We have witnessed shifting perspectives that come with the industry of fashion and luxury. The two most kinetic sectors that hold the power to influence a large audience regardless of age and gender; are in the position to endorse and promote ethical and moral responsibility. Until, a few years ago the landscape of fashion brands was independent of environmental or artisanal obligation, for the most part, however with a deeper sense of awareness fashion brands and luxury labels have engaged in accountability towards environmental impacts, craftsmanship and charitable purposes giving us the movement of fashion with a cause. Let’s look at some of the brands that have made a difference through sustainable and philanthropic practices:
Michael Kors x U.N. Watch Hunger Stop
In collaboration with United Nations World Food Program (WFP), Michael Kors offers two special product lines that contribute to bring food and a better future to hungry children. Providing children with vital nutrition, vouching for sustainable development and running an emergency save lives programme, WEP aims to turn around lives of children in need. By joining hands with WEP, Michael Kors launched ‘Time To Act’ a line of watches endorsed by Kate Hudson, every purchase from the Watch Hunger Stop Runway goes to providing 100 meals to the children. ‘The Power Of Zero’ is a t-shirt line supported by Hailee Steinfield, is the second product of this kind which also, with every purchase donates 100 meals to children in need, helping the U.N. achieve it’s goal of Zero Hunger in the world by 2030. Designed by Eli Sudbrack, the multimedia artist based out New York, the 2018 campaign for this cause is all kinds of fashionable.
ASOS x SOKO, Kenya
Home to a diverse range of brands, ASOS took a step towards an ethical movement by collaborating with SOKO Kenya. Till date ASOS has over eleven collaborations with the foundation, the proceeds from the collection enable the workforce that is primarily women to have a better quality of life and gain enough funds to educate their children. Working closely with SOKO Kenya in Rukinga, Kenya, where the collection is crafted, in addition also runs an academy that teaches stitching whilst also training and educating the local community about sanitation and health care. The products are colorful and display several influences from the cultural foreground through prints and patterns.
H&M Conscious collection
This global fast fashion brand decided to take a greener step through sustainable fashion. The H&M conscious collection is made from recycled and organic materials. The brand focuses on innovation and development showcasing it through two ventures; TENCEL – organic and recycled polyester and linen and ECONYL – recycled silver to create a unique new material that adds a certain exquisite touch to it’s embroidered apparel. “The innovation behind sustainable materials never ceases to amaze. Recycled silver is made from scrap metal with minimal environmental impact and ECONYL® is a 100% regenerated nylon fibre from nylon waste that support clean oceans. The way the materials feature in our Conscious Exclusive collection shows how the latest technology can be incorporated with time-honoured techniques for spectacular results” says Ann-Sofie Johansson, creative advisor at H&M.
One of it’s kind that brought the movement of sustainability into the luxury landscape, Stella McCartney’s namesake brand has practiced ethical manufacturing processes since it’s inception. Every product is made of environmentally friendly raw materials such as recycled nylon, reusable polyester, organic cotton whilst the brand is also animal skin free and has a no fur policy. The designer also partners with non profit organizations such as Parley For Oceans and Fashion Positive to bring light to consumers and brands alike, about the carbon footprint their shopping and manufacturing choices have on the environment.
From dressing Kate Middleton to Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, Mumbai based fashion designer Anita Dongre has achieved global success. The designer is not only known for her fashion endeavors but also for being a strong and practical advocate for women empowerment. Working with tribal women of Mahrasthra in areas that are highly poverty stricken, she has taken big leaps for accelerated economic development, by establishing a production in Jawahar and Palghar, where she has also sustained a craft center that teaches tribal women the construction of garments. She works in the socio-economically regions through the means of her namesake foundation, the Anita Dongre Foundation. “The women were jobless as no employment opportunities were available in the village. Few were skilled in basic stitching but due to a lack of opportunities there, the women had no source of income” said Dongre in an interview with Lifestyle.
Sabyasachi is the silhouette of a brand that makes all bridal dreams come true. With exquisite craftsmanship and detailed techniques on his garments, he also meaningfully supports local artisans through employment. The designer has over 3000 craftsmen on his team with over 18 groups of artisans in regions of Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu along with a running non –profit movement founded in 2013 titled ‘Save The Sari’, to promote regional weaving techniques by karigars by allowing them to have a space in his store for selling of their products at no additional markup costs. “The country is changing so rapidly, and there’s such a wealth of craft and design here that has never been used to its potential. 50 years from now, if all these crafts die out because there is no demand and supply for them, the next generation will have nothing to fall back upon and we will only see it at the Victoria and Albert museum – which is sad. It is vital for us to connect better with our audience to create demand for karigars so that they have a sustainable living. And finally, there’s a big copy market, so through them craftsmen are getting good work which is wonderful!” tells Mukherjee in an interview with Border and Fall.
In collaboration with Mijwan Welfare Society, a Kaifi Azmi inter-college girls, The Sewing And Embroidery center, Manish Malhotra has reinterpreted the work of the craftswomen through a modern perspective. Chinkari is the primary focus around which the collaborative collection revolves, for which celebrities like Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone have walked. The objective of working with artisans that are part of an organization that believes in the mantra of ‘Employment, Self Reliance, Sustainable Development’, is to promote the richness that lies in the craft of these skilled workers and make them a regular practice in the fashion industry. The foundation now headed by Shabana Azmi and Namrata Goyal has celebrated over nine years of collaborative partnership with Manish Malhotra.
Door of Maai
With every collection revolving around a make that is environmentally friendly, this sustainably fashionable brand curates tastefully designed pieces for the modern woman. Using raw materials like GOTS certified cotton or khadi, Door of Maai is a brand with a strong belief in green fashion. The label that displayed it’s collections at Lakme Fashion Week has founded a social circuit called DOM Socials that provides community empowerment and aims at enabling social welfare through the means of workshops and tailored programmes. Door of Maai also began a Fashion Revolution campaign in 2018 with the hash tag #whomademyclothes to bridge the gap between labours and the consumers. The brand collaborated with Brown Boy Studios (Kolkata) to conduct a series of concept based educational and recreational workshops whilst also hosting a two week recycling program with the aim of making more fashion brands take responsibility for the environment.
By supporting humanitarian causes, providing a wider outreach to local and skilled craftsman and endorsing sustainable processes, fashion and luxury labels are set to create a lasting impact on consumers that goes beyond just aesthetics and superficial aspects, but in turn involves the audience to understand that responsible fashion is more than just the new trend on the block.