It’s been one of my goals for a while now to move away from “fast fashion” and start compiling a more ethically curated wardrobe. This can be accomplished in a number of ways—paying attention to whether items are fairly traded, choosing pieces that are vintage, organic, or eco-friendly, or finding brands that support communities in the developing world. As a fashion blogger (or even simply as a woman with a lot of clothes), the amount of time and money I spend at retail stores could be making a direct, positive impact if I shopped more consciously.
After some light online research, I realized that my goal would be harder to reach than I had expected. Vintage and thrifted items are easy enough to find in NYC, but finding stylish eco-friendly or fairly traded clothing is challenging, especially if you’re looking for pieces you could wear to work. I found that corporate-appropriate items are often out of my price range because they’re produced in small quantities by small designers and marketed to an older age group.
But, despite the fact the market is small, there are still a lot of men and women from the developing world selling beautiful clothing and accessories, and companies doing amazing work in the countries from where the items are sourced. I was lucky enough to connect with one company I particularly admire, MarketPlace Handworks of India. I may be younger than the site’s average customer, but it still has a variety of items that I could wear to work or on the weekends.
Most importantly, I’m impressed with how highly involved the organization is with its women artisans in Mumbai. MarketPlace provides them not only with economic support, but also social support, through programs to increase awareness among the artisans and their families of issues like domestic violence. (Many artisan cooperatives have even started to speak out on this taboo subject, as you can see in this video on MarketPlace’s Facebook page.)
MarketPlace kindly sent me this Punali tunic, which I immediately paired with my favorite Sammy Davis Vintage trousers. Some of the patterns sold on the site would be a little too loud for my office, but the Punali tunic is the right combination of eye-catching and subtle to integrate smoothly into my work wear. I also like the length—it covers my hips without getting caught on them, and it flares out nicely from under my blazer.
An added bonus to wearing items from MarketPlace or similar retailers? There’s a great story to your clothes that you can share whenever you get compliments on your outfit. A much more interesting story than how cheap something was at Forever21.
Looking for another sustainable way to infuse your wardrobe with some new looks? Host a clothing swap with your friends like our blogger buddy, Jill, did in Brooklyn!