Tiffany Roberts set up TIFF as an ethical platform to promote workers rights and is pleased to be making a difference. Words by Daniel White
When the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed last year killing more than 1,100 workers from Primark and other retailers, international firms faced extreme criticism for the working conditions of their staff.
Uproar spread throughout Asia and Europe as more and more stories were published revealing the inhumane working conditions and hours the garment workers were forced to endure and I, personally, remember the guilt felt when reading Susanna Rustin’s final line in her article, stating: “Some of us are wearing clothes sewn by those killed this week in Dhaka.”
Yet, sales figures for Primark and other retailers have continued to increase despite the harrowing stories, so are we supposed to agree such tragedies are acceptable?
One person is fighting the battle to end exploitation, with their ethical website enabling independent workers and smaller eco-brands the opportunity to showcase and sell their clothing online for a fair wage.
“We live in the 21st century and people shouldn’t be exploited and made to work in awful conditions like Rana Plaza and by buying from the high street that is, essentially, what you are supporting,” begins TIFF founder and CEO, Tiffany Roberts. “I can guarantee that none of the people I work with are in that situation so it’s really about supporting the small, independent brands and knowing that you’ve directly made a difference to somebody.”
‘Trendsetting, Innovative, Fair, Fashion,’ or TIFF, is a website that was set up by Tiffany just over a year ago.
“TIFF is an ethical platform,” she explains. “I work with about 50 brands which are all really incredible. I’m a platform for them to promote their products on a larger scale because being small, independent brands, it is quite hard for them to get a bigger reach, so I am just trying to help them promote their brands and fantastic products.
However, by buying from TIFF, you will not only feel great about making a difference but also the use of sustainable materials like organic cotton or bamboo fibre is better for your skin.
She says: “You go to a high street and the cotton crops have already been sprayed with pesticides and the dye’s contain toxic chemicals and are really bad for your skin. Organic cotton and bamboo fibre or any sustainable materials are obviously pesticide free, so it really is a lot better for your skin and for the environment during the manufacturing process.
Past clothing under the “ethical” banner have been pigeon-holed with certain, unfavourable, labelling but Tiffany is keen to set the record straight.
“There’s a common misconception,” she confesses. “The two images ethical fashion has is the hippie movement of the seventies, where patchwork skirts and ugly, hand-made clothes were popularised and extremely expensive, high fashion garments, however, that’s not what it is anymore. Everything on TIFF is on trend and the cheapest item I have on my website is five pounds; it’s not expensive, it’s for those who want to know where their money is going. The brands I work with really want to break the preconceptions that ethical fashion holds, as it is simply not true.
Tiffany, who is currently juggling her work with TIFF with her Fashion Business university course at Istituto Marangoni, is constantly on the go trying balance her workload but she says it is all worthwhile when seeing the rewards.
“I’m generally up at 7am and not home until 11pm but thankfully it’s been received really nicely, the ethical community’s really strong, and it’s just really nice knowing you’re making a difference and helping people, that’s the most rewarding part.”
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