Fair Trade Clothing Companies | 02

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Although most of the shopping I do is secondhand, I’m always on the lookout for ethical clothing brands. As someone who made the switch to ethical fashion fairly recently, I know how intimidating it can be to scour the internet for clothing brands who hold themselves accountable for the wellbeing of their workers and the planet. I’ve accumulated quite a list of ethical clothing brands since I made the switch, and I’ve decided to publish it in the hopes that my doing so can make your ethical fashion journey just a little bit easier.

One thing I’ve discovered about ethical shopping over the past year is that it’s a great way to support small businesses. The conscious consumerism movement is gaining more and more momentum, and the market for fairly sourced and ethically produced goods is growing. The result is that many ethical clothing brands, including many of the ones listed below, are startups and small businesses. Supporting small businesses matters because if we give our money to small businesses rather than large fast fashion brands, those fast fashion brands lose a bit of their autonomy in the global fashion market. So shop small!

All the shops are hyperlinked, so all you have to do is click the shop name to go straight to their website. Also, every shop with an asterisk beside the name has options for anyone who’s looking for some male attire. And be sure to check out Part 1!

Clothing

American Apparel*

Arcana New York

Armed Angels*

Bead and Reel

the bloomerie

Boheme Goods

elborne

Fifth Dimension Clothing

Free Label

Indigo Apparel

Jann n June

The Keep Boutique*

LOZENA

modt*

Myrtle

Plantfaced*

prAna*

Shwe | The Wearable Library

SiiZU

Skall Studio

Swellas*

Synergy Organic Clothing

Vintage Style Me

Activewear

Armed Angels

Bead and Reel

Girlfriend Collective

Indigo Apparel

Mitscoots Outfitters*

Naja

Renegades of Chic

Synergy Organic Clothing

Swimwear

LIAR

Myrtle

Naja

Denim

Double Eleven*

Undies/Socks/Jammies

Hanky Panky

The Keep Boutique

Myrtle

Naja

Shoes

Alice + Whittles

Bead and Reel

Myrtle

VEJA*

Bags

Alicia San Marcos

American Nomad

Bead and Reel

Hipsters for Sisters

Johnny Fly*

The Keep Boutique*

Myrtle

prAna*

Renegades of Chic

The Tote Project

Jewelry/Accessories

American Nomad

Bead and Reel

Indigo Apparel

Johnny Fly*

The Keep Boutique*

Mayan Colour

Miss Green Fashion

Myrtle

Renegades of Chic

Synergy Organic Clothing

Vai-Ko*

Home Goods

American Nomad

Boheme Goods

Myrtle

Odessa and Sons

Renegades of Chic

Children’s Clothing

Bead and Reel

the bloomerie

Boheme Goods

Odessa and Sons*

VEJA*

Disclaimer: I haven’t partnered with any of these shops to write this post. I’m just passionate about promoting brands that do good things and treat their workers and our planet well.

For those of you who are on a budget (like me), check out my Ethical Shopping on a Budget Parts 1 and 2 to see my tips for buying cheap clothes without supporting fast fashion.

What’s your favorite fair trade company?

– Lauren

The Young Vinyl

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Over the past month or so, American Apparel has become one of my favorite places to shop. Previously, I had thought it too expensive for my student budget and never really gave it a fair chance. But that was before I discovered their amazing sales, particularly the factory store section of the website. One day, I had gotten it into my mind that I really needed a vinyl skirt, so I scoured the internet for fair trade, vintage, or secondhand options. The only thing I found that matched my vision perfectly was this light pink, a-line skirt from the American Apparel factory store, and I was shocked that it was only $20 (now $15). I ordered it immediately, and it’s quickly become one of my favorite pieces of clothing I own. The structured a-line is incredibly flattering, and it’s a style that looks good on everyone, because it cinches at the smallest part of your waist and creates an hourglass shape. The flattering shape combined with the vintage feel of the vinyl is exactly the unique sort of piece I aim for with my personal style and was impossible for me to pass up.

After finding this skirt for such a good price, I skimmed the American Apparel website and discovered that everything is incredibly well priced for a fair-trade, sweatshop-free company, and their sales are really good as well. I picked up a few more items during their end of the year sale, so look out for those in future posts.

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What’s your favorite fair trade clothing company?

