Six years ago today, the bodies of 1,138 garment factory workers were found amongst the rubble of what was once a commercial complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh known as The Rana Plaza Collapse. The tragedy, enabled by political corruption and fueled by corporate greed, is the deadliest garment factory collapse in history. In addition to the death toll, there was more than 2,500 workers injured, most of who were women and children.
(image by http://www.made.uk.com/blog/rana-plaza-a-year-on/)
For the first time ever, this tragedy-shed light into a very real global problem - that fashion can be deadly. In response to the disaster and the international conversation around the social impact, two designers from the UK, Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro, founded Fashion Revolution.
Fashion Revolution is a non-profit organization committed to enacting genuine change and encouraging transparency in the fashion industry. The organization has designated the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh as Fashion Revolution Week where millions of people around the world call on brands to answer the question, “Who Made My Clothes,” by using the #whomademyclothes via social media.
There has been progress made, but the same issues that caused the plaza collapse five years still exist today. Last year alone, there were 426 garment workers die in a total of 321 workplace incidents. We can’t stop our work until people stop dying in factories, and on an even more basic level, start being treated fairly. Consumers may be more critical and brands more conscious, but a genuine long-term change means continual engagement in our efforts and in long-term systemic change.
Want to know more ways to get involved? From altering your buying habits to writing your policymaker, click the link below for a more comprehensive list of ways to support this organization and the movement towards a more transparent future in fashion.
If you’re like us, you may be chomping at the bit to pack away all those heavy sweaters and layering pieces in your perfectly curated plastic bins under your bed. This is a gentle reminder to hold your horses, Turbo. With this highly unpredictable weather, you’re going to need to leave out some winter wardrobe staples that can seamlessly transition you between the extremes right now. Here are a few standard (and ethical) pieces we suggest keeping around just for funsies until Mother Nature makes her mind up on what season she wants it to be.
This could be a jean jacket, a bomber, a blazer or an army jacket – but the point is it gives you more warmth than a cardigan. In fact, you can wear it over a cardigan or a sweater if need be. A light jacket is still a must for those random blistery days or cold mornings.
(A bomb(er) jacket from Everlane in just the right shade of army green)
(A classic jean jacket from Able that you can wear with literally anything)
Quarter Sleeve Sweaters/shirts
Every lady needs some shirts/sweaters with ¾ length sleeves because you can wear it during the colder months AND during these tricky transition months! Pair a scarf with any of these pretties and you’re ready for whatever temperature the day brings!
(Our Farrah Sweater has been on repeat the last few weeks. Good thing she comes in three different colors)
(Our Hattie Sweater has been marked down! Pom poms aren't just for cheerleaders, anymore.)
The true telltale sign of spring is exposing one’s feet. If we’re honest, we’re actually grateful for a little more time to get these talons under control. A good pair of ankle booties can be paired with skirts, dresses, skinny’s, or even shorts – so keep them out and keep them on for the next few weeks! Here’s a few you might just fall in love with!
(A classic black and grey bootie from Root Collective that creates jobs for men and women in Guatemala)
(Found these in our online clothing swap this week for $20! If you aren't a part of a clothing swap - find one. They're magical)
This may be an old wives tale, but rumor has it hats help keep your body temperature from escaping through your cabeza (i.e that's head in spanish). They also help hide bad/non-wash hair days. Plus, you can take them off if/when temperatures start to climb giving you a stylish, layering option. So basically we don't see the downside of wearing a hat.
(Everyone could use a good pop of color near their eyes. Try this beanie from Krochet Kids)
(We usually have luck finding hats in vintage stores, but we just found Yellow 108 and are in L-O-V-E )
Photoshoot days when you are a 1 woman show is like drinking out of a fire hydrant. Well, almost every day with a new company is like that actually. You feel overwhelmed by your endless To-Do list. You wonder how you'll actually be able to pull it off this time. And yet, somehow by the grace of God it comes together. You get enough done. You've survived another day.
