FairFestivalStyle

The Free Spirit look is so enticing – it’s an opportunity to tap into your inner creative, to evoke another you – the one who doesn’t have responsibilities, who is unstressed and loving, who travels more often to more exotic locations and has had amazing life experiences that are unpackaged and uncoupled from commercial America.

Music Festival You is chill and wise, laughs more, dances spontaneously, and has lots of great sex with her hot, muscular surfer bf (or gf). Studies have even indicated that we start to inhabit the perceived role of a uniform. If you can be more focused and productive when wearing a white lab coat, why can’t you have more fun and feel more free when bedecked in feathers, fringe, and boots?

In short, music festivals are a place where you can wear creative and interesting clothing without putting your next promotion at risk or having that guy think you’re an easy lay. It’s like a safe space for ochre and ombré dress up.

It’s easy to see how we got to this zeitgeist, where there has come to be a sort of uniform for music festivals. It used to be music festivals were attended mostly by traveling hippies and actual Free Spirits, ones who sold ‘shroom chocolates and blown-glass bongs, who seemed to be happy enough living out of a hatchback or tent during the hazy summer days. (Yes, I’ve smoked pot in a circle of these hippies at a music festival.) They had put the work in, collecting their cool outfits through their travels across America and on backpacking trips through South America. They haggled over those bangles with artisans in India, dug through thrift store bins in Arizona, learned how to braid their hair while sitting in a drum circle.

Of course, with any counter culture, this style was eventually co-opted, repackaged and sold by corporations like Free People and Urban Outfitters. Now you don’t actually have to travel and cliff jump and take ayuasca from the hands of a shaman in the jungle to look like you have.

And this is where we all went wrong. When you buy a Navajo-inspired crop top that was designed by a white person, then made by an underpaid worker in Bangladesh, your profits go to a rich white dude. And the Navajos, who may I remind you, have been f***ed by white people repeatedly since the moment we stepped foot on these shores, again get no recognition for the long tradition and craftsmanship that goes into a beautifully patterned rug whose cheap approximation is stretched across your boobs. (Yeah, they did actually sue Urban Outfitters a few years back. Most native traditions can’t even do that.)

To put it another way, we told them their beautiful and conscientious traditions were worthless and undesirable, until we wanted to use them for music festivals, so then we just took their ideas and screen printed them onto throwaway fashion so we could make a profit off of it. Ick, ick, ick.

It’s called appropriation. And you don’t want to be involved in that.

Look, you don’t need to put on a pair of Levis and a plain t-shirt for music festival season. There’s an easy and simple alternative. Just buy the fashion from the artisans who make them! If you like Navajo fashion, buy it from the Navajos. If you like Peruvian patterns, buy them from fairly-paid Peruvian artists. Get the vintage look by – shocking, I know – buying vintage fashion. Or at least buy fun fashion that was made with respect for the earth and your fellow humans.

Because if you’re going to look like a hippie this weekend, you should act like one, too.

(Note, you’ll notice links in here to Urban Outfitters. I like to support their Urban Renewal line, which is composed of sustainably made pieces, plus their local artists and non-toxic beauty, while ignoring the rest of their stuff. Let’s show them ethical is profitable!)

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Made by artisans with bone and brass

Made by artisans of real bone and brass.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Earrings handmade in the U.S. from cruelty-free feathers.

Handmade in the U.S. from cruelty-free feathers.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Made by Turkish artisans.

Made by Turkish artisans.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Naturally tanned leather bag handmade by Indian artisans.

Naturally tanned leather bag handmade by Indian artisans.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Let's Get Lost Tee

Printed with water-based inks.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Shorts hand-crocheted by artisans in Peru.

