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Author Topic: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing  (Read 22418 times)

mooface

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eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« on: 30 Apr 2008, 12:18 »

hello qc!
i have not been around much lately because exams and papers are taking over my life.  but i decided to take a break so that i could make a topic on the internet about something that i've been giving a lot of thought to lately: clothes, and where they come from.  i'm sure you all know all about sweatshops and the terrible things they do; everyone knows about the whole nike scandal and i'm sure plenty of other similar stories have popped up since.  i'm a great big whiny hippy so these kinds of things bother me, and i wanted to do something about it.  a few months ago i needed to buy a pair of sneakers because i was planning to actually start going to the gym and do some healthy activities (!).  however, since i knew that sneaker companies are notorious for their use of sweatshops i wanted to find a brand that produced their sneakers under fair trade wages & fair conditions.  that's when i found out that not only nike, but also adidas, puma and new balance all also utilized sweatshops.  i went to my local payless and, surprise, those were the only brands that i could find.  i ended up grudgingly buying a pair of pumas, thinking i had no other choice.

after that i went online and decided to look for some fair trade, sweatshop-free clothing.  the only kinds of things i could find were t-shirts, sporty clothing, such as hoodies and sweatpants and some hippie-ish skirts in drab olives and grays (none of those things exactly my style).  i also found some expensive knock-off chucks and, of course, american apparel.  but... i didn't find any running shoes and there's only so much american apparel one can wear (although i'm sure many would disagree with me). worst of all, there were definitely no vegan, fair-trade high heels! :P  (although my want for vegetarian shoes is a personal thing since i feel that it's pretty hypocritical of me to not eat meat but wear leather shoes).

i finally gave up and my interest in the whole thing faded away soon after since, anyways, i am a very broke college student and haven't been able to do much shopping since then (especially with the dollar-euro exchange rate!).  but this summer i am going back to the states where not only will i be working and making money, but i also will have 800 euro ($1200!) in my pocket to spend.  i was getting excited about buying cheap american clothing when i once again began to think about where that cheap clothing came from that allowed it to be so cheap.

why am i telling this whole rambling story?  well, because i finally found an alternative!  in a very accidental and round-about way (all stemming from a lucky stumbleupon) i recently found a whole new world of fashionable eco-sustainable and sweatshop-free clothing.  perhaps the fact that i haven't found all this before means that i just don't know how to use google and maybe everyone on earth knows about it already.  but i have a feeling that, for the most part, this probably isn't so. and, since i know the qc forums are a fashionable bunch of people, who i like to think are a bit like me in their views on sweatshops and the environment, i thought that you would all be interested in some of my finds!

clothing:
american apparel - i bet you all already know about this, but i'm putting it up anyways.
fair indigo
nomads clothing
wizzardoreas wardrobe
i'm going to warn you guys in advance; there's a lot of expensive stuff in these following clothing stores. 
but you can find some things (especially in the sale sections) that are decently priced, so they're worth a look anyways:
modify
unsung
olio united - the sale section is really worth looking at
kaight
sodafine
beklina
fashion ethic
green with glamour
the green loop
the oko box

shoes:
no sweat apparel - knockoff chucks for only $42!
loja melissa - they are all made of recycled plastic and be recycled themselves!  unfortunately i couldn't find any information on their labor practices - they are made in brazil and i don't know how strict the labor laws are there.
georgette - beautiful shoes at decent prices - and best of all they are vegan & made in european countries where the strict labor laws are adhered to
terra plana - they sell cute sneakers, but they're really expensive.  they might be more reasonable to buy if you live in the UK.

vintage & handmade:
one of the best ways to help out the environment and ensure that your clothes are sweatshop-free is by buying used clothes or making your own.  but, if you're like me, you don't live in a city with great vintage stores and you really don't have the patience to sort through all the ugly things at goodwill, and you don't know how to sew.  this is why etsy is great.  people either find pretty vintage things for you or they handmake things, and then they sell them to you in their personal shops!  here are a fe of my favorites but i haven't browsed around much... so if you guys find any more nice shops be sure to post them!
on the inside - really cute, custom-made underwear
zwzzy - vintage clothing
Shrinkle - mostly handmade, really fun & colorful, stuff
revivalhouse - more vintage

this thread isn't just for me to toot my own horn or whatever, though.  i am really curious as to whether you guys know of any other stores which offer the same kind of ethical business practices yet still manage to sell clothing that is cute and stylish.  and this thread doesn't have to be restricted to clothing - it can be about organic & free-trade produce, jewelry, whatever.  also, if you're aware of any unethical business practices that any of the above brands are guilty of please let me know!  one of the things that bothers me most is companies who are guilty of greenwashing.  it's already hard to find an ethical alternative, and it sucks that companies like that make it even harder to be a responsible shopper.  it's also hard to know if some companies (especially those that market themselves at eco-friendly) actually engage in fair trade or not because they're usually very vague in talking about their business practices.  i really wish that companies were forced to be totally transparent about their business practices but i guess that's not going to happen any time soon :P  so... if anyone wants to research/has any information about companies which claim to be green & sweatshop free but actually aren't, then that would be very helpful.

