We're excited to share with you our latest range for Autumn Winter 2017.
This range features some brand new styles (including some new personal ReCreate team favourites!) as well as variations on our classic tee shapes that you already know and love. As always, our tees are made using Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified 100% organic cotton. We are also pretty happy with our two new GOTS certified fabrics... a super soft mid-weight french terry sweatshirting, and a 98% cotton + 2% lycra blend that we've used in some of our dresses and leggings. Our denim is certified by the Better Cotton Initiative, plus just throw in a few recycled eco-friendly buttons and ...BAM! You have a range that is organic, produced entirely under empowering fair trade working conditions, and sustainably produced from our business practices right through to the 100% recycled poly-mailer that we'll ship your order in.
The Autumn Winter photoshoot took place on a privately owned naturist reserve (we love all things natural here at ReCreate, hehe) in Tauranga, amongst some stunning mature Nikau palms. Our models Maddie and Hugh, along with photographer Debs, did an amazing job on this cold and drizzly day... all for your viewing enjoyment. We hope you like our photos.
Just chilling with the Nikau palms... Maddie wears our Console Sweatshirt Dress | Charcoal (NZD $119) with drawstring waist, and Hugh is in the super soft Integrate Hoody | Black (NZD $99) paired with organic Habitat Drawstring Pants ($109).
Hugh wears our Principle Tee | Mulberry & Black (NZD $69), made from certified organic cotton and featuring recycled eco buttons.
The Converge Dress | Black (NZD $119) is one of our most flattering styles this season, made from certified organic cotton-lycra and featuring a gathered waist on one side. Our new range of crews and hoodies are made from super soft sweatshirting - Hugh wears our Section Crew | Charcoal (NZD $89) and Maddie is in the Unite Hoody | Charcoal (NZD $99) with the perfectly complementary Union Leggings | Black (NZD $69).
Close-up detailing of the Console Sweatshirt Dress | Charcoal (NZD $119) featuring shoulder panel with top-stitching detail and a drawstring waist that can be adjusted to suit your style.
Maddie wears our Converge Dress | Black (NZD $119) together with the cropped denim Habitat Jacket (NZD $99). Hugh is in one of our favourite cozy Autumn combos of the Section Crew | Charcoal (NZD $89) with organic Habitat Drawstring Pants ($109).
It’s that time of the year again! Christmas shopping seems to sneak up on us every year despite it being the same time… every year! Ethical, handmade and organic are all labels a lot of us would like to support, or at least try to, but often we get so overwhelmed about where to start or even find out this information. So we’ve put together a little gift guide of a few of our favourite outfits this year (from baby through to adults) for you to browse, get some inspo and discover new talent!
Harem Romper: Thomas Pie – $45, GOTS certified organic cotton, designed and handmade in Blenheim, New Zealand.
Baby Blanket: ReCreate Store – $49, GOTS certified organic and providing employment and opportunity for women in Cambodia.
Bonnet: Buck and Baa – $30, organic and handmade in small town New Zealand. Crossover Sandals: Pretty Brave – $54.95, designed in NZ, handmade ethically using natural leathers.
Knee Hi Socks: Lamington – $16.95, Merino wool socks made in New Zealand.
Jean Dress: ReCreate Store – $49, BCI certified organic and providing employment and opportunity for women in Cambodia.
Underwear: Lulu Funk – $12, sustainable and certified organic, ethically produced bamboo underwear.
Leopard Sandals: Lulu Avarcas – $75, ethically handcrafted in Spain with an authentic stamp of approval.
Echo Skinnies: Little Tribe – $45, handmade in New Zealand supporting a local stay at home mum.
Animate Tee: ReCreate Store – $39, GOTS certified organic and providing employment and opportunity for women in Cambodia.
Underwear: Thunderpants – $20, organic cotton and New Zealand made.
Sneakers: Etiko – $45 (AUD, on sale), fair-trade, organic and vegan footwear.
Heirloom Necklace: Beloved – $55, empowering artisans worldwide. This particular item is made by women in Mumbai who have been rescued from sex slavery.
