To be honest with you, I hadn't really considered where the world's precious metals were sourced from until a few weeks ago. When I got married 5 years ago, ethical consumption was just a glimmer in my eye - I was really into etsy, but I hadn't overhauled my thinking yet - so I haven't had the opportunity to look much into fair trade or recycled options (in case you haven't noticed, I don't own a lot of fine jewelry).
Philadelphia based jewelry designers,
, contacted me a few weeks ago to introduce me to their Fairmined gold jewelry line. The brand specializes in eco friendly and sustainable jewelry pieces and, as such, already made all of their jewelry with recycled metals and gemstones. But, as they explained to some of my fellow
Ethical Writers Co.
members, demand for gold is greater than gold available on the secondhand market, so there's a "need" (that world is relative, isn't it?) for Fairmined options. You can read more about the process and requirements on the
As Bario Neal explains in their press release:
"the fairmined gold certification ensures that the gold has been ethically extracted by artisanal and small-scale miners who are certified under the Fairmined standard."
Bario Neal believes in promoting good business practices all around, so they seek out ways to reduce their environmental impact, collaborate with local artisans, offer traceable gemstones and metals, and promote marriage equality.
Top - secondhand;
- c/o Bario Neal
As it happens, the earrings I'm wearing here are actually made from recycled gold, and that's my preference anyway. They're the
and they add the perfect touch to anything. I love that they're small enough that I can leave them in when I go to bed and wake up accessorized, but the light hits them in such a way that they still make an impact. Another plus: I have very sensitive skin and these don't bother me at all.
I wore this outfit on the Fourth of July, gallivanting around wine country with out-of-town guests and enjoying the fireworks at a local park. I also wore the earrings the following day, when my former boss at the coffee shop told me she liked my earrings. And she's quite picky, so that's a real compliment. (And then I proceeded to never take them off.)
Shop Bario Neal
. Read more about their ethical and sustainable business practices
Ikwetta is a fair trade, sustainable accessories brand based in Kenya. Co-founders Varsheeni Raghupathy and her husband Leela, a Kenya native, were honeymooning in his home country when they happened upon beautiful, handcrafted sandals at a local market. When they realized that the artisans were not able to make a livable income due to competition and a relatively small consumer market they decided to partner with them to bring their goods to a wider audience.
In their own words:
"While my wife and I fell in love with the products, it was the people behind them that we feel the most for. We realized that African artisans definitely have the talent and their passion shows in the products they make, but what they lack is an avenue through which they could make a decent living through their skills and hard work. We want your support to help us create that avenue …. we want your help to build Ikwetta."
Ikwetta launched a Kickstarter campaign today to get the company off the ground. It's a great opportunity to help some talented people and get some lovely fair trade goods. I really love the Flower Power and Jewelled Peacocks styles shown above.
In this week's episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver featured the long and depressing story of labor violations in the fashion industry. If you've been following this for years, you won't learn a whole lot, but it's quite a good, succinct overview of the last 20 years. I've had a couple people ask me why I don't support GAP, in particular, and this segment will clear that up.
I've embedded the entire segment above for your viewing pleasure.
I'm curious to know how you feel about the segment. Do you think it went deep enough? Do you think it will prove helpful?
Zady is an ethical brand and business that goes above and beyond your average ethics-minded company. They're activists who made a huge splash when they bought a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal to post their manifesto a couple years ago. They're also the US headquarters for the Fashion Revolution Day movement (are you wearing your clothes inside out today?)
To highlight the fact that labor rights and sustainability go hand in hand, Zady released their .02 T-Shirt on Earth Day and just before Fashion Revolution Day. It's made from start to finish in the United States, so the supply chain is transparent and traceable.
The conscientious consumer movement feels like Guerrilla warfare a lot of the time. We're full of ideas, but we're not united. We can't always see who or what we're fighting against, or who we're fighting for. Transparency is vital and there's no better time than now to start moving forward together.
So wear your clothes inside out today, or don't. But stir up people to join the team and spread the word. We need all the help we can get.
