In this guest article for Urban Times, Clare Lissaman, co-founder of ethical menswear label Arthur & Henry, tells us about the idea behind their ethically produced shirts and the reason men do actually look for style and ethics. Arthur & Henry is donating two fantastic shirts from their range to be auctioned off at Bid for Better.
When we first told people we were starting up an ethical menswear label we mainly got two reactions, often both from the same person:
“Men don’t care about fashion. Men don’t care about ethics. ” We think they’re wrong on both counts.
Men’s style is hot right now. Menswear no longer has just one day tacked onto the back of London Fashion Week but its own separate billing “London Collections: Men” held in January and June. Menswear bloggers, tweeters, pinteresters and street style photographers are setting the social media waves alight. Whilst some of this attention is focused on the creative, the wild, the dramatic, a far larger proportion is interested in heritage, craft and traditional skills; on the textures and cuts and the small details.
And as we talk to ordinary men about clothes we discover that heaps of them do actually think about style quite a lot and even those men who have never read a fashion magazine or style blog, men who would claim to have no interest in fashion, have a very strong sense of what they like and don’t like, and a great eye for detail. We found men who hate shirts that are too short and come untucked, men who are aware of their ultra long arms, or that their six pack days are long behind them. Men who will only ever wear double cuff shirts.
So what about ethics?
“Men don’t care about fashion.”
“Men don’t care about ethics.”
We think they’re wrong on both counts.
Well, there are male environmental campaigners and activists just as there are female. Likewise there are both men and women involved in labour rights work. And in charitable volunteering. And donating to charity. Why would these men not be equally as interested in how their clothes were made?
If truth be told though, no one, no matter what their sex, buys their clothes based solely on environmental and ethical criteria no matter how committed. So our shirts needed to be well made as well as organic, be beautiful as well as fair trade cotton, be long lasting as well as ethically made.
That’s where most of our customers are. They just want a good shirt. They look at cut, style, quality and price. The fact our shirts are good for people and planet is the icing on the cake. And we are big fans of cake at Arthur & Henry.
Arthur & Henry shirts are made from organic cotton, because it’s better for the planet and better for farmers. Conventional cotton is grown using vast quantities of pesticides and insecticides. Organic cotton, on the other hand, uses agricultural methods designed to help sustain the soil it grows on, and the farmers who grow it. They don’t have to handle toxic chemicals, worry about them entering their water supply or get into debt buying them. Some of the cotton is also fair trade and we’re working to make all of it fair trade in the future. (Quite hard to get the right yarn quality at the moment.)
So, men, now you can dress smart, look good and be eco ethical.
What’s not to like?
Arthur & Henry shirts are available all year round at www.arthurandhenry.com. They will also be selling their lovely shirts plus some carefully selected ethical accessories - great for gifts – at the following fairs:
Saturday 1st December: Fair Christmas Fayre, 11am – 6pm, Regent Hall, 275 Oxford Street, London
Sunday 2nd December: Diggin’ Design, 10.30am-6pm, The Garden Museum, Lambeth, London
Weekend 8th & 9th December: Fair Christmas Fayre, 10.30am – 6pm Horniman Museum, London
Sunday 16th December: Festive Feast, Stoke Newington Town Hall, N16, London
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