The Fair Shop isn’t just a treasure trove of gorgeous ethical, sustainable and fair trade fashion in the heart of Brighton; it’s also a thriving hub for suppliers, makers, activists, campaigners, customers, artists, work experience interns and bloggers across Brighton and Sussex. Owner, Siobhan Wilson has created a wonderfully unique space for those of us who want to consume fashion differently and make a positive change.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to The Fair Shop’s 10th Birthday Brunch yesterday morning.
Celebration brunch in the Nightingale Room, Grand Central Pub, Brighton.
The Fair Shop has successfully flourished without falling victim to the fast fashion trends that dominate most of our city centres. For me, it’s a sanctuary: the kind of shop where you always feel at home; where you can be confident in the provenance of new purchases; and where you know that each item bought will spark positive change somewhere, if not all the way through, the supply chain. And most importantly it’s always packed with incredibly lovely things. My Christmas list is growing exponentially at the moment.
Gorgeous new People Tree x V&A collection. Available now at The Fair Shop.
So, I say breath of fresh air but after 10 incredible years on Brighton’s busy Queen’s Road and with such a passionate following the shop is much more like a gust of greatness.
If only every shop could be like this.
Siobhan’s an incredibly warm and supportive individual; I love spending time with her and I’m definitely guilty of popping into the shop just for a chat from time to time. Her knowledge of ethical fashion and fair trade is unsurpassed and her warm compassion and support has helped me on many levels of my own ethical lifestyle and blogging journey. Thank you, Siobhan. I truly mean that from the bottom of my heart.
Well, what will you do?
Yesterday’s event was testament to The Fair Shop’s warm ethos: it was alight with positivity and hope. I left the event feeling inspired and uplifted. It was also super busy! The room was fit to bursting with a diverse crowd from all corners of the ethical fashion industry. I had the pleasure of sitting with the owners of Juna Jewellery and Believe You Can… We listened to talks from Jo Godden founder and owner of Ruby Moon, John Pritchard from Pala, the amazing Christine Gent (WTFO, People Tree Foundation, Fashion Revolution, Made 51, Fairly Covered), Siobhan herself and finally a Q&A discussion with Safia Minney (People Tree, PoZu) hosted by Oliver Heath. It was such an honour to hear Safia talk with such clarity and passion about sustainability, supply chains, the ethical fashion industry at large, human rights and what steps we can all take to make a positive change and to help clean up one of the dirtiest and most exploitative industries in the world. If that’s not empowering. I don’t know what is.
After the talks, I caught up with Emily from Zola Amour about the new items in her sustainable capsule range and plans for her forthcoming summer collection; I spoke with the fab founders of Revival Collective and heard all about the growing momentum behind their very successful Anti-Sweatshop Swapshop’s (the next one’s at Merkaba, Brighton on 23rd November, if you fancy going); and I met the owner of Unoa, who make the most incredibly soft and well-fitting organic and fairtrade sports and leisure-wear.
Ethical Fashion Needs You!
As a blogger and ethical consumer, it’s easy to feel inadequate in a room full of the UK’s most successful ethical fashion movers and shakers. I know I did yesterday. But putting that to one side the resounding message of the morning was that it’s the consumers who hold the power in their purses. We can all help bring change. Money talks.
The ethical fashion industry is currently a collection of small businesses set up by passionate, talented and dedicated individuals. Yes, there are some bigger brands. But even the bigger ethical fashion businesses are still tiny compared to gargantuan high street brands. These small ethical businesses are giving us all the option of buying better; they are pioneering change.
If you watched Stacey Dooley’s recent BBC documentary and sat in shock at the disappearance of the Aral Sea; or sobbed through The True Cost Movie; or feel haunted by the thought of the micro plastics that wash out of every load of your laundry into the sea, but don’t know how to make a change, these are the businesses you should be looking to, these are the alternative. Getting behind these small ethical brands will force a change in mainstream trends; will increase the likely-hood of greater investment for further innovation; and by buying into their alternative business models we could force bigger brands to sit up and do more.
Ethical Isn’t Just For Christmas, But It’s A Good Place to Start
I’ve spoken to lots of different small business owners and makers this year. Alongside their passion and stories of positivity, the unanimous message is that they are struggling. Selling is hard. Securing investment is hard. Running a small business is hard. Capturing the public’s attention is hard. People are still overwhelming shopping from the high street. And when you’re trying to do the right thing and working all hours, this is a bitter pill to swallow.
So, let’s all do our bit, where we can. Maybe that’s supporting a handful of local business a few times a year instead of hitting the high street all the time; maybe it’s investing in a beautiful artisan item of clothing that you really love instead of hauling from the big brands; maybe it’s choosing gifts from local or ethical brands for friends and family, to spread the love. I mean, Christmas is just around the corner. Just think what would happen if everyone in the UK bought just one gift from a small, ethical business. The impact would be huge.
But I’m Just One Person
If you’re reading this and still think that your actions won’t or can’t help to move and shape a more positive, more sustainable, more ethical, kinder fashion industry you are wrong. So very wrong. We can all do our bit in lots of small steps. We could all choose to support a local business. We could all reach out to our local artisans. We could all bolster an ethical brand. If you live in Brighton, I’d urge you to go and take a look inside The Fair Shop and if you have any questions? One of their incredible team will be able to help you and give you advice and information. The staff in The Fair Shop are just as passionate about fair trade, ethical and sustainable matters as the people behind the brands stocked. If you live in a different town or city, why not find out if you have somewhere like The Fair Shop nestled in-between the regular shops on your high street? I know of Indigo in Oxford, The Keep Boutique and 69b Boutique in London off the top of my head. If you do, let me know and let’s keep the momentum behind them going.
Viva, The Fair Shop
To The Fair Shop, thank you for showcasing so many wonderful and positive brands. Thank you for your kindness and support. Thank you for being different. Here’s to another amazing ten years.