Designing for People Tree

Isabel Browton, fashion designer at People Tree, talks about how design can be  glamorous while also promoting social change.

What inspired you to become a designer?

I’m from a very creative family. My parents are graphic designers and I have always loved to draw and make things. When I was a little girl my sister and I used to enjoy playing with paper dolls – I never stopped!

Why did you choose to work as a designer for People Tree?

People Tree is a very unique and inspiring company. I love fashion, but I don’t love some of the unfair trading practices which are rife in the fashion industry. I wanted to do my job whilst also helping others.

Is designing for a Fair Trade fashion company different to how you imagined it would be?

Working for a Fair Trade company is definitely different from how I imagined! It is far more creative as we start the design process by designing the fabric. Most fashion companies buy their fabrics. We design the weave, print and embroidery ourselves! We consider very carefully the livelihood of the producers, ensuring they have enough work and money to support themselves and their families. I love that People Tree keeps traditional skills alive and provides work for their communities. This cannot be said about a lot of conventional fashion companies.

What are your fashion tips for SS13 and how to wear People Tree?

Navy Peplum TopMy tip for SS13 is to mix your prints! I love the block printed peplum top with the tribal zig zags and floral yoke. I would wear it with a pair of our organic cotton square print trousers, a pair of espadrilles and some vintage cat eye sunglasses!

What are your favourite dresses for spring?

Rita Hand Embroidered Dress in NavyI forward to wearing the Rita Hand Embroidered Dress to an Easter lunch. I will also wear it to the office and dressed up with heels for a Spring wedding.
Navy Iris DressI also adore the Iris Navy Jacquard Dress. It is so feminine and has a fun, fifties feel to it. I would wear it with strapy sandals and our round stud earrings made out of recycled sari fabric for a summer evening’s barbecue.

What is the most surprising thing that you’ve learned about fashion since you have been a designer?

How quickly it moves on! I think it is important to design garments which are stylish but that are also timeless – pieces you will treasure for a long time.

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