Composure Dress: Kowtow – $179, certified fairtrade and organic, ethically produced from seed to garment.
Companion Satchel: The Loyal Workshop – $250, ethically produced by women from backgrounds of poverty who have been freed from the sex industry.
Sneakers: Etiko – $95 (AUD), fair-trade, organic and vegan footwear.
Shorts: Patagonia – $79.95 (AUD), organic cotton and ethically produced in Sri Lanka.
Crew: ReCreate Store – $85, GOTS certified organic and providing employment and opportunity for women in Cambodia.
Leather Belt: The Loyal Workshop – $90, ethically produced by women from backgrounds of poverty who have been freed from the sex industry.
Shoes: Inkkas – $169, handcrafted in Latin America, Inkkas plants a tree for every purchase made.
We hope this guide has been helpful and opened your eyes to some new places where producing is making a difference - whether it’s in the life of someone overseas, the environment or a family right here in New Zealand. We want to acknowledge that buying in this way is more expensive and not always feasible. The reality is, this is the cost of producing garments that is not enslaving anybody else. This is how much items should be, however we have been conditioned to cheap items therefore the real cost is unknown to us. But even one thing makes a difference. Set yourself a goal. One present this year to be ethically produced or sustainably made. Next year maybe two presents. Or make a pact that any gifts you buy throughout the year be made in this way. Every little bit matters. Don’t think because you can’t go all out then there’s no point.
In the words of Vivienne Westwood…"Buy less, choose well, make it last."
Something a little bit different has been going on behind the scenes of ReCreate. You probably best know us for our clothing range which has been our primary focus over the last two years. But now... we are now super excited to announce the ReCreate homeware range!
If you've heard our story before, you will know that we are passionate about providing training and employment for marginalised people, which is why we established our sewing training and production centre in the rural community of Dey Tmey, Cambodia. This is a place that not only provides sewing training for women, but also provides a lifelong skill and the opportunity to be free from poverty. And it is this opportunity that we exist to provide, so we thought why just stop at clothing!
We first had the idea for homeware during our annual team trip to Cambodia last year. We spent some time visiting a number of inspiring businesses that provided employment for families in rural Cambodia. One of these businesses had a focus on hand weaving, and in particular to provide fair employment to disabled people and their families. We had the opportunity to visit some of these beautiful people in their homes, and were very excited about what we saw. The skills and experience of local artisans inspired us, yet because of the location of their homes, they lacked access to work.
So we recruited the skills of talented New Zealand designer Charlie Baker, the amazing woman behind the charlie jane label. We love her gorgeous fabric prints, so she was the ideal person to create a custom designed fabric using the ikat weaving technique, which is a traditional Cambodian style of weaving that we explored during our travels.
This intricate and incredibly skilled technique is based on a design that is first sketched on paper. This design is then broken down into individual strands of thread, and every single strand is hand tied and dyed into sections. The weaver then carefully reconstructs the design by weaving each thread in the correct order, and the original design gradually emerges, but with a beautifully imperfect representation that lacks the sharp lines of a mass produced fabric. An experienced weaver can create one metre of ikat fabric per day, so it truly is a special fabric.
Our fabrics are made using natural cotton and dyed with AZO-free dyes. And... the weaving project that we partnered with to bring you these homewares has been recognised by the International Trade Centre, a joint agency by the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation, as providing an effective solution to poverty in rural Cambodia. We love being a part of that, with your support!
Once the weaving is complete, this special fabric then travels to our sewing centre where each item is carefully made. Our sewing team have carefully created the patterns and learned new techniques in order to make this range, including hand-tying each and every tassel with care and attention to detail. We're really excited to share our homeware range with you and hope that you love it as much as we do.
We have arrived! We had a great day of travel, breaking up the trip over three flights as opposed to one super long leg. We left New Zealand early in the morning and arrived in Cambodia just in time for bed which was perfect. We are staying at a place called White Linen Boutique Hotel which is run by an organisation called Daughters of Cambodia. Their sole purpose is to offer a new life of freedom to victims of sex trafficking and exploitation in Cambodia. Employment and vocational training is available in one of their nine fair trade businesses, one being this awesome hotel we are staying in.
