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Birdsong 2.0 May Pop Up Weekender

Birdsong 2.0 May Pop Up Weekender

Rachel Manns Photography. Creative direction, set design, hair, make up and styling by Khandiz Joni and Alice Wilby at Novel Beings.

Birdsong is back, with a new collection and visual identity to reflect the cultivation of our brand and years of social impact across the capital.

At The Atrium, King’s Mall Shopping Centre, W6 9HW from 10am-9pm on Wednesday 1st May – Tuesday 7th May. Reduced hours Sunday and Monday – full timings on Facebook.

Celebrate with a bank holiday week of events from Craftivist Collective, Bread & Roses, Grrrl Zine Fair and more. Tickets for workshops are first come, first served. Come 10 minutes before each workshop with a sign up to guarantee entry.

Take a portrait in our new collection with #DressInProtest and @birdsonglondon tagged and get £10 off your order (above £100) and be in with a chance to win your entire purchase.

Workshops and Events
Saturday 4th May, 11am-12pm
Solidarity Bunting for Kids Workshop with Craftivist Collective
Care-givers and kids will really enjoy this fun diy bunting project, which not only teaches children what solidarity means but also how we can all, regardless of our age, practice being the change we wish to see in the world standing together and standing up for each other. Kids must be supervised by a care giver, and this activity is only suitable for ages 7 – 12 as sewing is involved.

Sunday 5th May, 11am-5pm (all day drop in, no need to book)
Grrrl Zine Drop in Workshop
Guided by queer, working class artist and Grrrl Zine founder Lu Williams. Explore the history of zine making, particularly within feminism, contemporary zine culture, and walk away having created your own DIY publication.

Monday 6th May, 2pm – 3pm
Floristry Workshop with Bread & Roses

Learn how to make a hand-tie arrangement with head florist Liv Wetherly. Liv has years of experience working for some of London’s best known flower shops. Bread & Roses is a social enterprise which trains refugee women in floristry and in the process provides them with the space to learn English, develop skills and build their confidence. All of this helps women on their pathway to employment.

“Your fave feminist pop up shop” – Dazed
“Leave looking fantastic, absolutely guilt-free” – Refinery29
“Birdsong: The Badass Feminist Shop With A Conscience And A Vision” – Grazia

As seen in i-DViceRefinery29Time OutDazed and more
Facebook Event.

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Dress In Protest

Dress In Protest

Introducing our Fashion Revolution Week Campaign Dress in Protest tees. Made by Neutral. Using fair trade, organic GOTS certified cotton, using renewable energy, for decent wages in India.

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While brands pump out slogan t-shirts with “empowering” slogans made for terrible wages, we intend for ours to make statements that last longer than the time it takes to read them.

Shockingly, according to a recent parliamentary report*, many garment workers in the UK are still paid £3.50 ph in 2019. Ours are embroidered for a London Living Wage by Mona on the Gayton Council Estate, Tower Hamlets.

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This Spring, we’re asking people we admire to Dress In Protest and spread awareness about the shockingly low standards on the high street. Read about the real social change our t-shirts are making in our Impact Report below, proving Living wages to women living in Tower Hamlets – a borough where 1 in 4 people are in poverty.

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We create clothing for women who dress in protest – against the fast nature of the fashion industry, the obsessive pursuit of trends and the systematic abuse of women in the production line. We dream up designs in house, and then work with expert makers who face barriers to employment in the UK – from artists and printmakers to seamstresses and painters – and pay them London living wage to bring our creations to life.

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Gamechangers

Gamechangers

Here at Birdsong we’re all about breaking barriers and trailblazing, which is why we were so excited to have an opportunity to shoot with the Harlequins Ladies Rugby team. Their tireless work to be the best at their game whilst living their day to day lives is inspiring.

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Unlike their male counterparts, the women’s team work full time alongside playing. On top of their intense training and playing schedule the squad excel in their day-to-day jobs as firefighters, soldiers, teachers, police officers and business leaders. But with more sponsorship, support and people turning out in record numbers for their games, that could be set to change.

They’re doing a huge amount to change people’s attitudes to women’s rugby. When they put their kits on and get on that pitch, they are dressing in protest at a male dominated sport, just as our customers are protesting fast fashion when they pick our clothes. As we both work to shake up our respective industries, it felt like a natural partnership.

