Fairtrade cotton is the beating heart of the Koolskools business.
All Koolskools-manufactured garments are made with Fairtrade cotton, thereby giving the farmers a fair price for their cotton plus community benefits through the Fairtrade social premium, has always been the main objective of the business.
This is why: in the past 25 years, around a quarter of a million small-scale vulnerable cotton farmers in India have committed suicide as the result of the fluctuating global cotton price. The cotton price is often high when the farmers are planting the harvest, and often comparatively low 6 months or more later when they are harvesting their cotton and trying to sell it. In the clothing industry, developing country cotton farmers are often exploited on the altar of the high profits made from Fast Fashion.
About Koolskools’ membership of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, Andy Ashcroft said:
“It is one of the main reasons why Koolskools’ fastest growing market for some years has been Scotland and Scottish schools. From Koolskools’ very first company visit to Scotland in 2011, when the then Scottish Fair Trade Forum’s cotton adviser, Angela Oakley, afforded excellent support and advice leading to Koolskools supplying its very first Scottish client school with Fairtrade-certified uniform, Craighead Primary in Milton of Campsie, the Forum has been a constant source of support and engagement with Fairtrade cotton school uniform.”
Koolskools is proud to be working with Scottish schools to show that school uniform (a notoriously profits driven industry) can be manufactured and supplied according to Fairtrade standards, offering schools an affordable, good quality, non-exploitative alternative choice for students and parents.
Koolskools offers a high quality, affordable range of school uniform including polos and T-shirts, fleece fabric sweatshirts, cardigans and hoodies made with Fairtrade-organic cotton. All the polyester in the Koolskools Fairtrade core range is recycled from waste such as plastic bottles. So their customers have the chance to wear the ultimate ethical, Fairtrade, planet-friendly uniforms!
Under their sustainable brand, they also supply luxury Fairtrade-organic cotton/recycled polyester garments to Universities UK-wide under a contract with the National Union of Students. They also retail those garments online to ethical consumers (www.su-stainable.com).
A key pillar of the Koolskools business is the (free) education partnerships that they run with client schools. They run assemblies, class sessions and other educational activities. They also offer comprehensive Fairtrade lesson plans to existing and potential client schools. The objective of their Fairtrade education partnerships with schools is to raise awareness of Fairtrade amongst the next generation of consumers, and to enhance their global citizenship credentials. Koolskools wants to ensure that students that wear clothing carrying the Fairtrade Cotton Mark understand why their schools have made an ethical clothing choice.
What do schools think about their Fairtrade uniform?
Dawn Maloney, Leith Primary School, Edinburgh:
“…Koolskools has really supported our school on its Fairtrade journey, in every way they possibly could. It’s so much more than just ordering sweatshirts – we are learning about the ethos behind Fairtrade and the story behind the uniform we are wearing. This work has led to high impact learning experiences for the whole school…
…The sweatshirts supplied are of the highest quality, too, and are delivered to us in timely fashion every time we need them…”
Mandy McKinnon, Deputy Head, Holy Family Primary School, Kirkintilloch:
“…The Fairtrade hoodies did indeed arrive yesterday afternoon and pupils are absolutely delighted with them. Re feedback we were very pleased with the quality of the hoodies, overall look and the process to order them. We hope this will be an ongoing purchase for us each year…”
Monica Malet, lead teacher on Fairtrade, St Joseph’s RC Primary, Aberdeen:
(Following a Koolskools Fairtrade Assembly) “…I felt it was priceless to get that first hand personal story of what difference Fairtrade makes to people and their community. So thank you for offering that opportunity to us as a school, as we felt absolutely privileged to have you there…”
What’s next for Koolskools?
Having survived the challenges presented to many small businesses by the Covid pandemic, Koolskools is now well placed to grow its brand, its sales and its Fairtrade education programmes. Particular emphasis will continue to be placed on Scotland, Koolskools’ fastest growing market for some time, and where schools have always responded very positively to the Koolskools offer of high quality, affordable Fairtrade-organic cotton school uniform combined with free Fairtrade educational partnerships.
Photo credits: Koolskools