Read more Fashion Revolution Day posts from the Ethical Blogger Network:
- Beyond Fashion Revolution Day - Your Clothes Tell a Story
- We are Fashion Revolution - Bedremode
- Join the Fashion Revolution & demand that the industry clean up its act - Live Eco
- Fashion Revolution Day 2015 - Sew Pomona
- Fashion Revolution: The Path Ahead - Beyond the Fried
Read more posts from the Ethical Writers Coalition:
- Change Begins With a Fashion Revolution – The Note Passer
- Podcast: Fashion Revolution Edition – Behind the Thread
- Pioneering a Fashion Revolution – Conscious Living TV
- Inspiring a Fashion Revolution: Sass Brown – Conscious Living TV
- Modeling a Fashion Revolution – Conscious Living TV
- Fashion Revolution Day – Walking With Cake
- Behind the Scenes of Fair Trade Fashion With Liz Alig – Fair for All Guide
- Why Can’t Online Retailers Say Where Their Clothes Are Made? - EcoCult
I'm so excited to introduce you to Joy Martinello, founder of Gaia Couture, a sustainable and ethical boutique for women. Joy has had a really interesting ethical journey and is chock full of information about the industry.
The intersection of eco-friendly and fair trade isn't discussed enough - often they're two separate conversations - so it's rather timely that we're talking about it today with Earth Day and Fashion Revolution Day just a few days away. I hope you enjoy the interview and learn something new!
First, tell me a bit about yourself.
I was born in outside Chicago, IL, moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida when I was 10 and grew up the rest of the way in the West Palm Beach area.
I have always been in love with clothing and costumes. I was a child actress and studied costume design in college at Tufts University in Boston which opened my mind to exploring both the creativity available to us in the world of fabrics and colors, as well sartorial philosophy and why people wear what they do. It was also in college that I became aware of the many degradations being visited upon our beautiful earth and upon workers via the garment industry. For many years it’s been a dream of mine to do something creative with my clothing skills that would help promote sustainable fashion...
I started Gaia Couture with the hope that we can keep growing and changing our inventory to reflect what women ages 25-60 are looking for in clothes that fit their lifestyle. We had our lovely [brick and mortar] shop for a year and a half and then it became clear that our online store was going to be the more sustainable version of our business so we closed the brick and mortar shop in January. My theory is if we can offer beautiful styles that become customer favorites and people turn more and more often to buying eco fashion, we can start to elevate the demand for organic clothing which will mean more sustainable bamboo forests and organic cotton fields, more factories where workers are treated fairly, and more opportunities to do business with integrity in a way that will create a more just and happy world for all.
As I’m working hard to get Gaia Couture off the ground (with some wonderful help from some amazing women), I also have a full time job in the adventure travel industry. I send people to Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands among other places. For that job I went to Kenya in November and it was unbelievable. We in the US don’t really have a context other than Disney for what it’s like to be the wild habitat of these animals. Standing 10 feet from lions or elephants or looking out across the vast plains at Mt. Kilimanjaro put me in powerful connection with the Earth and its extraordinary beauty—just a few more reasons to fight for cleaner clothing manufacturing.
Was there a particular moment or experience that made you consider how your consumer habits affected people and planet?
I had been sheltered as a child, raised by parents who didn’t believe in global warming and didn’t see any problems with the use of harsh chemicals in our world. It was when I went to college and lived in a cooperative house in my sophomore year that I was finally confronted the with consequences of our many damaging choices as a culture. I finally realized how polluted our planet had become and how many people were suffering unnecessarily all over the world. From that time on I vowed to do what I could to make positive change. Everyone needs food, shelter and clothing (and art!) and I vowed to contribute to these needs in ways that support healing and well being for the planet and everyone.
What about sourcing? Do you manufacture your own line or buy from small brands? How do you ensure that products were produced ethically and sustainably?
Gaia Couture is a retailer that carries other people’s lines. We have made the pledge that our clothes are at least 90% organic, leaving space for things like Lycra or Spandex as people like their clothes to stretch (they wouldn't fit well or wear well if they didn't). We choose designers who are involved in every aspect of their production and who guarantee having followed strict Fair Trade guidelines. These people know where their cotton comes from, where their bamboo comes from and they inspect their production facilities regularly for any abuses.
We do carry some fabrics that don’t fit into the “certified organic” category yet that are sustainably made using closed loop systems that do not release any toxins into the environment (or negligible amounts). Modal® made from beech trees, Tencel® made from birch trees, and bamboo are such fabrics. Chemicals are required to break down these tough fibers into fabric; however, the manufacturers we work with have data showing that their systems are closed loops and not polluting.
