Another Fashion Revolution Week is Over...Now What?

This week marked the sixth anniversary of the Rana Plaza Disaster in Bangladesh, where more than one thousand people lost their lives in the collapse of a five story building that served as a production factory for well-known fast fashion chains. This event, although it wasn’t the first of it’s kind or the last, sparked what’s come to be known as the “Fashion Revolution”. Each year, as a tribute to the lives lost and a call to shed light on the malpractice that still exists in the fashion industry, people and brands all over the world demand greater transparency. We ask of our favorite brands, “who made my clothes?” in hopes that the cumulative pressure will result in not only policy change but ground-level, real life, actual change too.

And it’s working.

Last year I shared a post about the strides in the Slow Fashion Movement to date, and I think that if I did a little more digging, I’d find that even more strides were made this year. More awareness was raised, more voices heard, more big brands committed to Fair Trade certification and greater transparency.

But, just because Madewell launched Fair Trade denim or brands like Everlane pledge to go plastic free doesn’t mean that we get to stop. We’ve by no means arrived and the need for an ethical fashion revolution remains more important now than ever.

But #FashionRevolutionWeek is over. So now what?

As inspiring and exciting as it is to have a world-wide week of awareness and action, we don’t get to stop there. Here are a few ways that I think we can keep the motivation going, all year long.

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  1. Keep asking questions

You know those photos of inside out shirts with the tags facing out and the wearer asking the maker “who made my clothes”? Don’t stop doing that. One thing I’ve learned over the past three or four years of communicating with brands is that you should never be scared to press for more information. If a brand you love isn’t transparent about their sourcing, fabrics, or factory conditions (which is truly pretty rare) on their website, don’t be afraid to email. Reach out to customer service via email — it’s much less intimidating than a phone call — and ask for more information on their sustainability and ethics practice. If they send over a generic Code of Conduct policy lacking in specifics, don’t be afraid to see through it and ask for clarification.

Ask questions, make it clear you won’t shop without answers, and if you need it, email me (or someone else who has been there before) for help!

2. Find a community

When, for most of the world, questioning the brands who make their clothes isn’t the norm, it can be overwhelming to “walk the walk” alone. In the beginning of my slow fashion journey, I stumbled on this amazing community of people who taught me and answered my questions about where to shop and how to confront brands and, most of all, taught me that shopping ethically was possible.

If you’re feeling intimidated by the scope of the phrase “quit fast fashion”, don’t worry. There’s a global community of people in the same place as you are, each with their own story and perspective. Find them (online, in real life, via blogs, via a quick Google search) and connect with them. The hunt for slow fashion will be much less intimidating.

Your community can be made up of individuals, but you can also form relationships with ethically-minded brands as well. Malia Designs, the maker of the bag in the photos in this post, was one of the very first brands I ever discovered and one of my very first “real” blog posts, which is why I decided to share about them in today’s post. For 10 years, Malia Designs has been working to fight human trafficking, improve wages, and give artisans a leg up in the Western market, and following their journey since I connected with them has been pretty amazing.

Get connected and you’ll have no shortage of inspiration.

3. Know what to look for

What issues matter most to you when it comes to ethical fashion? It’s hard for any brand, no matter the budget or intention, to check every single box off on the “sustainability and ethics ladder”. Knowing what issues are closest to your heart will help you weed through the overwhelming amount of brands out there and decide which ones you love to support. Is women owned important to you? Size inclusivity? Organic/plant based fabrics? Fair Trade certification? Artisan made? Versatile style? Supporting issues like trafficking and human rights?

See? It’s not simple. But it’s worth it.

4. Shop less (but better)

The bulk of deciding to shop more sustainably is to adjust your mindset. Overconsumption is the root issue of fast fashion and the exploitation at it’s heart is fueled by our (the consumers’) need for moremoremore. Create a capsule wardrobe, pare down your closet, invest in more expensive pieces that will last you decades instead of seasons.

5. Share with your “audience”

Whether you think so or not, you have an audience. Your family, your community, your kids, your co-workers, your social media connections. Start sharing, maybe slowly at first, about why you’ve transformed your shopping habits, and watch as your passion spreads.

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Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to sustainability or ethical fashion, but if we can keep the momentum going, as a unified community supporting each other’s perspectives and voices, there’s no doubt in my mind that this year can be the biggest year yet.

A little bit about Malia Designs:

Aside from their obviously unique appreciation of detail and re-purposing, Malia Designs is a true leader in the sustainable and ethical fashion scene. They employ men and women from three groups of Fair Trade Certified artisans in Cambodia. These men and women are often at higher risk of trafficking and having a fair, dignified source of income is life changing.

They use recycled and upcycled materials for their bags and accessories. Upcycled cotton canvas, recycled feed and cement bags and other materials help clean up the streets of Cambodia and decrease pollution from new production.

If you’re looking for a model of “what to look for” in a brand, browse Malia Designs’ website for shockingly refreshing transparency, photos of their artisans, and all of the details you need to make an informed purchase.

What now? How will you take the motivation of Fashion Revolution Week and run with it into the rest of the year?


*This post was sponsored by Malia Designs. All opinions, creative direction, and photos are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible (and the world a better place).*

5 Things To Look for when Shopping Ethically for A New Pair of Shoes

This post is a guest post from the folks behind the newly released Bendy Shoe - they’re sharing their expertise to help make navigating ethical shoe shopping a bit simpler. Check out their Kickstarter Campaign here!


