Upcoming Events in January: Trunk Show and Style Swap

January looms before us as a barren wasteland of post-holiday gloom. But fear not! I have two free events coming up that are sure to break up your winter doldrums.

Slow Fashion Trunk Show promo poster

Slow Fashion Trunk Show

Thursday, Jan. 7 from 6:30–8:30 p.m.
Outpost (Circle Centre Mall, 2nd floor, across from H&M)

Elizabeth Roney from Liz Alig, Sara Baldwin-Schatz from Lux & Ivy, and I are teaming up for an evening of fair trade fashion, secondhand style, and sustainable strategies. Elizabeth and Sara will offer great slow fashion items from their brands, and I’ll speak on the differences between slow fashion and fast fashion, with time for Q&A from all three of us. It’s also a great chance to see the Outpost pop-up shop before it closes!

Women browsing clothes at FairSwap15

WinterSwap16 Women’s Style Swap

Wednesday, Jan. 20 from 6–8 p.m.
New Day Craft

FairSwap15 was such a big hit last September that we’re bringing it back in January! Collect any wearable holiday gifts that weren’t quite your style, plus any other unwanted clothing, shoes and accessories you have, and bring them to WinterSwap16. This swap will be bigger and better than the last with more items allowed per person. Plus, New Day’s famous Mead & Knead will be going on at the same time! Sign up and get the full details. Spots are limited!

Check out photos and details from past events on the Events page. Happy holidays and I’ll see you in January!

Thrift Store Score

A few weeks ago I was running errands in the Glendale area of Indianapolis and saw a billboard for a new store called Vintage Vogue just around the corner. I can rarely resist the urge to explore anything labeled “vintage,” so I immediately went to check it out:

Vintage Vogue exterior sign

Before I went in, I pulled up their website to check that they were open and see if they were truly a vintage store, as opposed to a boutique that sells 90% new stuff (which is an irritating trend I’ve seen lately—boutiques trying to bill themselves as vintage when they’re not). I was surprised to find that this particular shop wasn’t truly vintage, either, but not in a shady way—it’s actually a new concept from Goodwill. You could call it “Goodwill: Just the Good Stuff.”

Sales floor of Vintage Vogue store

The shop sells used clothing such as what you’d find at a regular Goodwill, plus accessories and a handful of home decor items, but it’s filtered to include only the more fashionable and high-quality items. As you can see, the store itself is designed like a boutique, in contrast to the bare-bones look of other Goodwill locations. The items are at a slightly higher price point than regular Goodwill, but that didn’t bother me, since I saved time by not having to sift through a lot of out-of-fashion or poor-quality items.

Sales floor of Vintage Vogue store

Following my thrift store shopping guidelines, I looked for a couple of specific items: versatile shirts I could wear to work and on the weekend, and black skinny pants. I found a White House Black Market shirt for $9 and black Forever 21 jeans for $7.50.

Photos of Julia in thrifted outfit

The top right photo is my “Yesssss I found what I wanted!” victory pose.

One concern that occurred to me as I shopped was whether this kind of store takes good items away from regular Goodwill stores. People who can’t afford the higher prices at Vintage Vogue should still have the opportunity to find high-quality items. My thought was that Goodwill’s donation volume is probably so high that pulling items for these stores wouldn’t make a huge difference in the overall selection. The Vintage Vogue website seems to confirm that assumption:

Vintage Vogue merchandise comes from select central Indiana Goodwill stores. These stores hand-pick a small portion of their upscale and vintage donations to send to Vintage Vogue. Special items and boutique merchandise can still be found at any of the more than 50 Goodwill locations in central Indiana.

It looks like Vintage Vogue is just a central Indiana concept right now, with this store in Indianapolis and another one in Bloomington. If you’re in the area and are looking for a gateway into shopping secondhand, I recommend checking it out!

Have you had any good thrift store finds lately? What are your favorite thrifting spots?

My Top 3 Thrift Shopping Tips

With all of the fair trade topics I have been covering lately, it’s been a while since I’ve mentioned my other approach to ethical consumerism: thrift shopping. While I tend to go fair trade when purchasing gifts for others, when I need something for myself the first stop is the thrift store. Thrift shopping reduces waste by giving old items a new life, and when you buy from a thrift shop, your money does not go to support the companies who produced the items using potentially exploitative practices.

Thrift shopping can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not used to the structure (or lack of structure) in your local resale shops. Here are my top three tips for finding items you will love and wear!

Infographic of top 3 thrift shopping tips

1. Have a specific item in mind

For several years, I viewed thrift stores as magical wonderlands full of treasures for me to discover, and I would go thrift shopping with no set agenda or list. This approach led to me having a closet full of interesting and eye-catching items that didn’t necessarily work together as outfits and weren’t practical for my everyday life.

Nowadays, when I hit the thrift store I look for one thing. Black pants. Comfortable flats. A tan cardigan. Having a specific item in mind helps me focus in the often overwhelming landscape. The time you save by not aimlessly wandering the aisles is time you can spend really evaluating at every available option that matches what you want.

2. Try things on

For me, one of the major benefits of thrift shopping over buying ethically-produced clothing online is the ability to try things on. I don’t have the patience for the song-and-dance of ordering something, it not fitting, and having to send it back. Thrift shopping is my answer to this problem. The clothes are right there! I can try on 10 pairs of pants immediately!

