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Fashion with a conscience: Chicago designers prove great style isn't skin deep

Mata Trader's Freelance Writer dress
Mata Traders and Anna Hovet

While it is no secret that many urbanites prefer their food to be local, organic and ethically produced, an increasing number of Chicagoans care about what they put on their bodies as much as what they put in their bodies. Thanks to two local designers, Mata Traders and Anna Hovet, it’s becoming easy to feel good about looking great – all while keeping your bank account happy!

Bright and feminine, Mata Trader’s dresses, skirts, blouses and accessories embody a modern Chicagoan design. But what makes them truly special is their fair trade production in India and Nepal. Instead of large sweatshops, Mata Trader’s products are produced in small women’s cooperatives and artisan groups. Workers are provided with safe conditions, healthcare, childcare and, most importantly, a livable wage. Look out for hand block printed fabrics, which are produced with a centuries-old Indian method and eco-friendly dyes.

While soft and drapey dresses, sweaters and outerwear may have earned Anna Hovet the title of “The Queen of Comfort,” the Chicago streetwear designer takes her role as a domestic violence activist just as seriously. Her special Domestic Violence Awareness Collection uses disruptive, bandage style designs to raise recognition for victims. A portion of the proceeds from this collection goes to the Chicago Foundation of Women, while the designer donates her time to a variety of awareness events.

Though these two designers are available in boutiques throughout the country, they can be found in local shops such as WolfBait and B-Girls. Be sure to check out other locally made products at this Logan Square boutique!