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Radish Underground: Fair Labor Designs

Radish Underground in Portland

In 2004, costume designer Celestial Sipes bought an entire store’s worth of fabric, and started her own clothing line.

“My grandmother knew I was doing a ton of design and sewing and so when she stumbled upon an entire store worth of fabric that was getting sold off, donated and thrown away, she thought of me,” Sipes said. “Boom: instant career shift.”

Two years later, Sipes opened a store in partnership with her friend Gina Morris. Their shop, Radish Underground, launched with Sipes’ line Aster Park, along with Scarlet Oak, Morris’ line of handmade soaps and candles.

It didn’t take long for Sipes and Morris to expand into carrying other lines at Radish Underground. The shop currently sells items from a range of artists and designers, and features a different designer each month. Sipes said she and Morris are committed to helping designers develop and grow their lines, rather than simply focusing on buying and selling their products. Together, the owners provide feedback, teach classes and do face to face consultations with their emerging designers.

“We want to put some soul into shopping,” Sipes said. “It all boils down to our love for the independent designers who are working so hard to do right by the world and to create sustainable products and jobs.”

In September of 2011, Sipes and Morris combined their independent lines into a single Radish Underground line that includes apparel, candles, bags and jewelry.  The apparel line is produced locally, and uses all reclaimed and vintage fabrics. Radish Underground candles are poured in recycled glass containers using sox wax and hemp wicks. Jewelry is fashioned by rotating guest designers.

Sipes said that the shop’s base requirement for the designers they accept is that every product is fair labor.

“Our perfect line is local, eco-friendly, and fair labor,” Sipes said. “I would say that over half of our products are eco-friendly and we are adding more and more all the time.  There is a big movement among independent lines towards eco-friendly products, but it’s with the cost of base materials, it can be challenging to use exclusively eco-materials.  Almost all our our lines use eco-materials in a least a portion of their garments.”

Shop Radish Underground online.



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Written by Shanley Knox

Founder/owner of the Nakate Project, an initiative bringing third world female artisans to high fashion. I am passionate about all things that are truly sustainable, and truly making a positive difference in the world around us.

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