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Fashion that give back: Labels with a conscience

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By Yatu Widders Hunt

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Whether it’s through volunteering, fundraising or donating to charity, there are a million and one ways to show your support for issues that matter like
reducing poverty, animal rights and Closing the Gap.

However, in the era of corporate social responsibility, where large companies are starting to think more seriously about how environmentally friendly and ethical they are- even the recent Olympics were dubbed the sustainable games! – the fashion industry is well and truly stepping up to the mark. We are constantly being encouraged to say no to labels who manufacture in sweat shops or who are major polluters. On the flip side, there are a whole bunch of small to iconic labels who are giving back and actually rising above industry standards to use their influence for good. So, not only can we shop with a conscience, what we buy can actually contribute to something meaningful. Here are my top 5 labels with a conscience- some of them might surprise you!


Bachhara
Director and designer of Bachhara, Amanda Ryan, is truly an inspiration. Not only does she create stunning summery dresses and kaftan style creations, she started the business in the slums of Bangladesh, with the aim of creating a sustainable business model for women in developing countries. Her collections are the perfect wardrobe staples coming into the warmer months and will easily take you from beach to bar. Bachhara describes itself as much more than just a fashion line. In fact, it calls itself a movement in using the power of community and storytelling to bridge the separate but similar worlds of women. Check out some of their amazing pieces at their online store

Gucci
Up until recently, I had no idea that Gucci was such a thinking fashion label, so I was excited to learn that they have a longstanding relationship with UNICEF- in fact it is a partnership of 7 years! To mark this milestone, the ‘GG Flag Collection’ has become the first retail range to support UNICEF’s Schools for Asia initiative, providing educational opportunities to disadvantaged children in Asia and the Pacific region. In addition to 25% of the sale price of each stylish bag going to this worthy cause, Gucci will also donate $350,000 in the name of its children’s collection.

 

TOMS
You can’t really talk about labels with a conscience without including TOMS in the lineup. This label creates stylish casual footwear and eyewear and works on a  ‘one for one’ principle. This means that for every item purchased, TOMS will provide a pair of shoes to a child in need or help give sight to someone in need. To date, TOMS has donated over 1 million pairs of shoes worldwide, working with partners to determine how and where to distribute them to those who need them most. As well as being able to order your shoes and sunnies online, visiting the TOMS website is also an educational experience. Check out their fantastic videos and information about their philosophy, programs and partners right here


Vans
Streetwear brand Vans recently teamed up with Krochet Kids International (KKI) to develop hand crocheted shoes. This might sound like an odd pairing, but KKI is a not for profit organisation which works with women in developing countries to crochet items, as a way to support them to rise  out of poverty. The collaboration saw the limited edition ‘Bixie’ shoe being created, each pair coming with a hand signed tag from the woman who made them. You can find out more about it here.

Sosume
Homegrown eco fashion label Sosume, not only cares about using all natural and organic fibres, its social conscience extends well beyond the environment. For only $50, you can pick up an effortlessly chic charity tee, which helps to raise funds and awareness for depression research. The super soft and sustainable style is the product of a partnership between Sosume and The Black Dog Institute, one of the world leaders in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders. You can grab your fashion for a cause piece at the Sosume website right here

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Yatu Widders Hunt - to view all of Yatu's blog post click here

A communications professional in the Government sector for almost 10 years, Yatu has been working across the environment and sustainability portfolios, among others. She is also a freelance writer and blogger with a keen interest in eco and sustainable fashion and beauty, social justice and health and wellbeing. You can read Yatu’s eco style blog Thinking Fashion.

Website: http://thinkfash.tumblr.com/

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