I’ve recently added prAna’s hemp/organic cotton yoga wear to our site. Hemp is grown in China without pesticides yet it comes from many sources and probably some polluting happens at different farms, as it is unregulated. Beaver Theodosakis and his people at PrAna have assured me that they know where this hemp came from and it has not been grown with any pesticides.
At some level, it becomes a matter of trust. I personally know all the designers I buy clothes from and I know them to be ethical people who want positive change as much as I do. Yes, we have to make a living so we all have to sell clothes, but at the end of the day it’s right livelihood that matters to these people, that matters to me. I’m committed to living a true life that’s grounded in loving kindness, this means being kind to the Earth, kind to all the people who make the clothes, kind to all people who buy the clothes, and being kind to myself too. Kindness is the only thing that really matters.
Do you find it difficult to source items that are both eco-friendly and labor-friendly? In what ways do you see the eco and fair trade movements working together? How could they communicate more effectively?
Actually, if a garment is made from organic fabrics, it’s fairly common to find out that this designer also adheres to Fair Trade practices with their manufacturing. Most designers willing to limit their fabric choices and design more expensive clothes using organic fabrics, rather than making a quick buck with fast fashion and synthetics, are also going to go the extra mile and make sure their garments are ethically produced.
The opposite is more common, where we run across lovely garments that are made using Fair Trade standards yet that are made from synthetics and commercially produced cotton etc. These people have good intentions probably yet are not willing to sacrifice the use of cheaper fabrics to protect the environment. Hopefully they will come around.
The economics are still not with us unfortunately, which is why if you believe in protecting the environment it’s very important to tell your friends and family about the use of pesticides and about the gigantic piles of synthetic clothing taking centuries to biodegrade in landfills. More people buying organic will bring the prices down. It’s happened with organic food. Now it simply must happen with fabrics.
What's your favorite item from the current collection?
Right now my favorite piece is the Convertible Dress. It’s a great example of a super versatile clothing piece that can be worn two different ways (both sides can be worn as the front.) The designer, Blue Canoe, knows people are paying more for an organic dress. Not only does an organic dress have to look sexy and stylish, as it does, it also has to offer better value than a synthetic dress you’d wear a few times and throw away. The Convertible Dress is well made, super soft and flatters many body types.
What are your goals for Gaia Couture in the coming years?
My dream is to have Gaia Couture become an online department store for gorgeous women’s clothes for every event in a woman’s life. I want Gaia to become a lifestyle brand that offers fashions, accessories, lingerie, jewelry, shoes, active wear, yoga clothes—everything a woman needs to look fabulous and have luscious life, all in one place. I want Gaia to sell enough clothes that we can make a powerful impact in how clothes are manufactured all over the world. I want to support and encourage young designers by showcasing their clothes to a loyal Gaia following. I’m a designer, too, and I’d like to have a Gaia line someday too.
In short, I want to give traditional retailers a run for their money and gather enough support for organic clothing that finally making clothes any other way, and indeed living life in any other way, is shown for what it really is: irresponsible and completely unnecessary.
People want to do good. People want to make choices that help others and protect our beautiful Earth. In this complex world they just don’t know how to follow through with those choices. With the emerging success and visibility of Gaia Couture, I’m hoping women everywhere will have an online place where choosing to do good suddenly gets a lot easier (and more fashionable.)
And finally, since Earth Day is this Wednesday, what's your favorite park or natural landmark?
There’s nothing quite like an old growth forest, and when I think about my love for the Earth, I think about the countless hours I've spent sitting by Salmon River in the Mt. Hood National Forest here in Oregon marveling at the exquisite beauty and lushness. Nature is enormously healing for me. It breaks my heart to think these forests may all disappear. It’s happening in the rainforests in Brazil and Peru, why not here in this rainforest? People felt about those forests the way I feel about this one and now they’re irrevocably gone. It’s unbelievable.
We’re all connected, and people felt fine about cutting down those forests because people like us in the US felt fine about buying the burgers that come from the cows now grazing that on that denuded land. Where will it end? When will we finally make better choices to protect our glorious planet?
I think, if people have to shop, which they do as they have to buy clothes, hopefully shopping at Gaia Couture will help.
Fashion Revolution Day is almost here! Last year, conscientious consumers were encouraged to ask the question, "Who made your clothes?" as a way of getting others to rally around the cause of universal ethical labor practices. This year, we're asking, "Who made my clothes?" to the brands and companies we support. We want transparency across the board. One of the best ways to get involved is to wear your clothing inside out on April 24th, post a photo to social media, and tag the companies represented in your outfit, making sure to ask: "Who made my clothes?"
