Ethical Fashion Blog



My name is Ashley and I am a journalist at Columbia College Chicago.  I am currently writing a story on fair trade accessories and I was looking for some comments to add to the story.  I was wondering if you could tell me why you think fair trade is so important.  Any information you have will help.  Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you.


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Mata Traders is a fair trade fashion company, and we take both parts of that description very seriously.  Our clothes and jewelry are manufactured by women’s cooperatives and artisan groups in developing countries that pay fair wages and provide safe working conditions.  Our designs mix old-fashioned processes–such as hand loom weaving and hand block printing–with fashion-forward silhouettes and contemporary color palettes. Mata’s mission is to bring fair trade clothing to the forefront of the fashion industry–and to bring fashion to fair trade.

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Our Charity of the Month for December is RefugeeOne, an organization that creates opportunities for refugees fleeing war, terror, and persecution to build new lives of safety, dignity and self-reliance.  We found out about their important work through one of our important customers (they’re all important!!).  Sarah Holtschlag works at RefugeeOne and came by our office/warehouse one day where she delighted us with stories of Mata connections.  We’ll let her retell them in her own words.

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You might have noticed (here and here) that we have a thing for Project Runway.  The truth is that we have a thing for reality TV in general (Survivor, Amazing Race, Design Star, and yes, even the Bachelor/ette), but we really, really love Project Runway.

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Small Business Saturday is an alternative to Black Friday when Americans are encouraged to patronize small businesses rather than big box stores.  Last year, to promote Small Business Saturday, American Express had a video competition for small businesses.  I forget what the prize was exactly, but it was good and we wanted to win it.  So we wrote up a script and practiced a bunch.  The best video camera we had was on Taylor’s iPhone, so we shot it on that.  Most of the other videos submitted only had the owner talking about the business, so we thought we stood out by including the whole staff.  To our chagrin, we didn’t get selected.

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Your Handmade Garment, from Start to Finish

In September, Kristin and I visited the women’s cooperative in Nepal that makes many of our dresses, tops, and pants.  It was so amazing to get to know the women and see the whole process.  I hope these photos and video clips convey that.

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Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  It’s one of the few times that we can all tap into our inner child, dress up, and eat lots of candy.  And who doesn’t love candy?  But recently I learned that much of the chocolate handed out to children on Halloween is produced using child labor.  (For more information, click here.)  Let’s ensure that all children have a truly happy Halloween by supporting fair trade chocolate producers and avoiding chocolate that uses child labor.

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Sunita was an artisan, making jewelry by hand, with a horrible boss who would often pay her less than what she was owed or would delay payment or wouldn’t pay her at all.  If she tried to contest, he would shoot her down with his “abusive manner of talking,” as she puts it.  She dealt with it for a long time because she was poor and needed the money. She had no education and didn’t think she had any other options.  Then, six years ago, she found out about our jewelry partner, a 40-year-old advocacy organization supporting artisans in their efforts to secure labor rights through fair trade.

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Color Inspiration; Fall 2012

Mata Traders does it once again.  Their color inspiration for this season was heavily deco-inspired.  They are calling it ‘Romantic Folk Style’.  The prints are modern and architectural, but the colors are soft and cozy – a great juxtaposition.  Each piece is injected with romance, each color combination is down-right pretty.  They beg to be layered up and worn on crisp fall days, or adorned with jewels and donned to a fancy party.  Mata’s Fall 2012 collection leaves you wanting more!

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