After breakfast this morning we headed out to Dey Tmey, the rural community where the ReCreate sewing centre is located. Our mission was to spend time with our sewing team, take a lot of photographs and video footage for some upcoming projects we are working on, as well as make some new garment patterns. It was amazing to reconnect with the women that we already know, as well as meet our new employees from the past year! A highlight of the day was showing them our newly printed clothing catalogue. Their faces were lit up with smiles and they laughed together as they looked through each page, admiring their work. Often throughout the day, you would see one of them off to the side having another look through. Another favourite image is how this really is a family affair. We have a mother tracing patterns as she rocks her son in the hammock while her husband cuts out the patterns. A truly beautiful sight to see. Togetherness.
Beneath our sewing centre is the Children at Risk organisation. They provide the community with a huge range of opportunities and kids clubs and also a school sponsorship programme. They sponsor kids to go to school but their parents must commit to working with their child and coming to a parenting class once a week. There are currently 42 kids on the programme and today they had a special awards ceremony where they presented eight of the kids with prizes for hard work, dedication and good attendance. It was so cool to see the parents in there, dedicated to helping with their child’s education as much as they were able.
After lunch we mostly focused on photography and video footage for us to use throughout the next year. It’s very hot over here... easily 33+ degrees so energy and motivation gets sapped very fast! We will be back again tomorrow to finish off what we didn’t get done today.
We wake up early and refreshed here. It could have something to do with the fact that we have no kids with us, but either way, it’s great! We love the casual bustle of the mornings... watching from our balcony as the day starts. Kids getting ready for school, tuk tuk drivers gathered around chatting, a community awake and ready for the day.
We headed out earlier to the sewing centre today as we had A LOT to cross off our list. Photos shots and video footage was a huge priority so we got straight into it with individual and group shots of the sewing team. The women are definitely not used to so many photos of them being taken so it was quite a novelty for them. But they each have a lovely attitude towards it... Kind, soft, reserved, and full of life, laughter and positivity! While we were doing this, the ReCreate husbands were downstairs helping out with hair washing for some of the children from the community, including combing out nits and braiding hair.
We’ve been having lunch with everybody downstairs while we have been out at the sewing centre. This includes the team who run Children at Risk. They cook awesome Khmer meals and it’s great to sit and eat with them. Plus there’s a little stall right round the corner that sells glorious iced coffee or milo made with condensed milk! So tasty.
After lunch we wanted to get some footage of one of our sewing ladies, Somphors, in her own environment... walking in the market, at home with her family. It was a huge privilege to see all this. Somphors husband, Heat (pronounced He-aht), is so proud of his home. We arrived and he looked at us with this huge smile and said ‘my home’. It’s just one big room with a divider that separates the front from the back. There are five people in their family. We are very fortunate to live the way we do but many of us could do with taking a leaf out of Somphors and Heat’s book. The gratefulness. The contentment. The pride. They have each other, they have a good job and they have a roof over their head. And they are happy.
Today was the first day we didn’t go out to the sewing centre. Instead, the sewing team came and met us at our hotel. The aim of the day was to have a fun day out, connecting and getting to know each other more.
We started off at our hotel where we had ordered yummy cupcakes and drinks and all shared a bit about ourselves. It was SO nice to hear more of everyone’s story and how they came to work with ReCreate and how it’s changed their life. We feel so incredibly lucky to be working with such an awesome team. Hearing their stories made us realise even more how lucky we are and how the way we view business and purchasing is so important and has a very real impact on the lives of everyday people. People like you and me can make a difference, who just happened to be born into a different culture and part of the world.
Next we headed across town for massages - the ideal activity to share together with the language barrier - before having a Cambodian style buffet lunch. Basically you sit at a table with a giant soup bowl in the middle that you turn on. Next to you is a big conveyor belt with options galore! Noodles, seafood, meat, dumplings, vegetables... and you just choose what you want and throw it in the communal bowl and cook it right there.
