Fair trade fares



A selection of fair trade toys on display at the recent exhibition at RMIT university in Melbourne.

Credit: Sara Phillips

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Marty and Natalie Dillon believe in fair trade enough to put their house on the line, having sold their Melbourne home and used the proceeds to start 3 Fish, an organic cotton line of elegant t-shirts and other apparel.

"It started when we had kids," Natalie confides - the couple have three under six years old. "You start to think more about what you put in their mouths, and we started getting into the whole organic thing."

3 Fish were guest speakers at a recent exhibition of fair trade wares at Melbourne's RMIT university's Storey Hall, where Marty espoused his views on "why fair trade feels so damn good."

The hall was jammed full of kaleidoscopic hand made toys, clothes and trinkets from around the globe, as well as the usual fair trade chocolate and coffee adding their rich aromas to the atmosphere.

Natalie Pa'apa'a from band Blue King Brown kicked off proceedings with a joyous rap to get people in the mood. Speeches and fair trade fashion parades followed.

It is 3 Fish's first outing. Having dreamed of running their own business for the duration of their 12-year marriage, the Dillons started 3 Fish around a year ago.

They've since travelled to India a number of times sourcing ethical cotton, gins, spinners and tailors for their enterprise. Marty has suffered for his business, with at least one tour ending with an intravenous drip in each arm after a nasty case of Dehli-belly.

3 Fish will officially launch the brand in July at the Life In Style show. The designs are simple and timeless - in keeping with the show's principles of buying fashion that will stand the test of time. They are hoping to attract retail outlets for their line.

In the meantime, they are testing the waters with corporate apparel.

"Fair trade has the power to balance the needs of the planet with the needs of the people, and commercial needs," says Marty. "It's something that we are both really committed to."