Global Goods Partners Connects Shoppers With Artisan Made Products, Changing Women’s Lives Around The World

Global Goods Partners

The following piece is a guest post by Malerie Thiel from Global Goods Partners, an organization that works with artisan communities to bring beautiful handmade products to US consumers.


 By Malerie Thiel

It’s no secret that poverty affects communities across the world, especially women and children in the Global South. This high rate of poverty can be explained by a lack of resources necessary to rise out of it, such as marketable skills, access to childcare, and even basic needs such as food and clean water. Some women are able to find work in artisan communities, but these groups are often unable to reach consumers who can afford to pay the artisans a living wage. This is where Global Goods Partners comes in.


Global Goods Partners is a non-profit organization that specializes in partnering with artisan communities in the Global South and providing access to the US market. We work with nearly 40 associations, cooperatives and social enterprises worldwide that integrate their commitment to community development—such as improvements in education, health, women’s rights, and employment opportunities—with socially responsible income-generating programs in craft development. GGP works exclusively through local organizations, so none of the work disrupts the community or negatively affects other artisans trying to make a living. This way the focus is entirely on the needs of the community; not building a foreign business that competes with other impoverished citizens.



Luxe Afghan Silk Chiffon Scarf


Our development model centers on supporting local women leaders and democratically governed organizations; promoting empowerment through economic development; and reaching the most marginalized populations.  GGP provides technical assistance, product development, operational expertise and small capacity building grants to our community based partners. With this support, GGP is empowering women to create sustainable change—advancing the health and wellbeing of their families and communities.


Each of the groups we work with must meet certain criteria before we enter into a partnership. Above all, they must follow fair trade practices, which means providing fair living wages and safe and healthy working conditions. In addition to offering sustainable jobs and income, we look for each of our partners to demonstrate fiduciary responsibility, high quality standards and effective management of their operations. Understandably, some of our partners need support in these areas and GGP provides a wide range of training targeted to our partners’ specific needs including technical assistance, product development, operational expertise and small capacity building grants. Every dollar that is not spent in marketing, shipping, and overhead, is cycled straight back into the community, providing economic empowerment and a healthy lifestyle for the deserving artisans.


Carved Chevron Bracelets

Carved Chevron Bracelets made from recycled plastic pipes

GGP sponsors several communities dedicated to using traditional practices to create modern products, providing them with the chance to celebrate heritage while supporting themselves and their families. An example of this is the Tigmi Bag Association, located in the small, southern village of Tigmijjou, Morocco. Citizens of Tigmijjou found their primary source of income by weaving mats from water reed, a practice that goes back hundreds of years. However, with the invention of cheap plastic the market for woven mats disappeared, leaving the community with no outlet for their weaving and no income, until one member of the community figured out that the local weaving practice could be used to create fashionable market bags. This lead to the creation of the Tigmi Bag, which allowed artisans of Tigmijjou to continue using their traditional water reed weaving customs while creating a fashionable product and a new source of revenue.


Other communities incorporate traditional practices into their work as well, such as Rose Ann Hall Designs with grabado glass etching, the traditional weaving and dying practices of Maya Traditions, and African grass weaving of Gone Rural. Each of these partners form customary art into a marketable skill, creating a living for hundred of artisans.


Rose Ann Hall Designs candle with grabado etching


Without income, without being economically empowered, women’s potential goes unrealized. Research shows and our experience supports the well-known truism that women direct their earning power to their family’s well-being, using almost of all the money they earn to advance their children’s health, nutrition and education. The inspiration to launch GGP came from the talented and tireless women we have met across the globe. We saw the opportunity to serve as the bridge between the western marketplace and the poor, often isolated communities where beautiful handmade products are made.


To shop our handmade, fair trade products and support hundreds of talented women throughout the Global South, please visit Any questions or comments can be directed to or tweeted to @GlobalGoods.