After lunch the sewing team went back out to Dey Tmey and we went on to visit a local sustainable community development project. They provide fair employment through the traditional Cambodian art of hand weaving and natural dyeing processes. We source some of our fabric here so today we headed there to choose out some more. This place is an earthy fabric lovers heaven! What we thought was going to be a short half an hour browse turned into over two hours of hot decision making. Our poor tuk tuk driver was not overly impressed with the wait, but he went home happy!
To finish off an amazing day, we spent the evening down at the riverside having dinner with an awesome view at a rooftop restaurant.
This morning we headed out in our tuk tuk to visit another fair trade sewing centre in the community of Svay Pak. This centre is run by an amazing organisation that rescues, rehabilitates, trains and provides employment for women rescued from brothels and forced prostitution in Cambodia. Our screen printing is all done here, and as ReCreate grows, we are planning to form an ongoing partnership with them to outsource some of our large sewing orders as well. So it was really important for us to pay them a visit, take a look at their working conditions first hand, and find out more information about their employment standards.
This was one of the most inspiring visits of our trip. We received a full tour of the sewing centre from the project director, hearing about their success stories, their struggles, and of course asking lots of questions! It's so great to see the women here happily working away in their sewing groups, knowing the terrible past that they have been freed from.
We then headed out to Dey Tmey for one last afternoon at our sewing centre. Our mission for the day... to finalise the patterns and photos, as well as record the stories of some of our sewing team on video! It was always going to be a challenge to take good video footage in a hot, sweaty and noisy community, so we had put it off until the last minute! We found a good spot to film out in the countryside with a beautiful backdrop of rice fields where we could interview each person on camera. Still, it was a challenge with the motorbikes, kids and dogs going past in the background every few minutes!
Our goodbyes to the sewing team were both happy and sad... We are already looking forward to our next visit! Now back to the city for a late dinner after a full but very fulfilling day.
Our last full day together as a team and we are off to the water park with the 42 school support kids from Children at Risk! It is a brand new water park that we had never been to before, so were excited to pay a visit, and of course cool off in the pools! It's a different culture here where the women are more covered up, so we all wore tees and shorts over our bikinis. It worked out well to have the extra protection from the hot sun and the slightly rough water slides! We had such a fun morning sliding, swimming and playing with the kids, and it was topped off by a delicious lunch of local spicy KFC chicken and rice.
It was a real privilege to spend this day with kids who very rarely receive such a big treat. The Children at Risk team are amazing and we really respect the ongoing work that they are doing in a community that can be so heartbreaking and difficult at times.
A much needed afternoon off... We booked in a little treat by getting massages, then headed down to spend our final evening at the riverside strolling, people watching and eating good food. A highlight was watching a local outdoor group aerobics session complete with ultra-loud dance music! We're so going to miss this place!
It's been an amazing trip! One final morning together strolling through the local markets and we're off... Some of us back home to families waiting in New Zealand and others of us adventuring into Vietnam and Indonesia. Thanks for journeying with us and for continuing to support the ReCreate story.
Most of you will know our story now. Creating change through ethical trade. You have bought our garments, heard what we are about, seen small snippets of the beautiful women who work in ReCreate's sewing center. Now we want to SHOW you. Show you more of Cambodia, show you parts of Dey Tmey, show you why we do what we do and why we want to continue the work in this community and not just provide an income, but to help people succeed in their lives and futures.
Next month we will head to Cambodia as a team. Our aim is to go over yearly, to maintain relationships, check out suppliers and also have some fun with the ladies! We are so excited to share the experience with you guys. The whole ReCreate team first headed over in 2014 – the main purpose was for everyone in the team to meet the sewing ladies and build relationships because we didn’t want to have an ‘us and them’ social enterprise but a ‘we’. We are in this together. Friendship.
