Gallery: Fair-Trade Cotton Turns 5 in the U.K. With Star-Studded Campaign

Photo of Louise Cole in a People Tree vest and Pants to Poverty knickers

Despite growing awareness, fair-trade cotton still makes up only 1 to 2 percent of the U.K. domestic retail market, and last year, sales dropped by 35 percent. The recession is partly to blame, but shoppers should shoulder some of the responsibility, as well. "We have become used to disposable fashion and lazy in our habits," writes journalist Elizabeth Day in the Observer. "Corporate buyers are unwilling to commit to bulk orders where there is little demand. And farmers, at the bottom of the supply chain, have been horribly failed."

fair trade, fair-trade cotton, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, United Kingdom, U.K.


To toast the fair-trade cotton’s fifth year in Britain, the Fairtrade Foundation enlisted the support of some of its most famous allies, including supermodel Laura Bailey and TV presenter Lisa Snowdon. Dressed entirely in fair-trade cotton, Bailey and Snowdon are among the familiar faces in a series of photographs by celebrity shooter Trevor Leighton. The nonprofit hopes the campaign will kick the British fashion industry into action, especially following the foundation’s recent report of the trials that West African cotton farmers are facing.

British celebrities like Laura Bailey are depicted wearing fair-trade cotton in a series of photos by Trevor Leighton.

In addition to the touring photo exhibition, fair-trade cotton will be the focus of next year’s Fairtrade Fortnight (Feb 28 to March 3). “We have all had a tough year,” says Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation. “But West African cotton farmers have had it tougher so they need us to buy beautiful fair-trade cotton.”

The concept of fair trade, she adds, puts the cotton farmers first, not last. “We are all determined that this will become the norm in the cotton industry and will continue to work towards improving the terms of trade for cotton farmers,” she says. “Fair trade shows how our little actions add up to a lot and help to change lives. Now is the time to prove it.”

+ Fairtrade Foundation

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