Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
It’s only fair
9:42am Tuesday 26th February 2013 in Features
As Fairtrade fortnight begins, MAXINE GORDON meets two York women whose business puts ethics at the heart of fashion
GREEN is certainly the new black for Sharon Winfield and Anne McCrickard, whose new fashion business centres on ethically sourced and Fairtrade fashions.
As Fairtrade fortnight begins, the York businesswomen have joined forces to launch a new boutique, Maude & Tommy, on Grape Lane.
The premises formerly hosted boutique One, owned by Anne. Sharon came on board following a spell selling her bespoke waistcoats and bags at Bolsita on Micklegate.
Maude & Tommy sells a range of fashions for women, and men, as well as accessories, such as jewellery, belts, bags and scarves.
Many of the accessories come from Fairtrade collectives overseas, where the workers are guaranteed a proper living wage for their work.
“These earrings are from Kenya,” says Anne, picking out a pair of long, shiny, spears. “They are from the Bombolulu workshops that support people with disabilities and allow them to be self-reliant.”
Another accessories line comes from the Lotusfeet co-op in the Philippines whose designs transform coconut shells into pretty, colourful beads.
Just Trade is a jewellery brand from India, featuring brass-work with Swarovski crystals.
Bombolulu is supported by People Tree, which is the best-known ethical fashion brand stocked by Maude & Tommy. People Tree has won plaudits for its collaborations with top designers Orla Kiely and Peter Jensen; Maude & Tommy are stocking the ranges for spring.
Also on sale is the exquisite work of Nila Rubia, an Indian designer who uses traditional hand-block printing techniques on her clothes. The pieces are designed by Nila and handmade by a family business which supports small cottage industries in India and follows ethical working standards to keep these indigenous skills alive.
The craftwork of global artisans is evident in many of the goods for sale at Maude & Tommy. Anne points out examples of ‘Kantha’; where silk saris are up-cyled and turned into everything from dresses and scarves to coats.
“We are about fashion that is interesting and different and shows the person who made the piece in the fabric,” she said.
Another label to look out for its Skunkfunk, a colourful brand from Spain, whose new collection features hot colours and geometric shapes as well as funky prints featuring watermelons and bubbles. The ethical slant here is on sustainability; the clothes are made from organic cotton and recycled polyester made from plastic bottles.
As much as they are keen to support overseas designers and collectives, Anne and Sharon want to support local makers too.
To this end, they hope to launch their own Maude & Tommy label later in the year, recruiting local knitters to produce a line of knitwear (find out more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org). The boutique also sells online at maudeandtommy.co.uk Sharon already has a range of waistcoats – made from recycled fabrics – which will still be available at the new boutique.
They both love the idea of a label branded: ‘Made in York’ and are keen to support home-grown artisans.
Sharon says: “The country is struggling and we want to support manufacturers in the UK; it is as valid as wanting to support somebody in India wanting to make a living.”
• Maude & Tommy is being refurbished this week, reopening on Friday. It will be having its formal launch party on the weekend of March 9 to 10, to tie in with Fairtrade fortnight and Mother’s Day. Look out for discounts and goodie bags, say Sharon and Anne.
Fairtrade fact file:
• The Fairtrade system works with 1.24 million people – farmers and workers –across more than 66 developing countries.
• In the UK, sales of Fairtrade products in 2011 reached £1.32 billion – a 12 per cent increase on the previous year.
• Fairtrade products are now sold in more than 120 countries. Goods include cotton – used in the fashion industry – as well as coffee, tea, chocolate and wine. One in every three bananas sold in the UK is Fairtrade.
• Thousands of people across the UK will Go Further this Fairtrade Fortnight by helping to raise awareness through events, activities and buying Fairtrade products. Find out how you can go further at Fairtrade.org.uk