Posts in FASHION FRIDAY
Recognizing Women Workers in the Garment Industry

I grew up watching my mom sew. It was a hobby for herself as well as a job to support our family. I often look at her hands and wonder what pains she would have been dealt had she worked in a garment factory in Laos or Thailand - maybe long restless hours, low wages, and unsafe work conditions. I can only be thankful that her sewing career began in the United States, where the fight for change in the garment industry has already made its mark in American history. In 1909, the first National Women’s day took place in the United States, honoring the garment worker’s strike that took place a year before.

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Penh Lenh: Bringing Change in Cambodia

At Dressember we are so grateful for the partnerships we’ve cultivated over the years. This week for Fashion Friday, we’d like to highlight one of our amazing partners, Penh Lenh.

Located in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Penh Lenh (meaning ‘whole’ in Khmer) was founded in 2013 by Rachel Dodson out of a passion to serve and empower marginalized women. Over the past four years, Penh Lenh has grown from Dodson’s passion project to an internally recognized jewelry company, serving its artisans and producing unique and quality pieces.

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A Glimpse into my Capsule Wardrobe Journey

Four weeks ago I embarked on a journey to create a capsule wardrobe (you can learn more about my inspiration here)  and it’s been quite the challenge. I began with selecting seven outfits from my current wardrobe, planning an outfit for each day of the week while taking into account my lifestyle. My ultimate goal was to create a transitional capsule wardrobe that offered a work/life balance. Having done that, I made the commitment to only wear the thirty-three pieces I had selected for a month. The rest of the items from my closet were removed and stored out of the way. Today marks one month since my resolution and I’m excited to share with you what I learned through this experience.  


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A Beginners Guide to Capsule Wardrobes

I have to confess - it takes me a lot longer than necessary to put an outfit together in the morning, mostly because I have an overstuffed closet full of clothes, shoes, and accessories. After analyzing my wardrobe and daily routine, I realized that I was wasting valuable time and adding unwanted stress to my day. I don’t have a minimalist lifestyle, although it’s something I have considered, and maybe the effort of creating a capsule wardrobe will lead me to embrace minimalism. So, with that thought in mind and considering the following benefits, I embarked on a journey of creating my own capsule wardrobe.


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Sewing New Futures

Your family is supposed to be your safety net. Whether you define “family” as those related to you by blood or people you’ve chosen for yourself, these individuals create the community that you can count on to help you in times of need. Unfortunately, not all families live up to their definition. The team at Sewing New Futures (SNF) witnesses this firsthand in their work in India where they encounter many young women who have been sold into prostitution by their family. As hard as this can be to wrap our minds around, the economic confines of these girls’ lives are so restrictive that many times they had no other option. We asked Kristin Braddock, a member of the SNF team to explain to us how SNF came to be, and how the opportunities they are creating are changing the lives of the women in the community.



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Thrifting as a Form of Ethical Fashion

When you hear the words “thrift store,” the next thing to pop into your head might be associations like, “eclectic,” “old,” “cheap,” “grandma’s closet,” or maybe something not as nice. Probably the last thing you think of is the word “ethical.”

“Ethical?” You’re thinking. “I mean, I understand environmentally friendly, and good for the wallet, but ethical?”

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The Tote Project: Hope You Can Hold

Handbags, clutches, satchels, oh my! As women, we carry our bags and purses with us everywhere we go, and consequently we carry a little bit of our lives with us everywhere as well. There are countless “what’s in your bag” features on the internet and social media today, and as a society, we appear to be obsessed with what our purse contents reveal about us. But what would happen if we cared just as much, if not more, about what the creation of our bags and purses said about us as we do their contents?


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An Honest Review of ThredUp

A great alternative to purchasing from stores that may be engaging in forced labor is to shop secondhand. With more aspects of our lives undergoing the shift from physical to virtual, locating worthwhile thrift stores - and finding the time to visit them - is becoming increasingly challenging, not to mention the process of digging through unorganized racks of clothing in search of your size can be a frustrating and ultimately fruitless endeavor. This is where web-based secondhand clothing stores have begun to gain their relevance and popularity. One of such stores is thredUP, an extensive virtual marketplace that has been providing shoppers with easy access to women’s and children’s clothing and accessories since 2009, subsequently earning the title of the world’s largest online thrift and consignment store.


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Branded Collective: Wear a Number to Restore a Name

The first thing I noticed about my email interaction with Lauren Carpenter of Branded Collective was that it was signed “Lauren Carpenter (#0100)”. Lauren, along with Emily Landham, co-founded one of Dressember’s newest brand partners, BRANDED Collective, an extraordinary company working to empower human trafficking survivors. After having the opportunity to chat with Lauren, her unusual email signature - and the weighty meaning of that number - not only became clear but profoundly inspiring as well.