As well as taking a ton of photos in Cambodia we are going to create a video. This will include some short interviews with the women, the sewing center as well as the community itself. Sometimes photos don’t capture it all and a video will be a great way for people to really connect and get on board with who we are and what we do. We will also be joining the ladies in the sewing center working together on new garment styles, training in new techniques and fine tuning patterns. It’s a great chance for us to really be able to communicate with the ladies face to face as opposed to trying to do everything via email.
Dey Tmey is the name of the relocation slum community where the ReCreate sewing center is. Originally it was located in downtown Phnom Penh but the government had plans for a mall they wanted to build. They protested but in the night they came with big army trucks and loaded everybody on, pumped the place full of sewage so they couldn’t return and then carted them off over an hour away to a new site. They lost everything. Suddenly they went from jobs, housing and schooling to no jobs, no schooling and only housing for 3/4 of them. The rest had to live on the streets. We will spend a few days within the community doing home visits, washing kids hair and helping out with kids club.
And finally – Fun day out! Last time the team took all the seamstresses out for a fun girls day out. Manicures, pedicures, facials and of course delicious treats! We are so looking forward to doing this again with the ladies. Such a special time. We are so excited to share this adventure with you and hope you enjoy the little glimpse we will have to offer!
Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people – Steve Jobs
Today on the blog we're sharing a post from Green Elephant. If you haven't come across these guys yet, just visualise on online marketplace with everything you can think of that is sustainable, ethical and healthy. We're talking clothing, accessories, beauty products, homeware, food, a children and babies range, and even something for your pets! Plus they're New Zealand based, which is always a bonus for us Kiwis.
We loved their recent blog post on why we should be wearing organic as well as eating it. Check it out below!
Well… if you thought organic gardening was great and buying organic veggies is the way to go, you’re halfway there. But now you’re thinking… we don’t eat cotton, so why worry if it’s organic cotton or not..?? Good question.
Cotton is one of the most prevalent and important natural products that we come into contact with and use on a daily basis. We wear it, we sleep snuggled into it, we dry our dishes with it, we wash and dry our skin with it… you get the picture. Given there is such high demand for this white fluffy crop, it’s not surprising that world production is huge and farming methods are intense.
Although it’s grown on only 2.5% of the world’s agricultural land, cotton fields get sprayed with a whopping 16% of the world’s insecticides. And there are some pretty nasty insecticides being used. Toxic fertilisers and herbicides are also used in abundance; all to ensure a bountiful crop to meet the worlds growing demands for cheap cotton. Yes… I mean that $7 T-shirt.
Farming in this way has many negative effects both on the environment, and on the people that work with the crop. Chemicals leach into waterways poisoning fish and insects, which disrupts the ecosystem. Intensive watering of the crop degrades soil fertility which lowers yield and impacts farmers financially. Farmers are often poorly educated about how to work with the chemicals or have inappropriate equipment and there have been many illnesses and deaths as a result. And this is before anything is harvested…!!
Imagine all those chemicals sprayed onto the crop, which is still picked by hand in many places. And then off it goes to the factory where the fumes are breathed in by the factory workers. Even after the thread has been spun, woven and made into a garment, chemical residues can remain trapped in the fibres which can cause skin irritations, rashes and headaches.
I don’t know about you, but this sounds dreadful to me and begs the question… why is all cotton not organic cotton…??
Organic cotton farmers do not use chemicals at all and instead rely on more traditional methods of farming. Insects are kept at bay by creating habitats for and encouraging other insects into the crop that feed on the ‘pests’. Crops are mixed and grown alongside one another which helps deter crop specific pests. A natural cycle of crop rotation is used to retain soil fertility and birds that feed on predatory insects are introduced. And fertiliser is good old manure…!!
What this means for the farmers is yes... a lower yield… yes, more work… BUT their work environment is safe, they do not have to buy expensive chemicals, the land and environment are richer and more sustainable, and organic cotton commands a higher price than non-organic, so financially, they are often better off. Yet less than 1% of all cotton grown is organic.