Every purchase you make will leave a footprint on the planet. We all understand the importance of responsible consumption, yet there are few guidelines or road maps. Ethical shoe shopping can be tricky but there are many things you can start to do right now to make a difference. Thankfully, many shoe brands are using ethical and responsible principles when building their products. This list will help you know what to look for to lower emissions, reduce landfill or to ensure workers were treated fairly and paid and honest wage when making your pair.

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1. Leather shoes

The first shoes on record were from the Stone Age, and guess what? They were leather. Leather was breathable, durable, pliable and readily available as it was a by-product, so it was a great choice for covering the foot. The same thing holds true now. Savvy vintage shoppers know that the oldies and goodies are not the synthetic or fabric pairs. The coveted finds are typically high-quality leather ones that have lasted for decades. Leather can be cleaned and polished to look great year after year. Buy the best quality that fits into your budget. You will probably tire of the styling before they wear out. If this mindset leads to less purchases, then congratulations, you are doing your part in reducing emissions and landfill.

2. Can your repair your shoes?

Before you discard a broken pair of shoes, try a cobbler. A good shoe repair professional can work miracles. As long as the upper is in good shape there is a good chance they can be restored. Don’t let the prices deter you either, $20-$40 can give your shoes new life. It’s better to spend the money and keep the shoes in your rotation than have them end up in landfill.

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3. Fair trade brands

These brands help craftsman and sometimes, women in particular, in developing countries achieve higher economic and social standards. They tend to be high quality and handmade. Central and South America and Southeast Asia are both known for their communities of shoemakers. Buying from fair trade brands ensure workers have been paid fair wages and work in safe conditions.

4. Ethically sourced

More and more shoe companies are starting to use recycled, natural, or responsibly produced raw materials when making their products. All of this matters and ultimately results in less carbon emissions. If something that would be otherwise discarded is being reused in your shoes, that equates to less landfill. If an upper material is natural or responsibly sourced, that typically means that less energy is used in the making of it as compared to a typical shoe. All of this means that the process of making your shoe is kinder and gentler on the planet.

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5. Handcrafted in the US label

Since shoes made in the US don’t have to be transported over vast distances, they offer a lower carbon footprint. There are some cool brands starting to make shoes in Los Angeles now. Made in US also means higher standards for workers and for the environment. The US has national, state and local laws in place that regulate how workers are treated: minimum wages, overtime, and safety. Also, laws regulate waste processing, use of chemicals, water usage and recycling. Many of these things don’t exist overseas.

Genesis Fair Trade || Empowerment, Equality, & Craft

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Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.
— Vincent Van Gogh

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you'll know that brands who empower women artisans and enable time-honored tradition and craftsmanship to thrive are some of my favorite to work with. Today I'm honored to introduce you all to Genesis Fair Trade, a beautiful artisan marketplace working with women in several countries to give them the opportunity to earn above-average pay, create a beautiful life for themselves and their families, and carry on the tradition and art of their craft by introducing it to a wider audience. 

As beautiful as that mission is, Genesis goes even further than that - believe it or not. 

In addition to employing their artisans and carrying on their trade, the brand invests further into their communities by funding projects in each country they work in, helping solve a need or difficulty that is unique to that area. 

Take my (extraordinarily intricate and beautiful) Luz Eterna clutch for example. Handmade using traditional weaving techniques, this clutch was made by a woman in Oaxaca, Mexico.

She was paid fairly for her work. She used natural dyes and locally sourced wool to weave it. She carried on the craftsmanship of her Zapotec ancestors, and through her hard work, is bringing the beauty of her culture to a wider audience (YOU). 

Why Shop Fair Trade?

More than some "high and mighty" feeling of helping someone in another nation (which I think can be our tendency as first-world consumers in the ethical shopping space..) Genesis has the most beautiful definition of why shopping fair trade matters: 

Fair Trade is more than just equitable wages. Fair Trade is about equality, sourcing transparency, and respect for talent. We empower artisans to create one of a kind products in safe working conditions with sustainable pay. What this means is no workplace exploitation for the sole purpose of profit.

We can try to do the most good with our purchases (as we should!) but, one portion of the puzzle that is easy to forget about is the sheer talent and time that goes into creating each of these pieces. These women have talent and have worked hard to perfect their craft - they deserve to be paid fairly and treated with dignity for their work.

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In addition to this clutch, Genesis sells a variety of products from larger (and smaller) bags, to apparel, and even candles and home goods - each and every piece made by an artisan being paid a living (or, ideally, above "living") wage for their work. 

Although supporting artisans and investing in their communities won't create overnight change, great things, as the quote goes, are done through a series of small things brought together. 


*This post was sponsored by Genesis Fair Trade. All photos and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands working hard to make our world a little more fair.*

My Fight || Bridging The Gap For Women Fighting For Fairness

My Fight || Bridging The Gap For Women Fighting For Fairness

Last week I wrote about Bird + Stone and their new campaign in support of girls' education around the world. It made me realize that although sexism is pervasive in almost every country on the planet, more and more, brands, non-profits, and communities are realizing just how important empowering women is for growth. Not just for an individual, but for an entire community, nation, and the world as a whole. 

Women are the cornerstone, the fabric, the makers that hold families (and, therefore, nations) together, and some communities (some more than others) are learning the value of empowering, employing, and involving the women around them in ways that not only give the women a purpose and reason to fight but ways that benefit people far beyond their reach. 

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