It's currently Fair Trade Fortnight. A wonderful two week celebration of all things fairly traded. In a world that often promotes cheap fast throw away products it's so important to spend some time to focus on production which, from fibre to finishing, has considered fair trade principals. This is how we have worked since I started the Tammam label in 2007, and continue to strive to do today.
It's become increasingly fashionable for big labels and high street stores to create an "eco" piece or a "sustainable" collection. I can't help feeling, as a designer who has devoted her career to sustainable practices, that so much of this is "green wash". When big business have budgets wouldn't it be better to focus on bettering supply chains than doing a show piece of little substance? I'd love to see these businesses valuing the people working for them as much as they do their marketing campaigns.
In the fashion industry especially, so many of the undervalued workers are women. Women make up 50% of the people on this planet, yet still, in 2017, are paid less for equivalent jobs to men, unpaid for much of the work they do (mothering for example) and entirely disadvantaged at almost all levels of society.
International Women's Day is an opportunity to celebrate women, who contribute so much to the world we live in.
This week also sees HeForShe Arts Week come to London. The Atelier will be hosting a FiLiArt Open House Exhibition on Sunday 12th showcasing a host of female and feminist artists. We're also offering a special HeForShe Arts Week life drawing class on Thursday 9th - celebrating the female form and diversity.
HeForShe Arts Week is a new initiative from the UN Women movement for gender equality, using the arts to capture hearts and minds, shape views and evolve behaviour.
Art can be harnessed as a force for change, this is the fundamental belief of FiLia an organisation with feminism and empowerment at it's core. After co-curating the FiLiArt show in December I have been inspired by the many incredible female activist artists out there, pushing to change perceptions and help us think about the world around us.
This may be one of the reasons why the main thing I took away from the most recent fashion week, wasn't a key trend or colour, but that the industry just creates too much. Watching catwalk shows of design, after design, after design streaming past - each garment with it's own value and beauty, yet lost in the sheer volume of other pieces around it. It became boring, pointless, emotionless, saturated.
So this year I'm working on One Dress, I'm not doing a full collection, I'll create bespoke, made to order, pieces for my clients and then One Dress to showcase my ideas. One Dress can show the craftsmanship I am able to produce, I have designs in my archive which are still relevant today and I don't want to waste time and energy creating more of the same thing on a slightly different theme, or "on trend" colour or shape. Of course I am still an artist and a creator - I need to keep creating - it's my raison d'etre. So when I needed to seek an alternative for creating huge collections each season, I wanted a sustainable solution that still allowed me to work with the incredible artisans I have built relationships with over the years (especially the women), using the beautiful eco cloth I have had woven for me using cruelty free fibres and developing the couture techniques my label has become known for. One Dress became the answer. It will be on display this Sunday at Atelier Tammam - mid creation process and still needing many words to give it it's own voice.
Yours in Fair Trade, Sisterhood and (of course) Couture,
All images (c) Tammam. HeForShe Arts Week logo uses with permission.
HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today
Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you'd like to blog on our platform around these topics, email firstname.lastname@example.org