Fair Trade Fashions You Will Actually Want to Wear
Fashion for Good!
During my younger years, I didn’t give much thought to where my clothes came from in the world. As a teenager, disposable fashion was what it was all about.
In my twenties and thirties, I realized that my mother might have been onto something when she told me that investment pieces and quality items were worth buying. I found that putting my money toward a great cause makes that investment go even farther. Of course, not all fashion brands are up to the challenge of blending style and philanthropy.
“If we really wanted to make a difference, we knew we needed to offer what you needed in your day-to-day,” says Jordan Soderholm, fashion director at ABLE, an innovative fashion retailer. ABLE’s goal is to create a label that more women can afford while remaining what stylish women will actually want to wear. The company started out modestly selling scarves but has evolved as trends shifted.
I first met Soderholm and her team at a conference for creative entrepreneurs. She, along with founder Barrett Ward and his wife, explained that they were helping women in not only Ethiopia, Mexico and Peru, but also their hometown of Nashville, TN.
Stepping into their bright and airy shop in The Nations neighborhood, I was instantly overcome with the desire to buy everything: luscious leather bags (handmade in Ethiopia), delicate rings and necklaces (created in-house), jeans (from Mexico) and shoes, glorious shoes (from Peru). What made these items even more special? I met the women who made them in the back of the shop; women who are being paid well above minimum wage.
ABLE believes that the key to ending generational poverty isn’t just to provide services, but to give a woman a job that will pay her a living wage that will end her reliance on nonprofit services. In an effort to get more fashion labels to end the cycle of taking advantage of women in factories, ABLE has put a call out for companies to join them in publicly publishing their lowest wages.
But just because your purchase helps women doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. Investment pieces, even the ones investing in people, should look good and be on-trend. This is why we love brands like ABLE.
SUPPORTING WOMEN THROUGH THE ITEMS YOU CRAVE.
Raven + Lily
Raven + Lily is a lifestyle brand offering fair trade fashion, accessories, and home furnishings with a mission to empower women on a global scale. Founder Kirsten Dickerson travels the world looking for women to employ and has found them in 10 countries so far, providing them with a fair trade wage and access to a safe job, sustainable income, and healthcare. Every Raven + Lily purchase, whether it is artisan jewelry and handbags or handcrafted soaps and soy candles, benefits the Raven + Lily ecosystem while also funding micro-loans to female entrepreneurs.
Buy a pair of sandals = send a girl to college. Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? This is the idea behind Sseko Designs, where every dress, bag and pair of sandals you buy is made by a team of women in Uganda who are saving for their college education. Finally, you can feel good about what you wear, and think about another child you have helped get through college, besides your own.
When three American sisters combined their love of travel and cultural understanding, Ecudane was born. This online market of curated short-run, high-quality products from around the world features blankets, ponchos, scarves, jewelry and more, enabling us all to become more aware of the beauty of the human experience.
TAKING THE ‘SEX’ OUT OF FASHION
No one, and we do mean no one, should ever feel threatened or forced to do something he or she doesn’t want to do, no matter his or her gender, which is why we love to support companies who rescue women from human trafficking. And the companies featured here take it one step beyond rescue: they support girls and women at high risk of entering this form of slavery so that they are protected from ever being preyed upon by sex traffickers in the future.
Through education, job training, health care, legal aid and counseling, these companies are able to bring new hope to women, and you can too. While there are a number of jewelry and accessory labels out there doing great work in the nonprofit sector, we love Purpose Jewelry, the Branded Collective and Her Future Coalition. These three organizations have made it their sole mission to help women escape from sex slavery, and help you support these efforts through beautiful, handmade creations, made exclusively by the women you have helped to protect. Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve, arm, neck and finger!
Founder, Walking on Travels
Keryn is a freelance writer, content creator, brand ambassador, local TV contributor and digital strategy consultant. Her work has been featured in Thrillist, Travel Age West, and other publications looking for authentic, well-written content. She is also the founder of WalkingOnTravels.com, a site for the active, adventurous parent.