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Columbia Missourian

Fashion show raises awareness of human trafficking

By Brooke Shunatona
September 26, 2010 | 8:19 p.m. CDT
Margaret Howard gives a speech at the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition fundraiser at the Parkade Center on Sunday. This was Howard's first time talking about her personal experiences being trafficked and said she was honored and grateful to speak.

COLUMBIA — A group's fundraiser worked to stop human trafficking one dress at a time on Sunday night.

Freedom by Fashion, an event put on by the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition, transformed the hallways of Parkade Center, 601 Business Loop 70 W., into a runway catwalk. More than a hundred people attended the event.

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Local designers created the clothes and volunteers were the models. Vendors sold fair-trade items at booths, and attendees donated money to stop human trafficking through raffles and silent auctions.

Human trafficking is the enslaving of victims for commercial sex or labor purposes.

“The fashion industry has really been a target of slavery through sweatshops,” said Deb Hume, co-chair of Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition. “A lot of the time we don’t even know where the product came from.”

Businesses such as Maude Vintage, Hu Hot and Mary Kay Cosmetics donated items in support of the cause.

“It’s important to get the word out,” said Pegi Phillips-Sapp, a volunteer at a fair-trade vendor, Global Market. “The more people take a stand, the less popular they’ll be and hopefully eradicated.”

Clothing from independent and Stephens College designers, and the Mustard Seed, a fair-trade shop downtown, was featured at the show. Thirteen different designers participated, and about half of the outfits shown were from Mustard Seed. The show included:

Stephens students used fair-trade fabric for inspiration and when creating their outfits.

 “I chose seam lines that are really bold and confident,” Leah Shepard, a student at Stephens, said. “Because when someone’s sold, that’s what’s taken from them — their confidence and justice.”