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Lucy Robinson, Founder & Director of Tam & Rob is making Clothing for an Ethical Generation
|Tam & Rob Jersey Top and Handwoven Trousers
Tam & Rob is a fairtrade fashion label that designs and creates quirky and trend-led womenswear in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner. The label works only with fairtrade certified producers and dedicates 10% of profits to charitable work.
The Tam & Rob story started four years ago when I asked a friend to make a dress for me. I had always worn vintage dresses for parties, restaurants, bars, but for once wanted something new and fresh – with that delightful smooth touch clothes have before you first wash them. The dress was lovely and still hangs in my cupboard today waiting for the next occasion. The thing I liked most about that dress is that I saw it being made, by an actual person rather than it just being manufactured by faceless label somewhere in Cambodia. I knew the story behind it.
That is part of the reason for driving me to founding Tam & Rob, the feeling that it is important to be able to see who made the clothes, to know that when you buy something you have sense of what went into – the designer, the person who cut the pattern, where the cotton was grown, all the things which the high street has such difficulty in being able to tell us.
But more importantly for Tam & Rob I knew that it wasn’t just me who wanted to know where things came from. It’s our generation as a whole, our ethical generation that demands that standards are raised, that others’ lives aren’t undermined for a person’s wants, that the environment is not sacrificed. That’s why our motto is ‘Clothing for an ethical generation’.
Founding Tam & Rob I was influenced by so many things: Seeing extreme poverty first hand in India, a Scandinavian grandmother obsessed with design in all its forms, a love of making things, and a family friend who opened a fairtrade shop in the mid 1990’s and who showed me why fairtrade was so important.
This summer marks the third collection from my fairtrade fashion label, Tam & Rob, and things have moved forward so much since 2005 when the ethical label was started. From working with two producer groups in India I now work with 12 fairtrade organisations in India and Nepal. As well as this, over the last 18 months Magazines, national and niche, have all stopped by to look, listen and report on the collections and the story of the people behind them.
|Tam & Rob Handwoven Wrap Dress
Our summer 2007 collection was designed by Lucy Tammam, a fashion graduate of London’s most famous fashion school, Central St Martins. Using her creativity and also technical skills learnt from one of Italy’s top tailors, she has produced a collection that includes influences from catwalk trends to classic films, all beautifully hand tailored. The fairtrade and organic cotton jersey top takes it cues from the current volume trend and our wrap dress influenced by Brief Encounter is produced in hand woven fairtrade cotton maroon/green. Our quirky shirts with bow tie detailing provide an alternative to plain suit shirts for women and are available in several colours.
I place a huge emphasis on creativity and believe that great design and tailoring is crucial to all our clothes, but it is especially important for garments that must overcome the stigma of ‘ethical clothing’. So each season we look to the catwalk, but also to films, books, art and design, science for influences to create clothes that sustain you for longer than one season. Clothes that you can love for seasons to come.
But really our clothes are down to the fantastic fairtrade organisations we work with across India and Nepal. Our first production unit in Bangalore, India, is an incredible success story of an organisation committed to improving peoples’ opportunities. The unit gives training to one of the most disadvantaged group in India: women from the slums. They train the women in embroidery and tailoring, as well as English and computing lessons and give advice on CVs and interview techniques. There are so many fanastic stories of these women who are now working not only in the production unit as managers, but in positions of responsibility in offices across Bangalore. It is these organisations which now are the impetus for Tam & Rob.
Tam & Rob's summer collection is now on Summer Sale at the Natural Store >>