fair trade raleigh nc

Inside Out Challenge: Fair Trade Fashion Truck Adventures

Yes, you read that right. Fashion trucks! They’re a thing, y’all! Think of a food truck, but with pretty clothes inside instead of tacos and burgers. It’s fantastic.

I recently wrote about my difficulties finding stores here in Raleigh at which to shop for fair trade clothing. At the end of that rather depressing post, I promised that there was good news coming. Here it is!

Back in January, I was telling a group of ladies about my interest in fair trade fashion and my struggles to find local vendors. One of them piped up and said she had recently learned about a local fair trade fashion truck through another friend. I was beyond excited and immediately hit the Internet to find out more.

The Flourish Market, which just opened its doors in fall 2015, camps out at various festivals, parties, and events around the Raleigh/Durham area in addition to running an online store. The truck carries fun fair trade brands like Threads 4 Thought, Tribe Alive, Grace and Lace, and Akola. In addition to clothing, the truck also stocks jewelry, shoes, purses/bags, home decor, and gifts.

After stalking the truck’s schedule on Instagram for several weeks, I finally caught up with The Flourish Market a month or so ago in Durham. It was a breath of fresh air for this shopping-deprived gal! Most of the clothing was just my style, and I thought the prices were very affordable compared to the sticker shock I had gotten on several fair trade websites. I probably tried on every single piece of clothing in the truck and left with some beauties, including this STUNNING dress, which I can’t wait to wear to every single party and dinner outing this summer:

Threads 4 Thought fair trade dress from The Flourish Market | Trés Belle

Since then, I’ve gotten to know Em, the truck’s founder, and learn more about her heart for winning people over to ethical fashion (you can read some pieces she’s written for The Huffington Post here). It’s so inspiring to connect with other Raleigh locals who have a passion for social justice and who are doing big things to change the fashion industry. AND, I’m just tickled pink that I finally found somewhere local to try on and buy fair trade clothing! Happy dance!

xoxo Laura

P.S. – If you’re new to the Inside Out Challenge, you can find previous posts here.

Inside Out Challenge: Shopping for Fair Trade Clothing in Raleigh, NC

Shopping for clothes on the Internet just isn’t my thing. I don’t have a “normal” body shape (but isn’t that true of most of us?), and depending on the brand and fit, I can wear clothing that ranges anywhere from a size 0 to size 8. Trying things on in store is critical for me. Reluctant to order an expensive fair trade shirt online only to find that I have to pay to ship it straight back due to it not fitting, I set out in my car a few weeks ago to find fair trade clothing in my home city of Raleigh.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

The number of brick-and-mortar stores selling fair trade clothing in Raleigh (the second largest city in North Carolina, I might add) is underwhelming at best. Google searches only turned up one store: Sugar Magnolia, which is located on Hillsborough Street near NC State’s campus.

The Sugar Magnolia website gave me the impression that all of the clothing in the store would be fair trade. However, upon arriving and inquiring with the sales associate, I learned that only a small fraction of the store was fair trade: the traditional Indian clothing from India.

The clothing, which was simply not my style, was also incredibly inexpensive, making me admittedly a little suspicious about its sourcing. There were no fair trade certification on the labels that I could see.

I walked out of the store empty handed and headed for my next stop: Certain Things in Cameron Village. I remembered having a conversation with the store owner around Christmas time about a fair trade line of clothing they stock. Symbology makes clothing that is much more my style (typical popular American fashion). Certain Things had three or four different shirt styles in stock, and I found a few in my size to try on. They fit okay, but I have to really love a piece of clothing to fork over $180. I left empty handed once again, but will certainly stop back again in the future to see updated styles.

Conclusion: The fair trade fashion options available at physical stores in Raleigh is lacking and/or the stores that do carry fair trade lines aren’t showing up in Google search results. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of the two stores I visited for taking a small step forward, but we are in desperate need of leaps and bounds in the NC ethical fashion arena.

Don’t fret though, belles…I have good news about where you CAN find local fair trade clothing coming soon in another post 🙂

xoxo, Laura

Inside Out Challenge: Shopping When You Can’t Shop

Well hey there, long lost friends! After a brief hiatus on the blog while I was studying for and taking my social work clinical licensure exam (I passed!! Happy dance!), I am back at it with an update on how the Inside Out fair trade fashion challenge is going. Spoiler alert: pretty well.

The Inside Out Ethical Fashion Challenge 2016 | Trés Belle

My first experience shopping since I started the challenge occurred a mere two days into the new year. My sister, her boyfriend, and my parents came to visit hubs and I at our new house for New Year’s and my mom’s birthday. Naturally, we wanted to show everyone around a bit, and Mom had a few shops she wanted to check out. Me, Mom, and sis headed downtown and to Cameron Village to get our shopping fix.

I was a little worried that it was going to be difficult to stand by and watch while the others tried on and bought beautiful clothes (at some of my favorite stores, no less). However, I was pleasantly surprised at how freeing it was to not be able to shop. I didn’t have to sort through giant racks of clothes. I didn’t have to make difficult budgeting decisions. And I didn’t come home with a dent in my wallet!

The lack of fair trade clothing options in Raleigh actually gave me a sense of…relief? Rather than coming home with more clutter to add to my closet, I came home with an aura of peacefulness and a sense of having more than enough. Abstaining from shopping, though not necessarily the goal of this challenge, has given me clarity on the difference between needs and wants. I am finding that I am more grateful for the things that I do have when I’m not constantly buying more, more, more.

Stay tuned for more Inside Out updates coming soon to a blog near you! To take a peek at previous Inside Out posts, click here.

Xoxo Laura