Birmingham City Council

A Shared History, A Shared Future: Fair Fashion

Shared History Shared Future
A Shared History, A Shared Futurecelebrates 200 years since the abolition of the slave trade.
Community based groups have been exploring the ways in which slavery in all its forms throughout history has operated, and how it relates to our lives in Birmingham.

Fair Fashion

A project with Christchurch Primary School

Children from year 6 worked for two weeks examining production of cotton, debt, slavery and identity, as expressed through clothing, lead by textile artist Jane Lutwyche.

The group understood the importance of identity through clothing, and also the abuse of people in the clothing industry. ow is it that slaves make our clothes?The truth is slavery and child labour is endemic from the growing of cotton. picking it, the packing, transportation, and the processing of cotton into cheap, affordable clothing for us.

We looked at archive photos of people from Birmingham, the clothes they wore, and what those clothes might have said about them. Dunia Yetu also visited the school to show clothes from Togo and Congo, and what those clothes mean to them. We then made clothes that said something out us, and who we are. We made an item of clothing that said something about what we learned about slavery.


The project ended with a Fashion Show at the school

Here are some of the comments from the designers:

Murbariz My costume represents slavery. I have been doing this to tell people about slavery. I have enjoyed doing this and also I learned a lot about slavery and the nasty people which buy people and sell. Im proud to help slavery and free them therefore I did my best on making the slavery costume. In our School Christchurch year 6 everyone made a costume like mine, and everyone liked it. Also we had a slavery costume show in our school. We also invited our parents to come and see and learn about slavery and help slaves to be free. We went to Central Library to learn more about slavery and we did but it was sad to see people wearing chains.

Taiwo The clothing I represented was the sad side of slavery, where people have no choice. We had to use designer material which was Fair Trade for the slavery shirt. The back was navy blue and money all around it because slaves can't get money.


Nabila About slavery when poor people get treated like slaves. My design was made with glitter and glue and sewing. I am proud and happy of my t-shirt and I put a lot of effort into my t-shirt. And in the worked there is still slavery happening to poor people.

Aliya My t-shirt was so good that it had some die also some colours and my name in the middle and my friends name in the middle. I was so proud of my t-shirt because it had pictures about my country and what sports I like and film. I like my t-shirt was a bit mess but I liked it. However we wear a t-shirt for the fashion show, but some people made a skirt and some other clothes and some people brought some cloth from home.

Hamza My costume represents what I like to do and what I dont like about slavery. The costume I made about me is a cape and bandana. The cape shows I like superheroes, and the bandana shows I like to be cool. The object I used is a very simple bottle of fabric paint. On my cape is an England flag to show I am from England, and my bandanna is stuff all about me. On my slavery costume at the top there is a man with fire behind him to shop destruction and in the middle it says EVIL SLAVERY and at the bottom it shows a man stuck in jail. I am happy with my design because when I was working I put a lot of thought in it and I was very focused.

Fardowsa My T-shirt represents what I like and me. And what my religion is also it represents what I do. The material I used was fabric (cotton), glitter, glue etc. I really like my design its wonderful.

Kenny My t-shirt represents me, and what I like. Also my religion and my family Town/country. The materials I used for my costume was fur for my arms to show that Girls and Boys have body hair, and sequins and glitter to make my t-shirt shiny. To show I like shiny things on my costumes I used the image maker to stick pictures on my t-shirt. Also I designed a skirt to make it better and more fashionable. I am happy with my t-shirt and I would do it again if I had the chance to!

Iram My top represents my favourite colours such as green, purple, pink, red, yellow and white. The designs were simple and had glitter on it. The top had some beautiful designs like flowers and crosses and some leaves. I also made a skirt it had a zigzag cut at the bottom of the skirt. It had some flowers on it and it also had my hometown flag on it. My hometown is Pakistan. It also had some fire pitchers on it. I also put some Chinese writing on it and I put some numbers on such as 7616. They are my favourite numbers.

Shuma My costume represents what I like and me. The material I used was sequins, fabric ink, cotton and glitter. I did lots of flowers in my sari. I printed lots of movie pictures on my blouse and it looks really nice. I am really happy with my design and I love it.

