Chicago: Putting Fair Trade Fashion on the Map

March, 2013, Natural Awakenings.  Gone are the days when fair trade meant unflattering designs or met only the needs of a specific niche market.  Fair trade has grown up and its offerings now command a respectable space in many women’s closets and jewelry boxes.

The fair trade movement may have been around for decades, but only in recent years have fair trade fashions started to really put their mark on the runways and red carpets all over the world. Designer darlings like Emma Watson and Stella McCartney, as well as eco-consumerism trailblazers Livia Firth and Natalie Portman, have lent a celebrity cachet that has suddenly made fair trade fashionable. Top Chicago entrepreneurs and retailers are taking notice and savvy, fashion-forward and socially conscious consumers are responding.

“Fair trade is a nationwide trend, and the options for fashionable offerings are growing every day!” says Renee Bowers, executive director of the Fair Trade Federation (FTF). “Chicago is the home of some leaders in fair trade style. To give just three examples, GREENOLA, Marketplace: Handwork of India and Mata Traders have all been pioneers in creating stylish, fair trade apparel that supports artisan communities. By being at the forefront of this trend, these FTF members are setting a high standard for organizations across the country and around the world.”

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