Where all my do-good nurse friends at?? Finding specialty clothing items that are ethically sourced is incredibly difficult, so I was beyond excited when I recently stumbled across Catalyst Scrubs! The brand was started last year by a speech pathologist who saw a niche in the market for ethically-sourced scrubs. Catalyst’s scrubs are made by women in impoverished countries who are given fair wages and other incentives, such as free medical care, free child care, and free business courses.
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??
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.
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.
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.
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. Read More
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. Read More
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!).
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.
7 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.
Join in with us if you’d like, even if just for a month or a purchase or two, using the hashtag #2016insideout.
(Jeans photo credit: public domain image)