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Friday 16 May 2014

Ethical Handmade Clothing In London By Heba

Everyone in this picture is wearing a jacket that was handmade in London, in a sewing room in Brick Lane. What's more, on the label of every jacket you can find out the name of the seamstress who made it and they are priced fairly to reflect this.
I recently took part is a discussion about ethical fashion on the radio to mark the one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza Factory disaster in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The question they were asking was are we shopping more ethically now?

Heba don't just made jackets they make all kinds of clothes including capes!
'Ethical' has many meanings but one of the questions that commonly arises is do you know how the garment you are wearing was made - was it made in a factory where workers work in unacceptable conditions and are badly paid? When clothes have labels inside that say what country they are made in, we really never know the exact circumstances they were made in....but at Heba it's different. 
This cape cost £20 it was love at first sight so I bought it immediately! Makes me feel very ladylike

Heba is a women's sewing enterprise, collective, co-operative and training facility for women from diverse multicultural backgrounds. Based in Brick Lane, East London, women can come here to learn English, IT and sewing skills, which they can then use for enterprise. 
Some of the women who use the training facility go on to make clothes to sell - some are private commissions and others are sold on a special Heba stall at Spitalfields Market every Sunday morning. (currently based in between Lola's Cupcakes, Benefit and Giraffe.)
Buying an item from their stall means you know exactly who your money is going to, who made the item and where it was made - in fact the money goes back into keeping Heba running.
One jacket two fashionistas
The project is instrumental in giving the women who attend skills, independence and confidence - they also get to show off their creativity in a safe environment (there's even a creche facility on site so while they are learning their kids are looked after.)
So why am I modelling some their creations with a group of other women? Well Heba need help! Although there are other handmade clothes stalls at Spitalfields they are also up against mass-made cheap clothing. So they decided it was time to do some promotion starting with a photoshoot of all the lady's hard work.
I got involved because I attend sewing classes at Heba on Saturday mornings and all the girls in the photo are involved with Heba in some way too.
On the Heba stall the stock changes regularly. They work on seasonal collections bit most excitingly take made-to-measure bespoke commissions too. So next time you are in Spitalfields on a Sunday check out the stall and see what they have been up OR if you've ever wanted to get something made just for you, an original one off that's made-to-measure OR need help with creating your own products for your own business or needs (the women provide sewing services) be sure to speak with them and then book them so that they can continue such an admirable organisation. 

Heba Women's Project is based at 164 Brick Lane and their stall is Sundays at Spitalfields Market.
If you are a woman who wants to learn to sew or make their own clothes they also run sewing classes that anyone can attend. Be sure to them them out!

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness - what a great thing! I adore that cape (and what a bargain!) and love the fact that there are women fighting back against mass-produced clothing and gaining new skills/financial independence.

    I'm based in Manchester - what a shame it's just in London. But would be more than happy to share the love in the north with a wee blog piece? Let me know what you think :)