The Fableists : A Uniform for a New Generation

I recently wrote this blog post for the blog City Girl at Heart, which has a weekly feature called Ethical Tuesday. I thought I’d share it with you.

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The Fableists make clothing for children aged 3-10. Our designs are classic, stylish and hard-wearing; they are built for kids. The designs echo the looks we see on those working in the creative industries worldwide from our backgrounds in advertising and production. No matter where you go in the world, it seems that people working in advertising, design and production have a ‘uniform’. It consists of jeans, trainers, graphic tees, jackets, beautifully tailored tops and vintage pieces. The look is comfortable, unisex and utilitarian.

And it is not wasteful. While everyone will have some special pieces in their wardrobe for occasions, no one needs a closet jammed with clothes they rarely wear. Children are no different, and if you’re like me, you can do with reducing your washing! When faced with too many options from which to choose, children can become overwhelmed and this can lead to problems getting them dressed.

‘The Fableists’ Wardrobe’ reduces waste but it also makes the lives of parents and children easier. You can add to it and accessorise it but it won’t go out of style, will suit all occasions, is not seasonal, is made well – to last, and since it is mostly unisex, it can be passed on to a sibling, family member, or friend. It also helps children to learn to buy what they ‘need’, not just what they ‘want’.

Reducing consumption and waste by investing in good quality, durable pieces that will have a longer life and caring for them to prolong their use is at the heart of The Fableists’ Wardrobe. But we also want to make sure the clothes look great. We were inspired by vintage looks that took us back to our own childhoods, when kids were allowed to be kids for longer. Kids shouldn’t be worrying about the latest fashions, they should be climbing trees and wading in puddles! We keep the look simple, authentic, kid friendly and practical.

But we didn’t want to stop there. The idea that somewhere, a child could be making the clothes that we would sell to other children was intolerable. We didn’t want to support anyone who would use children in their factories, or slave labour – that was a given. And no way did we want to use toxic dyes that could be dumped in to the ecosystem in the area surrounding the factory, poisoning the rivers and land, and therefore the people who live and farm there. Most importantly, we began to realise that if small companies like ours didn’t start to make changes in the way that we produce clothing, then the big companies would never change either. We are making clothes for children who will be the consumers of tomorrow, so it’s crucial that they learn to shop well. We want the tribe of ‘Fableists’ to learn to buy well, wear well, care well and dispose well. It’s pretty simple, really.

So, we made a commitment to ensuring that all of our clothes were produced in factories that pay fair wages, offer benefits to their employees, provide safe working conditions and where no children are employed. The cotton we use is organic, grown in monsoon-fed regions of India and produced by a collective working with over 15,000 small hold or marginal farmers. The collective allows the farmers to negotiate fair and often premium market prices for their crops. It educates the farmers on crop diversification and maintains organic farming standards. The collective has saved most of these small, traditional farms from a cycle of debt from which they would not have escaped. Organic farming eliminates the toxic chemicals from the lives and lands of the farmers as well as from the crops they produce, which eventually end up on our plates and in our clothes.

For our t-shirt collections, we collaborate with well-known artists to create limited edition runs of their artwork on our tees. We pay the artists a fair price for their work and don’t take advantage of them, or take away from their amazing work by printing endless versions of each print. Each design has a limited print run of only 500 t-shirts. The tees come numbered like a the pieces of art that they are. This also ensures that your children will own a unique item that will help them to stand out from the crowd in a mass-produced-fashion obsessed world.

Every item in our collection comes with its own passport where your child can record their name and the dates they owned the clothes. This passport gets passed on with the clothes and there is space for another child to write their name. This will help encourage children to be excited by hand me downs, treasure their clothes and passport and give it to someone else when they are done.

We tell the whole story – or Fable – of our clothes and hope that both we and consumers will learn more about how, where, why and by whom clothes are made and strive to make positive changes in the way that fashion is produced, consumed and disposed of.

The clothes never fail to impress in person. The current collection consists of thirteen artist-designed t-shirts, straight-legged jeans, denim skirt, Breton top, baseball tee, western shirt, smock top, tunic dress and a ‘chore coat’ in two colours. See them at our online shop http://www.TheFableists.com.

Sarah Cooper
The Fableists

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