THE ladies of Cork are being called on to post a selfie of themselves wearing a dress for the 31 days of December, to highlight the global slavery and sex trafficking of women.
Dressember is a worldwide movement with a simple idea: wear a dress every day for the last month of the year and share the image on social media to help raise awareness of and funds to fight the problem.
Liz O’Meara, founder of the online Ethical Souls Boutique, has brought the campaign to Cork for the first time and is urging women of all ages, from around the country to join her Dressember team.
From Midleton and living in Watergrasshill, Liz said: “Let’s see what the powerful women of Ireland can do — if we can work together to fight for a world without slavery.”
Liz has been providing fair trade clothing through her online business ethicalsoulsboutique.com which she set up in 2016 and where she now stocks around 15 different labels.
It was through one of the labels she stocks that she became aware of Dressember — still very new to Ireland — and decided to get on board.
“One of the brands I collaborate with is Elegantees who make beautiful cotton pieces and provide work and a safe place for women who were involved in sex trafficking in Nepal. Elegantees have partnered with Dressember and that’s how I heard about it,” she explains.
Since it was established officially in the US back in 2013, Dressember advocates have raised more than $3million to save women’s lives with an ultimate aim of dismantling the human trafficking industry.
So far, Liz has had interest from around 30 women and when her team is finalised she’ll announced their funding goal.
Her interest in ethical clothing started when she became more aware of the food she ate and the beauty products she used.
“Eventually, my search for a more simplistic lifestyle evolved into clothing. It became more apparent to me that I didn’t know where my clothing came from or who made them,” she said.
Finding ethical clothes in Cork wasn’t easy at the time, so the idea of Ethical Souls was born.
At the time she was working in a lab and now she’s in a sales role but can possibly see the time come where she works full time with Ethical Souls.
She feels that people’s mind sets are slowly but very surely starting to change.
And while she acknowledges that price points may deter some people from considering ethical clothing as they are more expensive - eg a sweater could cost around €80 as opposed to €10 on the high street — there are ways to make positive changes.
Her advice to women is to get repair clothes rather than replace them or get them restyled or altered where necessary.
“People need to start thinking about making their clothes last and being sustainable. Take care of what you have and then when you do have to replace it, source something better quality or Fair Trade,” she advises.
She says she feels her biggest challenge during Dressember will be wearing a dress on her days off at home when she would more typically wear a sweat pants.
“With my job I usually wear skirts or trousers. I’ll just have to be creative, use what I have and see how I go.
“I have around three or four work dresses and I can alternate and alternate and style them differently rather than just buy more,” she says.
Separately, Liz along with Cork’s Bronwyn Connolly of the ethical label Wear We Wander and who runs Wild Designs on Paul Street are holding a Green Friday as an alternative to the consumer driven Black Friday and will offer customers discounts on November 24.
Liz wants to sign as many women as possible to her Dressember team to help inspire and motive each other. Contact her on email@example.com.