ethical clothing

A Year of Fair Trade Fashion: Closing Thoughts

The Inside Out Ethical Fashion Challenge 2016 | Trés Belle

I seriously cannot believe it has been 12 months since I took on a challenge to exclusively purchase fair trade clothing for an entire year. I’ve discovered that sticking exclusively to fair trade-certified products is nearly impossible, fallen in love with a few fair trade/ethically made brands (see here, here, here, here, and here), found a local store where I can shop for ethical clothing, and been aghast at times by the lack of ethically produced options in the fashion world (see here, here, and here). While I did have to give up some convenience, it hasn’t been that hard to make ethical choices, and it has made me reflect a lot on my consumeristic habits and the way my purchasing choices impact others. All in all? 100% worth it.

This post is supposed to be about my closing thoughts on buying fair trade fashion, but I really feel like I’ve only just begun. There are so many ideas floating around in my head that I’ve wanted to write about but haven’t had the time, so many ethical brands yet to share, so many areas of the ethical fashion world yet to explore. This challenge has permanently changed my life. While I may not be as strict in the future about buying fair trade-certified clothing, I do hope to buy ethical clothing 99% of the time, whether it’s fair trade, organic, made by a Certified B Corporation, sustainably produced, secondhand, or sweatshop-free. I hope that you’ll continue to enjoy my ethical fashion posts, because they’re here to stay!

Here’s to continuing to vote for a better world with our dollars in 2017!

xoxo Laura

Inside Out Fair Trade Fashion Challenge Update: October

The Inside Out Ethical Fashion Challenge 2016 | Trés Belle

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done an update on my Inside Out fair trade fashion challenge, and I have a confession to make. I’ve bought some things that are not fair trade certified (!!!). Let me explain a bit more.

The first time that I bought something non-fair trade was an accident. I’ve written before on the blog about The Flourish Market, an ethical fashion truck in the Triangle area. I was initially under the impression that everything on the truck was fair trade certified, and was surprised when I discovered that this adorable blue and orange top from Grace & Lace that I had purchased was not, in fact, fair trade certified. Oops! While many of the products that The Flourish Market carries are indeed fair trade certified, others are ethically produced but do not necessarily carry an official stamp or label.

Floral Grace & Lace Top | Trés Belle

When I emailed Grace & Lace to inquire about their sourcing, they were quick to respond. Their products were originally all made in the USA, but due to quick growth of the company (probably because of an episode of Shark Tank!), they outsourced some of their manufacturing to Asia. Per the Grace & Lace representative who emailed me, “We continually have our team members visit each of our mills to ensure quality work environments.”

At this point, I felt torn about what to do. Should I discontinue shopping at The Flourish Market, withdrawing support from a locally-owned small business on a mission to sell ethically-produced fashion, in order to stick to my own strict rules for this challenge? My prayer from the beginning of the challenge was that it would result in a significant and enduring heart and behavior change for me rather than just following the rules for a short amount of time and then kicking them out the door as soon as the challenge was over. The more I thought and prayed about it, the more strongly I felt that developing habits that would stick and supporting a local business with the same ideals that I have for fashion were more important than being a hard-ass about the rules.

So, I’ve made an exception for The Flourish Market during these final few months of my fair trade fashion challenge. I’m still drawing a hard line when it comes to other non-local ethical fashion companies that aren’t certified fair trade, but I do see myself loosening up a bit after the challenge is officially over and purchasing from these companies given that a strict fair trade-certified approach is difficult to sustain.

I’ve purchased a couple of additional non-fair trade, ethically-produced clothing pieces from The Flourish Market and hope to have photos of them on the blog soon!

xoxo, Laura

The Inside Out Challenge: Ethical Fashion in 2016

Happy New Year, belles! Are any of you making resolutions for 2016? I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions, though I do set personal goals for myself from time to time, and I almost always give something up or take on a new practice for Lent. This year, however, I’m kicking off 2016 with the Inside Out Challenge, which my friend Traci and I have created to explore ethical fashion and natural beauty products. We will be blogging about our experiences and invite you to follow along and/or join us (more on that below!).

The Inside Out Ethical Fashion Challenge 2016 | Trés Belle

I’ve known for years that many clothing companies use child and slave labor in their supply chains or pay foreign workers unfair wages. We all see it in the media from time to time when companies like Nike get exposed for supporting sweatshops. It didn’t sit well with me, but I also wasn’t sure about alternatives, and most of the time it was out of sight, out of mind. A few years ago I stumbled upon Slavery Footprint and was appalled by how many slaves I had working for me in various supply chains. I fired off emails to several companies (and amazingly, actually got a few responses!), then got busy with graduate school and never did anything serious about it. Given the choice at Whole Foods, I would typically choose the fair trade product, but that was about it.

Then, this past November, I read 7.

Traci selected it for our monthly book club, and heavens, am I glad she did. I am not kidding when I say it changed my life, in many ways that I’m only beginning to wrap my head around. Best believe, y’all will be hearing about this book more on the blog in the future.

really got me thinking about the choices I make with my money as a consumer, especially in regards to clothing. Simply put, it got me fired up about ethical fashion.

For the duration of 2016, I am choosing to only purchase fair trade fashion. This includes clothing, shoes, and accessories for myself as well as gifts for others. No ifs, ands, or buts. The only exception I will make is if the purchase is required in some way (i.e. a bridesmaid dress or a volunteer t-shirt). I honestly don’t foresee any of these “required” purchase in my 2016, though.

I am approximately 99% super excited about this and 1% nervous. I am taking the values I hold on the inside (social justice, belief in the value and worth of all human beings) and physically wearing them on the outside. I can’t wait to see how this challenge changes me from the inside out. And I can’t wait to share about it with y’all!

Traci’s doing something a little different with natural beauty products, and she’ll be sharing more about that on her blog soon.

The Inside Out Ethical Fashion Challenge 2016 | Trés Belle

Join in with us if you’d like, even if just for a month or a purchase or two, using the hashtag #2016insideout.

xoxo Laura

(Jeans photo credit: public domain image)