Let me preface this by saying that exclusively shopping fair trade does involve some sacrifice. You will likely have to alter your buying habits (sometimes significantly), but there are ways you can support fair trade without giving up your favorite stores. Unfortunately, a fair trade lifestyle isn't as easy or available as fast fashion yet. Until that time comes, you just need to be a little more mindful.
I have this shopping problem where I fall in love with certain stores in waves. Once I discover a new store, I love it so much I only shop there. Any new thing I buy on an impulse spree is likely to be from one store. And, although I am very passionate about fair trade and shopping fair trade certified products, not every store I fall in temporary love with is fair trade.
Because I have amazing friends, every time they see me in a new top or new skirt, the first thing they ask is if it's fair trade. When I say no, I get immediately shamed. It's fine. I feel fine. We always make up. Still, I get their point: If I'm so passionate about it, why can't everything I wear be fair trade? Unfortunately, fashion just isn't there (again, yet) and I'll be the first to admit that shopping fair trade is very expensive, even if it is for a good reason. So in case you don't have the cash or the availability yet, here are a few easy ways to get fair trade pieces into your closet without giving up all your favorite stores.
1. Do Your Research
While it may not be the most fun way to spend your afternoon, do some research on your favorite stores. Without a lot of clicks, I'll bet you'll be able to find where the clothes come from and the type of production that goes into making that adorable new white top you bought for spring. Lots of stores might not be officially fair trade certified, but still have anti-sweatshop and fair wage policies that make them a good place to buy your wardrobe from.
2. Find A Boutique In Your Area
Conversely, do research about local fair trade boutiques in your area. I bet they exist. Fair trade shopping becomes a lot easier when you have a store in your area to actually browse clothes and try them on. If there's really nothing around, there are a few online stores that sell really cool, ethical clothing. Helpsy is one of my favorites.
Stay with me. One of mine and my friend's favorite ways to spend a weekend is travel to a more upscale city near our own and scour their Goodwill. I bet you'll find pieces from your favorite stores at a much more affordable price. Shopping vintage and resale reduces waste and work for laborers.
Like I said earlier, shopping fair trade does involve some sacrifice, and rightly so. If you're passionate about starting to shop fair trade more often or want to do a better job of it, but can't give up your favorite stores or the wardrobe staples they offer, find a healthy balance. Unfortunately, fair trade fashion is not as available as it should be, so it's important to learn what you can buy fair trade (basic tees, for example) and what might not be available yet.
5. Learn The Clothes
Once you start shopping fair trade clothes more often, you'll become familiar with the type of clothes that are offered at affordable fair trade prices. Then, next time you're shopping with your friends, you'll be able to easily ascertain what you should buy now and what you can pick up at a fair trade boutique or online store later.
6. Save Up
As much as I love shopping fair trade products, my wallet definitely hurts after I purchase all the clothes. Fair trade clothes are more expensive than fast fashion. That money, however, pays for worker's wages, their factory conditions, and sometimes their freedom. It's definitely worth spending extra money on an adorable, handmade skirt. Save your money each season and go on a fair trade shopping spree. You like to do it at your favorite store already, but I can bet this type of spree will be just as (if not more) satisfying.
7. Contact Your Favorite Stores
If Legally Blonde 2 taught me anything, it taught me that if you don't like something, change it. Write a letter to execs, CEO's, presidents, designers, whoever at your favorite store and tell them about your concern. It just may be the thing to finally get the fair trade ball rolling for the company.
Images: ShopHelpsy.com; Giphy (7)