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Birdsong’s Summer Concept Store is back from Friday 22nd June

Birdsong’s cult, feminist, concept store is back. Expect collaborations, events and exclusive drops from the forefront of sustainable style, along with Birdsong’s trademark sisterly atmosphere.

Whether you’re a sustainable die hard or new to the game, we’ll be stocking pieces for everyone. Shop clothing, accessories, pottery, prints, zines, artworks and more.

Here at Birdsong we’ve spent the past 18 months holding eagerly anticipated concept stores across London and Berlin. Our latest offering sees stock from cult designers Tatty Devine, Mary Benson, Clio Peppiatt and more. Previous stores were featured in Style Bubble, Evening Standard, Grazia, Time Out, Dazed, i-D, Refinery29, The Debrief, and Metro.

Brands featured: Tatty Devine / Clio Peppiatt / Mary Benson / Auria / Such A Fan! / Suhaiyla Shakuwra Jewellery / Earl of East London / Aerende / Liha Beauty / Jaggery London / Know The Origin / Clio Isadora / Black Power Tarot / Polyester Zine + more TBC

The shop will be closed on Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th June.

See below for our full schedule of events.

Friday 22nd – Public Launch from 6pm until 9.30pm

Come and say hi on our opening night. Get your portrait taken in store and see some of our super limited edition new collection pieces before anyone else does. Expect exclusive discounts, and free Bacardi rum cocktails, Canopy Beers and Divine Chocolate.

Sunday 24th – Origin Stories: How We Started from 5-6pm

Come for a talk and hangout with the founders of Birdsong, with our origin story and a short Worker to Wearer film series screening.

Wednesday 27th – Building Bridges Not Borders from 7-8.30pm

A panel exploring what a word without borders would look like featuring speakers doing incredible work with refugees.

Saturday 31st June – Closing Party from 6pm until 9.30pm

Do you dare wait for last minute discounts? See what we’ve sold out of and celebrate an end to a brilliant week of supporting independent, ethical, women, and POC, owned businesses.

Sunday 1st July – Birdsong X Burning House Books presents: Feminist Book Club, from 3-5pm

Birdsong are working together with Burning House Books present a Feminist Book Club in their concept store.

Come for a discussion of Maggie Nelson’s short, semi-autobiographical novel The Argonauts, described by The Guardian as “A study of the small, miraculous domestic dramas by an electrifying writer, eager to challenge society’s norms.”

Expect refreshments, excellent company, and Birdsong’s trademark sisterly atmosphere.

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White Feminism – a guest blog by Zainab Mahmood

White Feminism

– a guest blog by Zainab Mahmood

In a world where supermodels win ‘Inspiring Woman’ awards and white, middle class actresses are classed as feminist icons, it’s difficult to break the privileged, white washed feminist bubble. As a daughter of Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, I’m conscious of the need for different communities to acknowledge and engage with the struggles unique to their cultures.

The default told experience – including women’s – has long been the white one. Whether consciously or not, as women of colour we often whitewash our own narratives. After all, we seldom see ourselves represented in mainstream novels, television, film or other media.  Our storytelling is confined to interrogations with our parents and broken dual, even triple, language chats with our grandparents. Building my knowledge and awareness has mainly taken getting lost in an abyss of podcasts, TED talks, blog articles, book recommendations and links sent by friends who are not only women of colour, but have a particular interest in the languages and literatures of their own cultures, as well as others.

Not that fighting for equal pay, for the chance to speak without interruption and to walk and dress confidently without receiving vitriol should be invalidated, but we should also remember the women who quite literally put their lives at risk in efforts to be who they really are. Perhaps they choose an educational or career path different to the one set out for them, love someone their parents don’t approve of or simply speak their mind. These seemingly minor acts of rebellion are for some women the cause of their excommunication, homelessness, abuse and worst-case scenario, death.

It took me stumbling upon Tehmina Durrani’s autobiographical My Feudal Lord on my aunt’s book shelf at age 18 to engage with anything concerning Pakistan outside the context of my own family and their experiences. The women of my family could probably never bring themselves to describe their experiences of emotional and physical abuse to me in the way that Durrani so painfully and graphically translates it.

Due to the role of politics in her life, she depicts an aspect of Pakistan’s patriarchal structures so much more complex than what I had understood from my family’s stories. Some member of Durrani’s family always disapproves of whatever she does, starkly illustrating one ideal model of womanhood; subservient to her husband and children, and always carrying the weight of her father’s reputation.

Gifted to me by a friend who studied South Asian literature, I recently read Meena Kandasamy’s When I Hit You. A beautifully outpoured stream of consciousness relaying her experience with domestic abuse. Though at times uncomfortable to read, the descriptions of her parents rationalising her husband’s behaviour and urging her to keep working at the relationship are particularly poignant. They shed light on a culture of shame, acceptance and submission commonly found in India, the rest of the Indian Subcontinent, as well as the Arab world. Containing many similar tropes to My Feudal Lord, the narrative style of When I Hit You made apparent the culture of women being silenced by their loved ones, forced to deal with their trauma alone.

Also given to me by a friend, Nawal El-Saadawi’s Woman at Point Zero is the only piece of literature I’ve read that truly focuses on the value of the woman, physically and otherwise. The protagonist Firdaus shares an ever-changing relationship with sex following her experiences of sexual abuse and female genital mutilation in Egypt. She strikingly relates how it feels to be a woman alone in a society full of dominant, animalistic men who dichotomise their supposed Islamic piety. Within a short novella, El-Saadawi plays with ideas of pleasure, sexuality, value and power unparalleled to anything else I’ve read.

It may take time and effort, but the digital age has afforded us the tools to build an awareness of marginalised cultures and religions. That is, the kind of awareness required for a feminism that truly benefits us all, a feminism in which the only default narrative is the human one, made up of a simultaneously individual and collective cultural memory.

Illustration by Eleanor Crewes. Eleanor is a North London based Illustrator, recent BA Illustration graduate from UAL and author of graphic novel The Times I Knew I Was Gay.

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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 ‘She Must Be Mad’ by Charly Cox Limited Edition Embroidered Tee

    £32.00
    Add to Bag
  • BACK IN STOCK ‘Still I Rise’ Embroidered Organic Cotton Tee

    £32.00
    Add to Bag
  • Birdsong X Know The Origin Embroidered Midi Dress

    £70.00
    Add to Bag
  • Rosa Round Neck Abstract Embroidered Tee

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

    £65.00
    Add to Bag
  • 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
  • Dancing Queen Socks

    £18.00
    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.

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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