Model Rebecca Pearson with women who work at Swallows in Bangladesh.
Model Rebecca Pearson with women who work at Swallows in Bangladesh.

Many of People Tree’s beautiful hand woven garments are made by artisans at Swallows, a Fair Trade group in Bangladesh. Swallows is based in a rural village, Thanapara Swallows, near the Ganges River in northwest Bangladesh. Swallows provides jobs and opportunities for local women, many mothers and single heads of households who otherwise may have to migrate to the big cities such as Dhaka, work in conventional factories and live in slums. The talented artisans at Swallows hand weave, embroider, and tailor dresses and tops for People Tree.

This week, we received the sad news that Swallows has been badly affected by a cyclone.

The cyclone damaged 10 hand looms at Swallows in Bangladesh.
The cyclone damaged 10 hand looms at Swallows in Bangladesh.

The cyclone destroyed one a hand loom unit, including ten hand looms. Six of these are damaged beyond repair. The artisans at Swallows are currently working on fabrics for People Tree’s Autumn Winter 2014 collection. This is a serious setback for the group, as these ten hand looms compromise 20% of Swallow’s hand weaving capacity. The loss of this capacity may make it difficult for Swallows to produce our Autumn Winter collection on time.

People Tree makes a long term commitment to our Fair Trade producers. We know and care about the people who make our products. When natural disasters strike, we stand by our partners. The People Tree foundation is providing Swallows with relief to help them rebuild their looms, and we will continue to place orders with Swallows.

The social and environmental cost of fashion

Over the last few weeks as we remembered Rana Plaza and celebrated Fashion Revolution Day we have been talking a lot about social injustice in the fashion industry. The cost of fast fashion, however, is both social and environmental.

Global warming is caused in part by unsustainable patterns of consumption and methods of production. Climate change is bringing about destructive weather patterns that are impacting vulnerable communities in the developing world. Scientists expect that rising sea levels will submerge 17 percent of Bangladesh’s land and displace 18 million people in the next 40 years.
The fast fashion industry in Bangladesh diverts water away from rural communities and to the factories in the cities. The industry also pollutes the water, making it difficult for people to find clean water to drink, cook with, and bathe in.

How we do fashion differently

People Tree is a fashion business that puts people and planet first. That is why People Tree works in a carbon neutral way with vulnerable communities. We create beautiful garments hand weaving and other traditional skills, providing income and opportunity to rural communities. Producing clothing with hand woven fabric provides nine times more jobs than with machine woven fabric. Hand weaving is also carbon neutral and does not contribute to global warming. Hand weaving saves one tonne of CO2 a year per loom.

We need your help

We hope you will stand with People Tree and our artisans at Swallows in Bangladesh. If you would like to help, there are two simple ways you can join us.

    1. Share this blog post with your friends and family on social media. Help us tell more people how buying Fair Trade and sustainable fashion makes a big difference.
    2. Buy something hand woven. This season People Tree offers a range of hand woven garments for women and men. Buying hand woven products will show your support for the artisans at Swallows and will make a difference in rural communities in Bangladesh.

Want to see more? Model Rebecca Pearson recently visited Swallows in Bangladesh and you can read her diary here. Our lovely Summer 2014 film takes you behind the scenes at Swallows for a photo shoot.

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