People Tree is a pioneer in Fair Trade and sustainable fashion. We’re crowdfunding to develop and grow our new collections with new materials that give us more variety, more design possibilities and better fit while still maintaining the ethical, Fair Trade credentials that have defined and motivated us for 25 years.
People Tree was founded 25 years ago and is a pioneer in Fair Trade and sustainable fashion. The market for ethical fashion is growing, and fabric innovations are giving us more options, and more ways to wear sustainable without sacrificing style. Many brands (including High Street brands) are adopting these fabrics but are yet to match the move towards sustainability with transparency and ethical working conditions. Tencel®, a functional fibre made from wood pulp in a unique closed loop process, has the fit and drape that imitates high street fabrics, without the ecological impact. By pairing this fabric with ethical, Fair Trade production methods, we have developed a very small capsule collection for SS17. The response from wholesalers and buyers has been amazing, and we know that the demand is there. Now we need your help to branch out and expand our range so we can offer more choice, a greater variety of styles and, most importantly, greater Fair Trade impact.
Tailoring at Creative Handicrafts, India
People Tree is a different kind of fashion business that gives customers an alternative to fast fashion. The fast fashion industry is fueled by insatiable demand for cheap clothing and accessories, and it has a devastating impact on the world around us: from sweatshops and child labour to pollution and climate change. We work to promote an alternative, Slow Fashion movement that counteracts exploitation of people and planet, and promotes and celebrates fairness at every stage of production.
We make beautiful garments that are a living blueprint for our values: people and the planet are central to everything we do. Our garments are made with sustainable materials by producer partners that are committed to Fair Trade principles and play a part in improving the lives of their workers. We also actively incorporate traditional handskills into our designs in order to support rural communities.
As a fashion company, the fabrics you choose determine two things: the environmental impact of your designs, and the quality of your clothes. At People Tree, we work hard to ensure that our clothing has the lowest environmental impact possible, whilst maintaining the highest possible quality. For this reason, we’ve worked with 100% certified organic cotton for many years, increasing the volume of organic cotton in our collections to the point that it made up 90% of our entire SS16 collection! You can learn more about our use of organic cotton here.
While organic cotton is perfect for casual wear and will remain a key part of our collections, there are a wealth of design and fit opportunities that come with working with new fabrics.
This is where Tencel® comes in.
Tencel® is a functional fibre made from wood pulp in a closed loop system and, like People Tree itself, aims to have the lowest possible impact on the environment. The cultivated forest land that provides the wood pulp is not suitable for agriculture and closed loop production process is unique to Tencel®, with the solvent used in the process is almost 100% recycled.
The quality of the fabric itself enables us to produce a greater variety of styles. With a softer, smoother finish than cotton, it hangs and clings differently and allows for greater drape and better fits. This allows for a more elegant, smarter look and lets our designers to create looks that were not possible for us – until now.
Here are some examples of what is possible with Tencel® - from our SS17 capsule.
Camas Shell Top and Susie Trousers - Tencel for SS17
Alaina Dress - Tencel for SS17
Alison Tunic Dress - Tencel for SS17
At People Tree UK, we work with 10 key producer groups in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Kenya, with whom we work closely over the long lead times it takes to produce our collections. Our Tencel® collection is being produced by Creative Handicrafts, a social enterprise working to empower disadvantaged women of the slum communities of Mumbai through economic independence. Like all of our producers, they work on not only providing fair pay and safe treatment, but also improving the lives of those they employ.
'I appreciate working with women who are supportive and cooperative – we are able to talk, learn and get support from each other. - Ms. Chandra Singh, Tailor at Creative Handicrafts
Working with Tencel is a chance to upskill the workers and provide them with a greater range of fabrics they can offer to their clients, providing more business opportunities and, eventually, more job opportunities within the community.
