Fashion Makes Change Invests in Putting Women at the Center of Sustainable Development

Brands and designers are partnering with nonprofit Fashion Makes Change to let shoppers’ spare change from purchases go toward education initiatives for women.

The shopper round-up function launched formally on Thursday, in advance of International Women’s Day on March 8, in support of [email protected], a joint collaborative which offers leadership, financial literacy and problem-solving skill training, among other focuses.

“Women lead the way toward a more sustainable world,” said Cara Smyth, chair of Fashion Makes Change, expanding on the importance of the latest campaign. “Project Drawdown, a climate change mitigation project, found that educating women is the sixth greatest mitigator of climate change. Empowering women helps build resilient communities, and when we invest in girls and women, whole communities win. Girls and women belong at the center of sustainable development.”

FMC first kicked off in November and has since garnered support from designers like Markarian (propelled to new relevance after First Lady Jill Biden sported the label), Gabriela Hearst, Versace, Jimmy Choo and Rosie Assoulin, as well as brands like Theory, Yes And, Sarah Flint and Michael by Michael Kors, in support of the latest activation. Department stores like Macy’s will also be supporting the round-up initiative.

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Customers are invited to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar or make a donation when shopping at participating brands and retailers, with many companies matching funds or offering a donation in place. The availability for the give-back shopping function differs for each brand but some aim to offer the option through March.

In support of the partnership, FMC is teaming with Shopify, even bringing an app ‘Shopify x FMC’ to the table so shoppers can seamlessly choose the round-up option when shopping participating brands on the platform. The platform boasts 1.7 million merchants and, in the words of Smyth, allows the community to “amplify” its message. The partnership hopes to help realize a more sustainable fashion ecosystem.

“Commerce is such a powerful vehicle. Individuals and businesses making conscious choices to support women can really change the world for the better,” Smyth said.

Smyth also sees upskilling efforts on the horizon. “Leadership lessons and upskilling play a critically important role especially as nearshoring and automation become more prevalent,” she said, adding that while fashion has been a powerful force for economic development and poverty alleviation — the pandemic ultimately showed the flaws inherent in the system.

“Unfortunately, there is also a gendered dynamic to employment figures, and women are disproportionately affected,” she said. “Our work focuses on empowerment to give women agency to build better lives and advance their careers.”

More is in tow throughout the year “to highlight our collective work and the importance of this initiative,” as Smyth said, with climate and fashion month as key moments.

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