The Fashion Revolution Day team has a great set of materials for spreading the word available here. I've excerpted a few questions from an interview with founder, Carry Somers, below (full interview available for download here).
What is Fashion Revolution Day?
Each year, Fashion Revolution will drive forward a different campaign to tackle some of the fashion industry’s most pressing issues. It will keep the most vulnerable in the supply chain in the public eye and challenge the industry to do better. It will also demonstrate that change is possible by showcasing examples of those who are already creating a better future for fashion.
Fashion Revolution Day, on 24 April, will rally the high street, the high end, the designers, the brands, the shoppers, the media, the commentators, the activists and everyone in between. After the impact achieved last year, Fashion Revolution Day is set to become a significant annual, global event.
Why this date?
On 24 April 2013, 1133 people were killed when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Many more were injured. Today, people are still suffering as a direct result of our fashion supply chain. Fashion Revolution Day says enough is enough. We need to show the world that change is possible.
What are you trying to achieve?
Fashion Revolution will become a catalyst for change through a number of routes. We want to raise awareness of the true cost of fashion and its impact at every stage in the process of production and consumption; show the world that change is possible through celebrating those involved in creating a more sustainable future; bring people together the length of the value chain to ask questions and share best practice; and work towards long-term industry-wide change, getting consensus from the entire supply chain around what changes need to happen.
This year, brands and retailers will be challenged to take responsibility for the individuals and communities on which their business depends. By taking an inside-out selfie, posting it on social media and asking the brand Who Made My Clothes? people around the world can show support for greater transparency throughout the fashion supply chain.
Much of the fashion industry is burying its head in the sand. Fashion Revolution is a global movement and we will bring the message straight from the cotton farmer, the mill dyer, the seamstress, the knitter, the weaver directly to the consumer, to show the truth, to show where change needs to happen, and how we, as consumers, can make a difference. For real change to happen, every part of the supply chain has to make a commitment to change, and that includes us.
What do you say to people who were horrified at the disaster, but can’t afford to pay extra for ethically–sourced clothing?
We’re not asking people to boycott their favourite stores, we need to change the fashion industry from within. By asking the brands and retailers where we like to shop Who Made My Clothes? we can put pressure on them to be more transparent about their supply chains.
In terms of the price, three quarters of those questioned in a YouGov/Global Poverty Project survey said they would be likely to pay an extra 5% for their clothes if there was a guarantee workers were being paid fairly and working in safe conditions. It has been estimated that putting as little as 25p onto the cost of a garment made in Bangladesh would provide the producers with a living wage and pay for factories to meeting fire and building safety standards.
I hope you'll join me this year and ask, "Who made my clothes?"
- Find local #fashrev events here.
- Spread the news on social media with the help of these resources.
- Pin and share the graphics on this post.
- Price: $350.00
- Handmade in Chicago, IL
- Donates to various causes, mostly local
- Price: $245.00
- Handmade in Cleveland, OH
- Leather sourced from USA
- Price: $225.00
- Handmade in Ethiopia
- Leather sourced from Ethiopia
- Byproduct of meat industry
- Price: $189.99
- Handmade in Ethiopia
- Sheepskin Leather sourced from Ethiopia
- Byproduct of meat industry with full animal utilized
- Free range
Tell me your favorite brands in the comments and I'll add them to this post!
Mission Statement:They're too cool for an About page, apparently, but include materials and production info on each product page.
Example: "This is made of Modal. It's a natural fiber and therefore biodegradable, which is super important because petroleum based synthetics like polyester can take over 200 years to decompose."
Offering:Vintage inspired clothing for the California It girl.
Mission Statement:"Curator is a line of clothing designed and produced in San Francisco by two best friends...Whenever possible, we use organic fabrics in our designs. This is truly a labor of love and our life's work."
Offering:Sophisticated clothing for creative types.
Mission Statement:"At Amour Vert we believe women shouldn’t have to sacrifice style for sustainability. We employ a zero-waste design philosophy and use only organic and sustainable fabrics along with low impact dyes."
Offering:Casual, everyday knits.
So, I kind of hate the word, "gifting," but its specificity makes it awfully convenient. However, I love gifts, so I'm quite excited to share Tonle's Valentine's Day Gift Box, which they've put together in collaboration with several other socially responsible companies.