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Featuring players Davinia Catlin, Ellie Green and Holly Myers. Photography by Imogen Forte. Creative Direction by Lottie Laversuch and the Birdsong team. Both Harlequins and Birdsong use Dot London domain names, who kindly sponsored this shoot.

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The Game Changer, Harlequins Ladies v Gloucester-Hartpury, will be played at The Stoop on Saturday 30th March 2019. Kick-off at 14:00. Visit www.quins.london for more information and tickets.

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Remarkable women: Gina Martin

Remarkable women: Gina Martin

Just 18 months ago the world was a different place for anyone who’d had the misfortune to be “upskirted” – a voyeuristic intrusion of privacy whereby a camera or phone is used to unwilling take pictures of someone’s underwear.

After being victim to a man taking pictures of her crotch at a music festival, Gina Martin was disappointed to discover that police couldn’t press charges as it technically wasn’t a criminal offence. Not content to get even, Gina decided to change the world, and changed the law around up-skirting for Britain in the process. We sat down for a cuppa and talked resisting, and persisting for our latest campaign.

Tell us, were you involved in activism before the campaign?

It’s difficult – I think because  our definition of activism has changed a lot. So I would say no, but I guess some people would’ve maybe said I was, because I was writing about women’s issues and human rights for Refinery29 and Elle anyway.

I didn’t have any background in activism and that’s why I think when I got up-skirted it was like a switch – because I could do something here. It was like, here’s an opportunity for me to actually do something, instead of complaining about it. 

What does Resist & Persist mean to you? What inspired you to keep going?

Resist and Persist is such a good phrase. Resist I think is about resisting all of the stereotypes, the messages, the permission…All the things as women that we’re told we should do. Resist the outside and forces that make you feel oppressed or like a secondary citizen.

And persist is about pushing new boundaries and not waiting to ask for permission. Those two words together are very strong, because they say to ignore the negativity that stops us.

For my campaign, however bad things got – and no one will ever know how bad it got – the media was like, we’re going to do it, keep things positive because then people believe in it, they’ll support it.

When things got really wrong or something bad happened politically and it looked like it was going to derai, the only thing that got me and my lawyer Ryan through was us saying, “whatever happens however bad it gets, it will be fine, because we just won’t stop”. It sounds very simple but it’s the truth, we just don’t stop. It’s pushing through the barriers really and not allowing yourself to stop, even when you want to, because it’s bigger than you. 

How did you arrive at such a positive brand/outlook for your activism considering sexual harassment is a heavy subject?

I think that’s such an interesting thing that everyone started to do because you can look at charity campaigns and communications in the 90s and it’s like poverty porn, where you show people the worst-case scenario and you hope that motivates them. But actually what happens is when you show people the bad thing it makes them worried and guilty and motivates them only in the short term.

I think if you can make people aware of the problem by showing them a potential solution people will be far more motivated. That whole movement has given people an incredible amount of hope that something can actually change. I think focusing on the positive is critical. 

How has your life changed since you started the campaign?

Exponentially. Before the campaign I was working in advertising and had a very normal life. I just worked 9-6, writing on the side for some magazines I loved and having a very quiet time.

It was great, and I loved it just as much as I love this, but my idea was to get the government to listen. I didn’t think I was going to be the face of it. Then it became very obvious that you have to have a human story that engages people. Obviously the media attention changed my life quite a lot in terms of day to day life.

Working in politics has changed my entire outlook on society because I’ve now been so close to it, I now see how it works. I also now work with a lot with women’s charities and I hear so many more stories from different perspectives that I would’ve never heard before.

I now have a platform that I can use, so it’s like in every way online/offline my life has changed so much, but I’m so lucky to have that change happen because now the amount of power I have, the platform I have to be able to do stuff with it. Which is what we all should be doing. 

You’re also really good at talking about sustainability and ethics, has this always been a personal passion of yours as well? 

If you don’t have ecology, you don’t have anything. Feminism great, it’s really important but if we don’t have a world, that doesn’t really matter, so it should always be the basis of what we’re talking about. 

Our Resist & Persist tee is available on backorder here.