– Lauren

My Ethical Fashion Journey: A Year in Review

IMG_3298It’s hard to believe that I started my ethical fashion journey a little over a year ago. Last December when I was on break from college, I watched The True Cost documentary, and it completely changed my outlook on how I shop. Before, though it seems silly, I had never considered that my clothes were made by actual people, and after watching the documentary, doing some additional reading, and learning about the conditions under which my clothes were made, I couldn’t continue to give my money to companies that exploited their workers and denied them living wages. It became very clear to me that by giving these companies my money, I was directly contributing to a system that treats real life people as though they don’t matter so that a few people at the top can profit. And that’s not to mention the havoc the fast fashion industry wreaks on the environment. So I swore off fast fashion brands, which I soon learned comprised essentially all major fashion retailers, and made the switch to ethical, fair trade brands and shopping secondhand. My experience so far has been extremely educational, sometimes trial and error, but overall positive. I’ve learned a lot over the past year, and I want to share my experience partly in the hopes that it will help anyone who’s undertaking a similar lifestyle change and partly to get any advice, feedback, or encouraging words you have for me as I continue to make changes to my consumption habits.

Here are some of my thoughts after one year of conscious consumerism. Buckle up, because this is going to be a long one.

  • The first thing I did after deciding to become a more conscious consumer was begin researching the ethics of various clothing brands and compiling a list of the ones whose ethics I agreed with. In my experience, the clothing companies that are truly invested in the well-being of their workers are forthright about it. They make it a very obvious part of their branding, and you don’t have to go searching on obscure sections of their websites to find information regarding their factories.

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  • One major change I made was shopping less. I was never someone who was constantly shopping and buying clothes, but I did tend to treat myself to a clothing purchase from time to time. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with occasionally treating yourself, but over the past year, instead of treating myself with clothes or material goods, I decided to treat myself with experiences and forego unnecessary clothing purchases. Instead, I tried to wear what I already owned in new and interesting ways, and I borrowed from friends. The result was that I consumed a great deal less and actually saved money despite the fact that fair trade clothing is more expensive than fast fashion brands. I think the monetary aspect of shopping ethically is what inhibits many people from making the switch from fast fashion (it was a concern of mine, too), but over the past year, I’ve realized that it is absolutely possible for many people to maintain these ideals while on a rather small budget. (Shameless plug: check out my Ethical Shopping on a Budget Parts 1 and 2).

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  • I’ve learned to think of the clothing I buy in terms of long-term investment. Whereas before, I would have scoffed at paying $40 for a basic white t-shirt, now I welcome paying a bit more if it means that the shirt was produced ethically, was sustainably sourced, and is of a higher quality that will last me for years. And by buying less, it becomes more feasible to make these investment purchases from ethical brands.

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  • For the most part, I’ve managed to abstain from buying anything made in a sweatshop, but I have had a few slip ups. Two of which were unanticipated purchases of necessity, where I was in pinch while traveling and didn’t have the time to order something online. The other time was a mistake. I was under the impression that the item I was purchasing was produced ethically, only to realize when it arrived that that was not the case. Those slip ups taught me to be prepared for all weather scenarios when traveling and to be more selective when choosing my sources for determining whether or not a company is fair trade.

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  • I’ve had a hard time with shoes. Shopping for clothes has been pretty easy. Fair trade clothing companies are a good deal more expensive than fast fashion brands, but I’ve always been good at waiting for things to go on sale and finding a deal. I’m also really into shopping vintage and secondhand clothing. What I haven’t been so good at is finding fair trade shoes that I can afford.

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  • Most of the shopping I’ve done in the past year has been secondhand. Like I said earlier, I enjoy finding ways to incorporate vintage pieces into my wardrobe. But shopping secondhand is often hit or miss and requires some vision. I’ve really enjoyed the creative challenge that shopping secondhand presents. Aside from some end of the year sales (which are a great time to stock up on clothing from ethical brands), all of the shopping I did this year was secondhand. I love that shopping at thrift stores, vintage shops, or online markets like Etsy or Poshmark allows me to cultivate a unique wardrobe that isn’t full of mass-produced items. It allows my personal style to shine through in a way that fast fashion doesn’t.

