Clothing Companies That Give Back
It is possible to make a positive impact through one’s purchases when buying for oneself or gift-giving. Below are 10 clothing companies that give back to those in need.

10 Clothing Companies That Give Back

  1. Anchal: Anchal is an accessory company that sells items like scarves, outerwear and handbags. Sisters Colleen and Maggie Clines founded the company in 2010 after seeing the exploitative world of commercial sex trafficking and the lack of opportunity for women in India. The Cline sisters believe that design and interdisciplinary collaboration can be a catalyst for positive change. The company uses design in order to include working women in every step of production. Through intensive design workshops, artisans learn problem-solving and how to create new designs. By offering economic alternatives, rich in self-expression and rooted in community, the company is helping women rediscover their worth, potential and creativity. Female artisans, that received employment through the company’s holistic programs, craft each product.

  2. Raven and Lily: Another of the clothing companies that give back is Raven and Lily, which is an accessory company that sells luxury handbags and jewelry. The company’s prime focus is to make products that bridge gaps between traditional and modern, near and far and people and planet. Each product is handmade by women with sustainable materials and a careful touch. Raven and Lily work to empower women by working with artisans from all around the world and some of these areas include Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru and Mexico. Raven and Lily is a certified Fair Trade and Microloan organization; with every purchase, the company gives back to a microloan program that supports female entrepreneurs in East Africa.

  3. Panda Sunglasses: WearPanda is a sustainable accessory company that sells eyewear as well as watches. The company focuses on giving back to the planet and its inhabitants. The bamboo-made products helped to create the idea of “fashion with a purpose;” with every product the company sells, a portion of the profit goes to people in need. This company has helped Optometry Giving Sight screen about four million people, deliver over 20,000 pairs of glasses and support more than 15 optical labs and over 100 optometry students in 39 countries. WearPanda also partners with the nonprofit Kiva and has helped support 12 microloans in 10 countries.

  4. Sudara Punjammies: In 2006, Sudara partnered with a sewing center in India and taught six women how to sew patterns in pajama pants, and they eventually became Punjammies. Shannon Keith founded this company after returning from a trip to India and hearing about women who were at high risk of their families forcing them into sex slavery or sex traffickers picking them up off the streets. Women in India often enter sex slavery because they lack an education or the resources and the skills to make a choice. After returning from her trip, Keith formed a small team of her family and friends. They looked for groups in India with a determination to help women out of the red light districts. The team knew that safe, steady living-wage employment would be a pathway to freedom and offer more choices for women. By making donations and purchasing Sudara goods, customers are helping to keep millions of women and young girls out of the sex trafficking industry in India.

  5. 31 Bits: 31 Bits is an ethical jewelry company that emerged after one of its three founders went on a trip to Uganda. While traveling, she discovered numerous women who grew up in war and had nothing. They were single mothers with no education or jobs; the founders yearned for change due to how young these women were. They discovered that these women did not have a basic education, but they were resourceful and made gorgeous jewelry out of old posters and scraps. The founders found that these women had the skills but just needed a market. From there, the founders created 31 Bits, a company that focuses on making fashionable products that could also help artisans from around the world to acquire dignified jobs and have access to the global market.

  6. Teysha: Teysha is a footwear company that strives to connect people through art, community and culture. The shop merges heritage with contemporary art so that communities and art can flourish. Teysha works directly with artisans in Guatemala and Panama to develop local infrastructure, value chains, designs and production processes, which work together to honor traditional craftsmanship while bringing market access and opportunity. The company has worked to support over 60 families with wages that Teysha provided. The organization also has four shops in Guatemala which women run, and these shops have also provided over 20 educational workshops.

  7. Sseko Sandals: Sseko is an accessory and clothing company that emerged to allow young women in Uganda to receive higher education. In order to help, Sseko hires these women during the nine-month period between secondary school and college. By working with Sseko, these women are not only able to save money for education, but they also gain important skills and work with professional mentors to obtain valuable work experience. At the end of the nine-month period, the company matches each woman’s savings by 300 percent. Every woman who has graduated from Sseko’s program has been able to pursue a college education. As of 2019, Sseko has helped its 131st woman attend university.

  8. Cotopaxi: Cotopaxi is a clothing and outdoor gear company that awards grants to outstanding nonprofit organizations with track records at improving the human condition and ending poverty. A few of the organizations include The International Rescue Committee, Escuela Nueva, the U.N. Foundation, Nothing But Nets, Mercy Corps and a division of Utah’s Department of Workforce Services. The shop is a B Corporation, which means that 1 percent of profits go towards addressing poverty and supporting community development. Cotopaxi also has a grant program to promote organizations that are successfully improving the human condition. As of now, Cotopaxi has awarded 42 grants in six focus countries.

