Dedicated followers of Fairtrade

March 13th, 2013 by Kate Griffin Leave a reply »
Girl on catwalk with Fairtrade logo on dress

Photo credit: David Pearce

Gianni Versace eat your heart out! On Thursday 7th March we saw that there’s enough talent locally to rock the fashion world. Wendy from Witney Fairtrade Action Group (WAFTAG) introduced Witney’s first ever Fairtrade Fashion Show, the screen lifted to reveal a catwalk and we were off!

Over 150 people crammed into the auditorium at Abingdon and Witney College to see the students’ fashion creations, all made with Fairtrade materials. Students modelled their own and each other’s work. The theme of the show was “Protection” and we saw some seriously imaginative variations on that theme, from a military-inspired dress to an insect exoskeleton! My favourite was the chain-mail-inspired dress where the chain links were in the form of  leaves. Students of Art, Media, Make-up and Hair all worked together to create a knockout show.

Preparing for the event took months of hard work from WAFTAG and the college, but the result was well worth it.

We also got a reminder about why we were there: buying Fairtrade might mean a few more pence for an item at the checkout, but the difference is literally life-changing for the producers. The Fairtrade mark means that cotton producers don’t just get a fair price for their crop; they also get extra funds to plough back into their community. Before the show we saw a short film about a community in Mali, who have used their Fairtrade funding to build a maternity unit locally. Before the maternity centre was built, pregnant women had to walk miles to give birth at the nearest medical centre and would often suffer complications on the way.

Before the show’s finale we had the chance to enjoy refreshments (courtesy of the Co-op) and browse a range of Fairtrade stalls.

We rounded off the night with a personal message of support from Sir Steve Redgrave, an avid backer of Fairtrade who even has his own Fairtrade clothing line.

It is great that Fairtrade is so well recognised within Witney and that students from Abingdon and Witney College have been so creative in designing using Fairtrade cotton… The difference Fairtrade can create for schools, healthcare and employment is dramatic and truly life-changing. The small premium that we pay for Fairtrade goods in the UK converts to a huge difference in the lives of farmers in West Africa and India… Being involved with Fairtrade is something you should all be very proud of and please keep spreading the message.

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