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Summer 2021 Fashion Trends through a Fair Trade Lens

Summer 2021 Fashion Trends through a Fair Trade Lens

Model walks, laughing with the Summer Days Bandana tied around her neck and the. Eco-Leather Shoulder Bag on one shoulder in this summer 2021 fashion trends GIF.
Our model Janelle is strutting the Summer Days Bandana and the Eco-Leather Shoulder Bag

Every summer folks re-emerge from their winter hibernation, officially stashing their rain boots after spring showers and pulling sun dresses and Ts out of the backs of closets. This year, re-emergent fashion takes on a whole new meaning as we collectively re-emerge from a year-long pandemic quarantine and slowly ease into a new season; both literally and figuratively.

Are you excited for what’s on the horizon, or cringing at the thought of reentering the world? Wondering where to begin? Worried nothing in the back of the closet will fit this new post-pandemic body of yours? Whatever you’re feeling, you’re not alone. We’ve rounded up some summer trends from internet fashion gurus, filtered it through our fair trade fashion lens, and we have a re-emergent fashion starting line sketched out just for you.

Accommodating Pieces

Model twirls in the black and white Light and Airy Topper with the Crossbody Woven Purse over her shoulder in this GIF.
Light and Airy Topper

It was no surprise that no matter where we looked, a summer 2021 fashion trend is pieces that can accommodate any fluctuations your body may experience. These pieces have stretchy waistbands, and a loose fit so you have outfits to reach for even when you’re a size or two off from your average. Changes to your body’s shape and size are very normal, especially during periods of stress and inactivity (hello, quarantine), and many of us are emerging from our pandemic confinement a different size than we went in. Toppers and wraps like the Damask Print Wrap and Light and Airy Topper are excellent additions to an existing wardrobe (even if you’re rocking a carefully curated capsule wardrobe) to punch up basics or hide any fit flaws in your basics if you’ve experienced body changes. Good news: these will always fit and remain on-trend giving them a longevity bonus.

Model wears the Damask Print Wrap in this summer 2021 fashion trend. She appears to be walking with the wrap flowing around her with the Sunbeam Purse in her left hand.
Damask Print Wrap

The lightweight fabric and flowing silhouette make the Damask Print Wrap and Light and Airy Topper summertime stars. Extra credit: they double well as swim suit cover-ups and maternity wear!

Model looks off in the distance wearing the Jamdani Weave Scarf around her neck over a blue chambray shirt. Waterfalls crash behind her.
Jamdani Weave Scarf

This jamdani weave scarf is another lovely lightweight, varied coverage option. Wearable as a scarf, or as a shawl, this incredible display of an ancient Bengali weaving technique is a wonderful companion from the pool to a plane.

Woven Bags:

Woven bags appear as a timeless summer staple year after year, and we are proud to show off the work of our artisan partners whose traditional hand weaving practices create stunning bags. You may find mass produced versions of woven bags in big box stores around the nation, but don’t be fooled. The woven bags found at Ten Thousand Villages are hand woven by artisans in Bangladesh who infuse their weaving tradition and cultural heritage into their designs. The basket bag is top of the summer trend charts this year, and we have options for you!

Trend-forward woven bags sit one in front of the other with fresh flowers in them. Handwoven bags with natural grasses and upcycled sari.
Around Town Tote

The Around Town Tote is hand woven hogla grass with colorful splashes of upcycled cotton sari. This bag is handcrafted by artisans working with Dhaka Handicrafts, our fair trade partner who works with makers in rural Bangladesh. The rigid form for ease of use and oversized statement handles make this bag stand out from the others on the market.

The Modern Art Tote

Looking for a woven bag that can crossover as a purse? The Modern Art Tote is lined and boasts an interior pocket for organizing, while staying on-trend as a summer woven. The modern aesthetic in the weave gives this tote an extra unique punch. Also handcrafted by artisans working with Dhaka Handicrafts.

Cutouts, Chain and Netting

Maybe it’s the fact we all felt trapped in a dystopian nightmare in 2020. Maybe it’s the fact 90s fashion has seeped back into the spotlight right on time. Whatever the reason, we’re embracing the emergence of all things cutouts, chain and netting that are predicted in upcoming fashion trends.

Model is wearing the Small Chain Link Bracelet, the Large Chain Link Bracelet and other coordinating pieces to achieve this summer 2021 fashion trend look.
Small Chain Link Bracelet and a Large Chain Link Bracelet

Dip your toes into this trend with some brass chain link bracelets handcrafted by artisans in Kenya. These come in both a Small Chain Link Bracelet and a Large Chain Link Bracelet. Layer them up together in varying sizes or add in some other textures too!

Eco Impact Awareness

Eco impact a summer 2021 fashion trend? It’s true! The web is all a buzz with luxury brands waking up to their impact under pressure from conscientious consumers. We are thrilled to see this “trend”! As the originators of fair trade, we have been following the lead of our artisan partners for 75 years as they have taught us varied sustainability practices and their symbiosis with their land. We have always put people and planet first and are thrilled to see that fashion is evolving to keep social and environmental impact in mind.

Summer 2021 Fashion Trend: The Eco-Leather Woven Purse, a brown leather woven purse with brass accents lies on linens with a sprig of greenery.
The Eco-leather Woven Purse marries the woven summer trend with the luxury of leather

Eco-leather is one of the materials that highlights this slow shift on the horizon in large-scale manufacturing that the artisans we partner with have been practicing for centuries. Typical, mass-produced leather is most often tanned in modern factories with dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde and azo dyes, causing runoff and risk to the makers. Eco-leather, like the leather goods produced by our artisan partner group CRC Exports in India, is tanned in small batches using tea tree bark and waxes with an ancient method known as “vegetable tanning.” Same luxury, better process.

The Yellow Ikat Drop in Bag boasts an eco-leather body and tassel with a handmade ikat design on juco (cotton & jute weave) fabric. Use this cutie as a clutch, or to drop into an oversized bag.)


While trends are fun, especially with fair trade swaps, sustainability is a lifestyle that should stick. Circularity is the idea that products ought to be produced with their full life cycle in mind, and that life cycle should conclude at biodegrading. This means products need to be produced with quality, purchased with intention, used as long as possible in their first and richest form, repurposed, then composted or otherwise broken down. Do the products in your closet lend to this circular fashion model? Do the places you shop think circularly? Something to consider this summer as you fill in the gaps in your wardrobe and reemerge from your quarantine cocoon.

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