Wear what you care about.
Because you can.
A few years ago my daughter, Elenore came to dinner wearing a new t-shirt with a Saint Tropez graphic. The cotton was soft, the graphic, bold, and the color of ink was a calming blue. Appealing, yes. Meaningful, not so much.
She had never been to Saint Tropez and didn't care about the t-shirt's meaning; she simply liked the way it looked. The shirt made me think about the value of what we put on the forefront of our appearance. My daughter is empathetic, she cares about supply chains and ethical standards in fashion, yet this time, she purchased with abandonment. We realized the shortfall was not with the demand. The missing piece was the supply.
We held focus groups interviewing hundreds of millennials. We asked if they understood where their clothing was made, how it was made, by whom it was made and above all, did they care?
We asked if they were purchasing items of clothing to reflect their own personal style or if they were slaves to fashion trends of what "they should have." Most of the millennials felt that they were pressured into buying what was mainstream in an effort to fit in and these coveted items were easily accessible. They unanimously wanted products with great design and mission of social responsibility. This is when, as a family, we thought about making products that encouraged people to wear what they care about. We wanted to translate our moral compass into an organization to create awareness, sell products, make jobs in America, and share our profits supporting issues that need help.
Wearing what you care about is promoting fashion with a message, sparking a conversation and contributing to the betterment of society. How is it possible that we allow slave labor in countries and disasters like the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, where 1,100 factory workers died due to negligence occur?
Pay attention to the products you buy so that we can stop global abuse on both people and the environment within the fashion industry.
Here are a few tips from our team on how to support the "soulful economy:"
a) Do your research. We have so much information at our fingertips. The companies out there using the best practices, fair working conditions, and environmentally sound methods will tell you so on their website. If a brand's website does not mention the ways in which their products are made, think twice before you double click.
b) Be mindful when you spend your hard earned cash on clothing and you will avoid over-consumption and lessen the burden on the world's resources.
c) Ask yourself if you are purchasing this item for long-term use or for a one-night stand. Understand the effect of FAST FASHION on our precious environment.
d) Donate your old clothing. If you can't hand-down personally, make sure your local thrift store doesn't ship unsellable clothing to landfills.
e) Wear your clothing with respect and pride. Spread its message that you spent the time to research a company with superior design and ethical standards of manufacture. Show your label, share the link. Post your knowledge on social media. Recognize you have the luxury to 'be the change."
f) Find a list of companies with ethical production and a few of our own American-made graphic t-shirts supporting causes in need.
If we all take the time to research and act socially responsible with our fashion statements, we will feel better about ourselves. Every item in your wardrobe has the power to bring you joy. We cannot truly be happy about products that cost the quality of another human life.
By wearing what you care about you are putting values of equality, sustainability, and self-respect over self-indulgence. When we support the soulful economy it will grow.
This blog post is part of the "Soulful Economy" series produced by The Huffington Post and Same Sky, a trade initiative that creates employment opportunities for women struggling to lift themselves out of extreme poverty. The series is running in conjunction with New York Fashion Week, and aims to use shopping as a force for good. To learn how to become a conscious consumer, read here. And to join the conversation on Twitter, look for the hashtag #SoulfulEconomy.