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Remarkable Women: Sirin Kale

Remarkable Women: Sirin Kale

To celebrate the launch of our latest special edition, International Women’s Day tee, we’re highlighting the efforts of womxn in our Flock making the world a better place on the daily. Our new tee is screen printed by talented women for a fair wage in Tower Hamlets, and is available for pre-order here.

Sirin Kale is a journalist and associate editor at Broadly. Last year her and fellow Broadly editor and friend of Birdsong Zing Tsjeng  launched Broadly’s anti-stalking campaign UNFOLLOW ME, which calls on the UK government to introduce a Stalkers Register to protect victims of serial stalkers and domestic abusers

The campaign was covered by Grazia, the Independent, Woman’s Hour, The Telegraph, and more. The UNFOLLOW ME documentary which Sirin produced, received over a million views and was played in full on the BBC. UNFOLLOW ME was a finalist in the 2019 Amnesty International Media Awards, in the innovation category. We caught up with Sirin at the Vice offices on International Women’s Day.

Content warning: this article contains explicit examples of gendered violence.

Tell us about the campaign.

Unfollow me is a campaign with two aims; firstly to raise awareness of domestic violence and stalking, and the second is to lobby the UK government to implement a Stalkers Register, which I believe would prevent these deaths that are happening every week. Molly’s death wouldn’t have happened. That’s basically what it is.

In the UK, there is no existing framework to monitor serial stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators. Police rely on victims to report such crimes, and connections to an offender’s history of prior incidents is often lost. Anti-stalking charity Paladin is calling on the UK government to introduce a Stalkers Register to protect victims of domestic abuse and stalking. Under these proposals, serial stalkers and domestic abusers would be tracked, managed, and monitored by police. Police would also be obliged to identify people that they believe to be at risk of serious harm from them, such as a new partner, and warn that person of their history of offending.

When did you start writing about gender violence and stalking?

I started writing about it as soon as I became a journalist, because i found it really interesting. Naturally it was part of my beat when I started here at Broadly, so I wrote even more.

I kept reporting on all these stories that were really horrific examples of women being murdered by their boyfriends or ex partners. I would come into work and write another new story on it, and another, and think this is so fucked up. I was thinking that there’s something more than another news story, there has to be something deeper I can look into, as part of a wider system.

One of the stories that really motivated me was of Molly McLaren, who was murdered at 23 years old in a car park in Kent. She had reported her murderer to police twice, and they didn’t do anything about it, and then he stabbed her 75 times in broad daylight. I was thinking, surely there’s something really really wrong here, how can you report it and they not do anything. I decided to do an request for Freedom of Information, to see how many women this had happened to. So far I’m up to 55 deaths.

Have you had any resistance or push back?

The response has been only positive. It’s been depressing to realise how many people are affected by similar stories. It’s quite overwhelming, but we’ve had great responses from everyone, readers, the media. The Home Affairs Select Committee have also advised that we implement a register, which the anti-stalking charity Paladin came up with. I’m really glad we could support their work.

What does Resist & Persist mean to you?

For me it means resisting the external forces of patriarchy, and resisting the internal programming you’ve been given by patriarchy. You have to really unpick the stuff you’ve learned. For example I’m still unlearning negative attitudes around sex, like lying about your number because of the shame and stigma, which is so fucked up.

You also have to be super resilient. You don’t have to be an arsehole or walk all over people. And most of all encourage resilience in others who don’t have the same opportunities or privileges that you have.

See how our t-shirts are made below and pre-order yours today.

If you or anyone you know are experiencing relationship abuse, you can seek advice confidentially via https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/.

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Always trying to do better.

Dear Flock,

Here at Birdsong, we make nearly all our clothes ourselves, but we do buy in plain, organic t-shirts from abroad. It has been recently brought to our attention that unfortunately, heartbreakingly, there’s a chance that the factory our t-shirts are made in is not good enough. Despite using our t-shirt supplier for a couple of years after assurances that they were Fair Wear Foundation approved and the best, we’ve recently noticed their quality has gone down, and as they’ve grown, perhaps they’ve let the way they vet factory conditions slip too.