‘Made in the U.S.A.’ Clothing Is Not An Extinct Species Yet

It’s no news that much of the clothing we buy is made outside of the USA, but just how much of it is made outside the USA may be surprising to some. Zady, the online store for sustainably made products created the below infographic to show consumers just how much the state of apparel manufacturing has changed in the USA. Made in America clothing is not an extinct species, but it’s on the endangered list.

Here are a few of the facts:

  •  In the 1960s, 95% of the clothing that Americans wore was American-made. Today that number is less than 3%.
  • Texas is the leading cotton-producing state. In 2014, the U.S. produced more than 16 million bales of cotton, 30% (more than 4,800,000 bales) of this coming from Texas.
  • People will pay extra to buy American. More than 60 percent of all respondents indicated they’d buy American-made clothes and appliances even if those cost 10 percent more than imported versions; more than 25 percent said they’d pay at least an extra 20 percent.
  • Employment in the apparel manufacturing industry has declined by more than 80 percent (from about 900,000 to 150,000 jobs) over the past two decades.

So this 4th of July weekend (and really every other day) in celebration of America, let’s all shop made in America and support people right here at home.

Zady Made In The USA

infographic by Zady

Sew Fab: A Young Girls Guide To Sewing and Style

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 2.05.23 PM SewFab_Chapter1_opener


Fashion can be so fab. The fun and intrigue that comes with discovering new styles, designers, and fashion icons can leave a lasting sense of wonder and ignite a a life-long passion. And it’s no secret that young girls love fashion and are drawn to it early on. One aspect missing from the fashion discovery period for young girls is learning how to sew and make actual clothing, a crucial step in bringing fashion to life.

But now young girls can turn to SEW FAB, a style and sewing workbook for aspiring fashionistas. Author Lesley Ware wanted to give girls a way to use fashion as an outlet for expression, allowing them to tap into their creative potential. The beautifully illustrated book has everything, from helping girls identify their style to creating a mini studio and finding the right sewing supplies, to actual step-by-step sewing projects.




The value of this book, besides teaching girls a new skill, is that it shows them the process of creating actual clothing and makes them aware that clothing does not magically appear on store racks. This is the type of book that can help usher in a more conscious generation of fashionistas, who treat clothing with love and respect…because that’s stylish.


Sewing_Basket_Spread Bow_Spread(1)


Sew Fab is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble or the following book stores (if you are in New York)

McNally – Jackson Bookstore * 52 Prince Street * New York, New York

Tenement Museum * 97 Orchard Street * New York, New York

Blick Art Materials * 650 6th Ave. * New York, New York

Barnes & Noble * Union Square * New York, New York

Exit 9 * 51 Ave A * New York, New York

Park Slope Community Book Store * 143 7th Ave * Brooklyn, New York

Greenlight Books * 686 Fulton * Brooklyn, New York

Who Made Your Clothes? Fashion Revolution Day Marks One Year Anniversary of Rana Plaza Collapse

Who Made Your Clothes


Who made your clothes? Yes they may come form H&M, Forever 21, or a score of other brands, but WHO really made your clothes? Was it a woman in China working in a sweatshop free factory or a child in Bangladesh working in unsafe conditions similar to Rana Plaza. Do you really know?

Today, Fashion Revolution Day marks the one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy.

On April 24th last year, 1133 people were killed, over 2500 injured, and at least 800 children orphaned when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. To remember this tragedy, turn your clothes #InsideOut and ask your favorite brands “Who made your clothes?” This is a way of telling brands you want to know where your clothes came from and for you to be curious about the origins of the clothing you are purchasing.

“Find out who made your clothes – from who spun the threads, to who sewed them together, to who grew the cotton in the first place,” Fashion Revolution Day’s website says. “Your clothes already tell a story about who you are. Now they can tell a better one.”

