Why Fair Trade Fashion? 78% of Slavery Victims Are In Labor Slavery

Did you know that slavery generates $150 billion for traffickers each year? There are tens of millions of people in slavery today.  Researches estimate 21 million are enslaved.  78% of slavery victims today are in labor slavery – Free The Slaves

Do you know who made your clothes? Fair Trade Fashion Show shines the light on the exploitation of labor in the fashion industry.  The Show, hosted by Bead & Reel, an ethical boutique, to benefit Free the Slaves [FTS], is a platform of education and awareness on the industry’s ethical and environmental practices.

By simply questioning and raising awareness about production practices, consumers can influence the fashion industry’s relationship with atrocities such as slavery.

– Allie Gardner, Free The Slaves

Fair Trade Fashion Show, Post Show with models

The event highlighted a lively interactive panel discussion with global fair trade leaders and sustainable fashion activists; Hoda Katebi, Jeff Denby, Mike Farid, and Kestrel Jenkins.  The runway showcased 25 women designers/brands who empower their communities by fueling the economic need to keep production local and ethical.  A vegan friendly collection, curated by Sica Schmitz, founder of Bead & Reel and Fair Trade Fashion Show, exemplifies that sustainable fashion is keepsake fashion. For the ethically conscious consumer, it’s an investment that has a story, purpose, and relevance.

Across the globe, emerging designers are making a commitment to their community and producing beautifully crafted garments in spite of the competition from cheap imports.  They source locally as much as they can and keep the artisanal traditions alive.

Local emerging brands in Ethiopia take pride in the economic impact they make on the industry.  “It makes a very significant contribution in terms of improving the livelihood of all those found within the value chain; spinners, weavers, crochet makers, embroiderers, designers, etc.”, says Fikirte Addis of Yefikir Design. 

26% of slaves today are children under the age of 18.

– Free The Slaves

Yefikir is an advocate for child labor free products.  Social and government organizations are partnering to take action to ensure a safe, healthy, abuse free and sustainable future for the Ethiopian children. “Together with the Ethiopian Fashion Designers Association and Ministry of Social and Labor Affairs, the progress to establish safe thread certification is almost complete,” Fikirte says.

We need to shift the way we think and act about clothing.  The western culture, in particular, needs to value clothing in a meaningful way.  We need to move away from the “fast fashion” mentality of buy and dispose and invest.  Maybe too much, too often, and too much of the same, have eroded our desire.  When fashion is consumed without much thought on ‘who made my clothes’ and what ethical impact it has, who pays the price?  Exploited workers and the environment.

I DO THINK WE NEED TO REDEFINE WHAT WE VIEW AS “COST” TO INCLUDE THE ENVIRONMENTAL COST AND THE COST OF HUMAN LIVES. COST IS NOT ONLY ABOUT THE DOLLAR AMOUNT.

– SICA SCHMITZ

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Free the Slaves was founded in 2000, and today the organization is considered a leader and pioneer in the modern abolitionist movement. FTS helps communities chart their own path toward sustainable freedom by strengthening the capacity of grassroots organizations, government agencies, advocacy coalitions, and the media to take action. FTS supports vulnerable communities through education, mobilization, and increasing access to education, vocational training, and essential services. Currently FTS works in six countries: India, Nepal, Ghana, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo,and Haiti.

Models:  Lovelight Models, Inc.

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