Fair Trade Fashion

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Greenola Dress and Necklace

October 25, 2013

With the upcoming holiday season looming and fall being in full swing, it is tempting to buy all those stylish products you see in the shop windows of the mall. The beginning of cold weather is a great time for fashionistas… all the boots, and leggings, and sweaters, oh my! We can all get carried away with the catalogues, ads, and apple farm outfits from time to time. An important thing to remember though is that all this seasonal fashion passion comes with an unhealthy price tag for the world. The high rate of clothing consumption affects people around the globe who are making these products in sweatshops under undesirable conditions. There is good news though. There are alternatives to being in this clothing rat race, alternatives that will make you feel as good as you look!

Here are three great companies that offer stylish Fair Trade fashion options:

Greenola:
Greenola, a Fair Trade boutique located in Chicago’s hip Andersonville neighborhood has a unique approach to both fashion and business. Greenola’s founder, Jennifer Moran, developed the idea for Greenola upon traveling to South America where her already burning passion for social activism was further fueled by the strong women she encountered.
The stylish and sustainable items found at Greenola are designed in Chicago and made in Bolivia and Kenya by women artisans. Since women are statistically the gender most affected by poverty, Greenola is built around empowering women so their opportunities (and their children’s opportunities) can be plentiful. Greenola pays their artisans fair wages and produces its clothing and accessories using eco-friendly techniques. Greenola also partners with Solidarity Bridge, a non-profit agency which provides medical care to impoverished South American communities. 10% of Greenola’s profits are donated directly to Solidarity Bridge.

Besides being a business model for social change, their products are both stylish and modern. Their brass jewelry is right on trend, and made with great quality. The Dorado Necklace is a must have! Their knitwear is also in high demand; I have my eye on the Naomi Headband!

A great element on their website is a section at the bottom of each product entitled “Meet the Producer,” which gives the customer information on who produced that item and other things they produce. It is a great way to feel even more connected to this fashion initiative and to be an informed consumer.

BeGood:
This San Francisco boutique and online shop offer a wide variety of clothing and accessories for both men and women. BeGood makes begoodit a part of their mission to use one-to-one sales, so that every single purchase directly affects another person/cause in a positive way. They have very strict environmental/ethical standards and have therefore turned down hundreds of brands that were not up to par. They only label a product as Fair Trade if it has been certified by a major Fair Trade organization.

The actual store itself is a work of eco-friendly art. Most of the store is made up of repurposed material, even the floor is made from salvaged wood.

The website is also just as unique as the store. Both are full of stylish components. While shopping online, you can check out the unique icons which explain how each item meets BeGood’s ethical standards.

BeGood’s fashion couldn’t be more relevant. Check out the Threads for Thought Belinda Top which is hot right now. For guys, they have plenty of comfortable, fashionable hoodies. Also, a great gift idea for the holiday season is a Reveal bamboo iPhone case-for every sale, Reveal will plant one tree in the US through their partner, American Forests. Also, check out the hip WeWood watches!

If you are in the Bay area and can make it to the store, keep in mind BeGood will give you 10% off your entire purchase when you donate your gently used clothing!

People Tree:
This UK company is considered by many to be the world leader in Fair Trade fashion. The founder and CEO Safia Minney is one of the leaders of the Fair Trade movement and was awarded the Outstanding Social Entrepreneur by the World’s Economic Forum’s Schwarb Foundation and an MBE for her efforts in the Fair Trade and Fashion industry. People Tree has been partnering with Fair Trade artisans and farmers in the developing world for over 20 years to develop products that are both chic and ethically made. They set out to give trendsetters an alternative to harmful fast fashion practices. They also partner with leading designers to create exclusive collections.

small-wfto-logoThey work with about a dozen groups (farmers, artisans, and producers) that make products which are exceptional in quality and are made with things like organic cotton and natural dyes. From Bangladesh to Kenya, People Tree works with impoverished communities to create a lasting impact for local economies by paying fair wages and developing communities. The artisans put their profits towards things like skill development, educational opportunities, and clean water.

Their environmental mission is fulfilled by promoting organic farming, avoiding polluting substances, water protection, recycling whenever possible, and shipping their products by sea instead of air.

The fashion speaks for itself at People Tree; they offer a huge selection of stylish products for men and women-and even a few things for the home. They are currently offering free dresses when you buy two or more items over £50 each.

Keep these great companies in mind when you are doing your fall or holiday shopping, it is always nice when a good gift is accompanied by a good conversation!

-Monica Bologna

Photo Credits: www.greenolastyle.com, www.begoodclothes.com, blog.peopletree.co.uk

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