The juggernaut of all brands, Nike, is cutting its retailers from 30,000 to about 40. That’s right 4-0. Why does this matter? Because it reinforces why I started a small batch, limited edition apparel company. And what is the reason for such a big shift in their business? There’s likely a multitude of reasons, but here are some of my theories:
First, in a world constantly seeking what’s next, new or special, mass retail has become toxic in its overexposure. It boils down to basic economics. Everyone knows that scarcity can lead to an increase in demand and a greater sense of value for an item. Nike realizes this and is taking the hard, yet necessary steps to get them back to covet-worthy status; which will include scaling back on availability and access. I bet creating FOMO is literally written in their Marketing strategy!
“The Amazon Effect”). A recent Forbes article stated the attributes desired for products by the once largest generation (the Baby Boomers) when they were in their purchasing prime as:
- Mass distribution
- Associated with status
However, the Millennial and Gen Z consumers of today’s time want different values associated with their products including:
- Ethically made, with fair salaries paid to everyone in the supply chain
- Environmentally friendly
- Convenient (i.e. Online with easy returns)
As you can see, there’s a stark difference in what consumers of today want in their products and Nike is making some serious shifts to align better with those.
In fact, these values are shifting all of big box retail. All this adds up to people placing less value on having access to a wide selection — the very advantage that big box stores leverage. In order to survive, they all need to start making big plays like Nike to focus more of their efforts online or host more immersive, memorable, share-worthy experiences. Because let’s face it, if you can’t gram it than did it really even happen?
I’m excited to own and operate an online specialty store in retail’s changing landscape. And I’m glad Trove fits the bill for some of the very values that consumers want out of their products these days. I have a long way to go to measure up to the titans of retail, but I’m committed to evolving to better serve our customers however and wherever I can. Until then, let’s remain uncompromising in our values, especially when it comes to where and how we shop.
Gals. I have to admit, I didn’t know if we were going to pull this one off! We have been working on it behind the scenes for months and kept running into hurdles. We had samples arrive reeeeallly late in the process. We had to make adjustments to them on the fly. We had a vital person on the patternmaking side in Nepal lose a family member, thus leaving the sewing center for an extended period of time. And our photographer cancelled the night before our photoshoot! So it was with complete and utter joy and exhaustion that our Dhaka Collection launched on Monday!
But ya know, when I think about it…that’s really been the story of Trove all along. There have been hurdles every step of the way. There has always been something or someone who makes me think, “Can I actually really do this?" Starting your own business is no joke. It isn’t for the faint of heart or those who throw in the towel easily, that’s for dang sure! It literally involves problem solving and critical thinking skills and master/ninja warrior multi-tasking skills on the daily. Alas, we are still here and have managed to create another beautiful collection with some of our dear friends from Elegantees and the sewing center in Nepal!
First things first, we arrived at Parlor Beauty Bar at 7am ready for beautification. You know when you meet someone and you feel like you’ve known them for years already? That’s how I felt when I met the Founder, Charlotte. Having recently opened her doors as well, we related to each other on so many levels. We laughed at the scrappiness of our personalities, how we have little to no budget to make everything look and feel beautiful, how long days and nights have us looking haggard (hey new friend with beauty secrets) and how roping in your friends for ALL THE FAVORS is just part of it. She’s a complete gem and her one-stop styling lounge can cover any/all of your beauty needs. Please drop in and meet the ladies there – I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Next, we headed over to our location site in Austin called, Malverde. Many people haven’t heard of this hidden treasure and I don’t know how! It’s a bar and events venue directly above La Condesa and it has the most adorable outside patio with all the plants and pots and candle lit tables your little heart could ever want. I have been eyeing this spot for years trying to figure out how to take some pretty pictures of it and in it! When I determined the timing of the Dhaka launch and how it would be transitioning us into the fall season, I immediately thought of this venue’s gorgeous rust and moss wall outside and knew we had to shoot here.