also, this thread isn't here to discuss the merits and flaws of sweatshops.  if you think that they are a good/unavoidable thing because they provide low-cost goods then that's fine - just don't take part in this thread.  but i thought that one of the benefits of capitalism was supposed to be consumer choice!  and part of what made me angry when i walked into that payless shoestore was my lack of choice.  i want to have a voice in where my purchases come from and the way that they are made!

tl;dr  here is a list of stores that let you shop for stylish things which are eco-friendly and sweat shop-free! yay!
« Last Edit: 30 Apr 2008, 12:22 by mooface »
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valley_parade

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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #1 on: 30 Apr 2008, 12:22 »

I have a few AA shirts, along with a pair of organic Levi's 539. One of my favorite (and definitely best fitting) pair of jeans.
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #2 on: 30 Apr 2008, 12:40 »

I know you bought a pair of Pumas already, but did you consider New Balance for running shoes? I'm not totally familiar with their corporate policy but I got the impression that they were kind of the hippie thing to do, or something.
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mooface

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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #3 on: 30 Apr 2008, 12:45 »

Only 25% of New Balance shoes are certified as "American-Made", and of those 25% only 70% of the shoe has to be American made (so up to 30% of the raw materials, for example, might come from other countries which do not have strict labor or environmental regulations).  I ended up buying the Pumas because they were the cheapest shoes that wasn't sold out of my size.

(I definitely could be wrong about this, so correct me if I am.)
« Last Edit: 30 Apr 2008, 12:47 by mooface »
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redglasscurls

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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #4 on: 30 Apr 2008, 13:14 »

I know New Balance has a few factories in Maine, I wonder if you can specify anywhere, or buy direct?
PS I lovelovelove you for mentioning Etsy, almost every gift and clothing item I've purchased in last year or two has been from there because it's amazing. My engagement ring is from there too! You have personal contact with the artists, great shipping speeds (because it's not a big company busy with tons of other people), and you support individual artists. There's also a section called Alchemy, where you can commission work- write up what you'd like made with specifications/desired price ranges, and artists can read and bid to make your item for you. super excellent
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #5 on: 30 Apr 2008, 14:05 »

Dear god.

It's a nice cause, but I can not spend twenty dollars on a plain white tee-shirt.
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #6 on: 30 Apr 2008, 14:17 »

God damned hippies.
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #7 on: 30 Apr 2008, 15:47 »

Fair Indigo has 1 pair of men's jeans for sale, and I've bought 3 jeans for that price. Also they look shit. Awesome!
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #8 on: 30 Apr 2008, 15:53 »

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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #9 on: 30 Apr 2008, 16:06 »

Nudity is the answer.

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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #11 on: 30 Apr 2008, 16:15 »

It's like a chorus!
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #12 on: 30 Apr 2008, 16:22 »

ITT: Everyone blindly agrees with Patrick in hopes that they get to touch his SG.

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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #14 on: 30 Apr 2008, 17:15 »

ITT: Everyone blindly agrees with Patrick in hopes that they get to touch his SG.

SG = supersized gonads
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #16 on: 30 Apr 2008, 20:02 »

Dear god.

It's a nice cause, but I can not spend twenty dollars on a plain white tee-shirt.
Look at etsy instead! You can find interesting shirts by independent designers for like 15 bucks
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #17 on: 30 Apr 2008, 20:15 »

Those No Sweat chucks are nice but they're not too hard-wearing, I've been through a bunch of pairs. I stopped getting them after a while and got some Vegetarian Shoes instead (I wonder how long it took them to think that name up). They cost a fair bit but they're tough and warm and look pretty good too, and according to the guy that sold them to me Propagandhi bought the same kind off him. Sadly, this did make me rather pleased.
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #18 on: 30 Apr 2008, 20:30 »

Maiaida, I'm pretty sure Saucony adheres to fair-labor laws and they make some pretty badass shoes. I have a pair of their hemp/canvas running shoes and wear them to the gym several days a week, so that's an option:)
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #19 on: 30 Apr 2008, 21:37 »