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Overall, this first year of conscious consumerism has been incredibly informative. When I first undertook this lifestyle change, I was worried that I would feel in some way deprived by my decision to swear off fast fashion and that sticking to these principles would require much discipline even though I believed it was the right thing to do. But that hasn’t been the case for me. Sure, this change required that I redefine what I consider to be a need and make more informed decisions on how to satisfy that need, but I never once felt the urge to revert to my old shopping habits.  Even in the moments when I felt discouraged by the apathy practiced by the fashion industry towards actual human lives or by a system that encourages the ignorance of the consumer in order to make sales, I felt more strongly the need for change and the importance of sticking to my ideals.

I’ve grown to feel more strongly that the world does not exist to accommodate my harmful and wasteful habits and that mindfulness regarding my consumption is essential. This past year has inspired me to make similar changes to the amount of plastic I use and throw away, the ingredients in my bath and cleaning products, and the contents of the food that I eat. Essentially, our stewardship of the earth and compassion towards the people in it has the power to bring about social and environmental justice, and I want to be a part of that.

Leave a comment telling me your tips and tricks for cultivating an ethical lifestyle.

– Lauren

 

Tybee

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My favorite time to go to the beach is during non-peak seasons when the weather is cooler and the beaches are empty. No need for a swimsuit and no fighting against a crowd of people. When I was in Savannah a few weeks ago, I took a day trip with my best friend to Tybee Island, one of my favorite beaches, and spent the afternoon walking along the water as the tide receded. There was something magical about having the place to ourselves. I’ve said for a while that after I finish school and work for a while, I want to move to a small coastal town and open a bookstore/cafe in a seafront cottage. Those daydreams are easy to picture on a day like that one, when the beach is empty and a cold wind is coming off of the waves.

But for the time being, I took in the calming solitude and crashing waves and guarded myself against the chill with my new bomber-sweater combo that I picked up at Civvies, the same vintage shop from my last post, and it served me well as we danced around, snapped some photos, and lounged in the sand.

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– Lauren

Traveling Finds

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One of my favorite things about my university experience was meeting people from all over the United States who made traveling on a student budget with my friends possible. Throughout my three years as a college student, I’ve travelled across the United States and the United Kingdom, and the vast majority of those travels were made possible by friends opening up their homes to us and saving us hotel expenses.

As I mentioned in my last post, I did some traveling along the east coast in between my graduation and Christmas, and one of the places I ended up was Savannah, Georgia. I’ve been to Savannah several times, and it’s one of my favorite cities because of its moss-covered oak trees, historic buildings, and proximity to the beach. And the best part is that because my roommate’s family is from the area, we had a free place to stay.

Downtown Savannah has tons of cool, independent shops, and one of my favorites is Civvies, a secondhand clothing store that I visit every time I’m in town. I love to visit vintage clothing stores when I visit new cities, not only to supplement the conscious wardrobe I’m trying to build, but also because vintage shops curate their merchandise differently depending on what’s popular in the area and the particular style and aesthetic they are trying to achieve with the store. This time around, I picked up this loose-fitting, greenish-grey, velvet turtleneck that’s perfect for the winter months.

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What’s your favorite vintage shop?

– Lauren

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Update

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On December 10, 2016, I graduated from the University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in English, Creative Writing, and Art History. The following Monday, a friend and I packed up my car and drove from Alabama to North Carolina, where we picked up another friend and drove to Maryland, where we picked up another friend and drove to New York. After a week of getting lost in New York and DC and eating way too much pizza, I drove back to Alabama, slept at home for the night, woke up the next morning, and drove to Savannah, Georgia, where I spent a week with my best friend and roommate. I made it back home just in time for Christmas, which I spent at my grandparents’ house, and a few days later, I moved out of my apartment and back in with my parents and spent several days trying to fit an entire apartment’s worth of stuff into my tiny bedroom.

Meanwhile, I was accepted to a graduate school in Paris, and though living in Paris for a year while I complete my master’s degree would be a dream, I’m waiting to hear back from a few other programs before I make my decision. Regardless, I’ve already begun to search for apartments in Montparnasse, rank the paintings I want to see in the Louvre (The Oath of the Horatti is at the top), and consider learning some French.

In the meantime, I’ll be working and saving up my money in preparation for graduate school in the fall. And because I’m not currently in school and my schedule will be much more regular in the coming months, I’ll have more time to blog. I did a good bit of thrift shopping on my recent vacations and was able to get some material for a few upcoming posts that I’m really excited about. Stay tuned!

