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Fashion Travel Chronicles: Take 2 Granada, Spain

Cindy Rangel

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Why travel? There are so many reasons. It’s endless. I could never stop traveling but I can tell you some stories!

I’ll start with my first travel story abroad and it was about fashion or maybe it wasn’t…

No, not really. In fact, I realized I loved fashion way back when in home economics ( how cliché, I know!) and didn’t even realize it for so many reasons but I digress. That’s another post.

It was the year I was studying abroad in Granada, Spain with a bunch of my college friends. Most of them studied abroad in Andalucia and then others went up north to Barcelona. I was so excited to live abroad. I took off and it was the best decision I have made in college.

Alhambra

Alhambra

Although I had traveled most summers to Ecuador with my extended family while growing up in Chicago, nothing could prepare me for the vastness and culture of Spain.

After the 5-hour bus ride from Madrid to Granada and our introductory dinner with the program host, my friends all settled with their host families in their Spanish homes. Meanwhile I was selected to board in a flat with 8 other students from the University of Granada students.

It was different. I won’t lie. I didn’t see much of my host family but occasionally and it was more of a posh apartment set up.  I had my room. That’s it. I was living basically on my own.

But I loved it.

It was cleaned. People were nice for the most part. And we were fed family style fresh Spanish food every DAY!

I was abroad in the middle of spring and I was so happy! I was as far away from the cold of Chicago and from everything that was familiar. I craved adventure and so ready to be out of my comfort zone. 

I lived in that flat and had my own room. It was comfy. I was like I can do this. I have spoken Spanish in my family since childhood. I can do this in my sleep.

Wrong.

I learned SO MUCH SPANISH and I have been speaking it since infancy.  And it was the good kind. Learning the colloquialism in Spain was the best experience and I grew to bond with the people of Spain. 

So much fun.

Then, we all decided to backpack around Europe.  

With booked to flight to Rome from Madrid, that was the starting city to begin my travels with my college friends. I was the first to book the flight but did I know the plan? Did I have a map or book? Nope. (Yes, back then there was no gps…hahaha!!) I didn’t care I was so enamored with traveling. I just wanted to wander.

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But there was always that reliable friend who had the itinerary and plans. We followed her. She had the map and her cities mapped out and I was like ok, sure. Let’s go wander! I was going to Rome at 21 years old with friends, what did I care about a plan?

We boarded a direct flight to Rome and that would be the beginning of our wanderings: the Trevi fountain, Spanish steps, Colosseum, Sistine Chapel, and it went on…I was captivated and decided to never let go…travel was my religion. And I was devout.  

Ah, Rome. We were there for two days before we would headed to Nice, Pisa, Venice, Florence, Geneva, Salzberg, and Zurich. It was non-stop wandering for 9 days and I was smitten.

Rome was the most hilarious. With such a serious and religious climate, I threw my penny over my shoulder at the Trevi fountain 100% confident I would return this country.

Later that day, my high school friend and I decided to eat pizza at this restaurant like true tourists. Two suburban Chicago young students eating pizza in Rome.

Little did I know there would be a friendly Roman waiter talking to us and what appeared to be practicing his English.

Yawn…I only wanted to sightsee and here we go with Mr. friendly Roman. Well, after ordering, exchanging names, and some small talk, he proposed to me. Yes, proposed to me like proposed a marriage. How incredibly awkward! All I wanted to do was to keep on traveling but hey, I can’t even remember what I was wearing to recall at least my wardrobe!

Romans, so loving and perhaps he was flirtatious. But guess what, I had the last laugh. And so much fun. On we traveled to the next city.

Our trip continued to Nice, Italy. The architecture was just as amazing but so different. We wandered and kept on wandering…Italy, France, and Austria. I was going to go to London but I had to be frugal. It was absolutely stunning everything I saw and guess what? I didn’t even have a camera. A CAMERA!!

I know, it was criminal. I didn’t take a picture of my outfits back then. I had this broken old camera. I did get a camera later but most of my travels were over. But guess what? I had some blurry ones that vanished or I threw out b/c they were so bad.

It didn’t matter. (Okay, maybe a little because I didn’t capture the clothes and the architecture.)

But what mattered was how I felt in the Sistine Chapel. The musty smell and quiet serenity of the art while everyone was looking up. I felt was this overwhelming amount of nirvana of culture and appreciation. But most of all, I felt so adventurous and that could cure anything.

That’s what mattered. I’ve kept that trip to Spain close to me. All those experiences are close to my heart. I am so happy I went on my travels and realized my travel journey would never end. It was just beginning but what a start.

So, what’s my advice to you?

Take a good camera. But really, just go and see that place you’ve wanted to check out.

Book the flight, reserve that gorgeous hotel with your family and friends and travel.

After that keep traveling.

But don’t forget an unforgettable wardrobe. If it’s a thrifted black jacket or your favorite jeans. Travel your heart out. I did and made travel my religion.

Stay tuned for more travel and fashion chronicles on the next post. Have you had an unforgettable travel experience? If so, where? Comment below and watch out for more travel and fashion chronicles that will help you go from working travel to festive travel in no time. I did while I was abroad.

    

Fashion Travel Chronicles

Cindy Rangel

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Who, What, Where, Why and How? +MY STORY

 

In this blog series, I explain the facts. I know, facts, sounds dry and boring, right? It sounds like another lecture of guilt on how the apparel industry impacts worker’s rights and the planet, right?  Yes and no.  I am going to give you some terms to make them clear. Then, I am going to keep telling you a story.  Keep reading because I promise, the facts are important to the story.

