A little over a week ago, the world said goodbye to legendary designer and activist Vivienne Westwood. She was known not just for her creative collections but also for speaking up for what she believed in. In her spirit, here are a few things brands and designers everywhere can do to give back to our global community.
Simple and Generous: Donating Profit
This may not be the most complex or original idea, but it is as effective as it is straightforward. Giving a percentage of a company’s profit to charity is a solid way of promoting positive values, encouraging others to follow suit. Vivienne Westwood famously supported the Cool Earth initiative, donating over £1.5 million over the years.
An interesting example for such a donation comes from Conscious Step, a clothing company focused on socks and sweatshirts that donates a percentage of its profit to a cause. Shoppers choose the cause from an impressive list of organizations, including initiatives focused on educating kids, empowering women, protecting animals, planting trees, and more.
Giving audiences the power to choose a charity they support adds another dimension to the shopping experience. Giving someone the gift of cool socks and a donation to a cause dear to their heart seems like the perfect combination.
Goodness With a Grain of Salt: Donating Items
Some companies may donate some or all of their unsold stock to those in need. While that is a noble way of dealing with remaining inventory, preventing the waste caused by unnecessary items would be better.
Research shows that many items donated by businesses and individuals still end up in landfills. Around 80% of donated items do not find their way to someone in need. Instead, they are often shipped to other countries, such as Ghana and Chile, creating an even bigger problem elsewhere. One might wonder if we are indeed trying to help people in need or simply dump our waste out of sight, forcing countries without a voice to deal with the consequences.
The right way to approach the unsold stock problem is to stop it before it happens by opting for on-demand manufacturing. The item will be made only when it meets an interested shopper. Even in this case, we can’t tell whether or not shoppers would actually use the purchased item and for how long. A change in approach is necessary, and that is a task we cannot hand over to others.
Limited Edition, Unlimited Impact: Creating Social-conscious Collections
One of the recent Fashion Week collections by leading environmentalist Vivienne Westwood was made of materials meant to reduce the garment’s environmental footprint.
Loyal shoppers love to purchase special edition items from their favorite brands. Sometimes, the extraordinary element is the cause the collection promotes. For instance, we loved this limited edition bag by MEDEA, with a unique and informative print of the bank details necessary to donate to Mediterranea, an organization devoted to saving lives by making critical connections.
In addition to financial contributions, limited edition items from well-known brands attract attention and raise awareness to further promote the cause.
Give the Stage: Promoting Upcoming Designers
Designers who made it in the fashion world know how challenging the journey can be. Giving back by collaborating with upcoming artists and designers shows the brand’s confidence and collegial approach. Instead of fearing the next generation of creators, some brands welcome and embrace it, paving the way to more creativity and growth.
A few months ago, elite designers Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino were featured in a Vogue article dedicated to their welcoming acts of support. D&G provided one designer with fabrics and expertise, while Valentino allowed young designers to take over the brand’s Instagram account. Sure, these fashion leaders gained a few PR points, but we’d like to think there’s much more to it.
At Kornit, we have the opportunity to not only offer exposure to new designers but also provide them with the tools they need to print their vision. We regularly give fashion students access to our latest technology and love seeing the results and their impact on the designers’ career journey.
Fashion has a tremendous influence on the world, and harnessing it for a good cause is the best thing brands, and thought leaders can do. The world needs more people like Vivienne, and we invite you to take inspiration from her bold choices and follow her path.