Friday, 31 August 2012

By royal command - an upcycled handbag, Ma'am?

When it comes to fashion trendsetters you'd be forgiven for thinking the Queen would be hard pushed to keep up with the likes of Kate her super-stylish granddaughter-in-law. Well, looks (and age) can be deceiving! Even in her eighties, the Queen has a midas touch capable of knocking the socks off many a young celebrity fashionista.

During the Jubilee weekend, the Queen caused a website to crash and prompted a spell of frenzied 140-character tweeting too. And it seems all the commotion was to do with her arm. Or more to the point, what was on her arm. Because it was the Queen's collection of Launer handbags that stole the show. Three bespoke bags from the British designer got an outing during the weekend of celebrations. And that's all it took for sales of Launer handbags to go through the roof, in fact their sales have seen a 58% increase since the Jubilee weekend.

It's not a one-off either. The majesty midas touch has happened before for the London-based Launer who create four new designs for the Queen every year. The royal wedding last year wasn't just about the pageantry, the romance, the balcony kiss or for that matter, the rear curves of a certain bridesmaid. Even Beatrice's fascinator struggled to keep up with the unfolding royal wedding fashion phenomena - the Queen's handbag. The top-handled cream calfskin handbag set in train a 60% hike in sales for Launer. And it seems her effect rippled through the generations too, with 20% of those sales coming from the under-50 age group.

The Magnolia Handbag
We're not too sure how our brand identity might be affected, but who knows what might happen if her majesty sported an upcycled or fairly traded bag. We think the Alchemy Goods Magnolia upcycled handbag is right up her horse guards parade... It would certainly catapault sustainable fashion design into the spotlight and I for one would be very happy to have a celebrity octogenerian endorsing our onfriday range of ethical bags. We're up for it, your majesty, are you..?

If you'd like to find out more, click here for a closer look at the upcycled Alchemy Goods Magnolia Handbag. It's made from bike inner tubes and car seatbelts, cool...

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Take a Step for Fairtrade

When it comes to ‘big’ issues like climate change or social justice, have you often thought about how you can make a difference, but aren’t convinced that something you do could actually change anything? If so, you’re not alone. It’s only natural to think that big issues need big solutions and making a small change to your everyday life isn’t going to make much of a difference. However, people power has always been the bedrock of our social democracy - just take a look at the impact and influence organisations like 38 Degrees can achieve when you and I decide to join forces to have our say or make our mark.

Cue the Fairtrade Foundation. Around this time every year, they launch a campaign to coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight. And this year their ‘Take a Step’ campaign aims to encourage us all to engage with the Fairtrade Foundation’s vision of an even bigger movement for positive change and take a small step towards a fairer world. They’re challenging us to take a step in the right direction by thinking about what we, as individuals, can do every day, every week or every month throughout 2012 to make a difference to the lives of farmers in the developing world who produce the products we buy.

So often, becoming more ‘ethical’ isn’t always seen as particularly sexy. Dispelling that myth is onfriday’s reason-to-be, but that’s another story for another day perhaps! Many of us believe that making changes is all about making sacrifices and having to compromise. The change is too big, too significant and too inconvenient. However, it doesn’t need to be like that. It’s about small changes, small steps.

A small step could be choosing to buy a Fairtrade coffee on your way to work, or making sure that the weekly shopping basket contains one or two more Fairtrade products like Fairtrade tea, chocolate, sugar, rice, bananas, honey or flowers. Small changes made by lots of us will make a difference.

But what sort of difference? What makes Fairtrade, well, fair trade? The Fairtrade Mark you see on products in our shops is a guarantee that the product has been certified against internationally agreed Fairtrade standards – fairer prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world who produce the products. Essentially, it’s about addressing the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers, enabling them to improve their position and have more control over their lives. And then there’s the Fairtrade premium – money paid on top of the Fairtrade minimum price that’s invested in social, environmental and economic development projects chosen by the local farmers and workers. More about this in my next blog…

So, why not take a step for Fairtrade? Here’s lots more information about the Fairtrade Foundation’s Take a Step Campaign – you can even register your step too… 

The onfriday way of life...

Elvis & Kresse One Night Bag -
made from genuine de-commissioned UK fire hose
Are you starting to think more about the effect your purchases have on the environment and the people who produce the things you buy? If so, you're part of a growing number of people who would like an alternative to our fast-fashion, materialist society. But the alternative needs to be a credible and appealing one and that's why we only source and showcase the very best upcycled and fairly traded bags from designers and suppliers who share our values and who believe that it is possible to adopt a more ethical way of life without having to compromise on quality or design. 
onfriday is all about supporting and creating innovative, sustainable and design-led solutions that help to address some of today's most pressing social and environmental challenges. Every bag within our onfriday range has already made a difference by either reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill or improving the lives of people in greatest need. A bag you can be proud of. And they're pretty cool too. We don't advocate buying loads, just buying well. Some might say this approach doesn't make good business sense. We don't agree, we think it makes every bit of sense. Great design (and a great business) doesn't have to cost the earth... 
We don’t like high horses or soap boxes and we’re certainly not in-your-face ethical preacher people. All that stuff just turns us off. But we would like to see a more just and fair world. And a planet with a bright future too. We also happen to love great cutting edge design and really want to help develop and grow some of the most talented and exciting designers involved in ethical fashion today. We rather like this combination. 
And that's why we do what we do.