Fashion for Charity

Stephanie Stiles, Staff Writer

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Through the simple action of buying clothes, people can dress attractively from head to toe, while helping the world around them. This has been made possible by the establishment of various fashion companies that use their profits to help their global and local communities in a sustainable way that is not reliant on donations.

One such clothing company, located here on Cape Cod, is Cape Cloth.

“You can use a business as a vehicle to help other people,” said Sean Fitzpatrick, the founder of Cape Cloth. A native Cape Codder, Fitzpatrick founded his company three and a half years ago, and from the moment it began he has been donating one dollar of every purchase to Cape Abilities, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities and their families on Cape. He said that to this day he has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Cape Abilities.

“It all goes to actual Cape Cod locals.” said Fitzpatrick, referring to how Cape Cloth employs local businesses and workers to produce its fashion products, along with donating to Cape Cod families.

“Behind oil, the fashion industry is the number two pollutant in the world.” said Fitzpatrick, expressing the effect that fashion has, not just on our individual lives, but also on the global ecosystem. He stressed the role that brands can play in social consciousness, since “clothing is wearable art” and it gives consumers an opportunity to look good while helping others and the environment.

One of the most famous examples of a socially conscious charitable clothing company is TOMS.

Blake Mycoski founded TOMS in 2006 to help fight the hardships of children growing up without shoes. He established a process he calls “One for One,” where for every pair of shoes purchased, another pair is given to a person in need. In total, TOMS has donated over 75 million pairs of shoes to children in need, according to the official TOMS website.

After TOMS Shoes took off, Mycoski began to increase the variety of merchandise that would help other worldwide causes including eyewear, anti-bullying, safe births and providing clean water.

Warby Parker, in contrast, is strictly glasses based. Warby Parker’s initial objective was “to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses,” according to its website.

“2.5 billion people around the world need glasses but don’t have access to them; of these, 624 million cannot effectively learn or work due to the severity of their visual impairment,” as Warby’s website says. For every pair of glasses bought at Warby Parker, another is given to someone in need, resulting in more than three million pairs of glasses charitably distributed worldwide.

The jewelry company Puravida makes it possible to buy fashionable bracelets and other jewelry while still contributing to the cause of their choice, as each different style of bracelet donates to a different cause. Even if consumers choose to buy a bracelet that doesn’t pertain to a specific cause, they are still supporting sustainable jobs for artisans in less developed countries.

“We have partnered with over 174 different charities around the world and have donated more than $1,440,822 to causes we believe in.” said the founders of Puravida, Griffin and Paul, on the official Puravida website.

There are plenty other examples of environmentally and socially aware companies, including the company Out of Print Clothing, which donates to literary services, or Sevenly, a clothing company that donates to a charity that the customers choose.

These companies put into perspective the fashion industry’s capability to foster change, but it all starts with the consumers. The more aware and socially conscious customers are, helps a greater number of lives.