Written by Emma D'Arcy
From our favourite jewelry brands to homeware and fashion houses, brands are becoming more imaginative than ever before, in how they connect with us and commit to their ‘why’.
We’re seeing inspirational initiatives from trailblazers, artists, creatives and marketeers to give back to the world, and they are gaining momentum as we collectively look to support brands that demonstrate real purpose when we spend.
You’ll remember some of the good news stories that emerged during the height of the pandemic as the fashion world galvanized resources to contribute to the global effort to save lives. From Burberry to Louis Vuitton, brands re-purposed their workshops and factories to produce gowns and masks, whilst utilizing their supply chain network to help deliver essential supplies to hospitals. Sandro launched an initiative to provide breakfasts for healthcare workers in key cities across Europe and the US, and Crocs donated hundreds of thousands of shoes for frontline workers globally – there are countless stories of how the fashion world acted quickly to provide essential support to the healthcare industry. As the fashion industry itself was hard hit, initiatives such as “A Common Thread” launched by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (spearheaded by chairman Tom Ford and Vogue’s Anna Wintour) have provided essential funding and community support to designers.
On a more local level, we’ve all heard stories of heroic and touching efforts from all kinds of local businesses. One of my personal favourites was during my summer staycation in the U.K., as we meandered through a picturesque coastal town, and visited a local cafe for lunch. Whilst waiting for our coffees, I discovered a noticeboard stating, “Pay it with a post it,” filled with notes from locals, offering customers who were going through a tough time a free lunch or coffee, paid for as an act of kindness from a stranger! We have all heard about stories of kindness like this that make a huge difference to the community they are supporting.
Brands have also never been more accountable for their impact on our planet, and as consumers are making purchasing decisions more mindfully than ever before, investing and developing long term sustainable business practices will be a fundamental focus for brands of the future. Major changes are required from the fashion and lifestyle industries in order to meet consumer expectations, but as long as brands are authentic and transparent about their goals and current progress, then they should continue to succeed. Brands that are setting specific goals and adapting – like Levi’s– who are working towards using only sustainably sourced cotton by 2025, and trialing durable fabrics including cottonseed hemp. Activewear brands from Madewell to Patagonia and Adidas are all focusing on plastic-reduction initiatives and developing new lines that are responsibly made and eco-conscious – we’ll only see these commitments going further for brands that are adapting to succeed in the future. This is what so many of us are looking for when we’re browsing The Outnet online, on our fashion apps or back in store, and we’re welcoming the recent shift of sustainable fashion.
Given the last eighteen months, where does this leave us today? The British Fashion Council launched its first Institute of Positive Fashion Forum in summer 2021, galvanizing the British fashion industry into action both locally and with international partners ahead of COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in November. And, we’re seeing 2021 capsule collections created by designers like Kenzo, supporting the World Wild Fund for Nature, and Balenciaga partnering with the World Food Programme. It will be fascinating to see which lifestyle and fashion brands thrive going forward. Those brands that focus their attention on their core purpose, creating empowering initiatives and inspirational ways to show they care, whilst being accountable with long-term goals, will be the brands we ultimately buy from, given the choice.
Giving back has never been more on-trend, and we’re so ready for it.