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Worker To Wearer Part 4. Cutting and Sewing with Fateha

Worker To Wearer

Part 4. Cutting and Sewing with Fateha

Most brands don’t know who makes their clothing.

Birdsong is rallying the rest of the fashion world. We’re calling for a better industry, from worker to wearer.

In the run up to Fashion Revolution Week from 23rd – 29th April, we’ll be sharing how we made our spring collection. The five short films put a face to the women who design, source, fit, sew, and sell our clothes, entirely in London.

#WorkerToWearer

For our final video instalment, we meet Fateha, a skilled seamstress at Stitches in Time women’s charity. Stitches supports women experiencing long-term unemployment, who have low confidence, or have experienced domestic violence to learn sewing skills.Unlike typical fashion brands, 50% of which don’t know who cuts or sews their items, we visit our makers in Limehouse to support Stitches with every collection.

Watch the whole of our Worker To Wearer series here on Youtube.

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Fashion Revolution Week For Beginners

Fashion Revolution Week for Beginners Guide

For hardened revolutionaries coming later in the week

Some of you might know that this week is Fashion Revolution Week, and others may well not. Today is the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, where 1200 garment workers, mostly young women, died in a factory collapse despite warning management that the building was unsafe. They were threatened with losing their jobs if they didn’t go inside, and proceeded to lose their lives later that today after following orders.

These facts are devastating and uncomfortable. They make engaging in the topic of ethical fashion tough. By saying ethical, you are acknowledging that most clothing is not. Thinking about the environmental and social impacts of fashion is something that takes up headspace and money, and emotional toil. While many can’t afford the luxury of thinking and spending in alignment with our values, if you’re reading this blog you’re at least exercising a curiosity. Some of us can afford it, though it takes a sea change in attitudes to equate buying cheaply with buying well. Poorly made garments are a false economy – the better they are made, the less clothes are worn out and need replacing.

A lot of people can get defensive about their buying choices, and by no means is the movement towards garment worker liberation about shaming people with tight budgets buying their kids school trousers on your local high street with a megaphone. Or placing the blame solely on consumers on an industry that’s taught us to endlessly yearn, consume and repeat, ripping the poorest people off with the worst quality goods. And yet, this week is optimistically named for a reason. Fashion Revolution is both a “never must this happen again”, and a yearning for a utopian vision of what fashion can be. What we can do if we have the energy, is get clued up, and demand more from brands, or support those going out of their way to pay workers fairly.

As a mark of respect today, make a pact to be more curious about who makes your clothes. Strive to buy more second hand, and buy good quality, ethically made, and to love and to last if you need new. It was never the easy way to start a fashion brand, but it was the reason why did. We were founded on these premises. Ask big brands #WhoMadeMyClothes and read our blog below on what other steps you can take to get educated about the fashion industry.  To start, we’ve compiled a list for Fashion Revolutionaries at any stage of their journey.

To Watch (in order of emotional spice level- from wholesome watch, to grab the tissues and ice cream)

Our Worker to Wearer series via YouTube

River Blue  – Nominated for a host of awards and featuring the mother of the Fashion Revolution campaign, Orsola De Castro, this new documentary sheds light on our shameful mistreatment 0f rivers in the same of fashion. Watch the trailer, go to a free screening or rent for less than a fiver for a whole lot of learning.

The True Cost – a riveting expose of the fashion industry from top to tale that’ll change the way you see clothes forever. The Cowspiracy of fashion docs. Highly recommended. Self care plan recommended for afterwards. Free to watch on Netflix. 

To Read (again in order)

How To Be  Craftivist – The Art of Gentle Activism

Written by  Birdsong friend and renowned campaign Sarah Corbett, learn to think about the way that things are made in the world, and how to change it for the better with the art of craft.

http://workerdiaries.org

A first hand report, available as interactive articles or a podcast, or what it’s like to be a garment worker from the people living it.

