The fashion industry has often had to field accusations of frivolity and exploitation, but the global pandemic demonstrated that it can be a force for good, with brands large and small stepping up to make protective equipment for NHS staff, and donating profits to help those affected by Covid-19.
Now the people of Ukraine need help, and UK-based charity Goods for Good has set up a humanitarian aid hub on the Polish border and is transporting donations including clothing industry overstock.
Leeds-based multi-channel fashion brand Joe Browns - which has shops at Meadowhall and at York Designer Outlet - is donating all the profits from a range of striking T-shirts for men, women and children to help the people of Ukraine. It says: “Help is needed now so we have already donated all of the profits from the future sale of all stock for these products to the humanitarian crisis in the Ukraine.”
Brora, which has a shop in Harrogate, has donated £10,000 to the British Red Cross to help Ukrainian refugees, and has recently collaborated with a host of campaigning actors and celebrities including Kristin Scott Thomas, who designed a two-piece collection with 10 per cent of sales going to The Prince’s Trust.
Through its scarves, Brora continues its collaboration with War Child, helping children impacted by war and conflict. It has also teamed up with model and sustainability advocate Amelia Windsor, who designed a capsule collection with 10 per cent of the sales going to Blue Marine Foundation.
In fact, since the start of the pandemic, Brora has raised more than £300k, with £100k going to NHS charities and other charities helping those affected by Covid-19 through the sale of its Liberty print face masks.
Meanwhile, footwear brand Le Chameau last month launched a limited edition Iris Rose Garden collection in partnership with the Lady Garden Foundation, which raises awareness of and funding for gynaecological health, with 10 per cent to the charity.
Georgina Kirby of Le Chameau said: ‘’People don’t realise it, but over 21,000 women are diagnosed with a form of gynaecological cancer every year, so if by launching these eye-catching boots to grab people’s attention and make them listen, it is the least we can be doing.’’
The boots were launched alongside a wider campaign called “Give the boot to Gynaecological Cancer”, featuring American viscountess Julie Montagu, food and gardening influencer Rebecca Searle, and floral designer and BBC Radio presenter Hazel Gardiner, who said: “After surviving a rare cancer with treatment at The Royal Marsden, I’m acutely aware of the need for women to feel they can openly talk about their gynaecological health.
“It’s vital that discussions are destigmatised, and women are educated on the symptoms. An early diagnosis and awareness are the best ways to prevent and fight cancer.
“Gardening was my natural tonic while in recovery and beyond. I’m grateful that my difficult health journey profoundly changed my life in a largely positive way. I’m passionate that no other women should face becoming a terrifying statistic.”
Hope Fashion, which takes part in York Fashion Week, specialises in standout clothing for women of all ages and sizes. Its founder and CEO Nayna McIntosh is an ambassador of the Smart Works charity, which has a branch in Leeds and provides high quality interview outfits and coaching to unemployed women in need. Hope donates clothing to the charity, which is run by trained volunteers.
Marks & Spencer, which has a commitment to send no clothes to landfill, also donated unsold stock to SmartWorks, as well as its other charity partners Oxfam and Newlife.
Leeds-based independent fashion brand Bo Carter is supporting Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary’s mission to provide care to animals in need, with 10 per cent of the sale of a range of T-shirts and some dresses helping to provide a forever home for more than 600 animals, from retired race horses and ex-fighting dogs to neglected and abused farm animals. The Amelie dress is named after a pig who escaped from the slaughterhouse, the Gerda dress after a rescued cow who was due to be slaughtered despite being seven months pregnant. Bo said: “Shortly after arriving at the sanctuary she gave birth to Pancake but tried to hide him as she feared he would be taken from her.” The Masha dress is named after a horse rescued from Siberia.
Dancing Leopard created designs with bright hand-drawn prints and works with charities through many initiatives, including events, products and simply donating. Last International Women’s Day, it launched its Sisterhood Charity T-shirt and donated all profits to Women for Women International’s Stronger Women, Stronger Nations Programme, sponsoring seven women survivors of war and conflict to help rebuild their lives.
Last month it launched a collection of charity T-shirts with all profits going to support Shelter, Choose Love and The Railway Children.
Something to think about the next time you go fashion hunting.