I cannot buy clothing if I am not certain that it was pieced together with the broken dreams of vietnamese children.
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #20 on: 30 Apr 2008, 21:39 »

And sealed with their tears, I would imagine.
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #21 on: 30 Apr 2008, 22:03 »

I am entirely in love with Etsy and eBay's vintage clothing and jewellery sections. Most things are very fairly priced, and they have some beautiful things. My favourite things I've bought recently include a handmade red-and white gingham blouse for ten bucks, and a beautiful rust-coloured pearl necklace for seven bucks.
All of my favourite eBay shops are Australian, so I don't think they'd be much help to most of you, and I tend to just browse through the entirety of Etsy without picking any favourites, because every single store is unique and amazing.
Props to you, though, MaiAda and Manda! More people need to know about these things!
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #22 on: 30 Apr 2008, 22:27 »

True Story:


I bought pants(I think it was...maybe a shirt) from Shrinkle way back in 2002. On ebay.




I am pretty sure they used to be a guy.
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #23 on: 30 Apr 2008, 22:58 »

Here's what I think of American Apparel:

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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #24 on: 30 Apr 2008, 22:59 »

now i want some watermelon



also, what the hell, Puma makes awesome shoes
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #25 on: 30 Apr 2008, 23:27 »

Those No Sweat chucks are nice but they're not too hard-wearing, I've been through a bunch of pairs.

Weird, I got two pairs of No Sweat chuck ripoffs (2 for the price of one) from the Oxfam shop. I'm still on the first pair and after wearing them every day for almost a year now and they'd look new if they weren't kinda grubby from being worn constantly.
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #26 on: 01 May 2008, 04:54 »

My sweat-Chucks have lasted almost a year of running, climbing, hiking, jumping, constant walking, washing, and various other forms of hard wear.

Sweat - 1
Hippies - 0
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #27 on: 01 May 2008, 07:43 »

I have a few brief comments to make, just out of interest. And maybe to play devil's advocate.

Ethical practice in clothing manufacture is a really big thing. The industry is in a terrible situation and the extent of the problems are deep-seated and age-old. Sweatshop manufacture is something that is very ill-defined. That is, what do you call a sweatshop, how do you deal with them, does boycotting work and who decides these things?
Having known people who have worked in factories, worked piecemeal and such, I think that in a lot of cases, factories in asia are not as we see them. And though the conditions are harsh and the pay is poor, it is pay none-the-less and often a rather standard rate. Sure, you can boycott the designer clothing brand, but it won't change these people's jobs and livelihoods.
An ueducated worker in a not-so-developed part of asia is going to be working in a factory, a shop, a farm - whatever sustains them. If their factory is closed down, the will have to go find work in another one. This reflects millions of lives of people who make your nike shoes and converse chucks.

A child in a sweatshop, or a person who has be transported from their family to work in a place unknown which locks them up [lookup up Saipan, for example] is a really terrible thing to hear about. I think most would consider that completely unethical. What is to be done with this is not something I can't answer, so I won't comment.

I'm not diminishing the problems of sweatshops or ethics, or drawing a line between them. Nor am I passing judgement on boycotting brands or personal ethical decisions. After all, I can't say I act ethically myself in this respect. It's just food for thought; because I don't like to see things over-simplified for convenience's sake.

--

Secondly:
Ecological sustainablity is an issue which is too often seen 'tacked-on' to products. Whether they claim to use organic materials or harm no animals or whatever, I think we should be more wary as to what is eco-friendly and what is not.
The biggest impacts on your ecological footprint will probably be the food you eat [especially meat], the travelling you do, and the kind of home you live in and products you consume.
Say you used wore all cotton and hemp clothing: The cotton and hemp needed to be grown, which is an expensive process and uses fertilisers, land and other such things. It is probably transported pretty far, this is going to take fuel. But it will bio-degrade after you use it, and it's a renewable source.
If you wore synthetic materials: That material would include synthesised stuff such as plastics [nylon] - which mostly come from petroleum. However, the petro-chemical industry only consumes like 1% of all petroleum beng pumped. So when peak oil comes along, petro-chemicals might get squeezed, but they will probably still survive.
The price for which you get those clothings, cotton or nylon, may depend on how they were produced; who knows how many people you are supporting every time you go shopping.

[I'm really tired. Apologies if this makes no sense. But now that I've written it, it would be a waste to not post it]
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #28 on: 01 May 2008, 07:52 »

Man I don't care about that hippie stuff. I just want to look a little bit unique.
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #29 on: 01 May 2008, 07:54 »

If their factory is closed down, the will have to go find work in another one.

