The ladies behind Feel Good, who helped organize BAREing It All: Behind the Label.
Last Thursday night in Westminster House South, BARE Magazine and Feel Good hosted the fashion panel, BAREing It All: Behind the Label. The panel discussion was centered around the labor practices in the apparel industry and what steps are being taken by various companies to combat these unethical practices. Feel Good was grilling up sandwiches and serving Coke Zero to benefit their mission to end world hunger while attendees engaged in a guided discussion that brought to the surface ethical issues surrounding clothing choices and how to make conscious decisions about our clothing. Guests were shown the documentary, "Behind the Swoosh," which documented Jim Keady's trip to Indonesia to understand the living conditions of those who work for just above a dollar per day at Nike's factory.
Guests watched Jim Keady's "Behind the Swoosh" documentary.
From left: BARE Events Coordinator Seika Iwao, Indigenous Designs' Matt Reynolds, and Eco Citizen's Joslin Van Arsdale.
After the short film, panelists Matt Reynolds of Indigenous Designs and Joslin Van Arsdale of Eco Citizen answered questions about how their businesses have thrived off of the basis of fair trade. Indigenous Designs uses a vertical integration business model to give artisans from villages in South America the opportunity to make money from their skills. Reynolds emphasized that one of the most important parts about the fair trade movement is that people understand what it actually is. Fair trade is not equivalent to free trade or organic. Fair trade involves fair compensation for those who produce goods that are sold on a mass scale. Van Arsdale seemed optimistic about her average customer who she says is interested in knowing where their clothing is coming from. Her Russian Hill boutique was inspired by her desire to become a part of the fair trade system and support brands that stimulate indigenous economies and skilled artisans.
The fair trade movement is still small but is sure to grow over the next decade or so. Reynolds and Van Arsdale agree that it is important that fair trade garments must be of equal or better quality than what is currently popular in the clothing market. Reynolds believes that for this socially conscious trend to truly infiltrate the mainstream, the product must have superior quality, be reasonably priced for consumers, and illicit an emotional response from the average customer. Both panelists envision a world in the near future where it is more common than not for a brand to engage in practices of fair trade.
Reynolds and Van Arsdale were thanked by BARE staff for participating in the panel.