How many slaves work for you?

A cross-post from the Pier32 blog, that asks a very tough question.

An Excuse For Fashion

20120614-112508.jpgReadership, I’m sure you’re aware that although X&HT is my home and you are all my dearioes, I do like to spread the love around a bit. For example, I run the blog for Pier 32, a promotional clothing company that deals exclusively in ethical and Eco-friendly items. Writing about sustainable fashion is, to put it mildly, a bit outside my remit. But I like a challenge, and I haven’t been booted off the job yet, so I must be doing something right.

This weekend sees me in Brighton, helping Pier 32 at the Eco-Technology Show. It’s a huge showcase for all things eco and, you know, technological. It’s a good fit for us, as Pier 32 believes in using smart solutions to ethical questions.

It looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun, although I’m still a bit un-nerved at the idea of going out and networking. It’s important to stretch oneself as a writer, I suppose.

You can find out more about the show here, and keep an eye on my Twitter feed and the Pier 32 blog for updates from the show.

Back to the usual geekiness next week. For now, darlings, I’m a fashionista.

A New Phase pt. 2: The View From The Pier

The item below has been crossposted from my other gig. I write three days a week for Pier 32, a promotional clothing company. The twist is that they do everything to a set of strict ethical and Eco-friendly guidelines. My work on their blog reflects that, so I write about ethical and green issues from a fashion perspective.

Readership, I know what you’re thinking. I agree. I am a very fashionable chap, and this is therefore a perfect fit for me. And as X&HT is such a focussed and well-regimented blog, then the concept of writing regularly to a tight brief should cause no challenge whatsoever. Right again. This isn’t giving me any sleepless nights at all. Not a one.

However. You all know I like a challenge, and the Pier 32 gig is pushing my writing in new and unexpected directions. So, do feel free to check both the blog and the main site out. I post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Mostly, anyway. Here’s the most recent post…

We’ve seen over the past week or so that sustainability and ethics need to be baked into the core of a company’s mission statement. If they’re not, then accusations of box-ticking and complacency are always going to be waiting around the corner, and a brand that can’t quickly respond to those accusations has a PR disaster on their hands.

It’s tough to get big complex corporate structures to understand why it’s so important to make sure that their suppliers are run ethically and responsibly. Child labour and inhumane working conditions can seem like abstract concepts or easily explained away as a different cultural trait to a company whose focus is purely on the bottom line. Not everyone can have Pier32’s ethical guidance, which comes from the very top of the corporate structure.

So, how do we put the issues involved in this complicated subject into a simple and easily understood form?

Well. Shall we play a game?

Channel 4 have just released Sweatshop, a game where you run a clothing factory staffed by skilled workers and child labour. Based on a simple tower defence model (think Cooking Dash, Plants Vs. Zombies or something similar), your job is to fill the orders as best you can while keeping profits high.

The clever thing about the game is how easy it becomes to make the wrong choices. It’s quicker and easier to fill the production line with unskilled kids, and skimp on the essentials like cooling fans and toilet breaks, especially when a big order comes down the line.

But as you make those choices, your karma meter will begin to skew, and it soon becomes clear that by making the wrong choices you’re losing the game and becoming a monster in the process.

Sweatshop is subtle and extremely clever at making the player think on the consequences of their actions, and slips in plenty of informational nuggets along the way. The game is aimed at a teenage audience, but I see no reason why a lot of high-ups in the fashion chains that use sweatshops as a matter of course shouldn’t have a go at it. Who knows, it might just change their thinking.

You can read more on the thinking and design behind Sweatshop here, and play it for yourself for free here.

Pier32’s blog: The View From The Pier

Pier32

Unclehood

I love being an uncle. I can highly recommend it. It’s all the fun of parenting with little of the tedious admin.

An example. TLC and I spent a chunk of the weekend at Pier 32, the codename I have decided to give to her brother’s gaff (a little more on Pier 32 later). We are guideparents to the son of the family, a bright bit of ball lightning called AJ. Guideparents? AJ’s mum and dad don’t stand for any of that religious nonsense, and he was named with all due ceremony in their local pub by a humanist minister. Does this mean I take my guidepaternal responsibilities any less seriously than if AJ had been christened?

Of course not. A vow is a vow no matter what kind of house you take it in. Our visits together may be infrequent, but we make sure AJ gets quality time when we’re around. As I am an unreconstructed big kid, this means lots of time with Lego, and time on the computer helping him out with homework projects. As AJ’s mum and dad have recently invested in a 27 inch iMac, this is not the grind it could be. Yesterday I helped him make a 12-page newspaper. I only grabbed the mouse off him once or thrice.

I’m not great with kids – they have a tendency to un-nerve me with awkward questions and unwarranted meltdowns. However, all the kids that I am uncle and god/guidefather to are exceptions to the rule, and I delight in spending time with all of them. Being able to sneak away and leave them to their parents after getting them sugared up and over-excited is, of course, just the cherry on the cake.