About Fair Indigo
Our MissionAfter years in the fashion world, a small group of us started Fair Indigo because we believed in a better way to do business. We knew it was possible to create timeless, high-quality clothes while paying the good people who make them a fair and living wage. Instead of racing to the bottom, we'd lift people up. And build garments you'll want to wear for years to come, with quality that ensures you can. Fair Indigo was founded to change the way the apparel industry works. And to inspire you to change the way you think about your clothes. It's a daunting endeavor for our small business (7 employees strong!). But we feel utterly privileged to be part of it. Because when fashion is done right, we can all do well. You, us, farmers, garment workers, and our shared home Planet Earth. And we can all do our small part to change the world. Just by changing our clothes.
Sustainable Materials: The right fibers (organic whenever possible) are the foundation for building sustainable clothing. Our favorites, hands-down, are buttery soft Peruvian Pima cotton and luxe-without-guilt baby alpaca. They're not only kinder to the planet, but also stronger and longer lasting than other cotton and wool. We use Oeko-tex certified dyes - the gentlest and safest commercial dyes available, tested to be free of dozens of harmful chemicals.
Enduring Quality: In an industry drowning in cheap Fast Fashion, our fabrics and garments are meticulously designed and crafted to last through literally years of wearing and washing with very minimal shrinking, pilling, or losing shape. Whenever possible, we pre-wash our fabric before it's cut and sewn. This rare, expensive, but very beneficial process insures your garment won't shrink, but it also prevents twisting and puckering around seams that often happens in your dryer when fabric shrinks but sewing threads don't. Forever in Fashion: Fads by definition are not sustainable. A well-made garment that's this season's 'must have' but next season's 'what was I thinking' will hang in your closet unworn, or worse, end up in a landfill. When you buy timeless designs instead of corporate dictated fads, you're building a wardrobe with some serious mileage. It’s liberating to dis-entangle yourself from the craziness of what fashion editors and celebrities are saying you must have and simply wear what naturally makes you feel great.
Fair Trade: Too often, talk of sustainability treats human beings as an afterthought. This. Must. Stop. If organic clothing is priced too good to be true, it's probably because the well being of the garment workers was overlooked. Our skilled artisans and operators are paid fairly and treated like family. A fair wage and supportive work environment provide the means to a healthy, happy life. It's the only way to build a truly sustainable business.
Peru: The perfect place to make clothingWhile small family businesses are increasingly rare in apparel making, this one, run by husband and wife team Javier and Elsa, even further stands apart. Javier and Elsa come from Cajamarca, Peru's Dairyland (kindred spirits to us Wisconsinites). They grow their own organic Pima cotton, run their own small-batch sewing factory in Lima, and serve as a hub for dozens of tiny knitting cooperatives who would struggle to get their products to market without Javier's and Elsa's assistance. Javier is a farmer at heart. His passion for organic cotton began decades ago when he learned that a staggering 25% of the world’s insecticide is used on cotton, which occupies only 2% of the farmland. His farm, near Ica, is situated in a region ideal for growing the world’s best cotton – Pima cotton. His non-GMO cotton is GOTS-certified organic so it doesn’t contain any pesticides or other harmful chemicals. The farm uses only natural irrigation techniques, grows quinoa in the off-season, and, like all Pima cotton, is picked by hand. This not only limits environmental impact, it also insures the cotton is of the absolute highest quality. From the farm the cotton is spun into yarns and knit into our PREMIUM FABRICS. Color is added with earth-friendly dyes and the fabric is then washed and pre-shrunk. The mill that knits and dyes our fabric treats or recycles 100% of its water. The local water utility even remarks that the water that exits the facility is cleaner than the water that goes in. The fabric is cut and sewn in Elsa and Javier’s small workshop in the Ate (pronounced Ah-Tay) neighborhood of Lima. Jonny and his team meticulously cut the layers of fabric into panels to be sewn and are obsessed with making sure an absolute minimal amount is wasted. It's like a huge jigsaw puzzle! Next, the fabric panels are bundled and sent to the sewing area, where operators guide each seam to perfection. It’s definitely a learned skill and a hard day’s work, but fair trade insures they're paid well and treated like family. Unlike in many burnout clothing factories we've seen, employees here have worked for five, ten, even twenty years. Javier and Elsa are like second parents to them. The finished garments are carefully measured and inspected to adhere to high quality standards that the enterprise has developed over its many years in business. Daniel and the packing team are the final stop before the clothing makes its journey north. This is the only area where we Fair Indigans feel like we can jump in and "help" the team, which we often do as it's so satisfying to see the fruits of everyone's labor. Go team! Peru is, quite simply, the perfect place to make clothing. First, it’s home to two extraordinary fibers – Pima cotton and alpaca fleece. Both fibers are uncommonly soft, strong, long lasting, and not widely found outside Peru. Alpaca naturally grow a wide range of fleece colors depending on the specific breed and region. Our alpaca is sustainably herded in the Andes mountains where families have been tending their herds in the same time-honored methods for hundreds of years. Second, exceptional knitting and sewing skills have been passed down through generations since the time of the Incas. There is an abundance of artisans eager to put these skills to work. Like the artisans who hand knit our Joobles organic stuffed animals.
As Peruvians, Javier and Elsa never forget how fortunate they are to live in one of the most magical places on earth. A relatively small country with more micro climates than any other nation on the planet – from the Mediterranean-like coast up to the frigid peaks of the Andes and back down the other side of the mountains into the Amazon tropical rain forest. It's a country with a refreshing reverence for the native peoples who first cultivated its bounty – most famously, the Incas. Everywhere in Peru, you are reminded of the pride people take, not only in their ancient history, but in their almost mystical consciousness of Peru's three distinct regions where the Incas harvested a mind boggling diversity of crops and flavors. An example of the esteem for this "Inca Trinity" is found at Manará Chocolates. Their beans are harvested from the three regions - coast, mountain, jungle - and each has a distinct regional essence. All are amazing by the way, like almost all of the food in Peru! As a fair trade business, we visit our facilities as often as possible - at least once a year, usually twice. Peru’s people and culture (and its amazing food!) make it an absolute pleasure to visit. Causa, pictured below, is one of our favorite Peruvian dishes. Yellow potatoes flavored with peppers and stuffed with various goodies like avocado, chicken salad, and hard-boiled eggs. In addition to sampling tasty local cuisine and strengthening partner relationships, we also enjoy visiting the local schools that are supported by the FAIR INDIGO FOUNDATION through donations of books, supplies, and more. Read more about the FAIR INDIGO FOUNDATION and its efforts to support education in the communities where our products are made.
Browse the entire FAIR INDIGO COLLECTION of Peruvian-made, fair trade clothing and accessories. And know that when fashion is done right, we all prosper.