And how do we know what’s organic cotton and what’s not...?? GOTS is the Global Organic Textile Standard. Companies producing GOTS certified cotton have to adhere to a long list of strict rules which cover every part of the production chain, from farmer to garment. These rules cover not only the ‘farming’ but also social and environmental criteria as well including stipulations for safe and fair working conditions for employees and restrictions on the use of chemicals and synthetic agents in the manufacturing process. Only garments that have been certified by GOTS can display the distinctive GOTS labelling which makes it easy for us to tell the good stuff from the not very good at all stuff.
So, I think we have established the benefits of organic cotton and how to identify it in a line up...!!
Read more here.
To carry on with my ‘inspirational women’ interviews I’ve interviewed my good friend Erica who is one of the co-founders of ReCreate Store on how ReCreate began, what her vision is for the future of ReCreate and why shopping ethically is important! I’ve known Erica for about 7 years when her and her husband Wade took me on my first mission trip to Vanuatu back in 2009. We have been friends ever since and my husband and I really value them!
Hi! I’m Erica, 32 years old and married to Wade. We live in West Auckland with our two fluffy friends!
How was ReCreate Store born?
The idea for ReCreate was born when I was in Cambodia a few years ago. Wade and I had been travelling regularly to Cambodia for a long time through our volunteer organisation, so had formed a good relationship with one particular slum community in rural Cambodia. Each time we came back to Cambodia we saw this community grow and develop, however there was never any good or safe employment for women. So we initially had the idea to start a small production centre that would provide training and employment for women. The idea to make clothing only came about after we got home to New Zealand, chatted with some friends, and got our first fashion designer on board! After several months of planning and fundraising, we bought the first lot of sewing machines and our ReCreate sewing centre was up and running! Then together with an amazing team, especially our photographer and designer Debs, we stocked and launched our online store in November 2014.
Tell us a bit about the sewing centre and the women...
Our sewing centre is located in Dey Tmey – a rural community that were forcefully evicted from their homes in the capital city eight years ago. People there face many difficulties, but we have been blessed to have some amazing women train and work with us. One in particuar, Somphors was our very first sewing student. Having only had a limited primary school education she was nervous about learning a whole new skill, but with her courage and hard work Somphors has gradually been promoted within the team and is now our sewing trainer – teaching other Cambodian women how to sew! We love our team and are really proud of how far they have come.
Where do you see ReCreate in 5 years?
In five years time I see ReCreate as a global brand! We have recently gained our first international stockists in Australia and Belgium, so are slowly growing our reach with the aim of having a beautiful ethical brand that has a strongly positive impact on the people that we work with.
What is your favourite thing about what you do?
My favourite thing about my role with ReCreate is… probably the whole thing! I love the challenges as well as the wins – the hard work just makes the small victories even more rewarding.
Price can often be a huge factor for people - why are ethical garments more expensive?
Through the journey of ReCreate I have realised firsthand the very real costs involved with producing an ethical garment from start to finish. Taking into consideration the fair wages paid to the cotton farmers, the weavers, the dyers and the garment makers, as well as the additional costs involved in growing a cotton crop without the use of cheap chemicals and dyeing the fabric with organic dyes, not to mention the overhead costs of gaining an organic or fairtrade certification… I can easily understand the reasons why ethically produced garments generally cost more than mass produced ones. Looking at a $4 top or $10 pair of pants, it is completely unrealistic to think that every person involved in the process is receiving fair pay. So I am happy to pay the additional costs involved in owning a garment that doesn’t exploit anyone!
What would you say to people who are interested in buying more ethically?
For people who are interested in buying more ethically, I would just say that it’s a gradual journey. Start small, ask questions and embrace what you feel strongly about. Be realistic and know that changing the way you shop will take time.
As I’ve said before, it IS a journey. Start small, perhaps making the change with all gifts you buy being ethical etc. If we try to do it all at once it just won’t happen and we will end up feeling crap about ourselves. but its not about making a huge drastic change. It’s about starting small and doing what you can to the capacity that you can. Every little bit helps and makes a difference. Celebrate small victories.
‘A great life isn’t about great huge things. It’s about small things that make a big difference.'