Nadia Dawisha specializes in fashion and social responsibility/sustainability, and is actively involved in the Fair Trade movement. She is developing a series on this subject for her blog Listen Girlfriends, where she will interview Marci Zaroff, who coined the term ‘Eco Fashion’ and has been instrumental in drafting Fair Trade and Organic textile standards for the industry in the U.S and artisan groups who use the textile industry to empower women in communities all over the world. Nadia will also feature different fashion/jewelry designers who make it a point to incorporate sustainable practices in their lines. Her interest in this topic stems from her background in fine arts and theater, where theatrical costume became a way to express her personality. She was disillusioned, however, with the harmful environmental impacts and labor exploitation behind the glamorous façade of the industry. Nadia’s intention is not to dismiss fashion, but to envision improvement by examining where culture and labor meet, and the effect that this has on mostly women.
- All of the people I’m interviewing of course! Ten Thousand Villages has had a huge impact in terms of introducing me to the artisan movement. Hannah Dodoo, fashion designer and co-founder of the Fair Trade cooperative Global Mama’s, who traveled 22 hours to US to talk to people about how her community has benefited from the artisan movement.
- The garment workers whose stories of struggle have pushed me to pursue this project, the designers who are choosing to put people over profit, and apparel companies like Alta Gracia that pay a living wage to their workers.
- Researchers who have done amazing work on this topic already, especially Naomi Klein and Elizabeth Cline.
Fashion icons/style influences:
- I get most of my inspiration from the street and my travels. I have to say that the young women in London really inspired me with their eclectic sense of style and how they would use flea market and vintage items to create their own look. They really have the androgynous look down and some of my favorite style icons are Brit women like Kate Moss, Alexa Chung, and Karen Blanchard.
- I also love the style of Ali MacGraw, Vanessa from the show ‘Gossip Girl,’ and my favorite couture designers are Vivienne Westwood, Rei Kawakubo, and Alexander McQueen.
- I have also been obsessed lately with two African designers who are incorporating their culture into their collections while using fair trade practices: Loza Maleombho, who is from the Ivory Coast, and Kahindo Mateene, who is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I also adore many of the jewelry designs from the Native artisans on the site, ‘Beyond Buckskin.
You know I was partly inspired by Ninu Nina to start my own blog and interview all the amazing people I know! Also love critical fashion blogs Threadbared and Beyond Buckskin. Fashioning Change, Magnifeco, Ecouterre, Slow Cloth, and Eco Fashion World are great places to find sustainable fashion alternatives.
Etsy is awesome for handcrafted, DIY items, and Gary Pepper and Ebay are fab for vintage. I’m currently obsessed with Heritage 1960-it’s a blog that features beautiful African fashion and design. I also love how Women for Women International supports women’s global empowerment through education and job skills training.
I’m a bag fan of style/street style blogs – Style Rookie, Where Did U Get That, StreetPeeper, CaliVintage, and BryanBoy are some of my favorites.
I really hope that with this series and my on-going work, that I can start connecting the dots between all of these different issues within this complex industry. I want to bring awareness to the issue of sustainable fashion because I think when we don’t know where our clothing is made, than we lose that sense of community and human connection that is so important. I hope to highlight the importance of handmade products that help to personalize the process of production and revive the relationship between those who make the clothes and those who purchase them. And my hope is that by using fashion as my ‘example,’ I can help create awareness on other related issues, like the environment, shady practices in certifications and labeling, and labor. Basically, the reason why I began this blog in the first place was to start conversations.