This is an excellent point. It's not a nice idea that the clothes we wear are made by people who work in horrible conditions for not much money, but surely it's a worse idea that they would not be working at all.

I'm not sure what the alternative to boycotting is. Perhaps petitioning governments to do something about terrible conditions in factories? Personally, and I don't know very much about it so I could be totally off track here, I think that it's more important to get medicines and education into third world countries, rather than taking trade out of it. Poverty is only a serious problem when the necessities of life aren't available cheaply and conveniently.

I haven't really thought about this issue or researched it in great depth, but it's something to think about. I'd say that trying to do something about exploitation is a very good thing in theory, but if everyone suddenly stops buying from non-ethical companies it will, in the short term, make the situation worse.

That obviously isn't a good argument for not buying ethical, because it's next to impossible that everyone would suddenly choose to only buy fair trade. But it's something to think about, no?

Alternatively, let's all make clothes out of leaves like they did in the Bible times!

And a good place to buy stuffs is here if you're in the UK.
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #30 on: 01 May 2008, 07:55 »

Dov Charney went to my highschool. He was probably the senior hitting on freshmen.

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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #31 on: 01 May 2008, 07:56 »

The biggest impacts on your ecological footprint will probably be the food you eat [especially meat] (some more stuff)

Don't care, meat is tasty
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #32 on: 01 May 2008, 08:26 »

I looooooooooooooooove animals

They're delicious
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #33 on: 01 May 2008, 08:28 »

I'm not sure what the alternative to boycotting is. Perhaps petitioning governments to do something about terrible conditions in factories?

Petitioning isn't too effective, particularly if you're petitioning one government to put pressure on another government to put pressure on an international company operating within its borders. Aiding good trade unions worldwide is a better tactic, unfortunately companies know this so many will do pretty much anything to prevent trade union organising from firing people that join up to and including having them killed (particularly in Columbia, where 4000 trade union leaders have been assassinated in the last 20 years). You can also consider protesting outside companies that use sweatshop labour or even taking direct action against them. No Sweat is a pretty decent organisation and has a fair amount of good information on what's going on.

With regard to the shoes the American branch makes falling apart, I think maybe my feet just hate chucks. They've annihilated all the Converse ones I've had too, and they lasted even less time than the No Sweats (the record being two days).
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #34 on: 01 May 2008, 09:22 »

I looooooooooooooooove animals

They're delicious

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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #35 on: 01 May 2008, 09:37 »

The argument that 'they have jobs' is one thing, but they have 'jobs.' I'm not sure how we can all use the same word for what we do (or think about doing...). Personally, I wonder how ludicrous it is for us (anyone who even has the leisure time to post on a message board let alone the means to do so) to accept that status quo.
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #36 on: 01 May 2008, 13:01 »

I have gone through every site you listed, Mai, except etsy and ebay, because I browse those regularly anyway. It's taken me all night, but I wasn't sleeping anyway; I looked through every section on each site, and even went to some associated sites like Namaste. Of all of them, and the entirety of their content, I found one single thing that I might wear.






And since I like to tie-dye things anyway, and since I sew anyway, I will probably just make it myself instead of spending however much it was. I cannot even find it anymore, now that I am going back and looking for it.

It honestly makes me kind of sad that there wasn't more on there that I liked, although I guess that is a good thing since I don't have any money anyway. But what makes me sadder is looking at the multitude of ill-fitting clothes and bland colours and knowing that people will buy them and wear them and think they are hot. There are a few things that were ok, depending on your body type, but most of it sucked. American Apparel was the worst, by the way. There was absolutely nothing on that site that I found attractive, other than the models' nipples showing through their tanktops.
« Last Edit: 01 May 2008, 13:04 by calenlass »
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valley_parade

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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #37 on: 01 May 2008, 13:08 »

I'd wear her too, Katie.
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #38 on: 01 May 2008, 13:13 »

She needs more curves!
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #39 on: 01 May 2008, 13:17 »

You mean you dress as other things besides sexy pirate? Why?
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #40 on: 01 May 2008, 13:34 »

Well, I have to wear something on laundry day.
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #41 on: 01 May 2008, 13:44 »