You may recall from my post earlier this week that Tonle is a zero waste, fair trade company based in Cambodia. I think their commitment to fair wages and environmental sustainability represents the end goal for the fair trade movement, so I'm glad they're setting an example for everyone else.
The box contains coconut oil scrub by Coco Khmer, Remy & Rose soap, 3 pairs of Tonle panties, and a Tonle necklace made of remnant fabric and locally sourced beads, wrapped up in packaging handmade by artisans at Dai Khmer. It also comes with a handmade card! Visit the site for more details on the companies involved.
The gift box's retail value is $88.00, but it's available for a limited time for $65.00 on Tonle's website, so grab one early.
Organic farming emits about half the amount of CO2 produced by chemical methods, the soil is more fertile and it also employs more workers to harvest the crop naturally so provides more jobs. It also has huge benefits for the farmers and the environment...
What's been great about reviewing several Nomads items is that I've gotten a chance to see if sizing is consistent across the line. I'm pleased with the fit and surprised that the sleeves are long enough (sleeves are never long enough on me).
In other news, yesterday was a beautiful day with temps above 50 degrees. My blood is finally adjusting to "cold" Charlottesville weather and I consider 50 warm now. I drove with the windows cracked and had a nice time trying my best to copy John Legend's riffs in Glory and remember all the words to O Mio Babbino Caro, a song I learned in high school voice lessons.
On a sadder note, my childhood cat was put to sleep yesterday evening. She was suffering from an inoperable tumor in her bladder. I'm sad, but my parents, who cared for her for all 16 years of her life, are having an especially difficult time. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers this week.
My grandpa used to sit outside on the back porch and watch the birds for hours. There was a big old tree that attracted larger birds and hummingbird feeders strung at the edge of the porch. The tree is gone now and so is Grandpa.
Since this is a fair trade blog, I asked them to provide some information on manufacturing and labor standards. Here's what they said:
Our clothing is made in India in our own factories and in local factories that produce some of the leading brands at retail...And wages paid by eShakti are typically 50% to 100% over the Indian government's minimum stipulation. The people who work to make eShakti's clothes are typically the main wage-earners of their families, and provide for them, including education for their children. eShakti is proud that hundreds of families enjoy the advantages of such employment provided by it. Indeed, it is a part of our organizational ethos and goal to contribute to the welfare of society in India as a responsible corporate citizen and employer, just as we contribute in the USA by creating new jobs as we grow.
eShakti's covenant with its customers is this: we will never allow anything that is opposed to human dignity or the laws of the land where we operate.I appreciate eShakti's transparency on this issue and feel comfortable supporting them here. And they knew what they were doing when they provided a product for review, because I'm hooked. This dress comes in a stretchy medium weight cotton knit that's flattering and versatile. I opted to change the sleeve length only since their size chart measurements were close to my own. The only thing I would change is perhaps making the skirt a bit shorter; that option is available, but I worried it would be too short. Knit dresses are the best kind of dresses and I love the retro-meets-modern design of this one. I'd been looking for the perfect LBD and I actually think I've found it. Groovy!
Update 8/22/16: This post has been more popular than I ever expected because a lot of you are trying to figure out if eShakti is really an ethical company. My answer today is slightly more nuanced. eShakti is better than most, but I wouldn't call them truly sustainable and wouldn't regularly purchase from them. Still, in the custom apparel space, they're you're best bet in an affordable price range. If you have any other questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.
The company works with Indian manufacturers to produce clothing using traditional techniques, such as block printing and patchwork. They're also taking steps to become more environmentally sustainable by using more organic cotton and recycled/biodegradable packaging.
I like the understated, grown-up appropriate look of their garments. They make items for a range of ages and lifestyles. Here are a few of my favorites:
Get to know Nomads on facebook, pinterest, and twitter.
You guys, it's practically summer outside today. Woo hoo! High of 71. They're predicting snow for Wednesday, so I've got to savor this while I can.
I've got one day of work tomorrow, followed by various reunions. I hope to visit with a friend from high school early in the week before heading to my father-in-law's wife's parents' house for Thanksgiving. Hope you're also on your way to a festive week.
Happy Tuesday. I'm currently steeped in Holiday-related work duties and haven't had much time to prepare posts, so it's the perfect time to share a fair trade gift guide! I really love the Fair Trade Federation's standards and organizational structure.
My picks are the Starfish Project necklace and the Eternal Threads gloves.