I first came across Bishopston Trading Company, somewhat strangely, when I lived in South Devon. There's been an outlet of this shop on Totnes High Street for as long as I can remember. When I moved to Bristol and discovered that Bishopston was a district, and that Bishopston Trading Company had a shop on Gloucester Road smack bang in the middle of it, things started to make a lot more sense!
I've always considered the shop to be a little pricey, but the quality of the goods is unparalleled within this niche market. Stocking clothing for adults and children and sundries of Indian origin, it appeals to the urban hippy and artistic communities that thrive in this area. I have bought quite a few items of clothing over the years, as I know that they are durable, and the dyes won't send the rest of my wash a universal colour. These are important factors, but the main motivation to support Bishopston Trading Company is that they are devoted to a practice of fair trade, which is something that I am devoutly in support of. (I used to set up projects in South India for the Trade Not Aid arm of the Body Shop).
Awash with indigo-dyed clothes I half expected some flute-playing Peruvians to jump out at me at some point. Although way too floaty grown-up hippie for my tastes, the shop does have some nice quality clothes for women and kids.
Interestingly they also have fabric on the roll for making your own creations.
If they shop seems too much at least check out the noticeboard in the doorway which is a useful collection of notices for yoga groups and music teachers and classes.
I don't really ever think I will find myself in here again. It's not that the service is bad, or the quality of the clothes rivals Primark, it's purely because they have nothing in fashion whatsoever. I guess if you were over the age of 40 you might find something you like, but then again you would never see the cast of Desperate Housewives sporting anything displayed in this shop, therefore I say steer clear of this shop!
Ending on a positive note, the lady serving me when I visited was really cute and friendly (when I say cute I don't mean in the Hayden Panteriree way, I mean the fragile old lady way....just had to clarify that!).
Perfectly placed in an area full of quite affluent, eco-conscious, stylish families, this gorgeous fair trade clothes and soft furnishings shop sells brightly dyed clothes in natural cottons and linens, lovely homewares such as teatowels and hot water bottle covers, and bags and accessories. Beautiful high quality garments, all imported from India, for men, women and children hang on the rails in rainbow colours.
It's a soft, gentle, friendly shop which is happy to let you come in and browse. I have to say I didn't buy anything here, but I think I would come back if I was gift shopping, because they have some lovely soaps and bath treats made from all-natural ingredients.
It's a good place perhaps for the older, arty Bristolian to buy his or her clothes; I imagine the experience of trying on clothes and making a purchase here would be thoroughly lovely, as the shop assistants are very smiley and caring.
I was drawn into this shop by the pretty window display of lilac blouses / quilted jackets and rainbow slacks. The colours are gorgeous. In terms of style I'd say it's for women over 30, since the cut of their clothes can cunningly hide various bulges, whilst the imaginative colours and patterns look artsy-crafty. I bought a low-cut cotton blouse, but had to take it in since it was slightly too baggy on me.
They have some lovely baby clothes which would make good presents and accessories such as quilts, hairbands, bags etc. They also sell rolls of their pretty fabrics if you feel like making something yourself.
The Bishopston Trading Company has five shops in the South West - Gloucester Rd, Totnes, Glastonbury, Stroud and Bradford on Avon as well as a mail order range and a wholesale business. It imports organic and fair-trade products direct from Southern India. The BTC has for many years through its registered charity, the South India Rural Development Trust, supported trade and industry in the village of K V Kuppam. Many of the shops goods are now produced in a factory that was designed and built with the help of the Trust and has vastly improved working conditions for the villagers.
The goods themselves are beautifully made in wonderfully rich shades of teals, indigos, magentas and sapphires. For such excellently made, fair-trade products, they are very well priced and great quality. There's a good selection of women's clothing, a small selection of men's shirts, children and baby clothes, belts, bags, cushion covers, bed linen and the most exquisite dolly clothes I've ever seen!
At first glance, this shop looked suitable for somebody twice my age. I took a closer look and I actually liked a few of the clothes! I don't think I would wear any of the items just yet but the shop itself was intriguing. The clothes were high quality and not too expensive. I thought the toddler patchwork trousers were adorable, and a lot of the womenswear was not too bad. Very hippy - not fashionable hippy - but laid back and relaxed clothing at its finest.
If I only had three words to describe the Bishopston Trading Company I would say "nice but dull". The nice bit - they have their own registered charity called the South India Rural Development Trust. All of their profits go to this charity, which in turn benefit the people of K.V. Kuppam (in southern India). The clothes are all handmade with organic cotton by 232 workers there (making little stuffed elephant toys, bags, clothes...that sort of thing). The dull bit - I'm sorry to say this, but I think the merchandise is pretty boring. Maybe it's because I'm younger than the target market? All I can say is that I did buy a top there but I never wear it because it makes me feel old. But I'm glad that they're doing it, and I hope they get a lot of customers. I'm just not one of them.
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