For more information on the campaign, visit

Related Articles

Rana Plaza disaster marked by Oxford Street demonstration

A year after Rana Plaza: What hasn’t changed since the Bangladesh factory collapse

A Year Later, Rana Plaza Survivors Struggle

Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza tragedy lives on for the child workers who survived

Boots on the ground

Obama’s Free Trade Agreement Ignores the Scandal of Rana Plaza

Rana Plaza factory collapse: Australian clothing retailers yet to sign Bangladesh safety accord


Cradle to Cradle’s William McDonough on Designing for Fashion Abundance


William McDonough CFDA Talk

Yesterday morning the CFDA hosted William McDonough, designer, advisor, and co-author of the manifesto  Cradle to Cradle, for a “Beyond Sustainability: Designing for Abundance” talk.

Here are a few takeaways:

  • Changing the way we see design is the first signal of human intension. First as the question: ‘Am I doing the right thing.’
  • Start with your values not goals.
  • Instead of focusing on creating ‘less bad’ focus on creating ‘more good’. Being ‘less bad’ is not being good.
  • Ask- ‘How can you consider something to be beautiful if it’s poisoning us?’
  • Design as if there is going to be a tomorrow
  • Designers are the demand side, so demand something good from your suppliers. “You are the demand side. Demand something for a change!”
  • Clothing is not a living organism “Don’t talk to me about the end of life of a dress. It’s not alive.”
  • Regulation is a signal of design failure.
  • When a supplier tell you ‘It can’t be done’ don’t take their word for it, say ‘Don’t tell me it can’t be done. Tell me you can’t do it, so I can go find someone who can.’

William McDonough CFDA Talk

The fashion process can be transformed to do ‘more good’. With that in mind the The Cradle to Cradle program launched the Fashion Positive initiative in 2013, which applies Cradle to Cradle certification to transform the way fashion, textile materials, and products are made. The purpose of Fashion Positive is to support the fashion industry in an effort towards addressing the key challenges of toxicity, waste, energy, water and social fairness that are currently facing the fashion industry.

So when a supplier tells you “It can’t be done” you can turn to Fashion Positive and they will advise you on how you can create what you want as well as connect you with suppliers that can get it done for you.

For more on Fashion Positive click here.

9 Questions for Famed Photographer Roxanne Lowit


Backstage Dior


Backstage Dior

By Nevena Rousseva

For the last 30+ years renowned photographer Roxanne Lowit has shaped the fashion and nightlife scene with her lens and point of view.  As the first photographer to shoot backstage at fashion shows she paved the way for a trend that is now ubiquitous.

I met Roxanne back in October at a lunch announcing the winner of the CFDA and Lexus Eco-Fashion Challenge. It was truly an exciting moment for me because her book ‘Backstage Dior‘ has become one of my favorites. Flipping through the book I would loose myself in the magic that Galliano created for Dior…the elaborate designs, the intricate hair and make-up, and the beautiful models. I would feel like I was at the Dior show.

I had the chance to ask Roxanne a few questions about her beginnings, memorable moments, her current exhibit, and the next ‘Backstage’ book.


Backstage Dior

1. How did you get started?

I was a textile designer, I would go to fashion shows to photograph my textiles transformed into clothes. Annie Flanders, of the SoHo News, saw my photos and said ‘If you get a real camera and go to Paris to cover the shows I will put your photos in the paper’. I did and she did. I got the cover and the circulation doubled.

2. In the photographs of Backstage Dior the models seem open to you. Did you find that to be the case or did they have to warm up to your presence?

I am an observer, I am not pushy, an almost silent presence. I don’t blend in so much as I become one with my environment. People are comfortable in my presence so it makes it easier for people to open up to me.


Backstage Dior

3. What inspired you to put your images into a book?

My daughter used to edit my film from the shows. She was very quick and edited many in one day. But whenever I shot Galliano it would take almost the whole day.  For most shows the average was about 120 slides per show. For Dior the edited count was usually between 360-400 slides per show. So one day she looks at me and asks ‘What are you planning on doing with all these images? Make a book?’

