The Fair Trade Fashion Show Fundraiser at the CTRL Collective in downtown Los Angeles cast a massive spotlight on a big issue: slavery. The event, in it's third year, used fashion as a platform to bring awareness about the realities of modern slavery and served as a fundraiser for Free the Slaves (FTS). The fashion show highlighted styles from artisans around the world, curated by Sica Schmitz, founder of Bead & Reel, an online boutique offering 60 brands focused on 15 different searchable ethics that all meet the criteria of being thoughtful to animals, people, and the world.
This wasn't your mother's fair trade fashion show! The industry is trading in old images of Birkenstocks, hemp skirts, and tee shirts, for stunning, chic fashion that holds its place in the industry.
Shown: Top Left, The Fair Trade Fashion Show Runway; Top Right, SHE Changes Everything co-founders Heather Young and Jennifer Klotz; Bottom Left, Jennifer, Michelle Chavex, co-founder of The Tote Project and Michelle for Good.com and Heather Young; Bottom Right, a showstopping cocktail dress from Sonya Vajifdar Creations, a capsule line of 100% eco-friendly apparels using organic fabric and sustainable techniques. Photos: ALL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CECILY BREEDING.
USING FASHION TO FIGHT FOR FREEDOM!
By shopping the runway, attendees stood for freedom by engaging with ethical fashion brands and supporting Free the Slaves in fighting for fair labor. Free the Slaves' mission is to change the conditions that allow slavery to persist. Learn more at www.fairtradefashionshow.com. The evening had a $20,000 Goal for donations and contributions. To date, $31,388 has been raised from 68 donors. All ticket sales went directly to benefit Free the Slaves and their mission to fight trafficking.
THE ECOSESSIONS PANEL
The fashion industry is one of the many culprits contributing to the problem of slavery. The night included an EcoSessions panel discussion, and they didn't hold back. This inspiring pre-show panel of industry leaders set the voice and tone for the fair trade runway show with honesty and the controversy in the fashion industry. It included Kestrel Jenkins, Founder + Producer Conscious Chatter; Hoda Katebi, Founder + Creator JooJoo Azad; Jeff Denby, Co-Founder The Renewal Workshop and Pact Apparel; and Mike Farid, Founder of Nature USA.
The panel shared thought-provoking insight into our societal views of fashion and its impact:
“75,000,000 people work to make our clothes, and 80% of them are women between the ages of 18 and 24. Fair trade brings humans into the sustainability conversation.” — Kestrel Jenkins
"Can I call myself a feminist when my clothes are made through gender-based violence? Can I support a brand pretending to support me as a Muslim by draping a headscarf over their models yet their sweatshops abroad continue to exploit Muslim women? Ethical and fair-trade fashion is not just a trend. It’s the future and the much-needed present." — Hoda Katebi
"Over 14 million tons of textile waste goes to landfill each year. That’s the equivalent of 96 pounds per American. Almost 10% of all municipal waste is textiles. There is no holistic infrastructure in the US to deal with the collection and recycling of textiles. 95% of textiles are eventually destined for landfill. We need a solution to create a circular system for the apparel industry.” — Jeff Denby
"Although most garment manufacturing has moved offshore, we have stayed committed to our cause of producing eco-friendly and socially responsible products, made right here in the U.S.A." — Mike Farid
CELEBRATING ECO-CONSCIOUS COMPANIES
In addition to celebrating fair trade fashion and spotlighting the fight for freedom, we love that the runway was curated to feature healthy, organic brands and designers consciously choosing eco-friendly fabrics. The dresses on the runway from Sonya Vajifdar came all the way from Mumbai, India, proving that the fashion revolution isn't just happening in the United States! Sonya's brand has a mission to “redefine luxury through sustainability” for people all over the globe.
EXPLORING THE MARKETPLACE
The Fashion Show Marketplace included many caused-based, fair trade companies!
We loved seeing Purpose Jewelry there!
“Our shopping choices make a difference. I choose to wear freedom so others have freedom to make a choice. We want to be here to spread that message. And it fits with the mission of the Fashion Show.” - Ashley C, Purpose Jewelry
The new collection is summery, shiny, and most importantly helps give recovering survivors of sex trafficking employment! Visit www.purposejewelry.com to learn more about what they’re doing to help stop trafficking and to shop the collection.
HANGING WITH ELICIA C.
It’s always great to catch up with our friend, Elisha Chan! Elisha C. was founded when Elisha, on her seventh trip to Haiti, resolved to create a business dedicated to the restoration of people who live in poverty. The online boutique sells beautiful artisan products made in Haiti to benefit those in Haiti. Elisha also founded The Elisha C. Foundation to work towards a poverty-free world and empower people to provide economic stability. The Foundation establishes sustainable programs that will become long-term solutions to alleviating poverty and works toward lasting change. Whether it is through giving educational scholarships, creating job opportunities, or providing medical aid, the Elisha C. Foundation breaks the cycle of poverty one story at a time.
So many thoughtful companies and details at the event punctuated the evening with hope about the impact we can have together.
Even if you couldn't attend, you can still shop the runway at www.beadandreel.com or donate today! Every dollar makes a difference in the lives of others and in the fight for freedom.
Heather & Jennifer, Co-Founders of SHE Changes Everything