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July 10, 2017

Fashion, handicrafts and accessories from around the world – at Bazaar Berlin the focus is on fair trade

• Sustainable fashion production in Cambodia

• Handicraft production keeps Syrian and Turkish women in business

• Bazaar Berlin supports Fair Trade Town Berlin campaign

Be it for handmade candles from Ostjava, Shipibo blankets from Peru, or West African shea butter – a visit to Bazaar Berlin is like a short holiday to an exotic world. Every year around 500 manufacturers and sellers from over 60 countries exhibit their products on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds, and sustainability plays a big part.

Traditional handicrafts and modern design

For example, Bazaar Berlin supports fair trade projects, including the Cambodian Modern Ethnic Design Center (MEDC) in Phnom Penh, which was set up in partnership with the Fashion Design Institute (FDI) Düsseldorf, among others. Its aim is to train Cambodian designers to sustainably produce fashion collections for the European market. Advice on fashion and European taste is provided by Anne Lonnes, a graduate of the Düsseldorf Fashion Design Institute. Their production focuses on traditional methods and the use of quality silk, which is dyed in colours made from blossoms, leaves and bark – a skill which has become rare in Cambodia. Under the Pol Pot regime artisans, including traditional dyers, were persecuted. The textiles are woven in small villages instead of large factories, and the aim is to provide women in particular with a livelihood in rural areas. Instead of working in factories under poor conditions the female weavers are able to support their families and take care of their smallholdings. They receive fair pay for their work, which enables them to feed their families.

Fair trade fashion from Cambodia at Bazaar Berlin

“A lot of clothing sold in Europe is made under terrible conditions in countries such as Cambodia and Bangladesh“, says Barbara Mabrook, the project manager of Bazaar Berlin. “So, together with the Modern Ethnic Design Center, we are delighted to be able to make our contribution to better working conditions. In November at Bazaar Berlin visitors can find out for themselves not only that these items are sustainably produced, but that they also suit European fashion tastes.“ Five designers will be presenting their collections at Bazaar Berlin.

Handicrafts made by Syrian and Turkish women

The training programme for Syrian women who have fled home and for low-paid Turkish women, which is supported by Bazaar Berlin among others, aims to give women living in poor conditions in Turkey a better outlook. Turkey has already taken in 2.5 million refugees. Unable to speak Turkish adequately, with no access to employment and with their refugee status undecided, their situation is uncertain. What is more, tensions between refugees and the society that has accepted them are rising. That is where this project, which is sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Economic Development, comes in, with Syrian and Turkish women being taught to manufacture jewellery, bags and clothes. Traditional craftsmanship and modern design go hand in hand. It makes these products more competitive on the European market without neglecting the cultural heritage of the respective countries. At Bazaar Berlin these women will be exhibiting their products in Hall 12.

Bazaar Berlin supports Fair Trade Town Berlin

Support for sustainable consumption begins on one’s own doorstep. In Berlin especially demand for fair trade products is on the rise – instead of buying the cheapest goods possible more and more consumers are making choices based on quality and sustainable production methods. The Fair Trade Town campaign recognises this and supports widening the sale of fair trade products to public buildings such as schools, organisations and local companies as well as restaurants, cafés and shops. At Bazaar Berlin 2016 a group representing politics, business and society – including Bazaar Berlin – joined forces to promote certification of Berlin as a city of fair trade. At local council level in Berlin the districts of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Mitte, Pankow and Tempelhof-Schöneberg succeeded in being certified. Other districts, including Neukölln, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Treptow-Köpenick, have also applied.

About Bazaar Berlin

Launched in 1962 as Partners for Progress, the international consumer exhibition for handicrafts, jewellery, textiles and home accessoires changed its name to Bazaar Berlin in 2014. Every year in November around 40,000 visitors come to the Berlin Exhibition Grounds to purchase exotic articles from around the world, either to keep or to give away as gifts.

Bazaar Berlin is organised by Messe Berlin GmbH.More details at www.bazaar-berlin.com and on Facebook and Instagram (Bazaar Berlin).