Yes, yes I am.

4. Do you have a favorite memory of photographing?

I have been fortunate to have many memorable moments photographing. I have photographed some of the greatest in our culture; Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Audrey Hepburn and so many more. It is hard to pick one. Though one of the earliest ‘memorable moments’ was that first time I went to Paris to cover the shows. I magically ended up on the top of the Eifel Tower with Yves Saint Laurent, Pat Cleveland and Andy Warhol. I was star struck and blissed out. That could have been the moment when I said to myself ‘I want to do this all the time!’ And decided to make it my career, my metier.

5. What fashion personalities or celebrities have you enjoyed photographing the most?

I loved to photograph Any Warhol. He was not a handsome man but he was so interesting, and he loved the camera. SO did Dali, and he had GREAT style.


Andy Warhol and Halston


Salvador Dali

6. You were the first to take interest in photographing the backstage scene. How did that interest come about and what was the initial reaction to your work?

When I started photographing I had no credentials, no invitations nothing. So the models, whom I knew, would sneak me in backstage with them. Once I was there I realized it was much more interesting then on the runway. Not only could I see and record the metamorphosis, but I could interact with the models. I could gather a group together, I had more freedom to capture my vision, a vision that was unique to me as I was the only one backstage. It’s a bit different nowadays. There are so many photographers backstage all clamoring for the same shot from the same model.

7. What’s your favorite part about being a photographer?

Capturing moments. Once I capture a moment it is there for all to see again and again. And the great photos to me do not loose impact over time. They are still just as great as the first time you saw it.

8. You currently have an exhibit called “Be Fabulous” at the Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea, NY. Can you tell me about it?

‘Be Fabulous’ is like a mini retrospective. It is a mix of all my work: backstage fashion, celebrities, and my latest obsession club kids. The thread that ties it all together? They are all Fabulous!

The show is up until January 18th so if you are in NY please check it out.


9. You showed me some images of your upcoming  ‘Backstage YSL’  book. When will it come out and why did you decide to do a follow up to Backstage Dior?

The book will be out in Fall of 2014.

I don’t see it as a follow up from ‘Backstage Dior’ It is its own book separate from ‘Backstage Dior’. I have been inspired by many designers in my day, but Yves Saint Laurent was the first designer who really wowed me. Not only as a designer, but as a man. He was a bit of an enigma, mysterious, a bit aloof, but always polite courteous and friendly. He had a very unique vision, his lines were unlike any other.

After ‘Backstage YSL’ I hope for there to be many other ‘Backstage’ books to follow.♥


Backstage Dior Roxanne Lowit


Tesla Style Night: September 9th 6:30pm

Tesla Style NightIt’s that time of the year again! Fashion week is around the corner and that means new ideas, new styles, and new favorite pieces. In past fashion weeks, sustainable fashion has not made much of a splash, but that changing this year with Tesla’s Style Night. Remedy and Tesla are hosting a fashion show and party on September 9th, featuring an array of new eco designers.

Not to be missed. Get tickets here.

WHEN: MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2013 // 6:30PM-9:30PM

Highline Teen Fashion Show: Thursday Aug. 29 7pm

Highline Teen Fashion Show

The first public fashion show at the Epic NY Landmark

WHO: Friends of the High Line, Caravan Stylist Studio, Harlem’s Fashion Row.
Designers to be featured include Tabii Just, Boy Meets Girl, Huminska, Junk Food Clothing, LaQuan Smith and Synderela.
WHERE: On the High Line, at West 16th Street, entrance on 16th and Tenth Avenue
WHAT: The High Line Back-to-School Teen Fashion Show will feature professional models wearing fresh fall fashions for young adults. The students collaborated with emerging & established American designers who gave the students insight in the process of designing, styling, and production. This is part of the Friends of the High Line’s Community Engagement initiative to serve the needs and interests of New Yorkers living and working near the High Line. The runway fashion show was created by the teens as part of a two-month-long workshop series, with leading support from the Ford Foundation.
This show is open to the public so come early. Seating is limited. 