Our photographer Brandon Hill was already on-site, doing what he does - prepping, setting up, testing lighting, making everything and everyone feel calm. Meanwhile I’m a frazzled mess of eyelashes and hair that is teased so high it could talk to Jesus in the heavens at this point. Brandon and I met about a year ago over coffee and our passion for all things fair trade. At the time, he was recording a podcast and interviewing some people who worked in the fair trade space. I remember sharing with him that day my dreams of launching Trove in the next year and I’ll never forget his genuine excitement for me. If you know Brandon, you know he is smart and capable and curious - all traits that I admire and also aspire to embody. I also just like people who own who they are. Not to be sexist, but I like that he’s a straight male who loves ethical fashion. Head to Europe and you’ll find plenty of Renaissance men, but for some reason that’s rare in American culture.
(Behind the scenes photo by: Bela Coto)
Brandon actually believes in ethical fashion so much that he recently founded a company called The People Label that will connect those in the ethical goods space to digital influencers who are interested in repping more socially conscious brands. That’s a game changer for us do-gooder brands! Needless to say, I’m excited to continue working with Brandon on multiple levels. I’m also happy he agreed to do a shoot with me on less than 24 hours notice and completely knocked the photography out of the park!
Our day continued with all the hustle and bustle any shoot would. In my true transparent form, I’m not here to paint a picture of deception for you. People assume that photoshoots are all bougie and glamorous when in all reality, they are grueling hard work. Having produced Noonday Collection's photoshoot for the past four years, I'm familiar with all the hard work it takes to pull off an incredible final product. There are a multitude of little stressors that have the propensity to send you over the edge at any moment if you let them. There are fans and light reflectors being whisked around for different shots. Sweat and sometimes even tears. There are models getting cut out of dresses (true story) and hair being re-tousled and moussified into submission. In the end though, it’s almost always worth it!
(Behind the scenes photo by: Bela Coto)
And so, behold, our Dhaka Collection from Nepal! It was a collection that was inspired by the notion of being dressed up, not made up. There’s a clear distinction for these two things in today’s time. We want to be polished, but not overly done. We’re not (and not trying to be) a high-end, luxury market brand. We're trying to be fun, mostly casual, functional, responsible and affordable. And we’re here to laugh at ourselves when we get in wrong. But I think we really did get it right on this collection!
Meet Manish, the manager of the sewing center in Nepal known as Kingdom Hope Garments (KHG) that we collaborate with to create our Nepal collections.
Manish came by this job unexpectedly. The previous facility manager was threatened so much by the local traffickers, he had to flee the country – leaving Manish in charge. You see local traffickers are volatile towards any individual or organization that interferes with their work, or worse, their workers. They will go to terrifying lengths to ensure those who are trying to help remedy the trafficking problem in Nepal are threatened or harmed. Therefore, we do not want to disclose any further personal information about Manish as we want to ensure his safety in Nepal.
What we can share with you is that Manish is a cheerful and resourceful man. We have had many questions and challenges as we try and source in a new country with a new partner and he has navigated them all. Without the opportunity to travel to meet everyone in KHG yet, we have had to rely on his sourcing prowess and sense of style in helping us obtain the materials we need in order to create a collection. We have shared several late night Facebook sessions with Manish selecting fabrics from the market as he virtually shops with us!
Manish has already gone to great lengths to ensure we create pieces that we not only love, but that we know will sell in the American market. For example, one time in the weeeee hours of the morning we could not find any real Dhaka that we liked through our virtual shopping. Real Dhaka is woven on both sides by hand and exudes all the vibrancy and colors of the individual threads it’s composed of.
Printed Dhaka however is now more common in the marketplace in Nepal, because it’s cheaper and easier to produce than real Dhaka. Alas, it is only printed on one side, and to us, not as beautiful. Instead of giving up on the search and asking us to settle, without telling us, Manish hopped on a plane and started shopping in a market in the next city!
Manish is a leader not only at KHG, but within his community. At KHG, he is a sound businessman who looks for operational flaws and system efficiencies. He keeps production smooth, seamless and on time. He is our lead correspondent on all communication with the group and helps determine pricing that is fair for both the sewing center and their clients.
In his community, it’s not easy to stand up for something that could risk you and your family’s lives. With his level of talent and social acumen, he could easily work in another industry. But to be adamantly and publicly against the trafficking problems that exist within Nepal is brave, to say the least. We honor him for this and we know the women at the sewing center do to.