I received an email from my mother last week reminding me that this past Sunday was not only Mother’s Day (and my friend’s wedding!!), but that it was also World Fair Trade Day. The reminder included a link to our friend’s website that sells fair trade clothing made in India: MarketPlace Handwork of India. She has beautiful clothing, accessories and housewares, all of which make me want to bring more color and pattern into my wardrobe. Visiting the site got Lindsay and I thinking, though … where does one go for fair trade items that would work in the office?
It’s not easy to be a responsible eco-shopper when you are looking for an office wardrobe. First problem: I found that there isn’t much out there that would actually work in a corporate environment. On top of that, fair trade clothing usually comes with intimidating price tags. Of course, we are part of the problem because we do not demand that all of our clothing be fair trade, resulting in very small market for such products.
On the other hand, as I’m sure you’ve noticed in your neighborhood Starbucks or local grocery, fair trade food products, such as coffee, tea and chocolate, are taking a more prominent place on the shelves as more and more customers choose to shop responsibly. The focus on fair trade appears to be gaining ground, at least in the food industry.
Despite these new choices for our grocery shopping, the U.S. seems to be lagging behind many European countries when it comes to this issue, especially when you look at the expanding fair trade fashion market in the U.K. Not only can you find fair trade clothing for sale, but a lot of it is even fashionable and contemporary! Nothing against Ten Thousand Villages’ style, but most of their gorgeous patterns and fabrics aren’t office or runway ready.
For something that could hold up against TopShop or Urban Outfitters, the most prominent fair trade option in the U.K. right now is People Tree. With the blossoming fashion icon Emma Watson as the face of the company, People Tree is receiving well-deserved attention and press. The store is more about casual fashion, but here are a few pieces that could work in the office, too:
People Tree isn’t the only option out there, so here are some photos and links to some fair trade (and often organic) options for office attire:
Not bad, right? Now it’s just up to us to insist on fairly traded goods, and it won’t be so difficult to put a post like this together!