– Lauren

A Checklist for 22

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Breathe. Eat the fries. Choose optimism even when it’s hard. Live a life that feels good, not one that just looks good in photographs. Achieve. Aspire. Become. Be spontaneous. Decide there are things worth doing even if you have to do them alone, even if you do them badly. Be better at forgiving yourself. Stop letting people take advantage you, but don’t ever stop being compassionate. Still, be kinder to people than you think they deserve. Make the most of transition seasons. Read more nonfiction. Write more poems. Finish knitting that sweater. Get better at the mandolin. Don’t hide from people so much. Let them know you, but don’t give away bits of yourself to people who don’t deserve them. Stretch. Don’t try to quit coffee again. You like it too much. You’re allowed to like things, even things that are kind of bad for you. But cut back to one cup a day. Save up for a fun vacation. Spend time with family. Remember that as you get older, they’re getting older too. Remember to cherish this time. Things will continue to change. They will never be this way again. Think positively of yourself. Surround yourself with people who won’t invalidate your feelings. Serve others. Take care of yourself. Ask for help if you need it. Doctors are not a waste of your money. Go to the doctor. Get to know people who are different than you. Explore new ways of seeing. Never stop learning. Grow.

Listen

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Acting Strange | Highs

Girls Your Age | Transviolet

Poltergeist | Banks

Agnes | Glass Animals

Cold | The Social Animals

Side A | Aloha

Only | Tall Heights

Good As This | Monte Nour

Buffalo Nickel | Shovels & Rope

Coins | Local Natives

xxx

What have you been listening to?

– Lauren

*Photo by Teah Shaw

Fall Fall Fall

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Fall in Alabama is a very nebulous thing, which is very frustrating to someone like me who loves cool weather. The temperature highs are in the 90s until about November, and all I want to do is put a sweater on my body and not sweat. Regardless of the disappointing weather we’ve been having, I’ve been doing lots of fall activities, such as baking pumpkin pie, making squash soup, and taking lots of photos with pumpkins. And I don’t even care that I’m being cliche. Fall makes me happy.

I’ve been wanting an overall dress like this one for a while but couldn’t find an ethically-made one anywhere. But as always, my favorite local thrift store came through for me. I stumbled upon this one while looking for some flannels before the weather cools off and the thrift store sells out. And the best part is that it was only $3.

Although I love thrift shopping all year, fall is my favorite season for it. From flannels to old man sweaters, you really can’t go wrong. I’ve also been really into the vintage shops on Etsy lately. They’re a really great way to get some cool fall clothes without supporting fast fashion or spending tons of money. Some of my favorites are Cosmic Nature Vintage and Project Object Vintage.                                                                                    bryce3bryce1-5bryce2barn1light_lawschool2bryce4

What’s your favorite fall thing?

– Lauren

*Photos by @teah.shaw. Check her out on Instagram!

A New Name

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It seems like lately, every time I’ve written a new blog post, I start off by saying I’ve been so busy that writing has fallen by the wayside and been buried beneath a pile of school work and my job, and that would not be untrue. But there are some other things at play here, too.

Three and half years ago, after I graduated high school, I started this blog as a way to document the upcoming changes in my life. I had the idea around midnight one night, Googled “free blogs,” made a blog, and wrote my first post all within about an hour. The whole thing was really exciting, but I had no idea about the direction I wanted to take with it. Since then, I’ve written about all sorts of things from clothes to food to books.

Now, three and half years down the line and with a better conception of what I want to say on this blog, I want to create better content. I considered switching blog platforms and quickly realized that I can’t currently afford to do that. Then, I tried to redesign this blog, but couldn’t find the time to really commit to it, and so I still haven’t found an aesthetic I’m thrilled with. And for all of these reasons, I haven’t posted in about a month.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed if you’re a regular reader of my blog, my blog has undergone a little bit of re-branding in the form of a name change. Until I have the financial means to buy my domain name, that will have to do.

Bluestocking: an intellectual and literary woman. But of course, with a name like Bluestocking, there is the connotation of clothes. Denotation and connotation combine to encompass the brand I want to promote: a stylish and intelligent and compassionate woman.

So what exactly does that mean for this blog? Stick around and find out.

– Lauren