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Natural Awakenings Chicago

Fashion with a Conscience

Aug 29, 2011 04:36PM ● By Megy Karydes

Fair trade fashion means more than just eliminating child labor and sweatshops or ensuring fair wages; it’s about change—in buying habits and in mindset. The international garment industry has long been associated with labor abuses and horrific working conditions in media reports, and individuals joining a growing movement have decided to do something about it.

Organic, child labor-free, fair trade clothing is more in demand now, partly due to the heightened awareness of ethical fashion propagated by high-profile personalities such as Emma Watson, of Harry Potter fame, and Coldplay’s Chris Martin. The younger generation is taking note of these changes. Watson launched her own fair trade clothing line earlier this year and Martin is one of Oxfam’s advocates for its Make Fair Trade campaign.

Fair trade clothing comprises much more than boxy cuts and unflattering designs in scratchy fabrics. Today’s options include designer flair and are made with an eye to current trends and daily wearability. Artisans have increased access to better fabrics (think organic cotton and trendy colors) and focus more on cutting-edge design, making fair trade clothing and accessories more fashion-forward.

Enlightened, humanitarian fair trade fashion policies can provide a solid way to alleviate poverty for workers and make the planet a more just and sustainable habitat for all living things. We can all become part of the solution by educating ourselves and voting with our dollars.


Greenheart Shop (clothing and accessories)
1911 W. Division St., Chicago.
Call 312-264-1625 or visit

Mata Traders & Greenola (clothing and accessories)
Andersonville Galleria, 5247 N. Clark St., Chicago.
Call 773-944-5418 or visit and 888-331-0553

Global Handmade Hope (accessories)
428 W. Touhy, Park Ridge.
Call 847-720-4084 or visit

Ten Thousand Villages (accessories)
719 Main St., Evanston.
Call 847-733-8258 or visit

The Mustard Seed (clothing and accessories)
202 Westminster, Lake Forest
Call 847-735-0211 or visit