Stitched Up: The Anti Capitalist Book Of Fashion by Tansy Hoskins

Winner of the ICA book prize a few years back, dip into this historical compendium of the fashion industry, and learn about the handful of people and companies at the top. An eye opening read.

To Die For by Lucy Siegle

Written by seasoned ethical expert and Observer columnist Lucy Siegle. No UK journalist has gone quite as in depth and scoured factories and conditions as far or wide in fashion supply chains as this contemporary analysis.

To Do

There are a huge amount of events happening globally this week to commemorate the Rana Plaza Collapse. Wherever you are, check the calendar, hold your own zine swap or tea party and get organising.

https://www.fashionrevolution.org/events/

ThreadWorks Launch Party

Celebrate the launch of Threadworks and brand new fashion and textile studio in Clerkenwell, London. They’ll will be having a guerrilla Fashion Revolution embroidery workshop and hosting a panel discussion featuring Lydia Higginson – Founder of Threadworks and Made My Wardrobe, our very own head of design Susanna Wen and more sustainable fashion legends.

To Shop

Our favourite brand of charity shops, Traid, are opening late for night time shopping in their stores across London for this week only. Check out branches here.

London Sustainable Fashion Rooms – East London, 23rd – 29th

From niche to norm: Ethical fashion and footwear take centre-stage during Fashion Revolution Week in this week-long community hub and pop-up boutique curated by Po-Zu. Shop London’s most exciting and affordable ethical fashion designers & join workshops and inspiring panel discussions with industry leaders.

Ethical Brands for Fashion Revolution – London, Saturday 28th

On Saturday 28th April, independent ethical clothing brands from around the UK will come together at London’s Brand Museum to support the Fashion Revolution message and show consumers that there is a viable, ethical alternative to high street, fast fashion brands.  All brands featured, including Birdsong can tell customers #whomademyclothes – the hashtag of the campaign.

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We hope these offer as a starting point. Feel free to comment with more pointers, tweet or Instagram tagging brands and asking them #WhoMadeMyClothes, and follow us on Instagram for more event tip offs, easily digested memes and facts.

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Worker To Wearer Part 3. Fitting with Moni

Worker To Wearer Part 3. Fitting with Moni

Most brands don’t know who makes their clothing.

Birdsong is rallying the rest of the fashion world. We’re calling for a better industry, from worker to wearer.

In the run up to Fashion Revolution Week from 23rd – 29th April, we’ll be sharing how we made our spring collection. The five short films put a face to the women who design, source, fit, sew, and sell our clothes, entirely in London.

#WorkerToWearer

This week we’re in Birdsong Head Office in Euston, with freelance pattern cutter Moni. We talk through our design manifesto and fit all our products on the team for vigorous testing before they go into production.

Watch the whole of our Worker To Wearer series here on Youtube.

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Worker To Wearer 2: Sourcing

Worker to Wearer
2. Sourcing

Most brands don’t know who makes their clothing.

Birdsong is rallying the rest of the fashion world. We’re calling for a better industry, from worker to wearer.

In the run up to Fashion Revolution Week from 23rd – 29th April, we’ll be sharing how we made our spring collection. The five short films put a face to the women who design, source, fit, sew, and sell our clothes, entirely in London.

#WorkerToWearer

This week we’re in Wembley, learning about the sheer waste involved in fashion production and how we created our Spring Collection with reclaimed, donated designer fabrics.

We’d love to have your support in revolutionising fashion, for women, workers and wearers everywhere. Let us know if we can count on you to share our videos, spread the word, and ask brands #WhoMadeMyClothes.

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Worker To Wearer 1: Design

Most brands don’t know who makes their clothing.

Birdsong is rallying the rest of the fashion world. We’re calling for a better industry, from worker to wearer.

In the run up to Fashion Revolution Week from 23rd – 29th April, we’ll be sharing how we made our spring collection. The five short films put a face to the women who design, source, fit, sew, and sell our clothes, entirely in London.

#WorkerToWearer

Join Susanna, our Head of Design & Production in our first chapter, where she’ll be talking us through the first part of the design process, in Hackney.

