Fairtrade Focus: Topman’s new retro tees

March 4, 2010 by George Walker 

mens_nouvelle-t[1]Topman has built upon its Fairtrade range for guys this Fairtrade Fortnight with a limited edition range of highly covetable t-shirts. The tees combine a sense of youthful energy, clever prints and Fairtrade cotton to give you guys a stylish ethical look. George Walker reveals why these limited edition tops are definitely worth snapping up. 

Sometimes I have to admit to being a little disappointed at the amount of stylish men’s ethical fashion. There are certainly some labels that hit the mark (Edun, Lu Flux and People Tree to name but a few), but – as is usually the case in the fashion world- we gents get left behind a bit when it comes to new and stylish designs. Luckily, while we wait for more ethical fashion labels to deck us out in fashionable garb, we can rely on the constant flow of ethical collections for men on the high street.

The limited edition range of Fairtrade Topman t-shirts is certainly a winner for me. I particularly like the NYC cream t-shirt (above), which has a lovely edge of vintage bohemian style. The t-shirt ticks the trend box with that big monochrome screen-print, but the print avoids clichéd skull and tattoo prints which I think we’ve all become a bit bored with. Instead, the cityscape and the scrawl of French lettering gives this t-shirt the look of a Robert Rauschenberg painting or Robert Frank’s famous mix-media pictures of New York. I have just bought this one, so I will soon be wearing it, pretending I’m some sort of Greenwich Village dweller who writes novels by day and rocks out by night.

If you’re looking forward to a summer of festivals and beach parties, then the 24/7 grey t-shirt (right) might be the choice for you. The large slogan print has a Katharine Hamnett look to it, with an image of speeding lights making up the lettering. The long sleeve tops have a great retro look and they’re ideal for the beach or for huddling round a barbeque as the summer sun sets.twenty four Fairtrade t-shirt

Topman said: “We’ve selected one of our most on trend colourways and print types in our range to ensure that we sell as many Fairtrade tee as possible. We’ve supported the Fairtrade Foundation for the last four years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  Supporting the cotton farmers and their communities via paying more competitive cotton prices is very rewarding for the buying team and brand.  It also raises awareness of Fairtrade in the male younger fashion market.”

Topman has released this limited edition range of brilliant t-shirts for Fairtrade Fortnight, but did you know they have a Fairtrade line all the year round? Topman told us: “Fairtrade Fortnight aims to raise awareness of the problem [or unfair working conditions] but Fairtrade is an ongoing project. Therefore Topman aim to have Fairtrade products available all year round.” To find more Fairtrade products by Topman, look out for the Fairtrade logo on Topman products.

The limited edition range includes two short sleeve and two long sleeve graphic options that start at just £14 (Topman has made sure that no extra costs for the Fairtrade production are passed on to the customer.) The t-shirts are available from 40 stores across the country or from Topman’s online shop.


2 Responses to “Fairtrade Focus: Topman’s new retro tees”

  1. Joe Bloggs on March 6th, 2010 3:23 AM

    I find it amusing that a eco blogg is doing a review on Top Shop owned by the infamous Sir Phillip Green. With the greatest respect how can anyone allow these people on this blogg? They have been in the public press more times than I care to imagine in relation to ethical issues in how goods are produced, see http://peopleandplanet.org/redressfashion/topshop. This type of greenwashing is sickening and poor. In addition to this when they purchase from UK firms the terms are a nonsense, 60 to 65% margin plus a 15% settlement discount. Fair trade starts at home as well as abroad. Unless ethical bloggs take a stance we are going to be subjected to this nonsense. Personally, I want a honest brand when it come to fashion retail not a wolf dressed in sheeps clothing. If you dig deep enough you will see Arcadia group has a very average track record in this arena, they chop and change suppliers and what they think is ethical is the theory that, “we are paying them surely that is fair”.

    I hope this blogg takes light and supports genuine fair traders and challenges these greenwashers harder.

  2. Jen Marsden on March 7th, 2010 12:01 PM

    Dear Joe Bloggs,

    Thank you for your comment about our post on Top Shop and Fairtrade.
    Here at Greenmystyle.com we encourage this type of comment as it does raise many questions.

    I agree with you that fair trade begins at home as much as abroad. While it sounds like you are a very conscientious consumer yourself, we want to encourage the many people who are already in a regular habit of purchasing from the high street and would not normally buy Fairtrade certified fashion to do so too. And, that is through bringing to light the more positive options that are available there. Here at Greenmystyle.com we highlight the many different options as we are aware that everyone has their own individual consumer habits. As I’m sure you are aware, even the definition of what is ethical/environmental can differ on an individual level. For some it may be organic, some it may be fair trade, it could be a question of animal welfare, supporting local British economies and independent shops, the list goes on. We particularly applaud those that go out of their way and tick many of these boxes at the same time, as you can see from the many pages on our site! We are aware that change comes slowly and so we are doing our best to bridge the current gap and report on what we view as positive steps across the spectrum – and we appreciate that our readers are intelligent enough to make up their own mind and choose what they feel fits best with their values as to where and how they shop.

    There are recent statistics from Mintel that suggests that while eco fashion sales have more than quadrupled in recent years, it still only has a tiny share of the global fashion market (0.04%) compared to the high street and the major retailers. So, while efforts by the major retailers such as Top Shop are still small, they do make a significant difference in terms of consumer spend.

    What I would personally like to see, which you have touched on, is Fairtrade – which is recognised by the majority of the general public – going through the whole supply chain – not just with the raw product as is with the FAIRTRADE Mark currently. Pachacuti has recently been the first company to do this with its panama hats through the WFTO Sustainable Fair Trade Management System and we hope that many more companies will follow suit. We also welcome initiatives such as Made-BY. With an increase in considered and committed campaigns such as the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, supported by Labour Behind the Label in the UK, which calls for a living wage for ALL workers in the Asian garment industry (based on a minimum benchmark that has recently been agreed), we are seeing a glimpse into this already.

    Here’s to more debate – it is a zeitgeist for transformation after all.

    Jen Marsden, editor

    Ps. For those reading this and wanting to know more about Greenwash – check out Futerra’s fantastic Greenwash Guide.

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