Fair Fashion? A conversation on fashion, race and climate justice

March 2, 2022
buds of cotton on yellow background

SSAP logo

Fair Trade Wales in partnership with Sub Sahara Africa Panel (SSAP) are putting on an online flagship event for Fairtrade Fortnight.

March 2, 2022. 6:30pm – 7:30pm, online.

Confirmed speakers: Ophelia Dos Santos, Climate Justice Activist and Welsh Textile Designer, Simmone Ahiaku, Climate justice campaigner, activist and educator and Subindu Gharkel, Fairtrade’s Senior Cotton and Textiles Lead. Facilitated by Aileen Burmeister, Fair Trade Wales.

Ophelia Dos Santos is a Welsh textile designer, advocating for climate justice and sustainability within fashion. Focused on a collaborative effort, Ophelia aims to inspire environmental and social change by encouraging people to think about how we buy, re-use and throw away fashion. Through her workshops and embroidery, up-cycling services; she educates people of how small changes can make great impact.

Simmone Ahiaku is a campaigner, geographer, writer and educator who has contributed to environmental, social and cultural work in Bristol, London and across the UK. Simmone has worked on air pollution, divestment and climate justice campaigns. She currently uses facilitated workshops to explore climate colonialism, and examples of climate resistance and movements from the past and present day.

Subindu Garkhel has hands on commercial experience of working in the clothing industry in India, Bangladesh and the UK. With a Masters in Social development from the top International Development University, she brings in a perspective and sensibility of the challenges and realities of both worlds. She is passionate about participatory and inclusive approach to development. This is aligned with the principles of Fairtrade, where she works. She is the global lead on the cotton and textiles here. She also sits on the board as advisory council member at Textile Exchange and is a part of various Expert committees and external working groups in the sector.

There are free tickets or you can buy a donation ticket that will help go towards the cost of this event and support communities in Wales to promote Fair Trade.


The global fashion industry is worth $2.5 trillion and is making a sizeable contribution towards climate change. It accounts for 8-10% of global carbon emissions, and nearly 20% of wastewater. It also has a huge impact on the people that make our clothes, and has been reliant on the exploitation of garment workers since its conception.

Of the 74 million textile workers, including garment workers, worldwide, 80% are women of colour and some may only take home £20 a week. “The economic exploitation that fast fashion is reliant upon is a legacy of colonialism. From the 1500s until the middle of the 20th century, European imperialism was a way to create extractive states and oppress [racialised communities]”.

An estimated 350 million people work in the cotton sector, the majority in lower income countries in Central and West Asia and Africa. Fairtrade cotton was launched to put the spotlight on these farmers who are often left invisible, neglected and poor at the end of a long and complex cotton supply chain. Fairtrade has put tools in place to provide these farmers with an alternative route to trade and higher, more stable incomes.

About Fairtrade Fortnight

Fairtrade Fortnight runs from Feb 21 – Mar 6 and is a national event that takes place each year to celebrate the producers who make our food, drinks, clothing and more. It’s also a chance to raise awareness of the work they do and how we can support them.

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