Best place to do well by looking good New York 2006 - Umkarna
Yes, we like to think of ourselves as sensitive and ethical consumers. But even if Park Slope's Umkarna didn't feature clothing made by women's collectives, even if it didn't favor natural and recycled materials, even if it didn't embellish its website with a quotation from Walter Benjamin, we'd still shop there. We'd wear the brightly colored silk wrap dresses, drape our bed in the exuberantly hand-stitched pre-Partition Ralli quilts, and adorn ourselves with wooden and metal bangles, but we likely wouldn't feel quite so good about it. Happily, there's no occasion for guilt or remorse. For the past several years, owner Luisa Giugliano has used a women's collective in New Delhi to produce Umkarna's house line, and she ensures that the other labels she stocks (Burning Torch, Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent, numerous jewelry designers) pay their workers a decent wage. Giugliano and her husband travel to India several times a year to search out vintage jewelry and textiles. Fair trade? Perhaps the fairest of them all.