Hand-crocheted by artisans in Peru.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // bangles handmade by Ghana artisans

Handmade in Ghana

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Boots handmade in Peru

Handmade in Peru

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Finger bracelet made by Colombian artisans

Handmade by artisans in Colombia with mild physical disabilities.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Don't Kill My Vibe sleeveless tee made in the USA

Made in the U.S.A.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Superhuman tie-dye sleeveless tee

Made in the U.S.A.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Upcycled denim shorts donates to education in Africa & the Carribbean

Upcycled denim shorts made in the U.S.A. A portion of every sale goes towards education & scholarships in Africa & the Caribbean.

Handmade in Guatemala using traditional techniques

Handmade in Guatemala using traditional techniques

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Fringe crop top handknit in Peru

Handknit in Peru.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Flats made in Guatemala

Handmade in Guatemala

Non-exploitative festival fashion //

Handmade by artisans in Guatemala.

Non-exploitative festival fashion //

Made from recycled bicycle parts.

Made from recycled bicycle parts.

Made from recycled bicycle parts.

Made from recycled bicycle parts.

Made from recycled bicycle parts.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Pants made by artisans in India

Made by artisans in India

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Handcrafted duet rings made in India.

Handcrafted duet rings made in India.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Crop top made in Ghana using locally-sourced textiles.

Made in Ghana using locally-sourced textiles.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Lace dress made from upcycled vintage fabric

Made from upcycled vintage fabric

 

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Western crop top made from vintage and dead stock materials

Made from vintage and dead stock materials.

 

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Sustainably made from natural rubber.

Sustainably made from natural rubber.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Dress made from GOTS-certified organic cotton

Made from GOTS-certified organic cotton

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Wayuu bag made by Colombian artisans

Made by Colombian artisans.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Made by Cambodian artists, 10% of profits go to helping victims of sex trafficking.

Made by Cambodian artists, 10% of profits go to helping victims of sex trafficking.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Fringe dress hand-knit in Peru.

Hand knit in Peru.

Silk crochet dress

Silk crochet dress.

Made in the U.S.A from Pendleton wool.

Made in the U.S.A from Pendleton wool.

Non-exploitative festival fashion //

Made with upcycled and vegan materials.

Made with eco-friendly acetate.

Made with eco-friendly acetate.

Made in NYC from recycled gold.

Made in NYC from recycled gold.

Hand-assembled in San Francisco

Hand-assembled in San Francisco

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Fringe hip bag made in Los Angeles

Sustainably made in Los Angeles

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Fringe bag made from recycled leather

Recycled leather bag.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Fringe backpack made by Guatemalan artisans

Made by Guatemalan artisans.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // sunglasses made from sustainably harvested wood

Made in Oregon from sustainably harvested wood.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // a portion of every sale goes towards education & scholarships in Africa & the Caribbean.

Upcycled denim shorts, a portion of every sale goes towards education & scholarships in Africa & the Caribbean.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Handcrafted by Akola-trained women in rural Uganda

Handcrafted by Akola-trained women in rural Uganda

Non-exploitative festival fashion //

Handmade in U.S.A.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Fanny pack made by artisans in Guatemala

Made by artisans in Guatemala.

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Backpack handmade by Zapotec artisans in Oaxaca

Handmade by Zapotec artisans in Oaxaca

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Necklace handcrafted in India

Handcrafted in India

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Arrowhead studs made in the USA from recycled metals

Made in the USA from recycled metals

Non-exploitative festival fashion // galaxy jacket made in New York

Made in New York

Non-exploitative festival fashion // leather necklace handmade in Los Angeles

Handmade in Los Angeles

Non-exploitative festival fashion // pink dress made from vintage fabric

Made from vintage fabrics in Philadelphia

Non-exploitative festival fashion // Crop top made in the USA from recycled bottles

Made in the USA from recycled bottles

Non-exploitative festival fashion // poncho made from vintage material

Made from vintage materials

Made from deadstock chiffon in Philadelphia

Made from deadstock chiffon in Philadelphia

Non-exploitative festival fashion // bustier made from recycled leather

Made from recycled leathers

Handmade from hemp in Los Angeles

Handmade from hemp in Los Angeles