I Got 99 Problems & Shopping is Absolutely One

Hi guys, Sarah here.

Let me tell you a story. I had spent about two months saving for the perfect purchase, scrutinizing what I would buy, and finally got the money I was waiting for! I had spent every day leading up to my long anticipated purchase from Alternative Apparel avidly checking to make sure I was getting the best deal, the perfect fit, and exactly what I wanted.  When the money was in the bank, I went straight to the website for the hundredth time that month to finally seal the deal. To my uttermost despair they had changed their website completely. The skirt I had been setting my hopes on disappeared and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

I couldn’t take it. All that waiting, saving, and looking … for nothing! To console myself I did some thrift store shopping therapy and spent every last penny of my hard earned money.

I was very frustrated with the situation.

There may be some of you out there where this scenario is not an issue. I LOVE that. That’s not me right now, but I hope to work my way there!

There are other problems you may come across while shopping ethically. Here are some of the other problems I have encountered:

Shopping Online

A lot of Fair Trade stores are online shops only. It’s a dream come true if there is a storefront in your city. I’m old school. I like going into the stores, trying on my clothes and looking in the mirror, trying them on again, asking my friends how I look, looking in the mirror for good measure, and then making a decision.

When I’m shopping online, I can’t test the product before making the purchase. I’ve made a couple of dumb Fair Trade purchases simply because I didn’t have a measuring tape on hand. And you just can’t account for what the fabric really looks like up close or how it feels when you look at pictures alone.

Where do I find staples like underwear of all types, tanks, slips, socks, and sportswear?

Let’s get real. You are probably not going to buy these things from a thrift store. Maggie’s Organics has some essentials like tanks, socks, leggings and tights. Good & Fair Clothing Company has some men and women’s underwear. Faeries Dance have some ladies’ undergarment possibilities as well.

Some options based in the UK are Who Made Your Pants? or Pants to PovertyAmerican Apparel has some leggings and tanks. Now I don’t really wear yoga pants, but if that is your sport clothing of choice, then Purusha People would be a great start.

PACT Socks

PACT makes some great staples.  I’ve gotten to feel some of their other products at a shop in New York called Sustainable NYC and their stuff is incredibly soft! The only downside I’ve experienced is that my feet are teeny tiny, so their socks are a bit big for me.

Ethical Socks

Mitscoots has the buy one give one model. With your purchase you are buying USA made socks, employing people who were formerly homeless, and giving a pair of socks to someone currently homeless. I had an amazing experience with this company because, as I stated previously, my feet are tiny and the socks I had bought were too big. They were incredibly friendly emailing back and forth, sent me the kids’ size socks, and my feet were oh so happy! The socks are thick and sturdy, which is perfect for when I go to the gym.

I’m going to throw this one in here as a bonus - pajamas. Remember when Barney from How I Met Your Mother slept in suit pajamas? He knew the key to sleep was looking and feeling good. The International Princess Project makes what they call “Punjammies.” They have super fun patterns, the softest material, the perfect waistband, and it all culminates into the perfect pajama bottoms. I’ve gotten so many compliments on these things.

International Princess Project

Limited choices

I’ve read the statistics saying that having too many choices makes us unhappy, but when it comes to Fair Trade clothes, I would like to have more choices. Some ethical companies don’t make patterns or styles that I really love or that are truly my style. I would rather have something I really want to wear than settle for something I’m half-hearted about. I can usually find something at Plato’s Closet, Buffalo Exchange, Uptown Cheapskate, or a Goodwill if I’m truly having a fashion crisis.

How do I dress fairly for work?

I have searched high and low for work attire. The only company I’ve found that can make appropriate business essentials is Everlane.

Imagine Goods carries a cute jacket and pencil dresses, but I’m not sure if this will remain staples in their clothing inventory. Business attire in the fair trade world is pretty much non-existent.

My best advice I can give for all of these “Where do I find fill in the blank” problems is to shop on Etsy, find USA companies like American Apparel, or invest in an item you won’t have to re-buy every single year.

I’m hoping that in the future Fair Trade clothes will be like the organic food trend - if the demand gets higher, the supply will follow! You can hardly walk into a grocery store and not see organic options. My hope is that Fair Trade would be something we start DEMANDING.

Wouldn’t it be cool if every clothing company had to be transparent about their clothing and distribution lines on their website? Or how about walking into a mall to find Fair Trade store fronts? It all starts with our small day to day choices!

Have you found any Fair Trade clothing companies have any of the items we mentioned?
Please let us know in the comments!

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