inside out challenge 2016

Inside Out Challenge: A Note on Privilege

The Inside Out Ethical Fashion Challenge 2016 | Trés Belle

As a social worker, I talk and think about privilege a lot. “Privilege” was probably the most used word during my time at the UNC School of Social Work. So, as I begin this challenge of exclusively purchasing fair trade fashion and accessories for the next year, I can’t help but think about how much easier this challenge is for me because of the many privileges I have.

For example, I have privilege in that I am extremely wealthy compared to most of the world and already have a closet full of clothes, shoes, bags, and jewelry. It’s not like this challenge is going to be super hard since I already own approximately 100 shirts. Can’t find anywhere that sells fair trade bras? No big shake, ’cause I already have a drawer full of them. Heck, if I really wanted to, I could probably get by for several more years without buying a single new item of clothing.

(Side note: If you thought I was exaggerating when I said 100 shirts, you thought wrong. I just went and counted. This does not include camisoles. I challenge you all to go count your own blouses, sweaters, cardigans, t-shirts, etc. RIGHT NOW.)

Socioeconomic privilege also plays into my ability to purchase fair trade clothing in the first place. You aren’t going to find $10 shirts that weren’t made in sweatshops. To afford fair trade clothing, you’ve got to have some spending money. Which I’m lucky enough to have.

My ability to research ethical fashion and locate fair trade companies depends on Internet access,  spare time, and ability. Again, a reminder of my privilege.

All this to say, I want to publicly recognize that this challenge would not be possible for many, and nearly every day I am grateful for the privileges I do have. My hope is that my choices as a consumer this year help to level the privilege playing field for others.

xoxo Laura

(Jeans photo credit: public domain image)

Inside Out Challenge: The Forgotten Black T-Shirt

The Inside Out Ethical Fashion Challenge 2016 | Trés Belle

Two weeks before Christmas (so three weeks before I kicked off the Inside Out Challenge), I got slapped with a giant reminder of just how horrible my consumerism had become.

I had purchased a vest for my sister at the outlets in Blowing Rock several months before and stowed the shopping bag in a closet for safe keeping. One night, I was wrapping up Christmas presents and pulled the bag out so I could wrap the vest. Lifting the vest out, I noticed there was something laying under it in the bag. I reached in and pulled out a black t-shirt from Gap that I had purchased for myself and completely forgotten about.

Inside Out Ethical Fashion Challenge: The Forgotten Black T-Shirt | Trés Belle

I stared at the shirt in a horrific “aha” moment as I began to feel sick to my stomach. I don’t think of myself as a shopaholic or big spender, and yet here I was exemplifying everything that is wrong with our consumeristic, fast fashion culture. With a $5 price tag, it seemed pretty likely that the shirt was made by poorly paid workers in an underdeveloped country (more on whether or not this is true coming to a future blog post near you!). After purchasing said cheap shirt, I proceeded to completely forget that I bought it. Clearly this was not something I needed, as I had not thought about it for months. I had literally forgotten I even owned it, and here it was, never used.

I’m ready to be more responsible with my buying choices. I’m sick of the flippant consumer I’ve become. It’s time for a change.

Who’s with me? Join and/or follow along as I exclusively purchase fair trade fashion in 2016!

xoxo Laura


(Jeans photo credit: public domain image)