Sustainable Fashion: Timeless or Trendy? A Must Event! Jan 17th

Sustianable Fashion Timeless or Trendy Green Dress

Sustainable fashion has been gaining popularity in recent years. But where is it heading and is this a passing trend or a lasting change?

Columbia Business School presents a panel discussion on the future of sustainable fashion, the challenges of designing sustainably, and reaching the mainstream fashion retailers and fashion lovers.

The panel consists of:

Christa Dowling, Global Cultural Advisor and Journalist, Author, Former Editor-in -Chief, Conde Nast/Vogue, Germany
Yael Aflalo, Founder and CEO, Reformation (designs from repurposed fabrics)
Sass Brown, Acting Assistant Dean School of Art and Design, FIT, Author
Raz Godelnik, Adjunct Professor at CUNY, the New School, and University of Delaware;  Founder, Hemper Jeans, an eco-fashion jeans company using hemp
Gretchen Jones, Eco-Fashion Designer; Project Runway Season 8 Winner
Catherine Tyc, Filmmaker  (working on sustainable fashion documentary)
Event Details:
Date: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Time: 6:00 – 6:30 Doors Open and Early Networking
           6:30 – 8:00 Program
           8:00 – 9:00 Reception and Fashion Alley
Location: Chadbourne and Parke LLP, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 23rd Floor
Cost: $25 for CBSAC/NY, NYBSC, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Members, and students, $40 for non-members

$60 for all walk-ins if space is available.

For more information and ticket purchase click HERE.

Toxic Threads: The Big Fashion Stitch-Up REPORT

Toxic Threads The Big Fashion Stitch-Up Greenpeace

This new Greenpeace report delves further into the hazardous chemicals used in the production of high street fashion. The investigation includes 20 global fashion brands – including Armani, Levi’s and Zara. A total of 141 items of clothing were purchased in April 2012 in 29 countries and regions worldwide from authorised retailers. Here are some of the findings

Phthalates were detected in 31 of the samples, with high levels in 4 garments

-Cancer-causing amines from the use of certain azo dyes in two garments

-NPEs (nonylphenol ethoxylates…scary words) were found in 89 garments

-The presence of many other different types of potentially hazardous industrial chemicals was discovered across a number of the products tested.

Download Full Report

Toxic Fashion Greenpeace Zara Campaign

Is this your fashion?

GAP, You Have To Give Love To Receive Love

Gap Love Comes In Every Shade

This holiday season Gap is running a “Love Comes in Every Shade” campaign, but for the retailer love does not come in the shade of human rights. This week Gap is refusing to attend a trial in Bangalore, India in which garment workers are bringing forth human right abuses.

The four day hearing, which begins on Thursday, November 22 will be attended by international clothing brands and retailers including H&M. Organizers say wages below poverty levels are an ongoing problem in the Indian garment industry, and this is a multi-stakeholder problem that requires everyone to work towards the solutions.

So Gap, this holiday season show the same love you want shoppers to show to you.

