Showing up

An important part of fair trade is showing up. Email and Skype are not enough. Building meaningful, long-lasting, face-to-face relationships with our suppliers is part of our manifesto. That often means sticking with each other through good times and bad, and learning from the bad times to build something even stronger.

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We visited our main supplier in Peru earlier this month to work on some pretty exciting things.

 

First, starting this fall, the mill that knits, dyes, and washes our fabrics will be GOTS-certified (Global Organic Textile Standard) – the first and only fabric mill in Peru to achieve this very stringent standard. Our organic cotton fiber has always been GOTS-certified; our dyes have always been certified safe too. But this piece certifies the process is as safe as can be.

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Second, we’ve wanted to do this for a long time, but now we’re very close. 100% bio-degradable and compostable bags for our clothes! Until now, an elusive clincher in trying to build the Greenest Tees on Earth.

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In the midst of all this excitement, we faced some pretty serious challenges in finishing up our spring production. It should have shipped in early March. As you may have heard, Peru is experiencing  historically heavy rains and other weather that’s causing heartbreaking devastation, mainly in mountain towns.

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The coastal capital Lima, where our main workshop is, was not directly affected by the rains but is experiencing record-setting heat and humidity in a city that’s usually pretty dry and mild, thanks to the cold Humbolt Current. Most buildings don’t have or need air conditioning, but this past month the heat became unbearable to work in later in the afternoon. Our employees worked shorter shifts.

 

And last week, just as we were in the home stretch, the rivers near Lima overflowed their banks due to the rain upstream. This overwhelmed the city’s water utility and contaminated the water, which had to be shut off for all but a few hours a day as the city crews worked overtime to re-purify the water.

 

Roads connecting Lima to surrounding communities were often impassible, including a road that connects our embroidery facility with our main workshop. A couple thousand pieces became stranded at the embroidery facility as a result.

 

All of this is really nothing. I hesitate to even connect “late production” with what’s happening in Peru right now. (Here are some ways to help). The inconvenience we’re feeling can’t be compared to the wrenching situation so many are facing. Everyone in our workshop is safe, with only the relatively mild inconvenience of the their water being turned off for much of the day.

 

Today we are finishing up the shipment and should have it out the door tomorrow. So if you notice several “coming soon” items on our website, and other items with limited colors and sizes, thank you for hanging tight while these amazingly strong, industrious, and big-hearted folks push it over the finish line.

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Our Manifesto

From time to time we like to review our manifesto to make sure it accurately reflects the values we set out to live by. Other than going back and forth on the Oxford comma, it has pretty much endured intact. We hope it rings true for what you’re looking for too.

 

WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

When fashion is done well, we all prosper. Informed people like you, farmers, herders, garment workers, and the earth we all share.

We believe in BUYING LOCAL as a first choice. When not an option, we believe in choosing FAIR TRADE as often as possible.

Fair Trade means workers are PAID FAIRLY, treated with DIGNITY AND RESPECT, and afforded the means to a HAPPY LIFE.

We believe FAIR TRADE CLOTHING should not only be ethically made, but also thoughtfully designed, beautifully constructed, and fairly priced.

We choose ORGANIC COTTON and EARTH-FRIENDLY MATERIALS whenever possible.

In a world drowning in disposable clothing, we believe SUSTAINABLE FASHION starts with QUALITY fabrics and construction that endure for years.

 We believe a sustainable wardrobe should lean heavily on TIMELESS STYLE, not ‘fast fashion’ fads.

We believe a SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS is built on a foundation of TRUST and lasting RELATIONSHIPS. With our suppliers and with our customers.

And we firmly believe that all of us can CHANGE THE WORLD. Just by changing our clothes.

Longevity

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An often overlooked but critically important element of sustainable clothing is longevity. First, will it last longer than a couple of seasons? Second, do you truly want it to – is it something you’ll wear now and for a long time to come?

 

At Fair Indigo, longevity is always top-of-mind. We use premium yarns and fabrics that will endure through years of wash & wear with minimal pilling. We pre-wash most of our fabrics so the shrinking is done prior to sewing. This uncommon and not inexpensive process prevents shrinking, twisting, and puckering after you wash it

 

And we carefully design each piece to get serious mileage – timeless style that’s Forever in Fashion. It feels great to stop chasing fads and start building a sustainable minimalist wardrobe that’s for keeps.

 

Furoshiki!