Aalia My t-shirt represents my favourite colour. I use fabric, glitter and print. My favourite colour is blue.

Esmael My costume represents slavery. I used Fair Trade cotton to make my costume. On my costume I put pictures of slaves working, cages, chains and lots of dark colours. I am happy with my design because I like the way it worked out.

Hirah My costume represents myself. I used Fair Trade cotton. For my design I used an image maker to create three pictures. In the middle I write my name and put sequins around the outside. I am very happy with my t-shirt because I worked very hard on it.

Sehrish My costume represents slavery. My costume has black and white chains all over. Black shows that slavery was dark and bad, also white shows freedom. On the front I put a little bit of cotton and on the cotton I put a picture of two hands covered in chains using the image maker. On the back I wrote we say no to slavery because we think it is bad. I am happy with my costume.

Asim My t-shirt had a sad face on that was very angry and the background was black to represent slavery. And then we had to wear them and show them to the school and on are hands some people were wearing handcuffs because the masters made them so they dont escape.

Iqraali I have made a really funky design. It is a sparkly costume. It took two weeks on every Tuesday to make and plan. I tried putting all the effort in it as I could. It shows I like glitter and rainbow colours. I am very happy because of what I have come up with. We also used Fair Trade cotton, which will be available anywhere!!!!! I used an image on my t-shirt it looked good. I cut and added more fabric to make it look different to everyones costumes!!!!!

Hajra My costume represents slavery and what slaves do. I used cotton to make my t-shirt also I used blue dye on my t-shirt. I put an image on my t-shirt using the image maker. Then I made it look like the person was trapped. I used blue on my t-shirt to show the dirty water they use. The image was of a boy.

Ikran My costume represents my thoughts all about slavery. I used the Fair Trade cotton materials. I cut triangle shape as it was ripped. I drew a chain wrote slavery in glitter and printed a slavery picture I cut because slavery clothes get ripped because they only get one pair of clothes. Am I happy with my design? Yes. I am very happy with all the effort I put into it.

Fatima My costume represents slavery and also what they do. I used cotton to make my t-shirt and then I put dye all over it. The green dye that I put on represents where slaves work and what they wear. You can put green chains at the back also put red dye at the front and that will make it look like blood.

Hatim My costume represents my country, Canada. I had to use Fair trade Cotton. I used different colour and cool Canada flag and John Cena and cars. I like what I did to my t-shirt. It looks cool. The colour I used was red and white because it represents Canada.

Hamza My costume represents slavery. I used dye, fabric, paint, image maker, a blank t-shirt and fabric. I used sad faces, cages, handcuffs and black because slavery is bad. I am happy with my design because thats what we have been looking at for a long time.

Dennicia My costume represents slavery. We used fair trade cotton because otherwise people had to pick it because they were slaves. There were pictures of cages on it and slaves working I am happy with my costume because I showed what slavery means to me and how it affects people.

Najib The costumes represents two types of clothing one for slavery and one about us. We used fair trade cotton for slavery shirt and for the one all about ourselves. The outline was black and in the circle was an England flag and underneath was the Canadian flag. I am happy with my design because I showed the England flag because I am living in England, and the Canadian flag represents my hometown.

Sucaad My top represents my favourite colours like purple, orange and red. At the bottom of my top I painted a Holland flag. Holland represents because I lived and it is so nice. I used cotton to make a scarf around my hair. I have done patterns on it.

Hamra I am proud of my t-shirt because my t-shirt is good because of my design. Because my design is fabulous and it is good and my handwriting is neat. My t-shirt is about me; it had my name on it and a picture of my favourite football team.


The project has also led to further workshops with AXIS group, making tunics for the March for Justice, and Babamundi African drum group is looking to make their own outfits for future performances with Jane.

Design of the tunic was supported by Junaid Taylors (0121 243 6491). AXIS is a citywide community mental health project, working in partnership with service users, carers and families. User led projects include a textile group, catering collective and carers training and support. For more information contact Bal Bains on 0121 464 4133.

Find out more

Find out more about the other projects under the A Shared History, A Shared Future banner.