We’d love to have your support in revolutionising fashion, for women, workers and wearers everywhere. Let us know if we can count on you to share our videos, spread the word, and ask brands #WhoMadeMyClothes.

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This IWD, support #WorkerToWearer

This IWD go back to movement’s roots and support #WorkerToWearer

This year will mark 110 years since the protest of 15,000 women garment workers in New York City, sparking events that went on to form International Women’s Day. We’ve achieved amazing things in the past few years with the women’s movement.

Birdsong is going back to the day’s roots and asking you to take a pledge to support the women garment workers of today and tomorrow. With an estimated 40 million garment workers worldwide, 90% are women and girls. They’re facing poor conditions, unfair pay, and risking the sack for standing up for their rights or finding themselves pregnant.

This year stand with Birdsong and vow to support a different way of doing things with #WorkerToWearer. Read more about the origins story of IWD over at i-D, where co-founder Sophie has written a piece about the history of the day and it what it means for brands today.

Feel connected to your fellow women, from worker to wearer, by watching our t-shirts be embroidered by Mona, at her community sewing school on a housing estate in Tower Hamlets. Mona is a real fixture of the community and £5 from our £26  t-shirts goes to her sewing lessons for women from low income backgrounds, and people with disabilities. Watch Mona at work here:

  • Pre-order ‘No Borders’ Embroidered Organic Cotton Tee

    £28.00
    Add to Bag
  • Rosa Round Neck Abstract Embroidered Tee

    £30.00
    Add to Bag
  • Birdsong X Know The Origin Embroidered Organic Sweatshirt

    £89.00
    Add to Bag
  • Birdsong X Know The Origin Embroidered Midi Dress

    £70.00
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  • Birdsong X Clio Peppiatt Embroidered Bamboo Panther Knickers

    £25.00
    Add to Bag
  • Clio Peppiatt X Birdsong Embroidered Bamboo Knickers

    £25.00
    Add to Bag

International Women’s Day should be a celebration of rights for all. Let’s make that happen. Share your vows for a better fashion industry in the comments or on our hashtag #WorkerToWearer.

Here our head office team share their expectations and hopes for the year.

Sophie, Co-Founder & Brand Director: “International Women’s Day should be a celebration of the right to fulfilling and fair work, for the wages we all deserve. That’s why I founded Birdsong to empower all from #WearerToWorker”

Sarah, Co-Founder & Managing Director: “IWD has become so broad and grown so much, which is great. But for me it’s got to be about celebrating the unsung women. That’s really what we’re trying to do with Birdsong, hopefully giving access to women who would usually be passed by when it comes to movements like this – and creating beautiful things in the process.”

Susanna, Designer & Head of Production: “As our makers at Birdsong are all local, I get to visit a lot of them every few weeks and it is a pleasure to get to know them and their cultures (and often their cuisine!) I know this is a rarity in the fashion industry as often the person has made your clothes is on the other side of the world. I’ll be celebrating this IWD with one of our Maker groups Fabric works, sharing one of our universal passions- lunch!”

We’re also pairing up with Hodder to give away one feminist themed book every week in March. All you need to do is a refer a friend.

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Warning: Empowering Valentine’s Content

Warning: Empowering Valentine’s Content

Happy Valentine’s day. Whether you love or loathe it, we hope you’re spending this week full of pancakes and fuzzy feelings.

To celebrate love in all it’s earthly and less tenuous forms today, we thought we’d go back through our archive and celebrate some of the amazing women we’ve been working with over the years.

That includes you dear reader. We love you all. Thanks for choosing makers and clothes with love.

We’re reading

Everything I Know About Love
Dolly Alderton’s accounts of messy nights, female friendships and early adulthood is next up on our reading lists. After hearing her speak on the theme of friendships as the highest form of true love last year, we’re on board with her priorities.

Eat Up
Food is something you should love. And there’s not many better versed on the subject than wonderful Ruby Tandoh. Read her book or Women Cook For Me here.