Before you start gathering things to try on, be sure to confirm that the store you’re at has a fitting room. Of the thrift stores near me, Goodwill has fitting rooms while Value World does not. If you’re at an independently-owned vintage or consignment shop, it could go either way, so be sure to look around or ask a clerk if you don’t immediately see one.

Stores without fitting rooms can still be worthwhile stops depending on what you are looking for. You can try on cardigans, jackets, shoes, and accessories without a fitting room, so if I’m looking for any of those things I include stores without fitting rooms in my lineup.

Rack of clothing at a thrift store

Photo credit: tome213 @ freeimages.com

3. If you don’t love it, don’t buy it

This is perhaps the hardest lesson to learn in thrift shopping. I used to buy anything that fit decently, regardless of whether I needed it or what condition it was in (other than major damage or holes). As a result I had a wardrobe that looked like it had already been through the wringer and again didn’t always cohere into good outfits.

Now I ask myself a series of questions before I buy something. Is it in like-new condition, or does it already look worn-out? (Cheap knit fabrics can wear out and pill easily, so check for wear even on current styles.) Do I feel good wearing it? Is it flattering on me? Would I buy this item new if I saw it in a regular store?

Those are my top three tips for successful thrift shopping. I’d love to hear yours—post ’em in the comments!

Year in Review: 2013

2013 Year in Review party image

Wowza! How did it get to be 2014 already? (I’m pretty sure it was 1998 two weeks ago…)

The Fair for All Guide has grown and changed a lot this year, and I want to thank all of you for being a part of it! The sustainable and ethical fashion movement gained a lot of traction in 2013, and we’re excited to see how it will grow in 2014. And of course, we look forward to sharing the latest with you.

It was kind of unbelievable to look back and see how much we’ve written in 2013—posting once a week really adds up! (We’re definitely at the lower end of post frequency… to every other blogger who posts more than that: you are incredible.)

In case you missed them, here are some of our favorite posts from the last year:

Thanks again for being with us, and may 2014 be your best year yet!

Ethical Style Blogs

Ethical Style Blogs mosaic

When we shifted the focus of the Fair for All guide to the blog about a year ago, it was because I was having a hard time finding any blogs that covered shopping and style from an ethical, human-rights-based perspective. There were many blogs covering environmentally-friendly style, but few that addressed the human aspects of fair trade, working conditions and labor rights.

Thankfully, over the last year I have found that I wasn’t the only person thinking this way! I have discovered several excellent blogs focused on style that’s good for the people producing it as well as the earth. Each blogger has a different style and approach, covering the gamut from made-in-USA goods to thrift and vintage shopping to eco-friendly items to fair trade. I’ve found all of them to be helpful and inspiring resources.

Here is my ethical shopping blogroll:

  1. Made-to-Travel — Jamillah serves up boundless positivity, collections of ethical and stylish products, and other inspiring stories.
  2. Stylewise — Leah shares ethical outfits from her wardrobe and explores the spiritual effects of how we consume.
  3. Let’s Be Fair — Dominique showcases fabulous ethical product collections, giveaways, and a new “Manthropologie” series that I can only assume addresses ethical style for men.
  4. My Fair Vanity — Rachel presents a fashion-forward, high-end perspective on ethical style. If you’re a high-powered CEO and need ethical shopping tips, start here.
  5. The Dollar — This blog has a cool post structure where they show “The What,” or the product, and “The Who,” or the person or group who made that product. Great way to show the direct connection between artisans and their creations!
  6. In Tandem Fair Trade Weddings — Tegan focuses specifically on ideas for planning a fair trade and ethical wedding, from the dress to jewelry to gifts and more.
  7. October Rebel — Anna shares gorgeous, ethereal photography and her experiments with ethical style.
  8. Lifestyle: Justice — Hannah and Andrew post about fair trade style and social justice issues like human trafficking.

I recommend checking out any of the above blogs to get more insight and advice on how to shop (and live) ethically and intentionally. I’ve added them to our Resources page for quick reference.

What are your favorite ethical style blogs? I’d love to add some more to my list!

News Roundup: August 2013

September snuck up on me! Here’s a roundup of ethical shopping articles and links from August.

Fair Trade Federation Fall Guide 2013 coverFair Trade Federation Fall Style Guide – An online catalog of fall items from FTF members. Simply click a product to be redirected to its online listing for purchase. (via Style Wise)

Conscious Consumerism: Talking with the Founders of Ethical Shopping Site Zady – An interview with the founders of Zady, describing their ethical approach and their thoughts on the conscious consumerism movement. A quote from the article (published in TIME):

What we’re trying to do is for each product that we carry, we have a map associated with it. You can click on the map and it shows where the company is headquartered, where the raw materials are sourced from, and where it’s manufactured. We have each brand sign a certificate that attests to those three points. It seems like it’s basic, but in the world of apparel, it’s revolutionary. —Maxine Bédat

Shoppers Abandoning ‘Fast Fashion’ for Ethical Fashion – Real-life stories of people trying to avoid fast fashion by buying vintage and U.S.-made clothing or making their own. (Ryot)

Ethical Consumerism: There’s an app for that. – A list of apps to help consumers buy socially and environmentally responsible products. (Melamed Riley blog)

New addition to the Fairly Friendly directoryTammachat offers products made from handwoven textiles made by women’s artisan groups in Thailand and Laos.

Have favorite links of your own from last month? Share them in the comments!