This week on the blog, we’re featuring Pants to Poverty, an award winning Fairtrade and Organic fashion brand started nine years ago as part of the global ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign.
Pants has really come a very long way since Nelson Mandela stood in Trafalgar Square in 2005 calling for our generation to rise up and Make Poverty History. It was his words (which I remember well), and the enormous need for change that inspired its establishment and the global ripple effect that resonated around the world that year through the fantastic Live8 Concerts and other massive rallies.
Pants to Poverty’s very English name, needs a bit of explanation…In England, ‘Pants’ are not trousers, they are actually one’s underwear. A very embarrassing lesson I learned the first time I took trousers to be dry cleaned and asked if they could clean my ‘pants’… you can just imagine the look I got…
But ‘pants’ is also an expression used to indicate that something is wrong, bad, or awful…so if it’s bad, it’s pants… therefore “Pants to Poverty” means something like poverty is terrible!
I’ve been following Pants for a while now, and I really think that it’s one of those ethical companies that really stands out as a true pioneer that is constantly questioning the status quo, innovating and breaking new ground. Aside from the incredibly sound and credible work they do in the ground with their producer groups in India; their design, quality and imagery is so exciting! They really do ‘ooze cool’ and its no wonder that they appeal so much to students and to younger ethical consumers, compelling them to join their ranks on mass and take part of their incredible campaigning efforts.
Something else that I think is unique about their model, is their concept of a 3D business. For most businesses, the main purpose of their work is simply to maximize financial profit for their shareholders. They believe that this may have been ok in years gone by but, with climate change, resource scarcity and increasing social inequality around the world, such one dimensional approach places business goals against those of our society and our environment, it is simply not good enough anymore.
Their model, or ‘experiment’ as they like to call it, aims to bring ‘true profit’ back to business, redefining profit from a purely 1 dimensional approach to a 3D model which quantifies a company’s achievements in 3 dimensions: social, environmental and financial profits, which are measured and integrated into their Profit and Loss statements; enabling them to really understand the true impact of their work.
In response to the plight of the world’s millions of cotton producers who are often left invisible, neglected and poor at the end of a long and complex supply chain, cotton was one of the first commodities that obtained Fairtrade certification in the UK. Its producers face many challenges from the impact of climate change and health risks associated to the chemicals used in its production, through to competition from highly subsidised producers in rich countries and poor terms of trade.
On top of this, and quoting Pant’s website, the Fashion Industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, second only to oil in terms of its environmental impact. 25% of all chemicals produced worldwide are used for textiles and the industry is often noted as the number 2 polluter of clean water. Add to this the terrifying death of 1133 workers at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh and the modern day slavery in thousands of sweat shops around the world, and the real emergency of this industry emerges and Pants’ efforts something we should all do our best to support, here is a link to their products.
What’s next for this fantastic brand? Well, after selling hundreds of thousands of pairs of Fairtrade and Organic underwear across more than 30 countries – all made beautifully like they say: from ‘cotton to bottom’ – they have now decided to move to India and embark upon a fallow period in advance of fertile plans for 2015. They will run their company from the farmers’ office in Odisha, India so that the staff can document and even assist with the harvest of the cotton that makes their underwear. What a great way to live what they preach and to really get to know the realities of their business!
Now to the fun bit! the lovely people from Pants have offered me a £10 voucher that can be used against the purchase any of their lovely products (get in early for those X-mas presents) and we are organising this very simple competition… to enter simply leave us a comment telling us what you think is really PANTS in the world at the moment… for example:
- Pants to climate change!
- Pants to unfair trade!
- Pants to Ebola!
- Pants to ‘diet’ double chocolate chip cookies!
We will choose the funniest, wittiest or most moving of all the entries received on the blog and across our social media pages on Friday 14th of November.