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Before and After: How Buying Slow Fashion Can Turn Lives Around

Posted: Aug 01 2016

Our thirst for fashion is insatiable. There is no shortage of demand, and the unfortunate fact is that fast fashion exploits innocent children and talented artisans all over the world, denying them the dignity and livelihood that they deserve.

Even though large corporations that bring you cheap seasonal fashion claim to not tolerate the abuses of garment workers, many of the links between the Stateside corporations and the factories that produce the items are broken at best; at worst, owners at the top turn a blind eye. Even with the best of intentions, the complex network of middlemen used in large-scale fast fashion production often all but eliminates oversight when you get to the local level.

When you think of your own livelihood--your skills, talent and time devoted to supporting yourself and your family--it is a blessing that you are compensated fairly, work in a safe environment, have good food to eat and opportunity for your children. It is not a privilege or a different right--It is what is fair. But for thousands of people like us in other countries, their basic rights and needs are left unmet despite their hard work and skill.

It may not feel like you can do much to stop the behemoth fast fashion monster, but believe it or not, you can easily and directly impact the lives of deserving women and men by doing a little simple research to buy from retailers that offer fair trade goods. Need some inspiration? Here is just one of hundreds of stories of how lives are changed by purchasing differently.


Kallie, a founding partner of 31bits--one of our own designers and producers of gorgeous and fun jewelry--went on a life-changing trip to Uganda just after college. She met women who grew up in a war and had nothing.

"They were single moms with no education and no job, and they were our age. OUR AGE. Our lives couldn’t look more different.

What the women lacked in education, they made up for in skill and resourcefulness. They were making incredible jewelry out of old posters. Kallie brought a box of the jewelry back, and we fell in love instantly. We sold the jewelry to friends and ran out within weeks. That’s when it hit us. These women had a skill, but needed a market. We lived in dorms and apartments filled with people who would love this stuff! Together, we could make a business."

Today, 31bits is operating a five-year holistic development program in Uganda. Before, these women were single mothers in dangerous refugee camps filled with disease and poverty. Now, "each woman receives health education, finance training, counseling, and business training. She belongs to a community where she can earn an income, be educated, and dream for her future. After five years in our program, the women graduate, leaving with an education, a career, social equity, confidence, and a voice. We now have 120 women in our program whose lives are changed. Their children’s lives are changed. Their community is changed."

By easily diverting your purchase of a new bag or colorful necklace to retailers who offer slow fashion, not only can you set yourself apart with a unique style, you can be an integral part of a heartwarming before-and-after story.

Tell us how you feel when you're wearing a slow fashion piece in the comments below!

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