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Social Responsibility in Fashion: Why Brands Need to Give Back

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Social responsibility is a big thing in fashion today. And with an ever-growing demand for ethical design and sustainable production, brands needs to consider different ways of engaging their target audience. This often means using a combination of channels and working on brand collaborations that can benefit all parties.

Collaborative collections and co-promotion can help everyday fashion brands connect with the hard-to-reach ethical shopper.

How Collaborations Can Work for Your Brand

Like most of the arts, fashion is a very inclusive and creative field. So it’s not unusual to see designers working together on one-off collections, or competitors coming together to promote a bigger cause.

Designers such as Stella McCartney have long been flying the flag for sustainable fashion that is both kind to the earth and to animals. Her vegan friendly label has proved that there is a market for high end vegan wear, and she has always worked closely with charities and environmental organisations to get her brand name out there.

Her recent collaboration with Parley for the Oceans is a great example of a pre-competitive partnership with a strong message that speaks to the fashion audience. This project is a long term commitment to sustainability and sees Stella’s designs using Parley materials in replacement of woven polyester, turning sea trash found in the oceans into recycled fashion.

Another example of a co-operative campaign is the ‘WE ARE HANDSOME X YOOX’ swimwear range for 2017, which uses social media to promote the collection using hashtag #YOOXLOVESTHEREEF.


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This collaboration is focused on the one-off collection of swimwear pieces, which for every item sold will donate a percentage towards the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. In an attempt to save the largest living organism on the planet.

Celebrity Status and Ethical Fashion

Another way to join the sustainable fashion movement in 2017 is to use celebrity endorsements. The huge success of Stella McCartney’s vegan fashion label can perhaps partially be explained by her personal fame. As the daughter of Paul McCartney and American musician, photographer and animal rights activist Linda McCartney, she has grown up in the spotlight in a vegetarian household. So she was already a huge figurehead for vegans and vegetarians all over the world.

With so many fashion houses relying heavily on leather, fur, wool down and cashmere, Stella’s brand stood out as a luxury label that would say no to any materials that have come from animals.


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A more recent celebrity endorsement to take note of is Emma Watson for ethical brand ZADY in AW16. The actress, who has been a long-time advocate of ethical fashion, approached the brand to create bespoke items inspired by her own personal style.

It’s also worth noting that reality TV star founded The Little Market, an online fair trade marketplace for handmade goods by artisans from around the world. And supermodel Christy Turlington was involved in a series of short films called ‘Threading: Driving Fashion Forward’ to promote sustainability in fashion design. As well as male celebrity endorsements that have been similarly successful from when he partnered with Coca Cola for EkoCycle, Pharrell Williams with RAW for the Oceans, to Neil Young’s work with Farm Aid.

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