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A Shopper's Guide to Ethical and Fair Trade

When shopping, especially for food and clothing, most people prioritize price and quality above all else, but more and more people are shopping for goods with their ethical values in mind. Instead of purchasing the lowest priced good, many are going one step further and checking the label for where something was made. Many of us have begun to ask ourselves, “Who made this, and how do they live?” Sometimes we know what brands to trust or can clearly see their values reflected in their labels.

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Tenfold Collective: 'Being fashionable never meant so much'

As a Dressember advocate, Misty Burton knew how a dress could change the world. 2017 was her first year participating in Dressember after sitting on the sidelines watching a friend, Lindsey Cunningham, lead a team for years. When her heart started breaking about human trafficking, she knew she had no choice but to join Lindsey’s team, Blooming Hopefuls! She met her goal of raising $350 in one day with the help of 12 friends. The next day, she raised her goal to $1,500. By December 12th, she raised it once again to $5,000.

Misty always wanted to start her own business, but had some trouble self-starting. She got the idea to sell leather earrings when Lindsey gifted her a pair she loved. Thinking they couldn’t be too hard to make, Misty made a few imperfect pairs that she gifted to friends.

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Mata Traders: Celebrating the Female Creative Power

We come in contact with clothing every day of our lives. From the pajamas we wear to bed, to the dresses and heels we wear when we go out on Friday night, our clothing is a way to express who we are. So wouldn’t it be great if there was a clothing company that not only cared about the end product but was also deeply connected and involved with the entire production process? An organization that would produce clothing pieces that you not only look amazing in but that you can feel amazing about wearing, because you know exactly who made them and where they came from? One company that does just that is Mata Traders.


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A Look Inside the Cotton Industry

Over the past several months, though, I have learned about fast fashion, which is the term used for all the stylish pieces and designs that are constantly being pushed out by retailers for our consumption. The output is largely composed of cotton. Despite the increasing world consumption of the fiber (reaching around 100 million bales in 2016 alone), cotton producers feel enormous pressure to compete with lower-priced synthetic fibers. Therefore, they constantly search for cheaper labor to remain competitive in the market.


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Sudara: Opportunity for a Beautiful Life

Since 2006, Sudara has employed over 2,000 women through their sewing center partnerships throughout India and several nearby countries, empowering former sex workers and high-risk women with a means to support themselves and their families. The name Sudara is inspired by a Sanskrit word that means “beautiful” and describes what the lives of the women and their families are able to become.


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UNCVRD: Jewelry to End Slavery

Five years ago, Jen Bedrossian was just learning about the horrors of human trafficking and didn’t know what she could do to help stop it. “My eyes were opened, and I felt compelled to do something,” she says.

At the same time, Jen was considering starting her own business. She had studied ancient Roman archaeology and was now working at a museum. From an early age, Jen collected dozens of rocks, examining each one for the natural beauty it contained. For months, she tried to think of a way to join the fight to end human trafficking while pursuing a new, creative business venture.

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Fashion Revolution Week

In a desperate attempt to make myself believe that it is spring (despite the snow that is currently falling over Chicago), I have entered into a bit of a spring-cleaning frenzy and have spent the past few days slowly sorting through my closet, finding articles of clothing that I never wear to get rid of. This process of digging through small mountains of t-shirts and sweaters has repeatedly led me to wonder: Where do clothes came from? Who made them? And in what conditions were they made?

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Freeset USA: Creating Freedom Fashion

Here at Dressember, we believe in the power of collaboration. Today we are highlighting one of our amazing brand partners: Freeset USA! Freeset USA is a fair trade clothing company in West Bengal, India, working hard to offer an empowering alternative to generational trafficking, breaking harmful cycles and bringing the light of freedom to enslaved women. 

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ENAT: Creating Consciousness & Kindness

A few years ago, I remember watching a video clip from “The True Cost,” a documentary focused on the lack of environmental and social sustainability in fashion. The clip indicated that the average American throws away approximately 80 pounds of textile waste each year. That totals to about 11 million tons of waste for the United States alone. Most textiles aren’t biodegradable, which means they sit in landfills for at least 200 years, releasing harmful gases into the air. However, textiles can be repurposed into a number of different things and about 95% of textiles can be recycled. Instead of focusing on the negative environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry, I’m re-directing the spotlight onto ENAT, a line of life-ready leather goods and jewelry, consciously and sustainably produced in Ethiopia. Their mission is to make sustainable, recycled and upcycled products the new norm.

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Trades of Hope: Empowering Artisan Groups

If you raised $250 or more this past Dressember, you qualified to receive gifts from Trades of Hope. As you begin receiving your beautiful jewelry from them, here's a highlight on some of the amazing artisanal groups that handcrafted your advocate prizes.

With each passing day more organizations are stepping into the forefront and speaking out against the industry. One of the ways that companies are rejecting fast fashion is by intentionally working to empower artisans (skilled trade workers who usually make products by hand).

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