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mooface

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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #42 on: 01 May 2008, 14:18 »

first off, i don't want to be a bitch but  i specifically said "this thread isn't here to discuss the merits and flaws of sweatshops."  if you don't have a problem with/don't care where your clothes come from then that's fine.  it's your choice.
but i want to have a choice too, and that's what this is partly about.  i want to be able to dress stylishly but i also want to have a decision about where my clothes come from.  that, to me, is more important than the price of clothing.  i would rather buy 1 dress for $100 handmade by a designer rather than 5 t-shirts from F21 when i don't know where they come from.
if you think this is ridiculous, then that's fine.  maybe it kind of is!  but i think it's important that we, as consumers, are able to have a choice when it comes to the price, quality, style and making of the clothing we buy.  maybe if companies see that there is enough interest in buying "ethical clothing" they will, at the very least, see it as a profitable venture to pander to "goddamn hippies" and start to make a change in their business practices.  i don't know if that will ever happen but that's not what it's about for me anyways. 
i'm not vegetarian because i think everyone should stop eating meat and killing animals.  i'm a vegetarian because i am sad about animals dying so i choose not to eat them.
i'm not trying to change the world here.  i just don't want to buy clothes that are made in sweatshops so i choose not to buy them.
this thread is here so that if anybody else has a similar interest then they could recommend similar sites and companies that take part in this movement.

manda:  thanks for the heads up about saucony!  i'll definitely look into it next time.
katie:  i'm sorry you didn't like any of the sites i put up, but to be honest most of them merely reflected my own taste in clothing.  hopefully and most probably there are other ones that you might like but that i just didn't find, or that i saw but never bookmarked because they didn't exactly fit my taste.

anyone who is interested: here is a site that sells really pretty vintage jewelry for really decent prices.  i have a thing for lockets so this was really exciting for me to find.

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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #43 on: 01 May 2008, 15:05 »

Do you remember any of the site names? Because I only went to a couple of sites you don't have listed, and they were just the ones I found associated on the listed sites.


Also most of my commentary was probably inspired by a few particular key items I recalled, and was not for bashing anyone's particular style.


Or maybe I do hate all the clothes, and you just manage to make them hot, Mai. I dunno
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #44 on: 01 May 2008, 23:45 »

I will throw out THESE.  The Green Toe line is kind of hippie-dippy, but some of the EcoSneaks are pretty cute. 

It's not so much that not supporting the bad companies will hurt them.  I realize that it probably won't, unless people amazingly stop buying sweatshop goods in some kind of mass movement.  However, when you take your money and spend it on something from a more responsible company, you can actually help them. especially if they are smaller or local. 
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #45 on: 01 May 2008, 23:49 »

Oh, I like those. Those are shoes that are right up my alley. I will have to bear those in mind for after summer.

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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #46 on: 02 May 2008, 00:02 »

The problem I have with the fair trade/ethically produced clothes that are readily available is that very often they are more expensive than I can realistically afford and I also don't really like the style of most of it. Granted, a lot of the clothes I buy, or at least have bought recently, are handmade, not mass-produced stuff so I guess that is good? On the other hand I also wear a lot of leather and am in the process of finding a pair of leather pants. Does this make me a bad person? Yeah probably but at least I look smashing.
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #47 on: 02 May 2008, 12:08 »

I went onto the Simple Shoes website and immediately fell in love with it because of how it said "We get asked all the time if marijuana is the same thing as hemp. I mean, really, if the hemp we use in our shoes got you high, don't you think we'd have enough money to hire some models for our ads?"

The shoes are not bad, the bags are horrible, but I'll be exploring every inch of the site for some more of its fabulous eco-wit.
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #48 on: 02 May 2008, 12:34 »

Wal-Mart, and many other retailers have started sending "green" clothes. They've got a line of t-shirts that are made out of recycled pop-bottles for teens, and they've had a line of "Earth" shoes for many years. I bought 2 organic cotton t-shirts yesterday, and the one I am wearing now is quite comfy...

I don't really care where my clothes comes from though. I'm just happy to find nice clothes that fits, personally...
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Re: eco-sustainable/fair trade clothing
« Reply #49 on: 02 May 2008, 21:45 »

Hey Maiada
I understand and appreciate that you did not intend for this to be a full on discussion about ethics and environment. However, like I said, I was trying to point out that oversimplification of those issues is too easy to accept.

Poverty is only a serious problem when the necessities of life aren't available cheaply and conveniently.

Just a note, I think you getting mixed up here. The term 'poverty' usually refers to either relative or absolute poverty. Relatively poverty is what we're usually talking about - one's means in relation to the costs of living in one's area. Absolute poverty means that one is severely deprived of the basic needs for living including food, shelter, health, sanitation etc. Relative poverty, which is what we are usually talking about, means one is living below the relative poverty threshold, usually less than 50% of the median income.

So poverty reflects the purchasing power of individuals in a certain economy, not whether the economy is doing well or its goods are 'cheap' compared to other countries.
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