(Please note, all rewards (including vouchers) will be delivered after the campaign is complete)
People Tree is an active member of many Fair Trade, social justice and environmental networks. We are accredited by the WFTO, the Fairtrade Foundation and the Soil Association Ethical and Fair Trade standards, and we were the first organisation worldwide to achieve GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification on a supply chain entirely in the developing world. We also work hard to ensure that we pioneer sustainable methods of production to minimise environmental impact. Not only is most of our cotton 100% certified organic and Fairtrade, our clothes are dyed using safe GOTS certified and azo-free dyes. Our clothes are full of the stories and skills of our producer partners that make our clothes and this is integral to People Tree's business model. We're making sure that it meets our exacting standards while broadening the range.
Where The Money Is Going
Producing ethical fashion is a challenging business. The difficulties of growth are much greater than that of conventional fashion businesses: the cost per garment is higher, and making everything ethical throughout the chain costs more money. Though we are in a position to continue to make organic cotton, Fair Trade clothing to the same high quality and exacting standards, our ability to expand is limited - without your help. Your support will go towards a larger Tencel order, to provide training and technical assistance for artisans and producers of Creative Handicrafts, so that they can improve their skills working with Tencel, and to strengthen the social impact that People Tree can continue to make. This will ensure our supply chain is ethical from start to finish in the Fair Trade, People Tree way.
Why is People Tree introducing Tencel® into its collections and crowdfunding to expand the range?
Tencel® is a softer and silky alternative sustainable fabric to organic cotton. It is breathable and comfortable to wear, yet very strong and more resistant to wrinkles. We have designed and developed our first Tencel® collection of 11 pieces for Spring/Summer 2017. The result is a beautiful, unique and contemporary capsule complementing the main range and allowing for greater drape and better fit while maintaining the ethical and sustainable credentials that have defined and motivated us for the past 25 years. Following the successful launch of the SS17 Tencel® capsule, we believe expanding the range is one of the ways for the business to grow.
How is People Tree going to use the money raised?
By growing our business, People Tree will be able to secure larger orders, create more job positions and continue to create positive social impact as well as offer better customer experience. We want to be able to actively support People Tree’s Fair Trade producer partner Creative Handicrafts by providing technical assistance and training to improve their skills working with Tencel®.
What makes Tencel® environmentally sustainable?
We use Tencel® from the Lenzing Group. Tencel® is a luxury cellulose fibre made from wood pulp. The fibre production is extremely eco-friendly due to the award-winning closed loop manufacturing system used. This means minimal impact on the environment, economical use of energy and water, and significantly lower production plant emissions compared to many other man-made fibre operations. Almost 100% of the solvent used in production is recycled.
Is People Tree's Tencel® certified?
Tencel® fabric carries the OEKO-TEX® 100 certification, an international standard developed in 1992 to certify that it contains no harmful substances. Tencel® also has been awarded the European Community Eco-label flower for products and services with reduced environmental impacts.
Is People Tree's Tencel® endangering forests?
Tencel® is extracted from wood pulp, and even though wood is a renewable resource, a lot of damage can be caused by harvesting from ancient or endangered forests. Lenzing Group follows a thorough wood and pulp policy and sources exclusively from non-controversial sources, working with suppliers participating in credible forest certification programs.
Who supplies and produces the Tencel® range?
Yarn comes from the Lenzing Group. This is woven and dyed by one of People Tree approved fabric suppliers. The pieces are tailored by Creative Handicrafts, People Tree’s Fair Trade producer partner based in Mumbai, India. The organisation was founded in 1984 and helps low income women achieve economic independence by training and creating jobs. Today, Creative Handicraft supports 750 families in the slums of Mumbai.
How much are people who make the Tencel® range paid?
Creative Handicrafts is a WFTO certified enterprise and is dedicated to the 10 Principles of Fair Trade, covering fair wages, working conditions, transparency, capacity building, environmental best practice and gender equality. All producers working on the Tencel® range are paid at least minimum wage and can earn up to 164% above the minimum wage, depending on their job role and skill set.