The fashion industry is awash with exploitation, from stories of underpaid garment workers in developing countries through to unpaid interns in the richer economies to the environmental impact of the industry.
But it doesn’t have to be this way and social enterprises in the UK are leading the way in showing how.
Manchester-born social enterprise Foodinate has partnered with new clothing line Feed Apparel to provide hot meals to people in need across London.
For every item sold from their new Feed LDN range, Feed Apparel will donate three hot meals. There are 20 items available in the range, including t-shirts and hoodies. Garments are created using sustainable manufacturing techniques including full traceability of all fibres and a focus on recyclable materials.
This new partnership aims to bring food to those in need in the UK’s capital, where a 2017 report found that 27% of citizens live in poverty.
Meanwhile, up to 40,000 homeless people have been helped by kind-hearted t-shirt buyers across the UK.
Outsidein’s (Oi) “wear one, share one” clothing firm has given away around 40,000 beanies or blankets to its customers to hand out to local homeless people.
Customers buy a t-shirt, sweater or hat and then are given a beanie or blanket to gift to someone who is homeless. The founders claim this not only gives homeless people something practical, but also means someone talks to them in a positive way when they hand over the gift.
It’s not just online retailers who are having a positive impact. In late 2018, the UK’s first sustainable department store opened in East London. Ethical online marketplace Blue Patch transformed the Shoreditch high street for just one week with a store featuring 40 brands such as Juta Shoes, a social enterprise that supports marginalised women into work.
The Blue Patch concept has now been rolled out to another location with Manchester the next city to be able to shop sustainably throughout March 2019.
Looking for other articles by Simon Francis? Take a look at his look into the UK’s period poverty.