06-20-2011

Who, What, Where? (Fair Trade Fashion)

by Erin Flynn

After a much needed trip to the oh so beautiful California and a brief stop at Baksheesh (an amazing store where I literally lost money by the seconds). I started thinking about the effect of clothing, jewelry, & all things I adore.

It wasn’t a rare meeting with the local beach hippie or a soft squeeze from a tree hugger (though that might have been nice), but a simple stylish store with a unique outlook yet common realization that people don’t know who, what, or where their buying their clothes. Not to mention some really cool Elephant Dung Paper. Yep, that’s right paper made of elephant poo!

Don’t get me wrong, I am no stranger to a good bargain or a “Made in China” sticker. I’m not even saying shopping at big retail stores are all kinds of bad. The thing is, we’ll never know if they are or aren’t unless we push for transparency.

(Emma Watson in People Tree)

What’s changed?

Well, there was once a time when dressing in fair trade or eco-friendly clothing mean’t paying an arm and a leg to resemble a burlap bag. Now a days you can skip selling valuable resources (a.k.a body parts), still look stylish, know where your clothes come from, and help support the world all at an affordable price. Sound a bit unrealistic?

Maybe, but caring about where our clothes come from should be one of our growing priorities. Think about all the times you’ve bought cheap clothes yet have donated money to charitable causes or local organizations. Why not support third world countries or a person directly through a purchase you’re going to make anyway.

Is your $8 tee a Whopper burger?

As more and more people change their food choices, the healthier and more transparent our food will become. ┬áIt’s a similar scenario. The more people pay attention to where their clothes come from, the more we’ll know who made it & what it’s helping. The more people buy from companies with “good techniques” the cheaper the products will become.

I realize it might take years for department stores to catch on, and I also realize not everyone can afford to spend $75 on a t-shirt. I don’t blame you. I can’t either! However, we can’t expect anything to change unless we fix our somewhat bad habits. Who knows maybe if I hadn’t fallen asleep in economics I would of remembered something about consumer demand.

This post is meant for nothing more than to make you think. It’s not to rant, chastise, or judge. It’s often we forget, especially as 20 somethings, how much power we have as consumers and how much knowledge we actually deserve. So instead of counting on who, what, wear. Focus on who, what, where? Don’t settle for less!

Organizations to Check

Fair Trade Federation

World Fair Trade

Fair Trade Resource Network

 

What is Fair Trade?

Here’s a couple fair trade explanations:

Baksheesh

People Tree

 

Steps to Take

1. Take Baby Steps

Start learning about where your clothes come from before buying them.

2. Labels Aren’t Everything

Just because a brand doesn’t have a “fair trade label” doesn’t mean you should write them off. Some brands don’t “pay for the label” but that doesn’t mean their techniques aren’t fair. Check the website (normally under Corporate Info) or send a quick e-mail.


Big Companies Taking a Leap

H&M

GAP

TOMS

 

What are you’re thoughts on Fair Trade, buying clothes, or the “Made in China” sticker?

Do you think it’s comparative to the food movement?

 

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