How is everyone doing out there? I know so many people focusing on creating face masks during these crazy times…never before have I ever seen so many come together with their own versions of the same project to help their communities. Even people who I didn’t know could sew are whipping out these things like crazy. I myself have started with a few prototypes and will be creating my own. Whether you are trying to stay financially afloat or are donating your own creations, it’s all great to see and shows how hard working we all can be to make it through the toughest times.
I’m sure many of us are seeing more and more ads everyday from brands dropping pricing to keep afloat during these trying times…even though most people are shifting their shopping habits from wants to needs. It’s truly a time to redefine what really matters, and for some, to reinvent ourselves. I’ve seen a lot of patterns floating around for those who can sew and create face masks, even though debate seems to be rolling on about their true effectiveness. Either way, what we do know is that they at least help slow the spread for those who may be carrying COVID-19 and not know it, or are showing some symptoms and need to leave the house for a good reason. Whatever you believe in, I feel it’s better than nothing, right? They are sold out just about everywhere, so like wartime, people all over are stepping up to the plate to do their part, including several independent brands who are most at risk of facing financial hardship and care about giving back.
I’m totally all about any company that gives back with every purchase. A lot of us would love to do our part but aren’t quite sure how, so it’s nice to know some of our favorite brands are doing their best to make it easier for us! I’ve written about several other companies that have such a program, such as TOMS, Mitscoots Outfitters, and I have yet to write about another great one (and an awesome sock manufacturer), Bombas! Now another one of my all time favorite retailers, American Eagle Outfitters and their sister brand Aerie, are doing the same.
All of the charitable brands I’ve written about here have warmed my heart. In a crazy world full of anger and hate, it’s so nice to focus on the good of humanity from time to time. Among my favorites of all the charities I’ve discovered while running this blog is Mitscoots, an Austin-based brand born in 2012 after its founders witnessed first hand the fundamental needs of the homeless while on volunteer work in the city, in 2008. Quality gear and a clean pair of socks were the most requested items, and with that in mind, the Mitscoots brand began. Mitscoots works with local and national charities to send an equal pair of one of their high quality socks, beanies, tees and more to someone in need with every purchase. The brand also employs the transitioning homeless to help package up and ship your purchased items to you! This helps develop confidence, skills, motivation and network building for these individuals to began building better lives. Everything Mitscoots creates is also manufactured in the United States.
A brand that excels at designing beautiful, unique clothing is one thing…but the photography that represents it all is another. It’s all about the whole package! Without good photography, even the coolest of clothing gets lost in the sea of competition. It’s a tough world out there and I get a bazillion emails every day (partially from many of the contests I enter so I’m always unsubscribing from things), and I’m a little A.D.D. so it takes a lot to catch my undivided attention! I don’t have to say that I created this blog to share some of the most beautiful, unique talent in the apparel world out there, or that it’s always a bonus if there’s good intentions behind it…at least, if you’ve been reading my work for the last several years. Norma Kamali is the latest brand to cross my paths and I have to say I immediately bookmarked the name as soon as I spotted my first newsletter from this amazing designer.
Celebrity collaborations with denim companies are nothing new, and add a cool leg-up to any existing marketing campaigns. Many may say it also adds some credibility to a brand, but I always see it as a fun way to see a brand’s product in a different light, depending on the celebrity’s personality. Every year these partnerships pop up and go through the usual motions, but for me, of course, it means something entirely different if there’s some kind of charitable initiative involved. My favorite so far has been the Pharrell Williams collaboration with G-Star RAW for RAW For the Oceans, a campaign put together to reduce the size of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” by collecting and recycling much of that floating plastic to create a pretty awesome apparel line. If you’re a denim fan, you may have already seen ads for Victoria’s Secret supermodel Miranda Kerr’s capsule collection with MOTHER denim, which she rocks flawlessly (not surprisingly). However, there’s something a little extra special about it to make it even more sweet.
While I absolutely love discovering new brands with a charitable program to give back to those in need, it’s also great to see the well-established, tried-and-true and well-loved brands evolving and still staying strong to their respectable initiatives. FEED is one of them. Founded in 2007 by Lauren Bush, after witnessing hunger (which affects about 795 million people around the world) after a trip to Cambodia, Chad and Guatemala. She saw children not receiving adequate nutrition in the form of school meals, and founded FEED to help change that. Every bag purchased has a number stamped inside that signifies how many meals or micronutrient packets will be provided to someone in need. FEED’s mission is to “connect customers to the cause, one bag at a time.” FEED works closely with The World Food Programme (WFP), Unicef, and Feeding America to help combat malnutrition globally. So far, there have been 95,619,215 meals provided to date!
Of all the charitable companies I enjoy writing about here, TOMS has got to be one of my favorites. Since their beginnings, they have been a big name bringing awareness about those less fortunate to the fashionable masses, and have set a model example for other companies with the same initiatives. Just about everyone is familiar with their One for One® campaign, where for every pair of shoes purchased, another pair will be sent to someone in need. Throughout the years, they have had other campaigns for fresh water in developing countries, to help shelter dogs find homes, to support endangered animal species, to give the gift of good eyesight, to promote safe birth for women in need, and so much more. I also love that they support artisans around the world! For their latest collection, TOMS has partnered up with a group of artists for their Haiti Artist Collective.
I am so excited to find more and more of these hidden gems that are small companies with true passions to help others. As time goes on (and my talents for digging for such things improves), they begin to see more abundant and it makes me so happy in this world of fast fashion and self-serving overconsumption. I always like to feel that fashion shouldn’t ever be just for me—since my dollars will be going somewhere, they might as well go to those who could truly use them the most, right? Win win! What impresses me about these small charitable companies is how most of them began…by an independent creative like me who one day had an idea, or just found his or her passions leading them to an opportunity to give back. I’d like to think one of these days I could follow in these footsteps!
My heart shines every time I see an ethical apparel brand! This is what I gravitate to, and this is what I put first and foremost above denim itself when I am looking for new posts. When I find both of them in one happy package, it’s even better! Brands that donate to charities are indeed honorable, but I’ve seen something something a bit different lately: brands working directly with those who these charities assist, themselves (and thus becoming a sort of charity as well). I recently wrote about Mitscoots, a sock brand that employs the transitioning homeless among us, and now I’ve found a denim brand that does something very similar, and also for a very important cause!