Lemon tree and garment with blue background

image by Dawn Denim

Transparency

Top 8 Best Use of Social Sustainability

The sustainable fashion community is host to a number of companies that do some great work trying to make the industry a more honest and socially responsible place. The retraced editorial team wanted to share some of our favorite examples with you! 😃

"Best in Class" is a new blog series where we highlight some exemplary examples of companies implementing a variety of transparency and sustainability initiatives. This week, we're diving into the sub-topic Social Sustainability. An important part of corporate social responbility is People, and some brands have come up with great business models that uplift their employees and create social impact. This week we share 8 fashion brands (in no particular order) that have special worker relationships which make them excel at social sustainability.

1. Dawn Denim

Dawn Denim is an ethical jeans brand that has its own factory in Saigon, Vietnam. With the factory, the jeans brand shows that it aims to go further than just giving fair wages. In fact, it's the first brand that got 100 of the 100 points available in their first brand assessment with the Fair Wear Foundation! Dawn Denim invites its factory team to be involved in decisionmaking and production development. More so, the brand started a from fairwear to loveaffair experiment to learn about the real needs and dreams of the employees. Have a peek in Dawn Denim's factory here.

Woman scanning tag in Dawn Denim factory

image by Dawn Denim

2. Mayamiko

Mayamiko is a clothing, homeware, and accessories brand with transparency and fairness at the core of the company. All products are made ethically by women in Malawi, combining contemporary design with traditional African techniques. Mayamiko works alongside its sister charity Mayamiko Trust to meet and exceed the WTFO Principles of Fair Trade, and empower disadvantaged women in the community with training. Additionally, the brands' materials and prints are sourced locally by a female trading cooperative to create even more social impact.

Mayamiko team posing in colorful clothing

image by Mayamiko

3. O My Bag

Fair fashion brand O My Bag's motto is: The bag you carry tells a story, let it be a good one. The Amsterdam-based brand aims to make a positive difference in the world by connecting producers in small communities to the global marketplace and creating fair job opportunities. The eco-friendly leather bags are produced in India, where the brand has strong relationships with its manufacturers. O My Bag annually donates a portion of its revenue to support local projects in India focused on women empowerment and education. As of July 2020, the brand has positively impacted 7480 lives and provided 783 fair jobs. You can read more about O My Bag's impact in its Sustainability Report .

Fabricated inside of an O My Bag bumbag held by woman in colorful dress

image by O My Bag

4. Akamae

Akamae is an ethical fashion brand with a unique approach. The founder, Cara Boccieri, is based in the lush northern Thailand (follow her jungle adventures here), where she lives and works with refugees displaced from the ongoing conflict in Burma. As a co-creation fashion design house, Akamae connects creatives with the artisans to bring exclusive capsule collections to life. By giving the artisans access to consumers from all over the world, they are equipped with entrepreneurship, self-reliance, and preservation of their traditional skills.

Author Jessica co-creating a pillowcase in Huay Pu Keng with Kayan women Rowzarna and Mi Nge

image by Cecilia Battich

5. A Beautiful Story

A Beautiful Story is a jewelry brand that was founded on, you guessed it... a beautiful story 😉 Cathelijne Lania founded the brand in 2006 after she heard that a silver manufacturer in Kathmandu, Nepal, was looking for customers to prevent its 12 craftsmen from unemployment. The Dutch founder knew the men personally from her time as a volunteer and couldn't bear seeing this injustice. The former marketeer quit her fast-lane job and became an entrepreneur (read the whole story here). Since then, the brand has grown and has employed more people full-time to make its beautiful pieces. A Beautiful Story is part of the World Fair Trade Organization, so all products are verified and made under fair and safe working conditions.

Employees from A Beautiful Story laughing in group picture

image by A Beautiful Story

6. Muhra

Muhra is an ethical fashion brand handcrafted by 70+ women displaced by conflict in the Middle East, rebuilding their lives in Istanbul. This social enterprise was initiated by Small Projects Istanbul and sells handmade jewelry and statement tees that inspire connection. Their activist collection Drop Earrings Not Bombs (check out their awesome video here) fosters the empowerment of women who are natural leaders, all within the creative and collaborative space of a community center, a home to families, and a hub to ideas. The community center hosts several workshops that empower the women to gain new skills, such as sewing, cutting, embroidering, dyeing, and printing - all by hand.

One of the Drop Earrings not Bombs design in packaging with Arabic scripture

image by Muhra

7. Carcel

Worldwide, female incarceration rates are higher than ever. The majority of crimes are nonviolent and related to poverty. Carcel wants to help these women. In 2016, the alternative fasion brand built its first production base in a female prison in Peru and it opened a second facility in Chiang Mai's Women's Correctional in 2018. The Danish brand mixes its Scandinavian simplicity with local craftsmanship to create luxurious silk and alpaca wool pieces that create opportunities for their employees. The women get fair wages and training, which gives them financial inclusion and tools to reconnect with their families outside and save up for their future. Every piece of clothing is signed by its maker, so you can directly see whose life you have impacted with your purchase.

Woman embroidering hat

image by Carcel

8. Indego Africa

Indego Africa works with female artisans and Burundian women in the Mahama Refugee camp in Rwanda. The African non-profit brand sells the women's beautiful handmade baskets and colorful accessories to provide education and income opportunities. Indego Africa provides a global market placement so the refugee women get the resources to achieve economic independence and build a better life. Additionally, the social enterprise helps preserve traditional craft by sourcing natural fibers from the local community and celebrates handmade work by investing in rich cultural traditions and diverse artisan skills. Read all about it in their Impact Report.

image by Indego Africa

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