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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, animals, growers & knitters and then, at the end of life, the item must be able to 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. Garments and accessories are made to high quality specification, of treasured keepsake quality, intended to live well beyond one season. Using only natural fibres free of polymers and with special attention to low impact dye processes means at end of wearing life these items can be buried and degrade without leaving harmful residues.  It means minimising packaging, plastic usage and office waste and continually seeking out the most innovative ‘beyond compliance’ materials.

FAIR MAKING & WORKER'S RIGHTS

At 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. Part of the Ally Bee range is made in a small factory in England using circular Shima Seiki machines. This small family run business yet to employ outside the immediate family and do not subcontract.

ALLY BEE HAND-KNITS

Ally Bee's small line of luxury hand-knitted garments are made in a knitting studio outside the seaside town of Pondicherry in the south of 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 Certified B-Corporation  studio in a rural area of Tamil Nadu.   

 

       " Employing the services of knitters in a B-Corporation certified studio gave me the assurances of standards. And when I visited the facility I saw the difference this employment opportunity means for the women trained in this venture - when they are taken on in this studio they are taught to read, write and basic maths. Knitting for this company means not only fair pay and a safe working environment,  but also new opportunities for these women in local Tamil Nadu 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 she is assigned to simple designs and in time takes ownership of more detailed designs. Illiteracy is common in villages in this region of India, so women also receive a basic education in reading, and maths. The training and employment offered is supportive and nurturing in a safe environment. Ladies work 6 hours per day in a well-lit, spacious and clean studio. As a B Corp registered organisation, worker’s rights are held in the highest regard in this knitwear studio. If any knitwear labels are reading this, and wish a recommendation to this studio, please get in touch and contact details will be provided. 

 

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 used plastic sleeves to my manufacturer for reuse. This reuse has not alrways been consistent, but my manufacturers always use old boxes for delivery so at least there's some reuse in this form of packaging.

 

ETHICAL FASHION FORUM & COMMON OBJECTIVE

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

 

 

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