12 Ethical Fashion Finds in Spring-Inspired Indigo and Watercolor Prints

This picture taken on October 22, 2015 shows designer Thao Vu inspecting materials dyed with indigo leaves by Nung ethnic women at Phuc Sen village, in the northern province of Cao Bang. Long a bastion for cheap, fast-fashion manufacturing, a new crop of designers are trying to transform the Made in Vietnam label and save the country's rich ethnic heritage in the process. / AFP / HOANG DINH NAM / TO GO WITH AFP STORY VIETNAM-FASHION-HERITAGE-TREND BY CAT BARTON (Photo credit should read HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images

In this collection of spring-inspired fashions and gifts, you'll find light cotton pieces in rich indigo hues, perfect for weathering rainy April mornings. Mixed among the blues are dainty floral and bright watercolor prints for wishing away the clouds and welcoming the sun-drenched afternoons. 

Each item is ethically handcrafted, produced using sustainable, fair trade practices, or sold through purpose-driven organizations working to support individuals or communities in need of assistance.

Now, some of these items may cost a pretty penny, especially if, like me, you do most of your shopping at second-hand stores and the extra-super-marked-down clearance racks of big box retailers. But you might consider, if you're able, skipping your next few purchases of cheap, throw-away items and saving up to buy one high-quality, versatile piece that will last longer and help you get one step closer to a sweat shop-free wardrobe.

1. Navajo Tote from Proud Mary, $110

Made from 100 percent cotton, this large tote is hand-woven and sewn in Guatemala. Proud Mary is a socially conscious textile design company based in Charleston, SC, whose global artisans receive a fair wage for their work.

2. Moonstone Rings from Annika Kaplan, $106-148

Move quickly to snag these one-of-a-kind sterling silver and opal rings, which are handmade by Annika Kaplan of Minneapolis, MN.

3. Stars & Moon Stoneware Cup from Laura Bird, £30.00

This unique stoneware cup features a fanciful watercolor pattern in sweet pinks and blues. The piece is handmade by Laura Bird, an illustrator and maker living in London. 

4. Hydrangea Hello Boxed Card Set from Leif, $36

This set of 12 letterpress "hello" and painted hydrangea cards is handmade in the US.

5. Primavera Flats from Osborn, $130

These flats from Osborn, a family-run boutique based in Brooklyn and dedicated to "fair labor practices and use of eco-friendly innovative materials," are made in a small batch by artisans employed by coops and fair-trade production workshops. 

6. Abstract Art Collage Zipper Clutch by Kindah Khalidy, $56


A colorful print of glitter, craft materials, and abstract shapes covers this merry, handmade clutch. Printed on thick cotton twill and fully lined, it's made to order in California by Kindah Khalidy, a painter and surface designer.

7. Watercolor Bead Necklace from And O Design, $68.00 AUD

This handmade ceramic necklace features roughly formed clay beads that are handpainted and glazed, each one unique. The piece is created in small batches by Yumi Ando, a Japanese ceramist based in Melbourne, Australia.

8. Check Flowers Shift Dress from Dear Gladys, $119 AUD

This sweet shift dress is made by Melbourne/UK designer label Olga de Polga and sold through Dear Gladys, a not-for-profit vintage & contemporary boutique. 

From Dear Gladys' website: "As the social enterprise operated and owned by Fitted For Work, Dear Gladys raises much needed funds to help women experiencing disadvantage to get back into the workforce. Shopping with Dear Gladys helps transform a woman’s life."

9. Furoshiki from Dotter Studio, $48

For your next picnic, easily carry your wine in a beautiful, one-of-a-kind furoshiki. This eco-friendly alternative to wrapping paper is hand-dyed and sewn by Grace Steinel Jones of Austin, TX.

Furoshiki, a traditional Japanese multipurpose cloth, can be used to wrap gifts or carry bottles, books, boxes, groceries, and much more.

10. Blue Block-Printed Peplum Top from People Tree, £31.50

This 100% cotton woven top in hand block folk pattern and contrasting print is made in Bangladesh by Kumudini and sold through People Tree, a sustainable and fair trade fashion boutique. 

From People Tree's website: "All of our products are made by artisans and producers who work to Fair Trade standards." 

"Not only is most of our cotton certified organic and Fairtrade, all our clothes are dyed using safe and natural dyes. We source as many products as we can locally, choosing natural and recycled products over toxic, synthetic and non-biodegradable materials. We ship our products by sea instead of air and weave fabric by hand, reducing our impact on global warming."

11. Ocean Clear Food Cozy Wraps from U-Konserve, $7.95 (2-Pack)

When the weather's nice, skip the food court for a sunny lunch outside. And skip the disposable, plastic snack bags for these reusable and prettily-printed food wraps! Holding any sort of snack or sandwich, the non-toxic surface (BPA-free and PVC-free) is easy to clean and can double as a placemat. 

12. Blue Glazed Clay Earrings from NiQuis

And last but not least, these sterling silver and polymer clay earrings are handmade by Nicole van Engelen, a Belgian designer, maker, and photographer.



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