  9. Faircloth & Supply: Phoebe Dahl founded Faircloth & Supply in 2013 with the idea of creating timeless fashion designs that could help to create a path that leads to a more sustainable industry. Linen casual wear, heritage textiles and utilitarian workwear inspire Dahl’s line. Faircloth Supply’s collection donates a percentage of its proceeds towards girls’ education in Nepal. The company also has the option for customers to donate to the charity of their choice upon checkout on its website. Dahl believes that in order to prevent sex trafficking, child marriage and children’s rights violations, children must obtain a basic education. With every purchase, Faircloth & Supply provides access to education for girls in Nepal.

  10. DIFF Charitable Eyewear: DIFF Charitable Eyewear is a company that sells eyewear, as well as eyewear accessories. The company’s mission is to use fashion as a force for good. Since 2015, DIFF has donated over one million eyeglasses to people in need around the world with its buy one give one structure. The company also encompasses worldwide programs in support of empowerment and education through Project DIFF. Through Project DIFF’s Pouch Program, the company provides dependable incomes to female artisans and is helping to develop Little Angels School. One way it is accomplishing this is through the crafting of elaborate sunglass cases in Uganda and its partnership with Tribe Alive in Honduras. Proceeds from the pouches go to Little Angels School in order to support it in accomplishing its goal of creating a safe, positive environment for learning, and providing the necessary tools to make it happen. Through the company’s partnership with Tribe Alive, DIFF works to empower women around the world. Ten female artisans in Tegucigalpa, Honduras handmake each of the sunglass chains and the sale of these helps each one provide a sustainable, living wage to support her family.

These 10 clothing companies that give back are working to end global poverty with every purchase. Where one chooses to spend their money can have a great impact on those who really need it. Try shopping where it counts when looking to purchase articles of clothing, jewelry, accessories or shoes.

Juliette Lopez
Photo: Flickr

ethical shopping websites
Online shopping is a quick, convenient way to buy almost everything these days. However, as more consumers become concerned with labor conditions and the ethics of the companies they are purchasing from, online shopping has become more complicated. In order to help users see which brands align most with their ethics and values, multiple platforms have become available to help take the guesswork out of ethical shopping. Using one or all of these ethical shopping websites allows consumers to vote with their dollars and take some of the guilt out of online shopping.

Good On You

Good On You is available both on the web and as an app. It ranks clothing brands on a zero to five scale based on their performance in three categories: people, planet and animals. The organization then uses the ratings of these categories to formulate the brand’s overall rating from one to five. Good On You provides links to where users can buy Good and Great brands (rated fours and fives, respectively) on its respective rating pages.

The people category focusses on workers’ rights across a brand’s supply chain. Factors taken into consideration include practices and policies related to child labor, worker safety, forced labor, the right to join a union and payment of a living wage. The planet category considers a brand’s impact on the environment. Specific metrics included in the evaluation are resource use and disposal, carbon emissions, energy use, water use and chemical use and disposal. The animal category is concerned with whether or not a company uses animal products, and if so, the sourcing of such products. Specific animal products Good On You notes include fur, down feathers, angora, karakul, shearling and the skin and hair of exotic animals. The company also considers if and how brands use wool, mulesing and leather.

For each of the three categories, Good On You also considers whether or not brands are taking positive steps toward becoming more ethical or showing industry leadership. Conversely, it also considers “negative citizenship” practices, such as lobbying against legislation to reduce harm or increase transparency.

The organization sources information used to determine brand ratings from independent certification schemes and rating projects like Fair Trade, OEKO-TEX and the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Where one of the rating projects does not cover an ethical issue, Good On You utilizes the brand’s public statements. However, Good On You only uses brand statements if they make specific and relevant claims. In most cases, if these claims are false, the company in question would be violating misleading advertising laws, and thus, people would not consider the claims reliable.

Ecoture

Ecoture is one of Australia’s only ethical shopping websites. It allows users to shop ethical clothing and beauty brands all in one place. Like Good On You, Ecoture allows users to see which brands align most with their values. Icons designate whether or not a brand is cruelty-free, natural, upcycled/recycled, ethically made, organic, vegan, handmade, sustainable or vegetarian.

Ecoture’s Impact

Ecoture also commits to alleviating labor abuses and the poverty that comes with them. Today, an estimated 40 million people are garment workers, and 85 percent of them are women. Ecoture has partnered with i=Change to help empower the girls and women working in the garment industry. The organization partners with multiple NGOs in order to support projects that directly impact the lives of women and girls worldwide.

