, if you happen to be in Melbourne, check out this blog for 2nd hand shopping  – Vintage Melbourne