Try this easy, eco-friendly alternative to wrapping paper. Here’s an ingenious idea you might like if you want to avoid being knee-deep in wrapping paper this season. It’s based on a centuries-old Japanese fabric folding technique called furoshiki that lets you wrap objects in a piece of cloth – or, as we suggest in an Envirosax Bag. It might look a bit daunting, but watch this video for a quick demonstration. And the bonus with using Envirosax bags instead of simple fabric? The wrapping paper is a gift in itself!

Farewell, Fast Fashion

For the better part of this century, Fast Fashion has been one of the few apparel industry “success” stories. That is, if you define success as corporate dictated fashion trends, completely new looks every month or so, and addictingly low prices that make it possible to take part in the whole thing. H&M, Forever 21, Zara, Old Navy. Brands like these normalized the $10 t-shirt.

But the human and ecological effects of Fast Fashion have been catastrophic for our planet and many of its people. That’s because we’re buying an eye-popping five times as much clothing as we did in 1980. And why wouldn’t we? In 1990, the average price of a basic t-shirt in today’s dollar was around $38. Today it’s just over $14.

There’s a high cost for these low prices. To get a $14 tee, someone had to be paid a lot less than a living wage. It’s math and it’s not complicated. In fact, that $14 tee probably earned the garment worker in a country like Bangladesh twelve cents, according to a study by Macleans Canada.

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In other words, for every hundred dollars you spend on clothing, less than a dollar goes to the human being who worked really hard to make it.

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And apparel is well-documented as one of the most environmentally demanding industries in the world – so buying five times as much is obviously a big burden on our planet.

Films like The True Cost have started raising awareness of an apparel industry that many consumers erroneously believe was cleaned up when Kathy Lee Gifford discovered the sweatshops being used to make her clothing line in the 1990’s.

But things may be slowly changing. More and more of you are telling us you’re growing tired of Fast Fashion and the herd mentality that it perpetuates. That you’re seeking quality over quantity. And fashion that lasts longer than a Netflix binge.

We hear you and we welcome you with open arms. Our remedy is a fully evolved sort of fashion that is different from start to finish.

It usually starts with pure organic Pima cotton from a family farm on the coastal plains of Ica, Peru – hands down among the finest, softest, strongest cotton on earth. And longest lasting.

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Most of our fabrics are pre-washed at the fabric stage (not the garment stage). This time-consuming step is not common in the industry, but it insures that not only are styles pre-shrunk, they will also avoid much of the puckering that can happen around the seams with repeated washes where sewing threads shrink at different rates than the fabric. Pima cotton also resists pilling, wash after wash. Many of our customers report that they’ve owned the same tee or dress for years and it still looks like new.

Then there’s the people side of things. We work with a bustling family business that provides clean work, fair pay, and hope to hundreds of employees and cooperative owners around Peru. Wife and husband team Elsa and Javier of Lima walk the talk of fair trade. Employees and coop owners and their children are truly like family and are treated as such.

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The final remedy to Fast Fashion is what we like to call “Forever in Fashion.” Style that transcends the slavish fashion world, colors of the year, and the latest Must Have This or That. (Must have says who?) Styles that will look as great today as they will a few years from now. And that will wash and wear long enough to prove it. Landfills take note.

So farewell, Fast Fashion. It’s time for something slower, more meaningful, and satisfying. A long-term relationship with our clothes. www.fairindigo.com

 

 

 

 

The Keyboards to Success

You’ve made a big difference – thank you! 

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The start of a new school year at Serapis School in Cajamarca, Peru brought a welcome surprise to students returning from break – a computer lab equipped with six computers, two printers and a projector! A celebration including a ribbon cutting ceremony was met with cheers as the 45 students attending Serapis couldn’t wait to get their little fingers on the keyboards and mice and begin learning skills that will help them succeed in our technology-dependent world.

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The computer equipment was a gift from Elsa and Javier, our partners in Lima, Peru, who make our Joobles and Fair Indigo Organic Knits. Javier explained the motivation behind the gift: “para que los niños aprendan a usarlas y por fin pueden ingresar al siglo 21…for children to learn to use and at long last enter the 21st century.”

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The Fair Indigo Foundation has partnered with Elsa and Javier to support Serapis, an elementary school in the high Andes of northern Peru. Before Javier and his brother started the school, children had to walk several miles down the mountain to the nearest school, resulting in well-under-potential attendance and graduation rates. The Foundation helps support the school by providing funds for teachers’ salaries, school supplies and books, and building improvements including indoor bathrooms. The Foundation is funded by $5 donations at checkout and the support of Fair Indigo.

This is huge! After getting electricity installed last year, having computers and projectors is a major leap forward in these kids’ and this community’s lives. Thank you!