Used (Fair Trade) Fashion?

It seems like everyone has a hard time with money.

It’s difficult to make. It’s difficult to earn. And I’m not talking individually through jobs and occupation–I mean businesses, too. After working in the fair trade industry, one of the most difficult things was trying to help people understand that by investing more money into a fair trade product, you are receiving something that is likely of better quality, will last longer, has less of an environmental impact and betters the lives of workers.

In short, it is a lot to articulate to people and to those who have a hard time with money individually, it is nearly impossible.

But that is part of the beauty about thinking about purchasing power in a socially conscious way–your dollars make a difference all along a long, winding supply chain.

So here’s one really simple way to think about purchase power in an unexpected place–eBay.

I recently discovered eBay even though I’ve obviously known about it for a long, long time. I’ve been buying a lot of my clothes from it because it provides me a way to help search directly for ethical brands and used clothing that won’t break the bank. One obvious upside is the idea of giving that money directly to people who need it. I always applaud buying directly from producers, owners or makers and keeping their gross profit amounts high.

However, think about it too like this.

Some brands I search for vigorously on eBay: Mata Traders, Passion Lilie, Synergy Organic, Pact Organic, R.Riveter, Joyn, Meyelo, Mercado Global, Nooworks and many, many others.

You can easily make the argument that hey! Since you are not buying directly from a fair trade or eco-conscious company, you are decreasing their theoretical profits from you purchase. But also think about it this way: if I buy a Mata Traders fair trade dress from a buyer whose original purchase didn’t fit her properly, I am giving them a sales incentive to think “Hey, if I buy a Mata Traders dress, it is worth something so a buyer will buy it on eBay if I get sick of it or want to donate it in the future.”
Think about that. Would you, in theory, sell a Forever 21 tshirt on eBay? To rephrase, would you BUY a used Forever 21 shirt? Not likely considering that the quality of the shirt is low, it is already cheap, why bother to buy or sell that?

Even if you can’t afford to pay full price directly from the brand for a fair trade or eco friendly clothing item, seeking those things out is just as important. Exhibiting demand for products is important. Buying those used goods from people who previously bought them is important.

So, maybe, check out eBay for that fair trade or American made purse you adore. Maybe you will find some treasure 🙂

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