‘You’ The Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail magazine, has an interview with the lovely Emma Watson about fair trade fashion and why she has chosen to involved herself in a project for People Tree, the fair trade fashion organization.
You’ve done acting, modelling, and now you’re designing. Is this the future for Emma Watson?
Oh, I don’t have any plans to be a designer. I’m doing this range because I really care about fair-trade and ethical fashion. I’m so pleased that I got involved, but I don’t want to take all the credit for being the designer because I haven’t trained as a designer or even gone to art college – in fact, I had no idea about the amount of work involved at the outset!
So this is not an Emma Watson clothing line?
I didn’t want this collection to be all about me. This is not a celebrity endorsement, it is about creating something that is genuinely a great idea and about making a difference through fashion.
How did the collaboration come about?
It was all because my friend, Alex Nicholls, was wearing this great People Tree T-shirt one day, which I liked. He then told me all about the company – he knows Safia and said that I should meet her. He set up an introduction and Safia and I just clicked. A couple of weeks later she got in touch with the idea of a teen range – they were doing older ranges and baby clothes but nothing in between – and asked if I’d like to help put it together. I said yes straight away.
Wise move, People Tree – every teen wants to dress like you!
I am very interested in fashion and I’ve been working a lot in the fashion world recently – it’s such an influential industry, so I knew that trying to help people, trying to alleviate poverty through a fashion line, could work. Fashion is a great way to empower people and give them skills; rather than give cash to charity you can help people by buying the clothes they make and supporting things they take pride in. It’s that simple.
Where did you get your design inspiration for the range?
I went through my summer wardrobe and thought, ‘If I filtered this
so that it was just the very basics, what would I want to keep?’ The answer was cotton vests, easy T-shirt dresses, nice scarves to accessorise with and some lovely linen pieces. For the boys’ range I’ve done hoodies, which I know they’ll love. The clothes are very British, which is why we shot them in an English country garden – it’s all very strawberries and cream and tennis.
We particularly like the T-shirts printed with slogans such as ‘I’m not toxic’ and ‘Please don’t panic, I’m organic’.
I was keen not to preach – you don’t want to be too serious or heavy. I also came up with a daisy print which I’m really proud of – it’s fun and messy. I just wanted to make clothes that are wearable, cool and easy.
What is your favourite part of the collection?
I would wear all the clothes, which are made in Bangladesh, India and Nepal, and there is also some amazing jewellery – especially a necklace made from recycled sweet wrappers, which is made in Bangladesh. It comes in a box also made of sweet wrappers. Brilliant!
It must have been a fast learning curve for you, being on the design side of things for the first time…
It was such fun going through all the Pantone colour books with Safia, but yes, I had to learn quickly – the colours on the page don’t always look the same on the fabrics, so you have to be patient. It’s a case of learning as you go along, and it’s all massively time consuming! When we did the first set of samples some of them looked great but others needed altering a lot.
If the reaction on the shoot is anything to go by, these clothes are going to be out of stock long before spring is here!
I really enjoyed the shoot. All the models are friends of mine: my housemate Sophie, my brother Alex. I basically called in favours – a lot of the crew are friends too. They are all super-talented, so I am very lucky that they were prepared to help out. I asked Andrea Carter-Bowman to do the photos as I just love her work, and she’s young. So this really is a collection for young people put together by young people. And I’m so proud of it – it’s exactly how I intended it to look.
You are something of a fashionista, but were you completely new to fair-trade fashion?
The first time I heard about fair trade was during a geography coursework project, and I remember thinking, ‘Why isn’t everything fair trade?’ Everyone knows about fair-trade bananas and coffee, but of course anything can be fair trade. Fair-trade fashion costs a bit more but allows those who make it to earn a decent living; to be able to take care of their families and live with dignity.
But do you think it is possible to enjoy high-street fashion and also support fair trade?
It’s important to differentiate between fast fashion, which is made very quickly for a very small price, and fair-trade fashion. So if you buy a T-shirt for £2, you just have to do the maths and work our how much the person who made it is being paid.
How realistic is it that the Primark generation will buy into this range and concept?
It sounds like a cliché, but we are the future. The earth is ours and will be our children’s, and I think that more than any other generation we are aware of environmental and humanitarian issues. That’s why it’s so great that People Tree is doing something aimed at people of my age – because we do care and we will buy with a conscience. I hope that more companies will follow People Tree’s example.