With every purchase from Ecoture, consumers may choose an NGO fighting on behalf of women and girls in developing countries. Then, Ecoture donates $1 per sale to that customer’s organization through i=Change. Customers can then track the impact of Ecoture and i=Change supported projects, allowing them to see just how Ecoture is using their contributions.

Online shopping does not have to mean compromising on ethics or core values. With ethical shopping websites like Good On You and Ecoture, consumers are able to choose which brands, causes and values they should use their dollars to support and promote.

– Shania Kennedy
Photo: Pixabay

10 Great Fair Trade Stores
According to the World Bank, 10 percent of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty. This means they make less than $1.90 per day. Fairtrade is an innovative business model that aims to combat global poverty. Workers who produce fair trade products are paid a fair and livable wage by their employers. Each product they produce tells a story about corresponding culture and craftsman. Fairtrade ensures safe working conditions for men, women, and children as well as products that are environmentally sustainable.

By shopping fair trade, you can provide support to impoverished communities, worldwide. Here is a list of 10 great places to do so.

10 Great Fair Trade Stores

  1. Ten Thousand Villages: Founded in 1946, this store has expanded into a chain across the US. The store’s name took inspiration from a Gandhi quote: “Because in every village are people who want to live a meaningful life with dignity and who bring beautiful culture worth sharing.” Ten Thousand Villages works to embody this quote by selling handcrafted materials and products from an assortment of villages worldwide. The products sold range from jewelry all the way to gourmet chocolate. On average, each craftsman has sold their products through Ten Thousand Villages for 25 years.
  2. Greenheart Shop: This store is the only fair trade store in Chicago Illinois. They sell items from all categories, such as clothes, jewelry, dishes and rugs, all of which are eco-friendly, and as they put it, “carry a social mission.” Their craftsmen are sourced worldwide, contributing from as far away as Tunisia in North Africa.
  3. Fair Trade Winds: This family-run business has five locations across the U.S.–Bar Harbor, Maine, Boulder, Colorado, Fairfax, Virginia, Hudson, New York and Seattle, Washington. It was founded by a couple who bought and sold fair trade items such as coffee, tea, and chocolate at their church through a nonprofit called Lutheran World Relief. As time went on, this couple began selling the fair trade products at other churches, fairs, and events until they eventually invested in a retail space, thus establishing Fair Trade Winds.
  4. Fair Trade Jewelry Company: Located in Toronto Ontario, this store is the first Jeweller in North America to use fairtrade certified gold. To make their jewelry, they use a blend of fair trade gold as well as recycled gold to ensure that their jewelry is both socially and environmentally conscious. They work with miners to teach them how to use mining techniques that are safe and efficient.
  5. The Mustard Seed: Located in Lake Forest, Illinois, this store donates all their profits to organizations that support and empower at-risk women and children. Founded in 2009, The Mustard Seed employs an entirely volunteer workforce, which allows them to donate 100 percent of its profits to charities. Over the last 9 years, The Mustard Seed has donated roughly $200,000 to women and children.
  6. WHEAT: Founded in 1990, WHEAT, which stands for World Hunger Education, Advocacy and Training, is a fair trade store that supports craftsmen from over 30 countries. They sell many items including coffee, jewelry, ceramics and candlesticks. Their goal is to allocate their profits to help feed, house, clothe and educate the less fortunate. They are located in Phoenix Arizona.
  7. The Himalayan Bazaar: Located in Ann Arbor Michigan, this store sells handcrafted gifts and gear from Nepal. Their goal is to educate the community on culture, travel and adventure. In addition to their storefront, they also provide tours of the Himalayas in Nepal twice a year.
  8. Trade Roots: Established in Arlington Virginia, this store is a coffee shop, wine bar and gift shop all in one. Their craftsmen use recycled materials such as aluminum cans, textiles, and telephone wires to create original jewelry, clothes, baskets, etc. They embody a commitment to sustainable products.
  9. JustGoods: This store sells handcrafted goods such as jewelry, coffee, and clothing from 25 different countries. Their supply-chain represents almost all seven continents. They are run by volunteers, many of whom were once Peace Corp members. Their building is powered by LED lights and wind turbines to ensure environmental sustainability. They are located in Rockford Illinois.
  10. Simply Fair: Located in Springfield Illinois, this fair trade boutique sells handcrafted items from 40 nations. They offer daily samples of coffee and chocolate to their customers.

The above list only encompasses a small percent of the total fair trade stores in North America. A website called “Change The World by how you Shop” can help you find other great fair trade stores near you. All you have to do is provide your zip code. By shopping fair trade, people worldwide are given the opportunity to escape poverty and pursue a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.

– Emily Turner
Photo: Flickr