RMIT students are bringing fair trade principles to Mother's Day through a collaboration with ethical industry partners as part of this year’s Victorian Fair Trade Festival.
Together with fair trade promoters Moral Fairground and ethical clothing company 3Fish, Fashion and Textiles students have designed organic cotton tote bags as part of the Totes Fairtrade project, ready to display and sell at the Fair Trade Mother’s Day Market this weekend at Brunswick Town Hall.
Textile teacher Lucy Adam believes tote bags are just the vehicle to communicate ethical fashion and achieve greater awareness of fair trade.
“The tote bags are like a blank canvas, hence they can be great drivers for both design and social messages,” Adam said.
“We also want to show off our ability to respond to social and environmental themes through textile design, and our hand printed tote bags are functional, practical, and every bag is different.”
For the past few years, students and staff from the Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design) have worked with Moral Fairground on events and festivals, and 3Fish Founder Natalie Dillon has been a regular guest lecturer for Adam’s students.
It wasn’t until recently that they joined forces to create the Totes Fairtrade project.
“The project began with a powerful briefing from Natalie to students about the importance of fair trade, as she and her partner regularly travel to India to visit the communities where the cotton for their garments is grown,” Adam said.
“Natalie was able to share with us firsthand accounts of how fair trade directly benefits producer communities.”
After purchasing some fair trade organic cotton through Dillon from India, RMIT was approached by Susanna Bevilacqua from Moral Fairground inviting the Brunswick Textile Design students to get involved in the festival during Fair Trade Fortnight.
Adam says the Totes Fairtrade project’s most important feature is that it highlights the importance of the whole textile supply chain.
“We know the story of our product – from where the raw materials for the bags were grown, how they arrived at RMIT, to the construction of the bags at The Social Studio in Collingwood this is an extremely important factor in ethical fashion and textiles,” she said.
The proceeds from the sale of the totes will be donated to a fair trade farming community in Uganda, thus closing the loop.
“African cotton farmers are facing overwhelming hardships, and many fair trade cotton co-operatives are still in their infancy.”
Adam says she looks forward to being involved in the Victoria Fair Trade Festival again next year with new textile products to promote the fair trade industry.
“Textile design programs at RMIT are committed to working with industry and the wider community on projects that have sustainable learning outcomes and are dedicated to social and environmental best practice,” she said.
“You’ll definitely see RMIT back there again.”
Title: Fair Trade Mother’s Day Market
Date: Sunday 10 May
Time: 10am to 5pm
Location: Brunswick Town Hall, Melbourne
Cost: Free entry