 

Today we begin with what: Eco-fashion, ethical, fashion, and sustainable fashion have lately been the buzz words in the fashion industry and the media lately and that’s good, right? Sort of.  First, it’s good for the obvious reason, it’s creating more awareness about your clothing and shopping habits.  I live in the United States and fast fashion has been the ruler of all things apparel. I mean the czar of Zara is number 4 in the billionaire index right after Warren Buffet, the oracle of Omaha. But enough with the names. Is it fair enough to say ethical fashion is catching on within the United States or even on a global scale? And if so, how do we know? How is it measured? How can it be disrupted it?  Who will be the players to do so?  Big questions.

 

I like to question things a lot. 

 

Let’s continue with what: The main purpose of this post is to clarify what terms mean in this ever-evolving fashion industry.  What does ethical fashion mean anyway? Ethical fashion means to consider the labor and conditions of an apparel or accessory produced within the confines of the manufacturer so it can be bought and sold in a market. There are different perspectives on the terminology but overall two things need to be embraces: people and planet.  A third important factor in the business sector is of course, the profits. Ethical Fashion Forum editor Sarah Ditty, defines ethical fashion is to maximize the benefit to people and minimum impact on the environment.”

 

Ditty further explains sustainability itself is broken down to three main factors: profits, materials (fibers/natural resources) and human resources.  All of which are equal in importance and priority. 

 

Sustainable Fashion is more of an umbrella term consumers see in the media and with new brands entering the market.  It can more of an approach or philosophy in the fashion industry, Ditty highlights as well. One example of a sustainable fashion company is Patagonia, the Ventura based Patagonia’s mission is to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to environmental crisis.”

Patagonia, Chile

Patagonia, Chile

 

Lastly, I’d like to explain fair trade. The Fair Trade World Organization defines Fair Trade as “proof that greater justice in global trade is possible, highlight change in the rules for conventional trade to create successful businesses, to fight against poverty, climate change and economic crisis.” These three terms I view as the important terms to understand and note within the fashion industry.  More terms like eco-fashion, conscious fashion, green fashion and fair fashion can be interpreted to many players in the fashion industry and across the process of making a product. However, it is critical to view these terms to embrace people, planet and profits equally in the fashion industry and beyond. 

 

Now, I can begin with my story.   The juicy stuff and where I begin my story toward sustainable fashion.

 

What is my story? It can begin as a global story.  One that can goes far from borders and languages.  I am a first-generation daughter of immigrants. I was surrounded with a rich history of family and friends from different parts of the world. I always found that fascinating and captivating because I know everyone has a story from their hometown. I consider my hometown Chicago but where I really feel at home is traveling somewhere.

 

It all began when I would wander…do you remember when we had no i-phones? I do. I grew up in an era where kids would play outside and I would get lost going to the park, going to the pool and then I would do it all over again by myself or with neighborhood friends. I’d love meeting new friends and just talk to them about stuff.

 

At 7  years old, my parents would finally allow to me to walk to the library alone or walk a block and then come back home.  It would be muggy day outside & no sun in sight during the spring days in the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove. I’d have a stick in my hand and jump puddles to distract me. Then, I’d meet different neighborhood children that would also be outside wandering from their homes.

 

They would ask me to go play a sport or race down the sidewalk. We would play basketball on my driveway or run to the small playground around the block. Rain or shine we would be there. But it would be mostly rain because you know, Chicago…

 

The outdoors was where I felt the most alive and I enjoyed outdoor play throughout the years. I would become friends, then my friends would move or they would not be allowed to play or there would be busy with lessons. I would always be outside playing or riding my bicycle. 

This isn't me but I was a blond back then.

This isn't me but I was a blond back then.

It was a funny bicycle. My three sisters shared a used bicycle that was spray-painted construction orange, yes, orange. Then, it had this banana seat that was light blue with a white basket. How tacky but it worked because I traveled on that bicycle and it got me to the pool, my school, and summer camp. Yes, we got our own bicycles in middle school going into high school and they were used but who cared? It was my vehicle to travel my world. 

 

That was where my hunger to see the world began and it has never stopped…but what does this have to do with sustainable fashion?

 

Travel is where my purpose lives. I want to create a sustainable handbag travel company to keep that hunger for the outdoors and travel alive. My story is important and as I continue to tell it, I want you to be a part of these travel stories. I will continue to tell my story and how it unfolded into this obsession to begin my business in sustainable fashion. I want you to learn from it and see how it can help you. Plus, I want you to be a part of these travel stories. I invite you to become a part of the travel stories. I will be featuring different stories on my FB and IG social mediachannels. You can also sign up for my e-newsletter below to catch the process of my sourcing, the wonderful women I am meeting, and how I’m revamping my brand.  Don’t miss a thing and sign up to catch the women behind each step. I can’t wait to show you some of the fabric as I juggle my full-time job, family and this hunger to build my brand and hopefully inspire others. Oh, catch my next blog post on the apparel chronicles explaining WHO are the big and small players in the sustainable fashion sector. I promise I will continue with more stories on how fashion began to pull on my sleeve and wouldn’t let go of me. Thank you for reading and stay tuned to discover the multi-layers of the fashion industry.