Monday, 10 May 2010

With a little help from my friend: a second pair of Schmethical hands joins the challenge!

Hello. My name is Kay and I'm an unethical consumer!

Having recently accepted this blog’s invitation to join the ethically challenged year, I start with our first task – fair trade clothes.
Now, I’ll be honest. I don’t know much about this. I like to buy fair trade chocolate when the option is there, but this doesn’t stop me buying non fair trade if it's not. Working for a charity, we, of course, drink only fair trade tea in the office.

Home is a different story. And as for clothes – well, I do fell guilty when I buy cheap clothes, but still pay occasional visits to Primark with the best of them. My sister once bought me a fair trade t-shirt, which I swan around in looking all saintly, but that’s about it.

What I really need to buy is a bikini for the holiday I am about to go on (yes, on a plane, but we’re not doing the reduced carbon footprint challenge until next month!). Can you buy fair trade swimsuits? How do I know which high street shops are selling items made in good working conditions? Is it possible to find out and get an honest answer from them?
Some research is needed. I will start at the point where all detailed complex research projects start – I will type it into Google.

My shortlist criteria for bikinis are as follows (warning – both writers of this blog are very prone to creating lists):

1. It needs to be supportive. Am not one to brag, but I do have fairly large breasts. And they need to be held in place buy some sturdy support. I fear it is the type of support that can only be made in a Chinese sweat shop. However, I hope to prove otherwise.
2. It is the first time in a long time that I have worn a bikini. The last time, I was a slip of a girl and everything (including the breasts) where smaller. So I need to not look like a beached whale in it. Or at least not feel like I look like a beached whale in it.
3. It of course needs to be made in good working conditions.

Depressingly, there is a lot written on how hard it is to find fair trade swimwear and not much about where to actually find it. Even more depressingly, it seems to work on the assumption that all people who wear fair trade clothes must be skinny girls whose diet of raw mung beans means that they never got the nutrition to grow breasts. Which this example from organic retailers BTC Elements illustrates:

Pride swallowed, I asked the assistant to help me. She was great. She offered soothing words of advice about tightening the halter neck and reassured me I wouldn’t fall out if I dared to actually swim in it. This, however, caused a problem. After having helped me manhandle ‘pamela’ and ‘anderson’ into place, I found I didn’t have the nerve to quiz her about the ethical status of the produce. The label said “made in China”, which did nothing to reassure me. So I took the easy option. I mumbled an excuse about wanting my friend’s opinion before I buy and ran out.

I will deal with this one how all investigative journalists do.
Over email.
This way I don’t have to have an awkward conversation.
I have emailed Bravissmo to ask them about their working conditions. I await their response (and in the mean time will practise my assertiveness)

So, it’s back to my trusty Bravissimo, armed with questions about the work force that makes the giant bikinis.
For those of you who have never visited Bravissimo before, it is amazing! It provides underwear for the more well-endowed woman in masses of choice. The staff are always friendly and very helpful and know their stuff when it comes to good-fitting bras. Having browsed the bikini section and picked up a few l like, they ALL turned out to be too small. Queue mild panic about my ever-growing silhouette.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Kay,

    I'm Claudia, Renata's sister, writting from a cold, cold Brazil. I think I'm wearing a sueter for the first time this year! It is so nice that you are contributing to the blog! I hope you don't mind me adding pictures to the posts. I believe they make the texts more attractive! Hope you find the perfect ethical bikini! Cheers!