How to Be Single
For anyone who’s ever spent Valentine’s day ‘single’, here’s a heartwarming, honest, wholesome account from 100 other people over on Manrepeller. Including this beautifully spot on quote to keep by your mental bedside: “I think the willful compromise that comes about from relationships is tender and necessary. I just don’t feel the need to engage with that now.”

A Compendium of Heartbreak
If, like me a couple of years back, dear reader, you have to felt the pain of a long relationship coming to an abrupt halt the week before Valentine’s, this may be the ticket you need. Things that also helped me: beautiful strangers giving me palm and tarot readers, crying and sleeping on friend’s sofas, buying easter eggs whenever you feel like it, Kelis Caught Out There on repeat…etc.

Here’s to great women, may we know them and be them

Anu & Liz, 2016.

We turned up at Anu’s flat a couple of years ago and her and Liz had been having a pizza sleepover with their pals. We stuck them in some jumpers and caught these tender moments.

Anu is an amazing DJ, illustrator and writer. She’s done sets for Resident Avisor, Boiler Room, and has her own radio show on NTS

Liz does ace stick and poke tattoos down in Peckham

Sophie Davidson is a dear friend. I used to look at her photographs lovingly in magazines, on Tumblr, and in zines ordered from afar. Imagine my surprise when I met her at a house party when I visiting London five years ago. She was really into feminism and feeding. We hit it off. She still takes most of our photos to this day. Check her newsletter out (featured above) if you’re not already.

Sophie wears the soon to be Reissued Mel Slip dress. Arriving in April. Pre-order via email.

We don’t have favourites amongst our makers (honest, we love you all), but if we did have to rate our makers on culinary bribery then Mohila would win by far. Not only do they have the best banter, Roksana, Shak Lema, Shemima and Sheerina make the best balti curry and egg bhuna you will ever taste. Just as well catering is their side hustle. Thanks for all the t-shirts gals.

Mohila make all our hand-painted goods.

Aisling Bea is our favourite ever comedian. Not only does she manage to get her jokes bang on the money, but she has pretty fabulous dress sense too. She puts passion into everything she does, whether that’s out getting lols, writing about mental health, or speaking about feminism, she’s a gal after our own hearts. Read our interview with Aisling from last year.

Did you enjoy this delightful digest? Want more stuff like this direct to your inbox? Sign up to our mailing list

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Birdsong Gift Guide

The Definitive Birdsong Gift Guide

We rounded up the best of the best so you don’t have to. Featuring a selection of stock that’ll be on sale IRL from some of our friends stocking in our Festive Concept Store from 14th-19th December in Hoxton.

For your housemate

Buy IRL instore

Buy IRL instore – and meet the author!

Buy IRL instore

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What’s in store at our Festive Shop?

What’s in store at our Festive Shop?

We’re back and bigger than ever. And it’s not just the finest thoughtful gifts we’re curating, but a whole host of events too. Expect crafternoons, free goodies, exciting panel discussions and evening events running all week. We’ll also have a child-friendly area in the shop for any caregivers this holiday season wanting to bring smaller humans along. Here’s a guide to what’s going on…

Wednesday 13th

Press Launch – 6-9pm
(email sophie@birdsong.london for invitation requests)

Thursday 14th

Public Launch Party 6-9pm

Friday 15th

From 2-5pm – BYOB (Bring your own baby) Mother and Child Zine Workshop
Drop in session with Birdsong co-founder Sophie and artist Megan Pickering. We’ll be providing collage materials, scissors and glue, as well as some examples of zines. Come together with your small one and make your own festive zine to give to loved ones.

Saturday 16th

TBC – Morning Yoga & Meditation Session with For The Core, (watch this space)

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2 – 4pm – Slipper Making Workshop with Juta Shoes – Buy tickets here

Craft your own reclaimed leather espadrilles with social enterprise Juta. Juta teach marginalised women in East London shoe making as a means of income. Support their project and make your own shoes – with all materials provided. Juta shoes are made from environmentally-friendly jute soles sourced from Southern Spain and reclaimed leather from local factories.

