I attended the Fair Trade Fashion Show put on by Bead & Reel and Peace Exchange and it was FABULOUS. It was my first time at the Arts District Co-Op; what a great location! Nestled among downtown warehouses, the Co-Op sits on a friendly and vibrant block just down from Urth Caffe (which has amazing vegan chocolate cake). Just outside the Co-Op was the Bohemia food truck so after a walk around talking to the Co-Op vendors, I stuffed my face with soyrizzo tacos and vegan sopes. Then, I sat down to enjoy the panel of amazing speakers (list below) talking about fair trade fashion. When I say the panel was informative and inspirational, that's an understatement. Eloquent and intelligent answers were given on topics like why fair trade is important, how fair trade effects us all, and how fair trade works. I had a marvelous time and I wanted to share a bit of that with you all.
If you aren't aware of fair trade or a little unclear on what it means, here's a great definition from the World Fair Trade Organization, "Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South." This definition gives you a glimpse into the importance and relevance of fair trade and the impact it can have and has had on the world. However, we're far from there yet; there's a lot still left to be done to rid the world of unsafe working conditions, hazardous environmental impact, and equalizing rights. I'm not here to be preachy, I'm just here to shed some light on some facets of the the world of which we as consumers may not be aware.
Ignorance is one of the scariest things, in my opinion. It's easy to never educate oneself on the issues in the world and it's easy to ignore them even when they're on the news. What we need to realize as consumers is that we CAN change the world. With simple changes like researching the companies we buy from, being aware of the issues facing the world, and doing our part to support and companies working toward a brighter and more modern future for the world (and equally as important, not supporting companies that are hindering our progress). It seems daunting and you may think, "I just want to buy what's cheap and easy, I don't want to spend more or research anything." The "research" is really just taking the few seconds to Google a company; most, if not all, fair trade companies are completely transparent and will tell you exactly how their business is run. It's the other companies that will run you around, not provide information, and try to confuse you into giving up your search. Now, as for cost, some fair trade items can cost more than their counterparts but the best way to think about it is to know that you're supporting an holistic supply chain and a business that is ethical, and responsible. The more we support what's good and deny what's bad, the more companies will be encouraged to change their ways. It's a simple idea that makes a HUGE impact.
I encourage you to take a look at companies like Bead & Reel and Peace Exchange and see the good fair trade can accomplish.
As for my outfit of choice for the event, I went with a vintage fedora, shirt dress from the new Vaute collection, oxfords from Melissa, and a shoulder bag from La Bante. All vegan, cruelty-free! I have an A Harmless Project episode on the way featuring Bead & Reel which will also feature looks from the fashion show so stay tuned for all those goodies!