Of principles, bikes and monkees

Let’s get the monkees out of the way first, shall we? It’s generally considered good practice.

Monkee Genes was one of the brands that I looked at when we first thought about setting up our little ethical clothing business. Monkee Genes make jeans. And cords. And shorts. Bottom-half-wear, essentially. They are a great ethical business model, their strapline being:

‘No slave labour. No child labour,  No blood. No sweat. No tears.’

That’s pretty ace, right? They are also the only denim brand to have accreditation from The Soil Association, as well as the Global Organic Textile Standards people. They’re made from organic cotton, and in their own words ‘are made by people who care. Because they are cared for.’

Monkee Jeans was created in 2006 by Phil Wildbore who was ‘disillusioned at Primark and disposable High Street Fashion,’ and decided to take a stand against it. In denim.

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I first fell in love with The Genes in one of my favourite shops in Cambridge: Cult Clothing. I picked them up, totally unaware of the ethical credentials; I loved them purely because it was as if someone had taken my dream jeans shape and made them. And given them a cool banana button. They may not be for everyone, shape wise. They do skinny, supaskinny and flares. Proper, big flares, of which I am especially fond. They are a total pain in the rain, where the dampness can reach your knees in minutes, and they usually get dragged along the floor hoovering up all the tat you walk through, (as I generally refuse to wear heels,) but apart from that – I love them to pieces. Literally. So having finally destroyed my original pair, I have just purchased another pair of flares, in their sale. If you fill in the survey on their website, they’ll give you an extra £5 off your order. You can also choose a free ‘patch’ that fixes to the back of your jeans, which is interchangeable with the banana one that comes with the jeans.  I could go on. I won’t. Visit the website, have a look for yourself. I’m fairly sure that a certain junior dandy of mine will be getting a pair of these for his birthday. The boy does love his skinny jeans. (Yeah, I did not expect that either. I thought: boy = ripped up jeans, mud and stuff. But no! He likes bow-ties and polo shirts and skinny jeans – but also, reassuringly; mud. )

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Kids’ jeans too! In lovely colours!

Even if you aren’t in the market for flares or skinnys, Monkee Genes is an inspirational example of an ethical fashion brand that stands by its principles, and is very successful at the same time. It’s crazy that in 2013, they should be the exception, rather than the rule.

Righty-ho, onto our own ethical clothing malarky. Last year was very bike-y, let us all agree. There was Bradley ‘The Sideburns’ Wiggins, Mark ‘The Sunglasses’ Cavendish, and Victoria ‘Don’t cry, we all love you!’ Pendleton, amongst many, many others (Sir Chris ‘OH-MY-GOD-LOOK-AT-HIS-ENORMOUS-THIGHS’ Hoy, I should probably mention too.) My five and a half year old -halves are very important when you are five, and should be included- Will, really got into cycling, and loved watching bits of the Tour de France and all of the Olympic cycling as well as tackling the local parks on his new chopper-style bike. Rich not only went mad and bought a very posh bike, but also found a very good, old one in the tip. (We do love our recycling. It’s like a family hobby.)

Anyway, it’s national cycle to school week in March, and I really want to support it. Even if your kids can’t bike to school, it’s good to encourage them to see cycling as a healthy, sustainable form of transport, as well as being loads of fun. So I put local designer, Fanzine editor-in-chief and the generally lovely Lloyd on the case. The brief was, and I quote: ‘wibbly hand-drawn-retro-ish bike.’ Now I like surprises, so I won’t ruin this one, but let me just say – he did good. T-shirts will be printed in Feb, ready for wearing whilst tearing down the cycle track. You heard it here first!  (unless you’ve been eavesdropping? Weird.)

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