Sales of fair trade clothes dropped 7 per cent in 2016 to 8.4 million, according to the TransFair report published in May. The results have not helped the global fashion industry’s notoriously bad work conditions and unsustainable production processes. And as more and more failings emerge, work needs to be done to convince consumers of the advantages of sustainably produced and fair traded clothing. Now fledgling, Hamburg-based fashion labels are doing pioneering work with transparent, regional production while remaining fashionable.
Upcycling trend – rucksacks from old curtains
The Bridge&Tunnel label produces sweaters, rucksacks and carpets from recycled materials. Jeans become nice handmade bags and sell for around EUR 149. Basic materials are purchased from clothing stores and produced locally in Wilhelmsburg in the south of Hamburg rather than in foreign countries.
“The first one-off pieces in our second 'School’s over’ selection are finally ready. The finest, roll-up style rucksacks made from old curtains that hung in a Hamburg school, and were bleached by the sun for 40 years, are now available,” Constanze Klotz, co-founder of Bridge&Tunnel told Hamburg News. Customers can buy their products online or in local shops.
Talented seamstresses from India and Turkey
Apart from their emphasis on local production and recycling, Klotz and Hanna Charlotte Erhorn are also keen to give foreigners with little or no access to the German labour market a chance. Talented seamstresses from India and Turkey operate the sewing machines. And in recent months, the company has hired young professional, tailors from Syria, Afghanistan and Iran who have had to flee their native lands.
Scandinavian fashion in recycled polyester
The Scandinavian-leaning Jan 'n June label emphasises “slow fashion“. And the founders Anna Bronowski and Juliana Holtzheimer make their production process transparent in between blogging and fashion-shoots. Customers are told that goods are produced in a factory in the Polish city of Wroclaw and that the designers use mainly organic cotton. The products are made from recycled polyester or polyamide gained from plastic bottles and waste material in the ocean.
Eco-label and minimalist cuts
“We founded Jan 'n June for our own needs. It simply cannot be that sustainable yet fashionable and affordable fashion is still a gap in the market. And if it doesn’t exist, then you have to take the situation into your own hands,“ Holtzheimer told Hamburg News. Unlike other eco-fashion labels, Jan 'n June targets fashion-conscious clients who like minimalist cuts and fresh, pastel shades – at fair prices between EUR 40 and EUR 60 for a blouse in beige or pale pink.