Full Article

The Future of Fashion #2: Sustainable Practices in the Age of Fast Fashion

Wednesday night, I had the pleasure of attending The Future Of Fashion #2: Sustainable Practices In The Age Of Fast Fashion, held at Coco-Mat, a mattress store that makes sustainable beds. It’s quite fascinating pieces of furniture and it actually costs less than a Tempur-pedic mattress. The event  presented a panel of speakers, consisting of Timo Rissanen, Anthony Lilore, Amy DuFault, Owyn Ruck, Elizabeth L Cline, and moderated by Carmen Artigas. The discussion was centered around how sustainable fashion can be mainstream and the effect that fast fashion is having on consumers.
Fast fashion is classified as the items produced by large chains, like H&M, Zara’s and Forever 21. These stores have nixed the idea of  the traditional two deliveries, Spring and Fall, in favor of monthly and some weekly deliveries. They cater to consumers who want fashion cheap. One can get a variety of items and always stay on trend. On the surface, this seems awesome. However, the problems with this model are many. The main one being that this system feeds the consumer’s need for new items much like an addiction. The consumer is encouraged to constantly replace items, leading them to discard their perfectly use-able garments. This devalues clothing. It leads the consumer to believe that clothing should be easily replaced. It also makes them lose touch with the real value of the clothing. When one buys a T Shirt for $10, the question of how much the workers who made that garment are earning should arise. The  companies usually outsource labor to places where regulations are less stringent and drastically under-valued, allowing them to artificially keep prices low.
The question of how to make sustainable fashion mainstream arose. The panel discussed the idea of making mainstream fashion sustainable. H&M is currently leading in their use of organic cotton. The movement to make mainstream clothing sustainable will change the customer’s perception of the value of clothing. If mainstream brands charge realistic prices for clothing and become more transparent about why they are doing this, customers will be led to pay these prices and value their clothing much more.
Encouraging customers to buy sustainable fashion was compared to sneaking a kid his vegetables, by one of the panelists. Designers must produce clothing that is attractive, first and foremost. If the consumer isn’t drawn to it and doesn’t want to wear it, the sustainability aspect won’t make them purchase the item. Sustainability should be an added bonus for consumers who shop mainstream fashion.

Events like this one forces one to think critically and carefully about clothing choices.

Last Chance To Sign Up For Ethical Fashion Academy’s Eco-Fashion Workshop In Costa Rica

Batik Technique

batik design

Ethical Fashion Academy Costa Rica

View from cabin

This is the last chance to sign up for Ethical Fashion Academy’s first eco-fashion workshop in Costa Rica. There are a few spots left and this is the last chance to sign up for the 8 day adventure that will delve into things like hand-loom weaving, organic jewelry, natural dyeing, and batik design, all while marveling at the exotic Costa Rican nature. Attendees will receive an official Ethical Fashion Academy certificate of completion and PDF files of all lessons to continue developing your new skills. The trip is from October 20th to the 27th.

The academy started by designer Francisca Pinedais focused on inspiring designers and consumers to make conscious lifestyle choices. The trip will

Check out the itinerary!

For more information email Francisca at


Manifesto Of Sustainable For Italian Fashion Michelangelo Pistoletto Sketch

Props to the Italian fashion industry for publicly acknowledging the importance of creating a sustainable, environmentally, and socially responsible fashion industry.

The Italian Fashion Sustainability Manifesto was presented during Milan Fashion Week with a grand artistic performance by Michelangelo Pistoletto. At the Piazza del Duomo, Milan, 800 art, design, and fashion students wearing colorful t-shirts, formed a single multicolored version of the Third Paradise, a symbol representing the passage to a new level of planetary civilization, created by the artist in 2005.

The manifesto is a sustainability program for making every part of the fashion industry more environmentally and socially sustainable: from production to distribution, marketing, communication and education.

Now its time for the American fashion industry to get on board. It seems to be falling behind the always forward thinking Italian fashion industry.

Too Tan

These fashion companies have gone too far portraying overtly tan models that look like crispy versions of people. How is it that the media has a problem with the tanning mom, but has nothing to say about these  images? I don’t see a difference between her and these ads in terms of skin color.

Lara Stone Calvin Klein Jeans Spring Summer 2012 Ad Campaign Too Tan

Calvin Klein


Michael Kors Spring Summer 2012 Ad Too Tan

Michael Kors


H&M Spring Summer Ad Campaign TooT an



Hugo Boss Orange Spring Summer 2012 Ad Too Tan

Hugo Boss


Donna Karan Haiti Spring Summer Ad 2012 Too Tan

Donna Karan