Fairtrade Foundation encourages top designers to use Fairtrade cotton

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Liz McClarnon: Fairtrade cotton push

The Fairtrade Foundation is encouraging big name designers to design with Fairtrade cotton to mark the fifth anniversary of the ethically sourced product.

It has put together an exhibition of celebrity photographs, wearing Fairtrade cotton clothes, taken by Trevor Leighton, a top photographer. The exhibition opens on 18 November 2010 at London’s City Hall and will run for two weeks before touring some of the UK’s 500 Fairtrade Towns. The featured celebrities include Lisa Snowdon, Laura Bailey, Mica Paris, Liz McClarnon, and Andrea McLean.

The campaign aims to challenge Britain’s clothes buying public to help make fashion fairer to improve the lives of the 10m West African people who rely on cotton for their livelihoods.

And, the Foundation is highlighting the plight of West African cotton farmers in a policy report launching at a reception in Central London in mid-November.

According to the Fairtrade Foundation, the report reveals the billions of dollars in state subsidies given to American and European farmers enabling them to undercut the West African cotton industry, which cannot hope to offer the same support to its poor farmers.

The cotton campaign will also be a highlight of Fairtrade Fortnight 2011 (28 February-13 March 2011). Events will include the launch of new Fairtrade cotton clothing collections, including ranges designed by Emma Watson for People Tree and a range of designer Fairtrade cotton t-shirts for Sports Relief; a Show Off Your Label initiative to encourage supporters to be proud of their Fairtrade labels; and a bigger presence at London Fashion Week in February.

Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “We have all had a tough year, but West African cotton farmers have had it tougher so they need us to buy beautiful Fairtrade cotton. Fairtrade cotton puts cotton farmers first not last, setting up a whole new pattern for international trade. 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. Fairtrade shows how our little actions add up to a lot and help to change lives. Now is the time to prove it.”