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ETHICAL & SUSTAINABLE

We all have a different line in the sand as to what we consider to be ‘sustainable’ fashion. At Ally Bee sustainability means taking a ‘cradle-to-cradle’ approach to design, material selection and making. 

 

'CRADLE-TO-CRADLE' DESIGN PHILOSOPHY

A ‘cradle to cradle’ design philosophy means treating the materials we produce from our earth - our cradle - as valued nutrients and ensuring the extraction and processing of these materials causes minimal harm and can be recycled or are fully biodegradable. Translated to knitwear making, this means sourcing, processing, dyeing, and knitting natural fibre yarns with minimal waste and exploitation of earth, growers & knitters and then, at the end of life, the item must circulate back to the earth as an organic nutrient, leaving no trace.

 

Taking a ‘cradle-to-cradle’ approach to knitwear means seeking out natural fibre cashmere, alpaca and wool yarns produced to high standards of land management and animal welfare, cleaner processing and dyeing than conventional methods, and full end-of-life biodegradability. Ally Bee knits contain no polymers and no sequins. It means making a product of treasured keepsake quality, intended to live well beyond one season. It means minimising packaging, plastic usage and office waste and continually seeking out the most innovative ‘beyond compliance’ materials.

FAIR MAKING & WORKER'S RIGHTS

 

Ethical & sustainable values are at the core of Ally Bee. Garments are produced with fair reward to the makers. All machine-knitted pieces in the Ally Bee collection are designed in London and made in limited volumes in small factories in Scotland and England. Our manufacturers do not engage in the practice of outsourcing production as 'piece' work, instead all work happens in the factory by long-standing members of staff paid a fair wage in a safe friendly environment. Can I audit these factories to prove this? No, I will leave this to the big companies with auditing divisions and big CSR budgets to engage in this. But I can attest to meeting the workers in these factories and have enough life experience to know this is a fair place to work. I've seen little to no turnover of staff in the 5 years I have known my Scottish factory, and that speaks volumes about this workplace. As for my English factory, this is a small family run business yet to employ outside the immediate family - and they play fair. I've been ripped off in this business, and anyone I don't trust will receive no further business from me.

The small line of luxury hand-knitted garments are made by a fairly managed knitting team based in Tamil Nadu India. Fair labour standards were essential when sourcing production for this new strand in the Ally Bee story, and it has been a pleasure to work with this B-Corp certified studio in a rural area of Tamil Nadu.   

 

       " Employing the services of knitters in a B Corporation certified studio in Tamil Nadu gave me the assurances in these standards. And when I visited the facility this year I saw what a difference this employment opportunity means for the women trained and invested in this venture. Knitting for this company means not only fair pay and a safe working environment,  but also new opportunities for illiterate and semi-literate women in these local Tamil communities, and their kids.

~ Alison Baker, Founder, Ally Bee Knitwear

 

Each woman apprenticed to the knitting hub is given 7 months paid training and mentoring. When her knitting is perfected and flawless she is assigned to a design and takes ownership of the making. Illiteracy is common in this region of India, so most women receive a basic education in reading, and maths for the first time in their lives, while also learning the skill of knitting. The training and employment offered through this studio is supportive, nurturing and stimulating in a safe environment. As a norm, work is 6 hours per day in a well-lit, spacious and clean studio. As a B Corp registered organisation, worker’s rights are are held in the highest regard in this knitwear studio. If any knitwear labels are reading this, and wish a recommendation to this studio, I am more than happy to provide this.

 

LOW WASTE & SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING

Ally Bee uses plastic-free packaging for customer shipping, using recycled kraft cardboard packing boxes, water soluble packaging tape and no plastic bags. I have returned plastic sleeves to my manufacturers after delivery asking for reuse - however, this has been less than perfect in reuse, but my manufactures always use old boxes for delivery so at least there some reuse in this form of packaging.

 

ETHICAL FASHION FORUM

Ally Bee is a member of the Ethical Fashion Forum and one of the founding members of  Common Objective.

 

 

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