In doing research about Fair Trade consumerism, I came across Soul Space, an international clothing brand originating in India. Not only are Soul Space’s products Fair Trade Certified; they are also 100% organic and made with environmentally-friendly dyes.
Wanting to learn more about this impressive company, I decided to speak with Vik Giri, the founder of the United States branch of Soul Space. You can read our interview below!
Thank you so much for talking with me about your brand. The first question I want to ask is if there were any specific events or moments in your life that led you to value Fair Trade shopping?
I started a wholesale tote bag brand named Gallant International in 2009. I originally carried ethnic bags and promoted them at trade shows. It was at these trade shows where I met people from Fairtrade. Learning about the impact of Fairtrade has moved me, and I instantly knew that this was now part of my core values. Fairtrade has now been incorporated into everything we do.
That’s really cool! I know many people define ethical consumerism differently, but what does this mean to you? Why should people care about how their clothing was produced?
Ethical consumerism is about consuming mindfully and only when necessary. The “must buy” mentality in the United States is troubling, as many purchase things they absolutely don’t need. People should care about how their clothing was produced because the consumer is ultimately responsible for purchasing the product and driving the demand. If more people knew how and in what conditions their clothing was produced in, perhaps many would second guess their favorite brands.
Definitely. What is Soul Space’s vision for the future of ethical and sustainable fashion?
Soul Space aims to educate the public on the importance of Organic and Fairtrade products, as well as the vast positive impact that both of these have on the planet. We encourage everyone to stop and think before they purchase a product and ask the company where and how it was made. By supporting companies with ethical and sustainable business practices, consumers can change the world.
I completely agree! What would you say is the level of awareness of modern day slavery in the apparel industry today? Have you found that people are willing to pay more for Fairtrade Certified products in the same way that people often pay more for organic fruits and vegetables?
In the apparel industry, corporations are much more aware of slavery than their consumers are. Many consumers are misled about how their clothing is being produced or turn a blind eye when it comes to their favorite brands. Many are willing to pay more for Fairtrade Certified products, but our goal is to make ethical and organic products affordable for all. Organic and Fairtrade products don’t need to be expensive to make an impact.
How do you balance paying your workers fairly while selling your clothing at affordable prices?
Soul Space USA is Fairtrade America and GOTS Certified. Under Fairtrade America, our workers are paid a living/legal wage as well as a Fair Trade premium. As mentioned before, we aim to make our products affordable and believe that our workers deserve as much as we can provide for them. Through Fairtrade America, we make this possible.
I’ve read that Soul Space is a part of many reform initiatives. How does your brand work to alleviate poverty and reform work conditions?
Soul Space purchases its Organic, Fairtrade cotton from Chetna Cooperatives, a farmer Co-Op based in India. Through Fairtrade, we follow all of Fairtrade’s guidelines for labor standards, and working conditions. These guidelines include a right to a democratic workplace, a living wage, gender equality and prohibit child labor. Each farmer at Chetna Cooperative receives a Fairtrade Premium. This premium is extra money given directly to workers for them to do with as they please. Fairtrade Premiums often go to community development projects, such as building schools, providing bikes or buses for workers to get to work easier or clean drinking water projects. Fairtrade also has standards in place to protect the environment, and by using only Organic cotton, we aid in this as well. I invite you to visit Fairtrade America’s website for more information on their great impact: http://www.fairtradeamerica.org
How do you ensure your farmers and workers are compensated fairly?
As mentioned before, Soul Space uses Fairtrade, Organic cotton. Fairtrade Certification allows workers are provided with benefits such as healthcare, sick days and maternity leave. Soul Space starts with taking care of its farmers and workers first, as well as the environment. Fairtrade sets standard minimum prices, assuring that even if the market for a certain item drops, that farmers and workers will always be compensated fairly.
What is your view of large brands pushing trends on their customers as a way to boost sales?
While trends are certainly fun, we try to stay away from trends, as this is a huge problem that fuels fast fashion. Soul Space’s favorite “trends” are timeless staples and basics that will last for years to come.
What are your top three favorite Soul Space items and why?
1. (Men’s) Active Pants – These are our bestselling men’s sweatpants. Both Fairtrade & GOTS Certified, these pants are incredibly comfy and the perfect men’s basic pant.
2. (Women’s) Everyday Tights – Leggings are popular with women of all ages, and we encourage women to choose organic basics, great for your health and the Earth’s health. We’re proud to provide quality Fairtrade and GOTS Certified women’s leggings.
3. (Women’s) Chaser Sports Bra – Another classic basic, elevated by being Fairtrade and GOTS Certified. This sports bra is perfect for low impact workouts and for lounging around the house, the best of both worlds.
Thank you again to Vik Giri and the Soul Space USA team for organizing this interview. I am grateful for the work you do to promote conscious consumerism.