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8-10pm – Disco Night with Polyester Zine

Come for late night shopping and some tunes as the Birdsong Team and Ione, editor of cult feminist fashion zine Polyester, spin some tunes.

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Sunday 17th

All day – Make Do and Mend Session with Susanna

Head Designer at Birdsong will be on her sewing machine for the day to offer advice on caring for clothes and minor repairs, making them last longer.

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From 4 – 7pm – Feminist Book Club/Poems with Birdsong

Bring along your favourite stanzas to read out loud in a cosy and inclusive environment. Hosted by gal-dem journalist Ari Potter.

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Monday 18th

 7 -8:30pm – Maintaining Optimism: A Panel with Sarah Corbett of Craftivist Collective, Charlie Craggs, Birdsong, Tskeyna and Chatterbox

2016/2017 were tough years for the best of us, but activism and the concept of intersectionality is thriving. What can we do to ensure we keep on making change and impact? Inspired by the infamous quote by Italian philosopher Gramsci, “Pessimism of the spirit; optimism of the will”, we’ll be asking four award winning activists and social enterprise founders what they do to maintain optimism in their work and personal lives.

Featuring panelists:
Sarah Corbett, is a published author, renowned Ted Talker and founder ofCraftivist Collective – a social enterprise which uses the technique of craftivism – combining craft and activism, to engage people in social justice issues “in a quiet, non-confrontational manner involving pretty, handcrafted gestures of defiance.”

Charlie Craggs is an award winning activist and writer of To My Trans Sisters. She founded trailblazing campaign Nail Transphobia in 2013 and has gone on to model for Selfridges (and Birdsong!), win awards with Marie Claire Future Shaper and the Observer New Radicals, and make the Rainbow List.

Mursal Hedayat is the founder refugee tutoring service, Chatterbox, which serves to solve the problem of under utilised refugee talent and has won awards from WeWork and seen Mursal interviewing David Milliband.

Tskenya-Sarah Frazer is the founder of a radically new, gender neutral, larger sized footwear brand TSKENYA – putting passion for feminist values and ethical production into the footwear line.

All speakers have stock on sale in our shop. Panel will include free drinks with the speakers and an opportunity to get books and gifts signed afterwards.

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Tuesday 19th

 10am – 9pm – Closing evening. Come for late night shopping, mince pies and a chat with the Birdsong Founders.

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Birdsong’s Festive Feminist Concept Store is BACK

Following the success of our previous stores across London and Berlin, we’re back for the festive period to showcase our new collection. Our last three stores were featured in Style Bubble, Time Out, Dazed, i-D, Refinery29, The Debrief, and Metro.

We’re bringing together the best in feminist and ethical fashion and homewares under one roof. We’ll be stocking gifts from legendary, patented period pant brand THINX (all the way from New York), home goods from Aerende, shirts from cult Spanish brand Paloma Wool, gorgeous eco-candles, collections from London Fashion Week designer Clio Peppiatt, and much more.

Expect crafternoons, free goodies, exciting panel discussions and evening events running all week. We’ll also have a child-friendly area in the shop for any care givers this holiday season wanting to bring smaller humans along.

Full events schedule to follow. Invite friends via our Facebook event page.

We’ll be stocking:
– All Birdsong AW lines & some new, in-store exclusives
THINX Period Proof Pants
– Clothing by LFW designer Clio Peppiatt
– Cult knits by Hades
– Shirts by Paloma Wool
Such A Fan! painted clothes by Ibiye Camp
– Luxury ethical candles by M&J
– Knitwear by Mara
– Zines by Grrrl Zine Fair
– Gender neutral larger shoes by Tskenya
– Ethical basics by KTO
– Ethical slippers by Juta
– Ethical Homewares by Aerende
– Stationary, cards and comics by Clio Isadora
– Kits and books by Craftivist Collective
– Cards and gift vouchers by Chatterbox