fair trade

Inside Out Challenge Update: My First Online Clothing Order!

Hey there, belles! I wanted to share a bit today about how my Inside Out fair trade fashion challenge is going. In a nutshell: well!

I conquered my grandma instincts and ordered clothes online for the first time! Well, okay, let me give myself a little credit…I have ordered clothes and shoes online before, but only when there was a physical store close by where I could easily return them (think: Victoria’s Secret, DSW, etc.). This was my first time ordering clothes when the only return option was to ship them back. Cue the anxiety now!! Just kidding. Like most things, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it’d be.

It helped, of course, that the clothes I got (from Threads4Thought, my absolute favey-fave fair trade clothing company) were ADORABLE! How fun and summery is this blue and green maxi skirt??

Green and Blue Threads4Thought Fair Trade Maxi Skirt | Très Belle

I’m also loving this casual but chic black jumpsuit. You feel like you’re wearing pajamas, but you’re dressed up enough for dinner downtown. #winning.

Black Threads4Thought Fair Trade Jumpsuit | Très Belle

 

Black Threads4Thought Fair Trade Jumpsuit | Très Belle

Threads4Thought clothing just…fits. Perfectly. Everything I’ve bought from them is true to size and flattering. The price point is also quite reasonable (especially when you buy things on sale and take advantage of free shipping on orders $50+ like I did).

Anyone else bought some new ethical fashion or had a fun online shopping experience lately? Would love to hear about it!

xoxo Laura

P.S. – this post is not sponsored by Threads4Thought. I just love sharing great finds with my belles!

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.

Mission Impossible: Searching for the Illusive Fair Trade Men’s Suit

Finding fair trade clothing retailers PERIOD is hard enough to begin with, but when you’re on the hunt for a specific, specialty item, I’m learning that you’ve really got your work cut out for you. When hubs recently commented on how he needed some new suits for work, I quickly jumped on the opportunity to browse fair trade men’s suits online (I knew the chance of finding a local store was 0%). However, there was nothing to browse. I found zero (ZERO!!) suits online that were fair trade certified. I’m trying to give the universe the benefit of the doubt by assuming there’s got to be at least one fair trade suit out there on the market, but it’s just buried on a website whose developer doesn’t do good SEO.

What gives, clothing industry? Or maybe I should say, what gives, American businessmen? Is there really so little demand for fair trade suits that companies see no point in making them?

So, what’s a socially conscious man to do? Despite the dearth of fair trade options, I did find some ethically-made suits.

Brave GentleMan offers a number of “fair labor” and vegan suit pants and blazers made from eco-friendly fabrics. Honestly, the clothing sounds more or less fair trade, it just isn’t certified.

Brave GentleMan Burgundy Blazer. from Mission Impossible: Finding a Fair Trade Men's Suit | Très Belle

Apolis, a Certified B Corporation (meaning they’ve been graded and received a “passing” score for social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency), offers one full suit for sale. And, when you buy the jacket and pants together, you get 15% off, which is nice!

Apolis (Certified B Corporation) Suit. from Mission Impossible: Finding a Fair Trade Men's Suit | Très Belle

Another brand that I’m pretty excited about is Hardwick. Most of their suits are made in the USA with fabrics that are made in the USA (per my chat with Hardwick employee Andrew Welsh, fabrics made elsewhere are noted in the clothing item descriptions). Because the U.S. has minimum wage laws, this (hopefully) means the suits are essentially fair trade, though I did not ask about sourcing for things like the zippers and buttons.

Hardwick Made in the USA Men's Suit. from Mission Impossible: Finding a Fair Trade Men's Suit | Très Belle

For those interested in environmental sustainability, check out Rawganique. They offer chemical-free and sweatshop-free hemp jackets and slacks in addition to organic cotton dress shirts.

Rawganique Hemp Slacks for Men. Sweatshop-free, chemical-free. from Mission Impossible: Finding a Fair Trade Men's Suit | Très Belle

Pretty please y’all, if you find suits to add to this list, comment or contact me! I get over-the-moon excited when I learn about new ethical clothing brands!

xoxo Laura

Inside Out Challenge: Giving Up Convenience for Fair Trade

The Inside Out Ethical Fashion Challenge 2016 | Trés Belle

I’m starting to realize one of the most difficult parts about exclusively buying fair trade fashion: You can’t just “run out real quick and grab ____.”

This realization recently hit home when I was preparing for a big meeting at work. As I was putting together my outfit the night before, I noticed how my tan belt was worn and frayed and looked as though it might snap in half. No problem, I thought, I’ll just run by Target on the way to work tomorrow and pick up a new one. 

Well actually, no. No I won’t. Because I’ve committed to this fair trade deal.

My mind started turning frantically. I can’t wear a black belt with this because I’m wearing nude shoes. Black shoes wouldn’t look half as good with this outfit. There’s nowhere within driving distance where I can find a tan belt tomorrow morning before work, and I don’t have time to order something online. Agh!

Honestly, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that not having a tan colored belt was a fashion dilemma for me. Yes, the nude shoes and belt would have looked smashing with the outfit. But the black shoes and belt looked just fine, and no one else noticed the difference. If there’s one thing this challenge is teaching me, it’s that, for the most part, I already have more than enough, and I still look fine even when I don’t look like I stepped off the runway. I’m just not willing to compromise on my values anymore in order to have a closet full of beautiful clothes.

Takeaways: 1) Learning contentment is a process. 2) Buying fair trade does not always fit nicely with the convenience-driven American lifestyle. 3) People > clothes. Always.

Thoughts, beauties?

Xoxo Laura

P.S. – You can catch more Inside Out Challenge posts here.

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