Famous YouTuber Zoe Sugg, also known as Zoella, and Talk Show Host Ellen DeGeneres have teamed up with Gap to release a new line of clothing for female empowerment.

The clothing line, called Gapkids x ED, encourages women of any age to feel strong and to voice their opinions. DeGeneres’ clothing brand, ED, has worked with Gap to combine comfy fabric and trendy styles with motivational quotes and symbols that inspire courage and confidence.

To show her support for the campaign, called GIRL, Sugg took a few minutes out of one of her vlog videos to flash one of her favorite t-shirts from the line. The British 25-year-old donned the GapKids x ED Energy Bolt Tee while introducing her involvement in GIRL to her nine million subscribers.

“This was something totally different, and I really, really loved this campaign. And I really wanted to get behind it and share it with you guys,” Sugg said in the video.

Expressing her backing for GIRL, DeGeneres said that one of the reasons she joined the campaign was because she shares some of the same ideals as Gap.

“Gap has always encouraged people to be themselves, and I love that they have the same values that I have; to be true to who you are and to wear cute pants,” DeGeneres said.

Not only do Gap and DeGeneres believe in sporting fashionable trousers, but they also think that self-image is a key step in female empowerment. DeGeneres said that she knows from experience that being true to yourself is important for growing and changing and that this campaign is demonstrating this notion by shining a light on real girls doing unique things.

GIRL focuses on three talented girls who each have something different to offer and demonstrate. The webpage for GIRL hosts three videos of each girl. Alexey, a young, bold and strong drummer, can be seen expertly beating her drum set. When asked what advice she has for girls, the little rocker gave a mature statement.

“Just follow what your heart says, and you can achieve it,” the 12-year-old said.

The other two girls featured by GIRL can also be seen in videos on the webpage. Torrae, a nine-year-old robotic hand technician, said that she is powerful because of her imagination. Twelve-year-old entrepreneur, Asia, started her own company when she was five and plans to start classes teaching kids her age about business.

Asia has big plans for her future. In her video, she proudly said that she wants to be a dancer, a singer, a rapper, a college graduate and the president of the United States.

Another girl representing the influence of personal voice is Sugg. With more than 700 million views on both of her YouTube channels combined, Sugg has been able to reach girls from all across the globe with her take on feminism in her fashion, beauty and life videos.

“So often, you can kind of get swept up in this world where you feel inferior or you feel like you should be doing something specific or you feel like you’re not doing something right. And it’s just a whole campaign basically to support girls to be who they are, and to be who they want to be. And I just think that that’s really amazing” Sugg said.

Like Sugg has done with her YouTube videos, DeGeneres said that this campaign has the ability to “break the internet.” GIRL encourages wearers of the brand to take selfies of themselves in the clothes and to share the pictures, as well as speak their views of feminism and equal rights.

DeGeneres added that there is also a collection by Gap x ED because they “believe in equal opportunity cuteness.”

Fallon Lineberger

Sources: Gap 1, Gap 2, Paste Magazine, YouTube 1, YouTube 2
Photo: Google Images

In the wake of the recent garment factory tragedy in Bangladesh, some high-profile retailers have signed an agreement to fund safety renovations on their factories there. Bangladeshi factories have a history of hazardous conditions. Workers are often willing or forced to work in obviously dangerous circumstances. The factory buildings can be unstable, usually resulting from illegal additions, and workers are often overcrowded and underpaid. The minimum wage in Bangladesh is roughly $38 dollars per month. However, most workers’ gratitude for the work is more powerful than their fear of the working conditions.

In November 2012, a fire in a Bangladeshi clothing factory killed 112 people. Although the multi-story factory employed 1,700 people, it was not equipped with any fire escapes. The factory had received a “high risk” safety rating in May 2011 and a “medium risk” rating in August 2011. The large conglomerate that owned the factory had a wide-reaching market. It sold to Walmart and IKEA, and exported to the U.S., Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands.

Although this fire was tragic, recent events in Bangladesh have understandably garnered much more attention and outrage. The garment factory building collapse on April 24th, 2013 claimed 1,127 lives. Authorities claim that the building owner added on to the factory illegally, so the structure was not as stable as it should have been. The owner also housed heavy equipment on upper levels, compounding the problem. Workers had seen a crack in the building and many had refused to come to work the day before the collapse. However, they had been forced to resume work as usual the next day. In what is considered a direct reaction to the tragedy, the Bangladeshi government recently decided to allow trade unions for garment works and appointed a committee to discuss raising the minimum wage. While these changes are a step in the right direction, their effectiveness is still in question. Companies can still fire workers for unionizing, and unsafe factory additions are clearly happening, even though there are safety regulations in place.

The recent tragedy in Bangladesh has resurrected ethical questions surrounding first-world clothing companies’ use of Bangladeshi workers as cheap labor. Labor rights activists have attempted to persuade some of these first-world companies to take action by covering the costs of improving safety conditions in the factories they do business with. Recently, two of these companies, H&M and Inditex, have done so by signing the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. This agreement states that retailers must pay for all necessary safety renovations to factories, which will be subject to independent inspections made available to the public. These companies have agreed not to work with any factory that resists essential building changes. Under the contract, workers are also granted the right to refuse to enter a building they deem unsafe.

This agreement is seen as a major step forward for the movement, as H&M is the chief manufacturer of clothing in Bangladesh and Inditex is the leading fashion apparel company in the world. PVH, the owner of Tommy Hilfiger, already agreed to these terms last year, and other agreements are in the works with Gap, Wal-Mart, and Benetton.

Katie Fullerton

Sources: ABC, NBC, Huffington Post