LA Gets Down & Dirty With The 3rd Annual Fair Trade Fashion Show
On Saturday, July 29, 2017 we attended the 3rd Annual Fair Trade Fashion Show at CTRLCollective in Downtown Los Angeles. This year's Fair Trade Fashion Show was hosted by ethical boutique Bead & Reel to benefit Free the Slaves, an international nonprofit dedicated to liberating slaves and changing the conditions that allow modern day slavery to persist. This sold out event raised over $31,000 for Free the Slaves to help with their holistic anti-trafficking projects in six countries: Haiti, Ghana, DRC, Senegal, Nepal, and India.
The rustic chic venue had an open two-story layout. The runway presentation was set up on the lower level and an open market bursting of ethical brands on the top level. The vendors included: Maggie’s Organics, GlobeIn, Gaffer & Child, Lucy & Jo, Malia Designs, International Sanctuary, Ten Thousand Villages, Heshima Kenya, Hfs Collective, Kishe, rHope, Elisha C.
The amazing food and beverage sponsors were Au Lac, Rachel’s Cosmic Cuisine, Baby Love Sweetery, FAIR Drinks, Sprouted Chick, 300lb Vegan, Plant Alchemy, Harmless Harvest Coconut Water, Boxed Water and Alta Palla.
Before getting to the runway show, there was an enlightening panel discussion moderated by Kestrel Jenkins - Founder and Producer of Conscious Chatter. Her podcast Conscious Chatter has created an inclusive audio space, opening the door to conversations about our clothing and the layers of stories, meaning and potential impact connected to what we wear.
The Panelist INCLUDED:
Mike Farid – founder of Nature USA - A fair trade apparel manufacturer that been committed to manufacturing apparel with a reduced impact on the environment. Located in SoCal, they use eco-friendly fibers, less water, less energy and local manufacturing for an overall smaller carbon footprint.
Jeff Denby – Co-Founder of The Renewal Workshop & Pact Apparel. The Renewal Workshop is a company offering industry-wide solution to optimize the value of resources invested in apparel. Previously as the co-Founder of PACT, an award-winning organic apparel basics brand, Denby built a brand that differentiated itself from other apparel brands by manufacturing it’s garments in transparent supply chains.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST...
Hoda Katebi is a Muslim-Iranian abolitionist, photographer, author, community organizer and political fashion blogger at JooJoo Azad.
With MelaninASS being a platform that is focused on intersectionality within the sustainable fashion community, we particularly applaud KODA for taking the road less traveled and creating a narrative focused around race politics and digging deeper into socio-political barriers for women of color.
Obviously, while at a fair trade event, we heard the traditional answers as to what Fair Trade means. It’s about creating economic opportunity, transparency, providing fair wages and instilling proper regulations to ensure the safety of workers.
But we were particularly drawn to Hoda’s definition explaining what ethical fashion ISN’T, from the lens of a woman of color who understands privilege:
"Fair trade is a lot of things but there’s also a lot of things it isn’t. It is not just something that is cute and great, something we buy into – it’s a moral obligation and responsibility for all of us. And it’s also a privilege and I think that’s something we don’t get to talk about a lot. There is a privilege to ethical fashion and fair trade – it’s inaccessible to a lot of people. There is a reason why most ethical fashion bloggers are white. There are a lot of racial issues in this as well. So it’s really important that we know what fair trade isn’t … it’s not the end solution to fixing the problem. It’s kind of a step on our way to be able to address some things that is impacting billions of people around the world and perpetuates a lot of these larger systems and structures that we should be working on tangent to buying fair trade. So we can’t just buy fair trade and think “OMG we saved the world”. We have to buy fair trade and go out in the streets and protest against the systems that’s creating these issues in the first place. The fact that there are people around the world that can be exploited- that’s a problem. The Western company that comes and exploits these people .. that’s problematic for the company but even more so that they can even do it in the first place. We have to understand that we can’t just buy the revolution, we have to be an active part of it." - Hoda Katebi
A common theme through the fair trade conversation was the importance of conscious consumerism - being cognizant of where we spend our money and how. Understanding that everything is connected and our choices here in America affect the world at large.
"It's important to make sure we know that it’s all connected to every aspect to the way that you vote, the way that you show up for people and the way that you live your life as a complete lifestyle. I think that making conscious choices is hugely important but also knowing that we can’t just want to support women through fashion – women’s liberation is going to come through from a more holistic approach in looking at what can we do to support Muslim women, or women of color in Bangledesh, India who are being exploited by these kinds ofboarders – beyond just our clothes." - Hoda
Overall, the panel did an excellent job of bringing diverse viewpoints to the conversation of sustainability. Ethical fashion most certainly is a global concept but as the moderator, Kestrel Jenkins mentions, "We have to act LOCALLY". In LA, the garment industry employs 45,000 people and it’s the capital for production but also the capital sweatshops in the US. There's work to be done right in your own backyard.
THE RUNWAY SHOW
The fashion show of global designers was curated by Sica Schmitz, founder of Bead & Reel which is an award winning luxury boutique focused activist fashion. Sica believes that style and ethics aren't muturally exclusive which is why her platform offers eco-friendly, cruelty-free, sweatshop-free styles for the conscientious woman.
The runway presentation featured 40 looks from 25 fair trade brands:
SWAGGY SWAG BAGS
We were elated to have such an amazing swag and would like to thank all of the in-kind donation sponsors! A special thank you to Twinkle Apothecary, FAIR Drinks, Bare Snacks, Gaffer & Child, Lucy & Jo, The Tote Project, LA Relaxed, GlobeIn, Hands Producing Hope, Wunderkid, Maggie's Organics, Victoria Road, My Sister, Raven & Lily, T.S. Fux, Bead & Real.
Until Next Time ...