Higher Education Funding Council for England

Fairtrade fashion at University of Cumbria Students' Union

Monday 03-03-2014 - 10:43

It’s Fairtrade Fortnight, and University of Cumbria Students’ Union have showcased the value of ethical procurement by hosting a student-led Fairtrade fashion show.

“Approaching Fairtrade from a fashion perspective made sense with the type of students that we are working with”, explains project lead Josie Carding. “Many of our students are performing arts and events management students hence it created great voluntary opportunities for them to get involved in.”

“Using a catwalk and a cocktail bar made it more approachable and fresh, so our students and the members of the public that attended didn’t see Fairtrade as an expensive ‘not for me’ alternative, but as something that could and would easily fit into their daily routines, and could replace some regular items of their shopping lists”

One of the biggest successes of the evening was shattering a few myths about ethical products. “Many people left comments stating that in fact the clothes weren’t ‘baggy and middle aged’ like they first thought, but indeed, well-fitting and very fashionable”, explains Josie. “Many later bought items from the stalls we had available on the night”.

The show didn’t just demonstrate the quality of Fairtrade products, but also proved that there is a much broader range than many students might expect – showcasing clothing like summer dresses, tunics, handbags, leggings, and shoes.  

“Now the awareness within our student body of ethical issues is significantly heightened, it has definitely caused a great deal of discussion within those that I have since spoken to”, says Josie, reflecting on the impact of the event. And that’s what Fairtrade Fortnight is all about: bringing the issues of ethical procurement into mainstream attention, encouraging behaviour change, and positive action.

With the help of Students’ Green Fund and more events like the Fairtrade fashion show, we expect to see more and more students making more ethically responsible shopping choices in the future.

If you're interested in ethical procurement, read our recent article on being ethical at the supermarket, with a handy infographic about ethical accreditations

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