STYLE ADVICE OF THE WEEK: Handmade and Fair-Trade Fashions

I stumbled across this Fashionista at the Pedestrian Mall on a beautiful, sunny day last week. Her burnt orange tunic grabbed my attention, but when I noticed her keen eye for unique and intricate jewelry, I was sold.

This Fashionista informed me that her bohemian-style tunic is from Mata Traders; a fair-trade online retailer of handmade clothing, accessories and home décor produced by women’s cooperative and artisan groups in Nepal and India. After chatting with this Fashionista about her ensemble, I was eager to get back to my MacBook and find out more about Mata.

As it turns out, the ladies who founded and run the organization are CollegeFashionistas in their own right. They traveled to India together during college and started their business shortly after based on the beautiful patterns and styles of India. All of the fabrics are hand block-printed with eco-friendly vegetables dyes and use fair-trade certified cottons that amount to some seriously chic clothing. Mata follows environmental standards and they support small family farms that are paid a fair price for their products. I definitely respect a company that can take fashion, something many people associate with vanity and self-involvement, and turn it into a sustainable and good-hearted practice that is still very fun and stylish.

To get this Fashionista’s boho-chic look, find a trendy printed tunic of your own. Her tunic from Mata also comes in a muted jade that is great for spring or try this short-sleeved purple tunic if you are looking for a style to carry into summer. Pair your new top with some comfortable skinny jeans or leggings from your own closet, add a casually cool pair of sling-back sandals and you are nearly set.

What I admired most about this Fashionista was her keen eye for detail when it comes to accessorizing. Erica Weiner, an Iowa City area craft-maker, designed the harmonica necklace this Fashionista is sporting. CollegeFashionistas in the Iowa City area can find other designs by Erica Weiner at Revival. For Fashionistas outside of Iowa City in search, check out this silver harmonica necklace on Etsy.

Once you have located some unique jewelry and accessories, your boho-chic look is ready to go. So, hit the streets in style this spring and remember to look into more handmade and fair-trade fashions the next time your wardrobe is in need of an update.



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