We see you fair trade! We see you on our coffee, our bananas, and now more than ever, our clothing. So what exactly is fair trade and why is it worth paying attention to?

To start off, we gotta get one thing straight: your fashion is made by people, not robots. Approximately 100 pairs of hands touch our clothes before we see them. Yet, a groundbreaking report exposed that 48% of clothing brands don’t know who their factories are and 75% couldn’t tell you where their fabrics come from.

With the rise of fast fashion brands like H&M, TopShop and Zara, the pressure to deliver fast and cheap has been higher than ever. And when the pressure is on, brands who eschew the human element can easily be out of touch with their invisible, far away supply chain. In contrast, a company that follows the rules of fair trade is human-centered, transparent and accountable for their actions. Think healthy working conditions and fair pay. Fair trade brands maintain close, ongoing relationships with their suppliers, producers and makers. Visiting their factories and artisan communities and building lasting relationships.

Let’s sum it all up in one line: fair trade is a powerful vehicle for change that fights poverty and economic crisis.

And the good news is, fair trade fashion is no longer limited to the hippie aisle. These five brands will wow you straight to the check-out page:

Photo: Kowtow

Kowtow

Kowtow’s minimalist clothing is certified organic and fair trade. With an interest in craftsmanship and sustainability, they exclusively use organic cotton, GOTS certified dyes, and have partnered with Fairtrade International to help cover education and medical costs for employees.

 

Photo: Alternative Apparel

Alternative Apparel

Alternative Apparel offers minimalist basics like tees and tanks, distressed denim, and hoodies, many of which are Fair Trade and WRAP certified.

Photo: Véja

VEja

Founded in 2004, Veja is a Fair Trade brand that uses the finest materials to create the finest of footwear and accessories. Labeling their company philosophy as a “project,” Veja is serious about knowing who grew the cotton, tapped the rubber, and stitched your shoes together.

Photo: Armed Angels

Armed Angels

Armed Angels infuses their philosophy of Fair Fashion over Fast Fashion into all of their modern and contemporary essentials. Their fabrics meet the Global Organic Textile Standard while they are part of the Fair Trade initiative and Fair Wear foundation.

Photo: People Tree

People Tree

For over 25 years, People Tree has been a pioneer in making environmentally sustainable clothing, partnering with artisans and farmers in developing countries to produce look good, feel good, fashion. They do everything Fair Trade, organic, and natural so that they can—and do a lot to connect consumers with the people and stories behind their clothes.

Every time we make a purchase we send market signals that brands respond to. As consumers, buying into fair trade brands directly contributes to the well-being of families and communities who thrive on fine craftsmanship. We in turn benefit from the high-quality, long-lasting pieces.

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  1. I ran across this website by accident tonight. I’m sad that I never thought more deeply into the makers that provide our clothing. Tonight I have a new perspective. I’m just wondering exactly how to help. The designers will need to be on the front end of this to educate the buyer. And, the shopper/consumer will have no choice. Is there a list of designers and stores that are a part of the movement?

    1. Hey Brandi – thank you so much for your comment. So glad that you have a new perspective on your clothes. It takes all sides to help, and you’re right that designers can set the trend for ethically made goods. As consumers, we can swell demand for ethically made clothes by voting with our wallets. Our shop section is where we curate (not sell) some of the trendiest fair fashion looks out there. All brands we feature are sent through our rigorous criteria. Would love to know what brands you discover and love!

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