We’re been alerted that workers haven’t been paid fairly, so we immediately halted all production on all our t-shirts, and have now switched to using certified fair trade brand Neutral. For t-shirts that have already been embroidered locally and fairly by our makers, to avoid waste we will continue to sell these, but with a chunk of revenue donated to organisations supporting garment workers rights in Bangladesh.

We’re really sorry for letting any workers down in our supply chain who didn’t receive enough pay for their hard work, and for our customers who only expect the best from us. As a reminder, all our other cut and sewn items are still made here in the UK by women we know by name, and who are paid a London Living Wage per hour.

We’d love to know your thoughts – which suppliers can we trust? How much would you pay for our t-shirts if we made them ourselves? Which direction should we go in next? It’s been a hard week but we owed to everyone involved. Thank you for your support and we will work as hard as we can to always try to do better. ❤️

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Still European, Still Friends

Still European Look Book

As a response to the hostility and turmoil surrounding Brexit, Birdsong have collaborated with creative project ‘Still European’, and XXY Magazine – a cultural platform focused on marginalised voices. Together we have launched a limited edition range of locally embroidered t-shirts, zine and panel event.

The campaign and launch event are intended as an exploration of community, nuance behind the concept of ‘Europe’, and positive recognition of migrant workers, during the Brexit era.

Speakers confirmed are Nahir de la Silva from the Latin American Women’s Rights Service, pink protest activist Grace Campbell, and founder of cultural platform Amaliah, Nafisa Bakkar. The event will be chaired by XXY editor Tahmina Begum. Tickets are available to buy here.

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Organic Cotton Still European t-shirt, £35.

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Organic Cotton Still Friends t-shirt, £35.

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Modelled by our friends and activists from @routeswomen, @bloodygoodperiod, @lemonade_hq, @pomegranate.hq, @jutashoes and more.

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Shot by @trustmebaba and @katherinebibiana in Bethnal Green. T-shirt designed by Alex & James Roadnight as part of their ongoing project. Zine by Tahmina Begum/XXY Magazine. With thanks to Anna, the Pellicci family and St Margaret’s house. Additional styling pieces from Beyond Retro.

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Covent Garden Pop Up: Cupid’s Closet

Covent Garden Pop Up:

Cupid’s Closet

For thoughtful, considerate clothing that keeps on giving. A match made in heaven, sustainable brands Hopeful Traders and Birdsong are getting together for a special Valentine’s Pop Up. Be our date for the next ten days and take home clothes made with love.

Valentine’s need not just be for lovers – show your appreciation for our homeless artists and migrant women makers and write them a love note in store.

At 67 Neal Street, Covent Garden from 10am-6pm on Thursday 7th February – Sunday 17th February. Launch party this Thursday 5 until pm.

“Your fave feminist pop up shop” – Dazed
“Leave looking fantastic, absolutely guilt-free” – Refinery29
“Birdsong: The Badass Feminist Shop With A Conscience And A Vision” – Grazia

As seen in i-DViceRefinery29Time OutDazed and more
Facebook Event.

Hopeful Traders are using ethical fashion and creativity to change the way we approach social impact. The sustainably produced clothing brand acts as a platform for people who have been affected by homelessness and mental illness. By collaborating with these people on the designs that you buy, Hopeful are giving them a voice and raising funds for themselves and charities that have supported them. www.hopefultraders.com

The store has been sponsored by KIND Snacks, as part of the business’ mission to help facilitate more acts of kindness in the community. Customers will be treated to tasty and wholesome nut and fruit bars from KIND, as a small token of appreciation for joining the KIND Movement.

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Thank you for 2018

Thank you for 2018

To everyone who shopped online or in person with us so far this year, thanks for making 2018 a brilliant one. We’re so grateful to our customers, our talented, remarkable makers and all the speakers, sponsors and collaborators who came together to make our 7th pop up shop a success.

Thank you for supporting small, independent, ethical business and our vision of a fairer future for fashion. Together with your help, this year we paid for 10,000 hours of Living Wage Work for local women living in London.

Thank you to Jubel beers, Karma Cola, Abel & Cole and Divine Chocolate for making our pop up a delicious success, to Beyond Retro for hosting us, and to THINX for coming over from NY to sell with us.

Photography by Sam Jackson & Jazi Charbit