Ethical trading has become a hot topic. It is, of course, all about not exploiting the maker, to get the cheapest goods to your home. We've got used to seeing the Fairtrade label on coffee packets and bananas, but this is an issue that's also making waves in interiors.
- © David George
- © Marks & Spencer
- © Ganesha
- © Christy
Consumer demand is turning fair trade into big bucks. And the big brands are now reaping the commercial benefits of ethical trading practices developed over many years by numerous small traders - slowly and with difficulty.
And, away from the big stores, attractive imported products for the home are now in some of London's more conscientious and adventurous shops. They are increasingly not just "good", but gorgeous, with an intrinsic handmade appeal.
It now claims the biggest range of Fairtrade cotton products on the high street.
These are mostly clothes, with T-shirts going down a storm, but there are also linens - such as cotton fitted sheets (£18-£24), pillowcases (£7.50), towels and tea towels (£7.50 for three).
Britain's biggest towel brand, trading in England since 1850, has just introduced four soft neutral colours made entirely from Fairtrade cotton sourced directly from farmers in India at a fixed price to provide a regular, stable income.
Prices are £7.50 for a hand towel and £25 for a bath sheet.
Fair trading in Gabriel's Wharf near the Oxo Tower on the South Bank for more than 12 years, Gaensha’s aim is "to add as much value to handmade products as we can, through quality in design, making and selling. This puts more money into local communities."
For more information, go to www.ganesha.co.uk/fairtrade.htm, which has a beguiling selection of fashion and furnishings, including its brightly coloured Bollywood designs with Warhol-like patterns, devised with the printer in India. In time for summer picnics are disposable - and even compostable - plates made from leaves (Box of 20, 31cm, £4.99).
The brainchild of Barnes-based Alison Satasi, Luma promises "organic luxury ethically made". Satasi trekked to remote parts of India and South America to develop bed linens, blankets and throws in chic, deliberately understated designs for the top end of the trade. In India, Luma is a fair-trade partner with Oxfam and Greenpeace, which are helping Indian peasants to once again farm cotton on small plots. This rescues land from cocoa cultivation used for cocaine.