By Madeline Bennett
I get it - we are college girls living in an expensive world and ethical fashion can be a hard feat! I personally succumb to a Forever 21 purchase every time I see those bright sale signs in their flashy windows; old habits die hard, but after learning how horrible they treat their employees and reading the stories of those being empowered by ethical fashion brands, even my lowly college status isn’t enough to keep me away from buying into ethical brands.
Intelligence and innovation run rampant among college campuses, and we as students cannot interact with fellow intellects without also opening our wardrobes to innovation and empowerment as well. We are told constantly to serve minority groups on our campuses through awareness and support, yet one question I am constantly facing is why am I caught buying those frilly Forever 21 dresses when there are women around the world unable to send their children to school? Why do I claim to support ethical causes within my college campus, yet I totally reject ethical causes within our world!
After visiting and researching each of the brands listed below, I realized that I have the opportunity to empower women across the world simply by buying clothing or accessories, which is a constant act I already take part in! With purchasing items from these brands, I’m an ethical advocate for those on my campus, but also families abroad! Although the alluring sale signs will continue to tempt me, I am confident in all college students’ ability to reject the sale and empower the female! I am confident in our ability to refute the lie that we cannot afford ethical fashion, but rather, ethical fashion cannot afford to be overlooked any longer!
1 | Noonday
Shop this jewelry and accessory company when you’re wanting to help brilliant artisan entrepreneurs in at-risk communities across the world. Noonday establishes artisan businesses that are rooted in fair trade with a promise to grow sustainably and craft dignified jobs for those in need of them. By paying fair wages they empower their artisans to send their children to school, rather than work.
Plus, this brand encourages women (their loyal fans) to become Noonday Ambassadors. There are nearly 1,000 women selling Noonday’s jewelry and accessories at trunk shows and 10% of all sales at specific Adoption Trunk shows are given to families in the process of adopting a child. In the year of 2016, Noonday employed 4,431 artisans, held 12,780 trunk shows in all 50 states, and donated $121,000 to 900 adopting families!
2 | Raven and Lily
This certified B Corporation seeks to relieve poverty through employing over 1,500 women at fair wages. Their workers come from a multitude of countries, such as Pakistan, India, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Kenya, and Peru, most who have been trafficked, are HIV+, in oppressive situations, or previously homeless. In 2014 and 2016, Raven and Lily was named the Best for the World in Community Impact, which signifies their promise to providing sustainable fair trade wages, employing impoverished women, while also donating to the artisan communities for their healthcare and educational needs! Raven and Lily’s products run the gammut from jewelry, to clothing, to other sorts of household accessories, so you can shop to your little heart’s content.
3 | Ashabelle
Ashabelle is a jewelry and accessory company that derives its roots from a ministry named Sahayak in Zakihra, India. Less than 10% of the women of Zakihra are employed, yet they are also the sole income-earners for their entire families. Sahayak sought to empower these women through teaching them the art of jewelry making, so that they could support their families, while also providing healthcare, educational opportunities, and school sponsorship for their children.
From this ministry in 2014, Ashabelle was crafted to expand the impact. Ashabelle’s means beautiful hope, and they seek to provide this by lifting entire families out of poverty. Ashabelle’s collection is simple and elegant, while trendy yet classy. They believe that every artisan has a beautiful hope for the future, and customers willing to invest in ethical fashion are bringing this hope to them!
4 | Everlane
Everlane is a full collection brand that believes in radical transparency. Everlane’s motto is, “know your factories, know your costs, and always ask why”. This motto drives their decision to detail the factory, as well profit and cost break down on every product page. They also sell directly to you, so they can keep their costs low and cut out the high markups from retailers. Take a look it’s super interesting!
Everlane encourages consumers to know their factories, so they take initiative and time to find the best factories around the world! Like THR3EFOLD, Everlane requires intensive workplace compliance paperwork to guarantee that factories are acting ethically with their workers.
5 | Purse & Clutch
Purse & Clutch is a socially conscious handbag brand that employs artisans from Guatemala and Ethiopia who seek to provide fresh, vibrant essentials for the everyday woman. Their goal is to provide long-term employment by overseeing the design and production of these gifted artisans. Their motto is straight to the point: to be an agent of change in the fashion industry while connecting like-minded women around the world.
Purse & Clutch provides top-notch products that go through multiple stages of development, and this company ensures that their products are made in an ethical and quality sort of manner. Their teams across Guatemala and Ethiopia consist of women who are in desperate need of consistent employment to provide for their children. These employees can also provide for their families in one of the most important ways, which is quality time; mothers are able to work from home so that they may care for younger children and children with disabilities.
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