Female workers participating in a Peer Educator Program in Bangladesh as part of the BSR_HERproject … [+]
Making International Women’s Day a give-back opportunity just got easier. To mark the global female recognition day on March 8, consumers and brands alike can easily donate to Fashion Makes Change or FMC, which focuses on female empowerment, education and climate action together as the driving force. Several high-profile brands such as Michael Kors, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Theory, plus major retailers Macy’s M -0.1%, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom JWN -1.3% will donate directly to the initiative or facilitate donations via the brand’s check-out system or through Shopify’s help.
In a relatively novel approach for the fashion sector, consumers will be given a chance at the POS to add any amount or round-up their change, on top of their purchase, that is then donated to the designated project. Many brands match those funds or offer a donation on behalf of their customers, sometimes both, furthering the effort. While some brands and consumers will organize this within their own sales systems, others can allow the purchase function through Shopify, if they are currently on the selling platform. Cara Smyth, who chairs FMC, loves the simplicity of the impulse-centric POS round-up. “The goal of Fashion Makes Change is to make it easy for customers to join in and amplify gender equality, women’s education, and empowerment in communities around the globe,” she said.
Smyth said the Shopify component was a story of kindness and collaboration. Introduced by Accenture ACN +1%, Shopify to help them with back-end coding for e-commerce partners, and the relationship blossomed from there. “Shopify was founded on a mission to make commerce better for everyone. With our partnership, we are joining forces to accelerate solutions for people and the planet,” said the FMC Chair. Additionally, Shopify led FMC to app developer Pledge, the award-winning virtual fundraising platform that pioneered Shopify donations. This meeting led to a proprietary round-up app found on the Shopify app store, which allows Shopify merchants to install on Shopify checkout pages in minutes seamlessly – and all donations, collections, and tracking are automatic. Thus, creating an easier solution for brands who weren’t already using a donation system to participate in the program.
Workers participate in a group training activity as part of Empower@Work
Specifically, fundraising for this initiative lasts through March and beyond for some will be donated to the Empower@Work collaborative – a joint effort of BSR’s HERproject, CARE International CAI +1.2%, Gap Inc.’s GPS +7.6% P.A.C.E. and the United Nations’ ILO-IFC Better Work program. Empower@Work seeks to leverage knowledge, skills and networks to drive collective action benefitting women workers and gender equity in global supply chains. The collaborative has created an integrated Worker Training Toolkit for women’s empowerment to include in-depth training curriculum materials covering leadership, financial literacy, problem-solving, decision-making and family planning. The mission of the organization’s core is to build a community between brands, non-profits, consumers, and supporting industries and act as a transformational ecosystem driving action on critical social and environmental issues related to fashion.
It’s one of the initiatives that newly formed Fashion Makes Change plans to support. The project, which launched in November 2020, is a project of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and ‘provides actionable solutions that catalyze collective action, build resilient communities and work to reverse the climate crisis’ according to a press release.
Smyth, the project’s Chair, also had a role in the Fair Fashion Center. She says the project emerged from the CEO meetings at the Responsible Business Coalition housed at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business. The group includes CEO’s from 275 brands, 102 Countries, and over $360B in revenue. From its inception, the fund recognized its impact considering “the size and global scale of the industry, the workforce and our ability to catalyze change,” according to Smyth.
“During 2020, as the pandemic progressed, stores closed and customer’s stopped shopping, it became ever more evident that the world is interconnected, and we are all reliant on each other,” said Smyth noting, “Collective action was required. Each one of us plays a part in designing the future we hope to see.”
Specifically, this first large-scale initiative is called “Your Change Can Change Everything” and allows brands to choose the length of their participation. But there is more in the pipeline. The second pillar of the project will support the decarbonization of global supply chains by accelerating the transition to renewable energy by working with the same communities on manufacturing methods.
After the International Women’s Day kickoff, Earth Day and Mother’s Day, climate & fashion month in September, and the period of giving thanks over the holidays will be key consumer initiative dates.
A look from Theory
Theory, as one example, has been closely involved with the Responsible Business Coalition for years. According to Wendy Waugh, SVP Raw Materials at Theory, they partnered to help guide the path towards a more sustainable future. “Empowering female leaders is inherent to Theory’s DNA, so when given the opportunity to support the critical issue of education within the supply chain, we were thrilled to be at the forefront of the effort,” said Waugh.
The new, sleek design company is focused on the industry evolving, which means using its platform to educate and empower its community through initiatives such as Theory for Good. This project houses the brand’s conscious commitment to positive impact by creating sustainable solutions for products, people, and the planet.
She is a firm believer in the dialog between brands and suppliers of raw materials. Waugh suggests asking questions such as ‘What raw materials are utilized and how can they be updated to be more sustainable? How much water is used during production, and what is the purification system of said water? What chemicals are present?’
“Opening the dialogue between companies and suppliers is an easy first step that allows for an opportunity to address sustainability issues and find creative solutions to additional concerns,” said Waugh adding, “Once you have a thorough understanding of the journey aka traceability, a fiber takes – from its creation, through the manufacturing process, and into a garment in-store, the easier it is to identify where changes are needed.”
Participating global retail & fashion brands include Michael Kors, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Gabriela Hearst, Chloé, Nordstrom, Theory, The Conservatory, Larroudé, Markarian, Rosie Assoulin, Hill House Home, Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation, The Coach Foundation, Stuart Weitzman, Kate Spade New York, Everlane, Madewell, AARMY, Morgan Lane, Sarah Flint, 1 Atelier, Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc., Eileen Fisher, Abercrombie & Fitch are among those supporting this first consumer launch. For a complete and up-to-date list, see the FMC website.
I am an award-winning Paris-based American journalist covering luxury and fashion industries with over 25 years of experience. I spent over 18 years at the industry